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Dodge Pickup Fitted With Home-Built Sleeper Cab
“It was relatively easy to do,” says Anthony Harley, Atlantic Beach, Fla., who converted a 2008 Dodge 1-ton, crewcab dually pickup into a “sleeper pickup” that lets him bunk down whenever he needs rest.
    The sleeper bed replaces the pickup’s rear seat and extends about 8 in. beyond the upper part of both rear doors. The bottom half of each door can still be opened and closed for storing tools and clothing. The extended doors provide enough room for a 7-ft. long, 26-in. high by 30-in. wide bed frame and platform, on which rests a 5-in. deep mattress with a 3-in. pillow top.
    “I came up with the idea about 8 years ago when my wife Bobbie and I decided to go into the RV towing business,” says Harley. “We already owned the pickup and all the hitches that we would need to tow RV’s. We wanted to ‘team-drive’, but found there were specific rules and regulations required for a space to be considered a sleeper birth.”
    So after 2 weeks of gathering information and reading DOT regulations, he replaced the pickup’s back seat with a legal sleeper birth that he built from scratch.
    To make the conversion, he removed the electric motors and mechanisms that control window up-and-down movement from both doors. “I cut both rear doors in half just above the door’s top hinge, and moved the entire top section of each door out 8 in. along with the rear corner radius on each side of the cab,” says Harley. “That allowed me to create a platform on which I could set the mattress. Then I boxed the top section in by welding 1/16-in. thick sheet metal onto the cab.”
    Metal flanges at the top and bottom of each box section support what’s left of the door’s original rubber gaskets, which were shortened. “When the doors are closed they’re air and water tight,” says Harley.
    He also added aftermarket “Airtabs” that extend across the roof and back edges of the cab (www.airtab.com). They’re designed to reduce wind stream drag and help increase the fuel economy.
    He used one of the pickup’s seat belt assemblies to satisfy a 6,000-lb. restraint requirement. He also installed a manually-operated air vent on back of the cab, which is hinged at the top and bottom and can be swung left or right.
    When Harley added the sleeper cab, the pickup was 1 1/2 years old and had about 36,000 miles on it. Now it has a whopping 1,700,000 miles.
    “My wife and I take turns driving the pickup and put on 6,000 to 7,000 miles per week, on average,” says Harley. “I drive 10 to 11 hrs. straight, and then my wife takes over and does the same while I sleep. We run like this for a full week, then take the weekend off.    
    “I could have spent $8,000 or so for a commercial sleeper box designed for semi trucks and installed it behind the cab. It would have had more room and been more comfortable. However, I wasn’t sure how my RV towing business would work out so I didn’t want to spend the money. Also, I would have had to cut through the pickup frame in order to lengthen it, which would have been more work.”
    Harley worked in the shipyard trade for 20 years, building and repairing ships as a shipfitter. “The last 5 years in the shipyard I learned AutoCad and developed the parts that I needed for this project on the computer. Then I transferred the data to a CNC machine to cut the parts,” he says.
    He spent only about $300 to build the sleeper cab. “The cab on this pickup had already been rebuilt after a tree fell on it during a storm, so I wasn’t quite as afraid to cut through it as I otherwise might have been,” says Harley.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Anthony Harley, 1859 Selva Grande Dr., Atlantic Beach, Fla. 32233 (ph 904 868-4382; baharley@hotmail.com).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2