Dodge 5500 Flat deck and camper build


The truck will be doing double duty for work and recreation.

For work will still use the Camper rather than hotels, and the storage to carry Rescue & Safety gear (On-site jobs and training).
Recreation will be myself & GF with our dogs in N. America - hopefully down to S. America in a few years if all goes well.

I am new to this forum, found it while searching for info to build my '08 Dodge 5500 and a Camper

Bought the truck 3 weeks ago, doing some engine tuning (parts on the way) and planning out the real fun.

The truck is all stock with an aluminum Hillsboro bed. I am seriously contemplating selling the bed, having one made for the Camper and storage after reading the F550 flatbed thread by boblynch

I have been trying to decide which camper to go with and narrowed it down to the Lance 830 & 1040 (basically an 830+ 17"), however I have discovered they no longer make the 1040, though I have found 1 in BC. I never even thought of the custom bunk option that Bob did.

Next thing is wheels and tires. Looking to go with the MPT 81's in the 335/80R20 or possibly the 365/80R20. Wheels I have been talking to Stazworks about some steel beadlocks.

I don't want to lift it, so I am having the axle moved forward to get clearance. If need be I have an adjustable (1"-5") aluminum spacer to add and/or trim the fender.
That is going to be done by Evolution Machine

First I need to get the rims and tires so we can have them there to position the axle. Looking at having Clay at Evolution do the bed, he has some interesting ideas to improve the suspension and ride with his custom built shocks down the road as well.

Anyone have a good line on the MPT 81's, or even other wheels I should consider?

Bob- I'd love to pick your brain on the Camper, bunk extension and deck if you don't mind me copying what you've done. I am looking at the fold down bunk option, just wouldn't use it in the winter, thought closed up it should insulate OK? Definitely like your bunk option better though!

What are your thoughts on the stock size of the 830? It is going to be 2 of us and our 2 fairly large dogs?

Anything else you've discovered since you did this? Anything you would change?

Appreciate any helpful advice- it's much less costly to learn from someone else's mistakes

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First off, welcome to the forum. When you get time post pictures and additional details about your truck (e.g., crew cab? diesel? wheelbase?).

The Lance 1040 is offered as a 2010 model. I was able to locate a number of them in my area. We went with the 830 and a bunk addition to accomodate 4 of us and one dog. If I was traveling with 2 people and 2 large dogs, I would stick with the 1040. The floor space in the 830 is tight. We like the side entry as it keeps the dust out and allowed for the bunk extension. However, this presented a number of challenges including extending the exhaust. You might find other other brands/models that suit your needs without any such mods.

As far as tires the MPTs are nice, but heavy. My 335s on steel wheels are about 200lbs each. I bought a set of five rims/tires from Rickson Wheels in Maryland. The Continental tires are widely available. You can locate a dealer at

The flatbed and storage boxes have been great. It really keeps things inside the rig organized and clutter free. Your flatbed may work out fine depending on what type of camper you select. If not they hold their resale value and shouldn't be too hard to unload.

Best of luck.

Capt Eddie

Yes welcome to the club. Lets see some pictures of what you have to work with. Are you thinking of going more off road, or long distance travel? From what I see, Bob went more off road style , while I plan on more blacktop travel. For now. Now we have to travel 200 miles to find good off roading. Keep that in mind as you do your build.

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boblynch & Capt Eddie- Thanks for the info.

I'm afraid I don't know how to post pic's, I'll need to do some research.

The truck is a quad cab 4x4 6.7L Diesel Cab & Chassis truck 64" Cab to axle, 164.5" wheelbase. Stock rims are 10 bolt 19.5's , axles are the same as the F 550- I think- rear Dana 110. GVW of 19,500 lbs.

I do want to go off road- though I have my other truck for more hard core stuff, but want to go off "the beaten path" and be self sufficient.

