Installing A Dump-Bed Kit
With lots of more-or-less pressing mechanical issues to deal with, we had hoped to have most of them licked before doing this dump-bed conversion, but we had also promised the boss to have the Pierce Sales kit installed for this issue. So, consider this a separate gig from the project as a whole for now, and next time we'll get back to the trials and tribulations of wrenching on the retired Navy pickup itself.
Many tasks are elegantly handled by the utilitarian nature of a pickup, and a 4x4 version can be even more multitalented. But they aren't perfect. Fully capable of hauling dirt, rock, and gravel, for example, a pickup fails miserably when it's time to unload such cargo. Using a shovel is the common and back-breaking method. Or, you can try backing partway down a slope with the tailgate open, and hope that the load goes down and that the vehicle doesn't. But, if the slope is steep enough to empty the bed, it's probably also too steep to drive back up.
A far more elegant solution is to install a dump-bed conversion kit, such as the 2-ton Universal Dump Kit from Pierce Sales shown here. Not only does it make it practically effortless to unload the bed in about 10 seconds, the pickup still looks and functions just like it used to, but with the added feature of lifting the front of the bed. Basically, pivot points are created at the rear of the bed, and a hydraulic ram is used to lift the front. A dash-mounted three-way switch energizes the motor for the hydraulics when pushed up, lifting the bed. It keeps the bed in its position (up, down, or in between) when in the middle "neutral" spot, and then lowers it when the switch is pushed downward.
Considering that the P046-UK kit we used fits most Dodge, Ford, and GM pickups, and a wide span of model years from the '70s on up, it was surprisingly simple to install. Everything fit and functioned as intended, with the exception of the instructions. Vague and often cryptic, we had numerous "Uh ... " and "How was that supposed to be again?" moments as we leafed back and forth in search of more definitive answers in the instructions. Still, the installation is simple enough that the job can be finished over a weekend with time to spare. We have included quite a few photos, which will hopefully help clarify the process should you decide to increase the usefulness of your pickup.