F550 Flatbed Build

boblynch

Adventurer
I’ve taken the plunge and purchased a new truck. The plan is to add a flat bed and under-bed storage boxes, for use with a removable camper.

All crazy ideas and recommendations are welcome and encouraged. Without the advice and support from the ExPo clan I would never have made this leap. Special thanks to Chip Haven, Scott Brady, and Charlie Aarons for their advice and expertise. Also thanks to the following builds from which I’ve drawn so much:
Carl http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9502
Jay http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8936
Mark http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=748
Doug http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2229&highlight=dhackney

Now on to the build and my usual list of questions:

TRUCK
The truck details are as follows: 2008 Ford F550, 4x4, crew cab, chassis cab, 176” wheelbase, 6.4L diesel, automatic, 4.88 ratio limited slip axle, traction control, dual alternators, dual fuel tanks, extra heavy duty front suspension, and skid plates.

CAMPER
More on this in future posts.

Now today’s questions:
1. Do I keep the DRW or perform a SRW conversion?
This topic has been kicked around in several threads including this one. http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12380&highlight=SRW+F550 This decision will drive the selection of wheels and tires, suspension lift requirements, and flatbed dimensions. Commercial 19.5” tires are stiff and don’t air down (limiting offroad and beach driving). However, for extended travel on unimproved roads the bigger issue is the lack of available tires that fit the stock 19.5x6.0 rims. The tires that I’d like to consider (e.g., Michelin XDE2+, Goodyear G124, Hankook DH01, etc.) require a 7.50” or 8.25” wide rim. Anyone have a tire they think I should consider?

2. What suspension upgrades?
I’m considering a small lift (4-6”) to improve the break-over angle and to clear larger tires. The options for the 2008 F450/F550 include air and non-air kits from Kelderman, Fabtech, Icon, and LinkMfg. Anyone have experience with any of these kits?

3. What flatbed to use?
I’m looking at a number of aluminum flatbed vendors. However, I won’t be able to settle on tray width until the SRW vs. DRW decision is made. The new modular OzTray mentioned in this thread is a leading candidate. http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20289&highlight=oztray

4. How to mount the spare?
I’m leaning heavily towards a side-entry camper. The question is how to mount an oversized spare and lower it to the ground safely and still have a decent rear departure angle? I’d also like a rear receiver for towing and possibly a motorcycle rack. Any ideas?

Bob
 

haven

Expedition Leader
Bob,

We'll all be watching your build! :lurk:

Finding a suitable SRW setup for the Earthroamer has been an ongoing
project for Bill Swails. His latest setup for the F550 chassis looks great.

http://www.earthroamer.com/galleries/mpt81/

This approach is not for the faint of heart, or light in the wallet. The Earthroamer XV-LT off-road suspension includes a Kelderman air suspension system, an Oasis air compressor and tank, Hutchinson beadlock rims and Continental MPT 81 335/80 R20 tires. A suspension lift would be required to fit the tall tires. And tuning sway bars, spring rates and shocks to the load of your camper could take lots of trial and error.

Chip Haven
 

OutbacKamper

Supporting Sponsor
Thats great Bob, congratulations!

My only suggestion is to concentrate on the camper first. Then take a few test trips, to determine what you really need, before spending lots of time and money on super singles, larger tires, custom suspension and lifts etc. The closer to stock your vehicle remains, the easier (and cheaper) it will be to find parts during your travels. Douglas Hackney seems to be coping fine with dual rear wheels. Most of the 4x4 tour busses, that I saw, in Oz had dual rear wheels, and they went everywhere that I did in my F350 with single rear wheels. I think weight and height are going to be the greatest limiting factors in using your F550 camper off road, not tires or clearance. Driving over a rough trail with significant side slope while you have a large heavy camper attached, you will want the lowest centre of gravity possible.

I am really looking forward to following your build.

Cheers
Mark
 

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Applejack

Explorer
Duals can be quite the pain on the trail. Always picking up sticks and rocks that wedge in between the tires. So there can be a lot of getting in and out and prying out offending items. On the other hand, it wont cost you anything more to stay with duals.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
My only suggestion is to concentrate on the camper first. Then take a few test trips, to determine what you really need, before spending lots of time and money on super singles, larger tires, custom suspension and lifts etc. The closer to stock your vehicle remains, the easier (and cheaper) it will be to find parts during your travels. Douglas Hackney seems to be coping fine with dual rear wheels. Most of the 4x4 tour busses, that I saw, in Oz had dual rear wheels, and they went everywhere that I did in my F350 with single rear wheels. I think weight and height are going to be the greatest limiting factors in using your F550 camper off road, not tires or clearance. Driving over a rough trail with significant side slope while you have a large heavy camper attached, you will want the lowest centre of gravity possible.
Mark makes a number of good points. It's not the duals that have me worried it's the tires. I'd feel better with more aggressive 285s instead of the 225s, but they won't fit the 19.5x6.00 rims.