I have had Michelin XL's and XML's on my '01 Dodge in the past in the 38" size and, yes they were heavy. In reality there will be a lot of highway driving, but I am accustomed to the large off-road type tire, I like the ability to perform well off road and air down.

Other option is going with 22.5 rims and on/off road floats in a 365/85 R22.5 size. Last alot longer, carry the load well and stiff sidewalls- more limited off- road.

Need to nail down the tire choice soon as it will affect the rest of the build.
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MPT 81's

Well, the tires don't seem to be that widely available- not up here anyway. Kal Tire is now the only authorized dealer for Continental tires it seems, OK tire said they can get Continentals- but no one knows anything about them. One guy just plain didn't believe me!

I also tried Expedition Imports by e-mail with no reply, found another one :

but the e-mails bounce back, I don't think they are in business anymore?

May just have to end up going with Goodyear G178 SS on a 22.5 rim. Heavy tire and can't air down much off road- but will definitely last!


MPTs in Canada

I contacted the USA Sales Manager for Continental Tires who helped me track down tires last year. Continental has 2 dealers in the Calgary area:

T.C. Industrial Tire (Daryl Taylor 1-403-279-5559)

Kal Tire (Cam Parsons 1-403-724-0237)

If you have other questions contact Tim Hubbert, Sales Manager - Industrial Tires, Continental Tire Canada, Mississauga, Ontario (Cell - 416-578-4833)


Expedition Leader
Welcome to the forum, Ram5500!

Most tires that fit 22.5 inch wheels, and the Michelin XZL tactical tires on 20 inch rims, stand 43 or 44 inches tall. That large diameter may require regearing your differentials.

An alternative is the Toyo M608Z 285/70R 19.5, 35.4 inches high. It's M&S rated, but the tread is not as aggressive as the the taller tires. That makes the Toyo quieter on the highway.

The Toyo is a tough truck tire. Forum member Whatcharterboat, who works for a builder of off-road specialty vehicles in Australia, reports that in conditions that cause an XZL tire to get a flat once a week, the Toyo got a flat once in six months.

The Adam Blaster

Expedition Leader
I deal with TC Industrial all the time here in Edmonton, just hung up with them and asked about the tires for you.

My contact is emailing a pic of another Conti model they have in stock.

Let me know how serious you are about pursuing this avenue, and I'll help any way that I can.

The Adam Blaster

Expedition Leader
I called a local OK Tire store, and had them look around for me on the MPT 81's in the 335 and 365 size.
There's VERY little out there in terms of stock.
There's 1 365, and none showing on B/O or anything.
There's 4 only of the 335 in Vancouver, but again, no other customers showing B/O or anything.
These tires are made in Europe, so the turn-around time is usually at least 90 days, but that is when there are orders for the tires, and LARGE orders, like several hundred.
So, my contact telling me there are no backorders showing in their system, chances of finding more units so that you have a spare or two, well, your chances are essentially zero.

I'd STRONGLY recommend finding a brand/model that is more plentiful and easier to replace.

The Adam Blaster

Expedition Leader
A back and forth email conversation with my contact at TC Industrial says that he could get some of the 365/80R20 MPT 81's shipped in from "out east" (likely Toronto area) within about a week and a half.

My last email to him was asking about their stock accessibility, and if it is plentiful or not.

EDIT: He says they are a normal stocking item in te states, and they can bring them up if they have orders for them. There hasn't been enough demand yet to stock them in the Canadian warehouses though.

So, sounds like you could get a replacement out of the US within 2-3 weeks without much other hassle.
Or, if you're in the US travelling, you might find a source that could get them to you a lot quicker. (And chances are less expensive as well.)
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boblynch and Adam Blaster-
Thank you for all the calling around and info.

I did talk to TC here (Pirate Tires) and they found the same tires as Adam Blaster I guess.
4 of the 335/80R20 @ $625 ea and can get the 365/80R20 in a couple weeks at $750 ea.

