Super Budget Build F350 - Northstar 850sc.....The Work Begins!


New member
I'll start by saying I have been a member of Exp. Portal for many years. Like many of us, I am overworked and don't have a ton of spare time. But at heart I am always pulled to a little adventure. My wife and I have been camping for many years and we have a nice class A coach and an older Roadtrek. But I wanted something for light offroad adventure. So after spedning many years on the side lines, last year we decided to get a truck camper. We found a used Northstar 850sc (what we were looking for) and pulled the trigger. I paid $8500 for it, and it is in really good condition. So I put the brackets on my 2000 Ram 2500 diesel and away we went. After a year we are attemping to (as cheap as possible) get another truck that solved a couple basic "wants":

  1. A One Ton Truck (the 2500 struggles a little bit more than I like)
  2. A long bed truck
  3. A truck we can configure to gain more storage
  4. Increased Payload Capacity
Our current rig just doesnt have much room for storage. Short Bed extended cab with a Northstar makes it hard to "equip" for anything other than very short trips. Below are pictures of our current setup. We budgeted less than $15,000.00 for the new rig (total) so for months I looked for a cheap truck. What we were looking for was:

  1. A one ton truck
  2. Single Rear Wheel
  3. Less than $12,000.00
  4. Flatbed (configure for more storage)
  5. With existing toolboxes (money saver)
  6. Something not totally worn out
We actually found a truck last month...F350 work truck in TN and we bagged it for $8,900. Had all the basic requirements of our future adventure rig.

We'll post the progress of our project and I hope you enjoy!



New member

SInce this was a work truck it had some god awful bench seats in it. So we got on ebay and found a full set of camel tan interior from a salvage dealer. I think we were lucky to find them so quickly. Tan isn't the most common color and totally manual seats are also a little rare. There are tons of leather, full power and even king ranch seats (i was tempted...very tempted) but keeping in mind this is a budget build I jumped at the full manual replacements to the manual benches I have. After several days of "offers" and "counter offers" we settled on $700 dollars. Not bad since his origional price and first counter offer was over $1200. I will give him shipping...we recieved the seats and got them all tucked in. Seats were as advertised and in exellent condition. Some dirt here and there, nothing we can clean up. These make a huge difference in comfort and function (center console seat is helpful) and since the back seat is a 60/40 and will fold all the way up, or down this give us extra options for storage configuration.

FIrst item item is to take off the ladder rack, tool boxes and "paint" the bed. Bad thing about an old flatbed it is worn and "rusty". Want something a little more fresh to work with.



New member

It was definately a lot more challenging than I thought.....but we finally got the "ladder rack off" and it almost killed us. I can't even imagine how much it weighs....but we used the bucket on my small tractor and it almost flipped over on us.

Also got the tool boxes off. The two boxes on the top of the flatbed are 96" long and I'll have to modify to accompany the camper since the last 27" are 12"s wider than the standard 48" floor. Bad news is that the two underbed boxes were rusted more than I anticipated.....I used my angle grinder with a paint stripper and found several places where I could poke my finger through. So I'll have to replace those...but the 96" weatherguard boxes are in pretty good shape.

After doing some research, I decided to go with herculiner to coat the top of the bed and the headache rack. I chose gray since I didn't want black. A gallon kit is on amazon for $147.00. I bought two gallons. We used our orbital floor buffer with a large scotch brite type pad under it to scuff the bed. I also think I am going to use Herculiner on the outside of the tool boxes since the factory paint seems thin and may not hold up...based on what we found on the underbed boxes.



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