Another problem is what dimensions to use for the flatbed? The full size Ute bed is 84" wide and the upcoming modular OzTray is 81" wide. The stock F550 with 225 rear tires is 94" wide. I'd rather the bed and camper be the same width.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
Last I heard the new OzTray was scheduled to be ready mid-March. As far as rims, I've been in contact with Stockton, Rickson, and Hutchinson. The Hutchinson beadlocks are great (but way out of my budget and overkill for my application). Stockton and Rickson are both willing to make steel 20s for the F550.
 

Carlyle

Explorer
How is the build coming along ? I'd be interested to see what you come up with wheels, as I'll be going down that route eventually when I go to larger chassis.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
Wheel Update

How is the build coming along ? I'd be interested to see what you come up with wheels, as I'll be going down that route eventually when I go to larger chassis.
Carl,

I'll try to recap what I've found so far for everyone here as well.

Stockton - they'll make custom steel 20x11 wheels. They made the wheels for the first TurtleV.

Hutchinson - they make the Earthroamer 20x11 aluminum beadlock wheels for the F550. The wheels they supply to Earthroamer are load rated for 6779lbs. They use the same wheel front and back with an adapter plate. The wheels weigh about 110lb and the MPT 335s are 122lbs. They are very cool, but not cheap. My contact is Bill O'Hara (Sales & Marketing Manager - Wheel Division) bohara@hutchinsoninc.com Phone: 609-858-5661. He's been very good about responding.

Rickson - Many truck camper owners with SRW trucks upgrade to Rickson 19.5s. They also do custom orders. I'm currently considering a set of 20x11 or 19.5x8.25 steel singles for use with my F550. The cost is about the same. The 20s are load rated for 6750lbs. Contact Dan Richter (www.ricksontruck.com dan@ricksontruck.com Phone: 410-771-9501).

Bob
 

Carlyle

Explorer
Hi Bob,

If it helps at all I have 19.5's with Goodyear G124's that I'm very happy with. They have excellent traction in snow, ice and water and superb lack of wear. The wheels are Vision's, same as sold by Rickson and I would be quite happy to have these tires and type of wheels on a 550 chassis. I keep them at 100 psi most of the time and they ride better than OEM's by far.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
Thanks Carl. Funny thing on the Goodyear 124's. About a week ago the 19.5's dropped off the list of available sizes. I've heard good things about the tire, but as of this writing it was only available as a 22.5. If I go with the Rickson 19.5 rims I'll probably opt for the Michelin XDE2+ 285s.
 

Carlyle

Explorer
That would be a shame if the G124's are not available in 19.5 any more they are quite a bit more aggressive than the Michelin tires. If money was not a great concern there was a link on the portal a while back on a company back east that converts F550 etc. to fire pump trucks and field rigs with SRW. A little pricey, but nice conversions. I'll try to find the link later.
 

Rhode Trip

Adventurer
4. How to mount the spare?
I’m leaning heavily towards a side-entry camper. The question is how to mount an oversized spare and lower it to the ground safely and still have a decent rear departure angle? I’d also like a rear receiver for towing and possibly a motorcycle rack. Any ideas?

Bob
Hi Bob, good luck with this build and I'll enjoy vicariously spending your money, especially in this economy. (maybe you can get some gov'ment stimulus funds!) I don't have an opinion on wheels, but if I was able to change one thing on my set-up, it would be to have a side entry. It opens up all that useful space at the back of the rig that is unusable because of the door. Even though I greatly prefer the clamshell construction of my NL for cold, wet conditions, I would consider a Lance or a Host for this reason.
My other warning is 'watch your height'. The only drawback to a flatbed that I can see is the additional height with a hardside camper. Well, that and the weight gain because you'll have all that great storage space but the F550 will help there.:ylsmoke:
 

boblynch

Adventurer
That would be a shame if the G124's are not available in 19.5 any more they are quite a bit more aggressive than the Michelin tires. If money was not a great concern there was a link on the portal a while back on a company back east that converts F550 etc. to fire pump trucks and field rigs with SRW. A little pricey, but nice conversions. I'll try to find the link later.
I contacted the brush truck firm you are referring to. They don't do civilian conversions and they don't do their own wheels. They directed me to Stockton Wheels. I sent an email to Goodyear inquiring about the 124s - hope it was a web error and not the loss of a good tire option.
 

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mcgovski

Adventurer
I love my ricksons

Bob
I love my Ricksons. I have been running them since '06 with the Hankook dho1. I was a skeptic of the tire at first, but Heather at Rickson talked me into them. I love the tire. I am glad she did. Snow, deep or packed, Ice, dirt, Mud, Pavement, great tire so far. I am about to order a another wheel and tire from Rickson so I have a matching spare.

Good luck, keep the info on your build coming
 

WKCwith5

Adventurer
I ordered some G124s in the 225/70-19.5 for my F450 and was told they are going to a G622 tread design. My dealer found some G124s at a ford dealer locally and it was their last full set. I hope the new tread pattern works as well, but most likely not.
 
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