Going to check a couple other US dealer, see if I can come up with a little better pricing.

You are correct, the Toyo's would be a "smart" choice. I did read the post you referred to, very impressive. With those tires I'd still need to get new rims (my 6" wide are too narrow) but wouldn't need to touch the suspension. BUT i really want to go with a larger single- can't help myself! and moving the axle forward should only put me in for another $1200-$1500, pretty good deal for the work (Clay is a MASTER with suspension mods)

As for re-gearing, I should be OK. The truck has 4.88's with a G56 manual:

even a 43" tire would put me a an effective ratio of 3.56 (my '01 came stock with 3.54's). I am keeping the old wheels and tires for heavy towing if I ever need them, but I thinkI'll be OK with the camper, gear and an 8-10,000 lb trailer on occasion.

If I'm wrong- I'll have to save up for an underdrive I guess!

Going to do some more reading on these different camper mounts as well...Bob, have you found a flexible one necessary for your rig?

I may have found a pretty good deal on an Okanogan 117DBL, it is big- but the "boss" likes it.

The Adam Blaster

Expedition Leader
Bob, you should definitely look into acquiring the tires south of the border.
I have worked for 3 different tire distributors in Edmonton, and 99% of the time the price that I sell tires to a tire shop, the price can be lower for a retail customer buying out of the US.
The issue with buying tires down there comes up if you have a warranty concern, uneven wear, poor balancing etc. You'll have a very hard time getting any warranty coverage, you'll pretty much be SOL.
Just keep that in mind. ;)


Finally some progress...

It's been a while, new business has taken up most of the time and funds, but-

Stazworks double beadlocks w/ 43" Continental MPT 81's are finally shipping out next week.

2 days ago made a private deal to trade my Toyhauler RV for a 2010 Arctic Fox 992 and some cash. Not the exact Camper I wanted, really wanted a side entry, but the best deal I was going to get trading the RV.


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It fit pretty well on the flat deck

Now I have some other decisions to make: big one is keep the Hillsboro aluminum deck I have and modify it, or sell it and do a custom one...

Custom one would obviously work better, but will be $$

The Camper will stay on the truck pretty much full time. Will use it for work travel hotel/office as well as weekend and holiday excursions.

Once I get the tires fitted up I'll have a better idea, but I will be losing some potential storage space for wheel wells since I'll be lifting it very little or maybe not at all. Worth it to keep as low as possible.

Custom deck may allow mounting the TC lower, possibly a flexible mount, though if I convert to airbags all around I can keep the chassis more level off road.

Other considerations are mounting the spare and making a rack to carry this:

still be able to tow a trailer (Confined Space Entry/Rescue Simulator yet to be fabbed) and this back to Moab and some other interesting places

at least the "kids" have already picked out a spot :eek:



Finally some progress

Been working on it furiously the last 2 weeks, have to be ready to
go for next week to Edmonton Indy and then the Expedition Rally.

Some quick info on what we've done and plan to do:

Put in a 2" spacer on top of the coils which leveled it.
Built adjustable control arms and pushed the axle *forward 2" (could
go up to 4" if needed) moved sway bar mounts forward, new bumpstop
plate, lengthened front driveshaft, *made new upper *shock tower (3"
lower), cut out fenders above the stock flare line, cut out a couple
inches of te lower cab corners under body mounts, removed hillsboro
deck and have basic frame of unimog style deck for camper made with
one side rigid mounted and other shackled to flex, added air bag
helpers to rear springs to keep level with camper loaded.

Still to do this weekend:
Finish fenders
Deck for camper
Fab new windshield washer tank
Rack to carry motorcycle.

After I get back from trip:
Cut off stock coil buckets a d fab new ones- possibly with air bags
Also looking at radius arms, Evolution makes some awesome ones. Up
travel will always be limited but try for more droop
Fab up storage for deck
May re do fenders to more of a old Power Wagon style
Air system

Lots of work!