2015 - Volume #39, Issue #1, Page #30[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Low-Cost Method To Extend Truck Bed
“A splice kit of this kind from a truck extension shop in Utah would have cost roughly the same as the truck and the bed,” says Kazmierczak. “I figured out a less expensive way to extend the wheelbase to match the bed length and assure the wheels are aligned.”
Kazmierczak found a Ram 2500 on Craigslist that was being parted out. He bought the rear half of the frame and also the rear springs. He marked the 2 frames to get the lengths needed and made cuts to each where he planned to graft the frames together. After jacking up the Ram 1500, disconnecting the drive and removing the axle, he slid the Ram 2500 frame underneath.
The top 2/3 of the new frame was precisely trimmed off with a plasma cutter to match the end of the original frame like a hand in a glove. The lower 1/3 extended underneath the original frame.
“I married the 2 frames using jack stands and clamps and measured and roughed off all impeding material. It took trial and error,” says Kazmierczak. “Once I got them to fit well enough, I welded them together with 7018 electrodes.”
He says the longitudinal cut allowed him to match edges, even with the rough measurements. This made the quality of welding less of a concern with more concern given to managing stress in the steel.
“One of the expected challenges was the new stiffer (graft) section would strain the original (softer) section,” says Kazmierczak. “I added gussets as support for the bed at the transition.”
Once Kazmierczak repositioned the axle with an extended driveshaft under the new section, he mounted the utility bed. Space between the cab and the bed serves as a tool rack. He added a steel frame for a canvas canopy, a vise, compressor, air hose and an LPG-fueled generator. He also added Trojan batteries with 3-phase charger, pure sine wave inverter and a full 110V distribution system with a welder and power extension reels.
The added weight of the accessories was too much for the original tires, so he replaced them with 315/70r17 (Hummer) tires on stock rims. The front end also had to be lifted on rods to match the rear. In spite of the lifting, the added tire radius required 1/4-in. thick wheel spacers in front for clearance.
The truck passed the rebuild salvage inspection in Florida. Kazmierczak says it has worked well on the highway. Occasionally, he tows a heavy-duty trailer with a Bobcat or trencher.
“After 5,000 miles, I examined the welds, and they are holding fine,” says Kazmierczak, who adds that the larger wheels have also worked out well. “I’ve been able to use it in the field, servicing construction equipment and haven’t had to dig it out yet.”
Kazmierczak lives and works in Florida and also in his native Poland. He has since shipped his truck there after converting the engine to LPG, as it is cheaper there than gasoline.
He estimates the LPG conversion was the most expensive single part of the process, costing about $1,500. He estimates the truck parts totaled about $4,000 and tool add-ons about $2,000.
“I don’t use it enough to have justified a new truck. This was a project for some downtime,” says Kazmierczak. “If not for that, it would probably not be worth it. I shipped it to Poland because I am building a house there in the middle of nowhere. I needed a truck to get in and out, and it does the job.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Karol Kazmierczak, 713 SW 8th Ave., Hallandale, Florida 33009 (ph 305 600-0516; email@example.com).
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