Building a Better Custom Bed

    Homebrew pickup truck bed rebuild

    Running a full pickup bed in tight trees or big boulders means threading your way through obstacles hoping not to bump the sheetmetal. Over the years our 2001 Toyota Tacoma had seen some dents, scars, and broken taillights from trail encounters. Maybe you have a Ford, Chevy, Dodge or whatever pickup bed that's seen the ravages of rust, but maybe portions of it are still good. In any case, it was time to make some changes to our cargo space.

    We've used this rig for everything from daytrips to weeklong expeditions in remote areas over the last decade, and had a pretty good idea how we load for various outings. We wanted to downsize a bit, maintain a certain level of cargo capacity, and still have our truck look like a pickup. Follow along to see what we did to build something a little different.

    We knew we wanted the bed shorter as a start. We've bobbed beds before and liked the results. We've also scratch-built tube beds with fenderwells and storage boxes. However, this time we decided to build a minimalist bed interior to accommodate the gear we like to carry, then skin it with our original sheetmetal bedsides.

    Before cutting metal, we laid out our essential gear and spare tire, and worked on the placement of everything in the space we planned to have inside the bed. We had recently fabricated a rear link suspension and rebuilt a portion of the rear truck frame with an eye toward this new bed build. From there we built additional structure from metal tubing and skinned the interior with steel sheet.

    Our revised bed is now about 10 inches shorter than stock, and the tail has been narrowed about 10 inches. Rear departure angle and clearance is greatly improved and our sheetmetal is now further from trail hazards.