Custom Flatbed - 2000 Dakota Quad Cab SLT - Whattaya Think So Far
I'm what you'd call a "newbie" I guess, but I've found some useful info here and thought I'd share my custom 2000 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab SLT Flatbed build and maybe even get some helpful feedback from some of you.
I have used (or abused?) my Dakota as my main work vehicle for a couple of years now. She was starting to show serious battlescars, especially after a leafspring snapped on the freeway at 60 MPH, which re-designed my box/bed for me, filleted my tires, re-routed my exhaust, made my pinion seal explode, and seized a U joint and an axle bearing or two, I decided enough was enough and decided to turn her into a real work truck.
Attached are a few pics of the project. A short disclaimer about this project: SIMPLY MOUNTING A FLATBED TO YOUR DAKOTA DOES NOT TURN IT INTO A RAM 3500 DUALLY. This flatbed is intended for loads that DO NOT exceed manufacturer specs and will be used mainly as a work platform to set up tools on and light hauling.
I engineered and designed this based on other custom flatbeds for other trucks after I couldn't find any solid designs for the Dakota. If you like it or can improve it, I'd be happy to send you the complete set of CAD drawings.
The frame is actually comprised of 3 frames: A core frame, bolted to vehicle frame and fabricated out of 3/32" bar channel, bolted to the frame through 3/32" bushings/sleeves with 3/8" and 1/2" structural bolts. Outer frame is 1/4" angle iron; intermediate frame connects core frame to outer frame and is fabricated from 3/32" square tube steel. Vehicle frame was extended ever so slightly with light gauge steel I beams, not with the intention of elongating the wheel base obviously, but to safely allow the platform to be the same length as the box would be with the tailgate down. Width is exactly 71" and the finished frame is within a 1/4" tolerance, or darn near perfectly square. ALL overlapping steel joints were welded. Only light stitch welding and tack welds were done on the vehicles frame, so this is basically a bolt on frame, which is what you want if you ever want to put a box back on or preserve resale value. So no serious messing around with factory frame. 3/32" bar channel core frame allows for some flexibility/elasticity, but while driving, the truck is significantly more rigid than it was with the box on. Total weight with 5/4" (actual 1") X 6" treated wood decking is roughly the same as the box was based soley on my abilitiy to lift it manually. I'm going with a 1" wood deck so I'm never tempted to overload the thing. If I went with 2", I WOULD overload it and probably be very sorry. Wheel wells, custom bumper/tail light/license plate enclosure and cab to flatbed enclosures were fabricated from 20 ga cold rolled steel over 3/32" square tube steel. All outer frame angle changes were welded AND reinforced with bolted steel plates and angle brackets.
500 lb dead weight loads at the rear corners aren't bowing the frame as far as the naked eye can see, but I have yet to test it with a heavy live load going down the road, at which time I wouldn't dare to load 500 lbs in the corners. The angled/mitred corners at the front near the cab are for expansion purposes - sheetmetal trims, headache rack, exterior shell/topper mounts/frame/brackets. I will be adding light tool boxes behind the wheels on both sides too.
Oh yeah, there were a lot of mechanical improvements that shouldn't be forgetten: re-routed exhaust, new U joints, new axle/hub bearings, new pinion seal, new shocks/struts, new leaf springs, new rear tires, new rear drum brakes, etc. etc.
Tomorrow night I hope to post finished pics. Thanks for looking. Any feedback is welcome since this is my first foray into this type of project and everybody needs a little constructive criticism.
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LSD, 3/4 Ton Leaf springs, 4:56 gears, Cooper Discoverer AT/3 265/75/16's, 4.6L Injectors, DIY CAI, Eyelids,Plasti-Dip wheels, 1.5" TM leveling kit, Front Sway bar Delete, Body colored door handles, More to come lol.
One possible suggestion...I see your frame extensions are inside the rails, so
I'm assuming you removed the damper at the back of the truck. Not sure how it will ride without that but I've heard it causes a sway in the rear of the truck, you may want to fab a way to put that back in there. I may be way off base but just something to think about.
Wow! Thanks for the helpful responses guys. Attached are some pics of the "unfinished" wheel wells and bumper. I have some sanding, priming and painting left to do, but they are all nice and square and fit like a glove. The sheet metal work has been a real learning experience. Did I mention I built a custom sheet metal break that would give all the corners a 1/4" radius? That has has worked very well. Also learned the art of stick welding sheet metal together.
As far as the huge gaps behind the cab, there is a plan to address that with custom sheet metal panels to match the new bumper and wheel wells in a metallic silver, to match existing trim. The frame of the actual flatbed angles at those corners to provide space for the brackets those will mount to. Along that angled corner is also where the headache rack will mount to. Hopefully, it will look "natural" when I'm through.
Awesome tip on the damper! Did not think of that I must admit. I actually thought that piece was designed to absorb shock since it's right under the bumper. Totally makes sense that the way that component is designed, it would actually "dampen" vibration in the frame. Hey, I don't know everything, that's why I asked you guys! In any case, the damper goes back on, at the tail end of the frame, between the I beams.
FYI: the wheel wells sit a little high upon first glance. They will match the height of the siderails that will eventually sit behind them and the upper half of the wheel wells will actually be a compartment to house ratchet straps, jack, tools, etc.
Yes, my rear window is finito! One of my customers shoved their ping pong table through it while I was moving it for them. Yet another reason to convert to "work truck."
Glad I posted here. You guys are awesome. Have a great weekend. Pics attached.