Pickups That Throw Down
Kits to convert a normal pickup into a real workhorse with a dump bed
By Tim Walton (Photos by Larry Walton)
Imagine a wheelbarrow that you couldn’t dump. Sounds silly.
But that’s how many landscapers view their pickups; they have a bed but it’s not really being used to its full potential.
In reality, a good portion of the efficiency of a pickup around a landscaping job is having the ability to haul materials and being able to dump and run as needed.
Whether your business is growing or you’re just starting out, it’s not hard to imagine times when a pickup equipped with dump bed could be a great addition to business operations.
Contractors and municipalities could really benefit from the material handling capability of a pickup because it cuts the cost of tying up a Class 5 dump and a certified driver for smaller tasks.
Fortunately, there are numerous options to convert pickups into light-duty dump trucks – and they take three basic approaches:
• Replace the bed with a dumping bed.
• Convert the existing pickup bed to a dump.
• Install a dumping bed inside the pickup bed.
Manufacturers of these three dump types will tell you why their approach is the best. In actuality, there are pros and cons for each type of dump bed conversion.
The task at hand is to find the best fit for your company, your pickup and your budget.
Dump bed inserts
Conversions for pickup dump beds come in three styles with “inserts” being the easiest. Dump bed inserts are available for both short- and long-bed pickups, and can be transferred to a newer pickup if you upgrade your fleet to a newer model year.
Bed inserts generally do not require much modification to the truck itself to install, nor do they require removal of the bed. Another advantage of the insert bed is the fuel fill cap and filler hose remain in the stock location.
The downside of inserts is they add weight, using up some the pickup’s valuable payload capacity.
Sneaky stealth beds
If you don’t want your pickup to look like it’s a dump truck, the stealth-style hoist conversion keeps your pickup looking stock but allows you to do some real work.
Some of these kits are virtually undetectable until you actually raise the bed, which can be a lot of fun in addition to maintaining the look of the original design.
On the down side, installation can be more involved, requiring some welding and modifications to the fuel fill location, bumper and hitch components.
(If the latter, make sure you know how towing capacities will change as this can be a big determining factor on which setup you use.)
Stealth units often require relocation to the spare tire well area, too, which means the spare has to be dealt with.
A full conversion means removing the stock bed and replacing it with an aftermarket dump bed similar to what you’d do if starting with a chassis cab.
The advantages with this direction include the ability to repurpose an existing pickup; maximizing payload capacity by saving weight; gaining a high degree of functionality; and having a pickup for a dedicated use.
On the downside, it changes the look of the pickup and the conversion isn’t easily reversed because changes to the fuel fill and other items are required.
So if you want to give your pickup(s) greater utility value and functionality, use the information above to help guide you to the right dump bed solution for your company needs. As you can see in the product showcase, there’s no shortage of choices.
Pay attention to payload limits
Like towing capacities, every pickup has payload limits set by the vehicle’s manufacturer.
Payload capacities vary by vehicle make, model and drivetrain, and they are in place for both driver safety and vehicle durability. Pay them heed.
Keep in mind that a pickup’s payload capacity decreases with any aftermarket part that adds weight.
In short, payload capacity is directly proportional to the weight of the parts added. (If you upfit to a replacement dump bed, the weight difference between the two has to be figured.)
Another important note: The weight of add-ons also reduces the truck’s maximum towing capacity.
Aftermarket air springs or other suspension mods can be helpful for load leveling and control, especially if you’re moving dirt or rocks.
However, they don’t increase the pickup’s gross vehicle weight limits (GVWR) or gross axle weight rating (GAWR). Why? Because weight ratings involve many more components than the suspension: tires, transmission, axles, engine, brakes.
Exceeding the capacities for your pickup could easily result in increased repair frequencies and possibly driving accidents. That said, the weight of the dump unit itself could be a restriction in your conversion plans, as could its payload capacity.
So figure the numbers closely before you buy.
PICKUP DUMP BED PRODUCT SHOWCASE
Buyers Products Company
Dumper Dogg is a 12-gauge steel and 304 stainless steel truck inserts that turn regular pickups into dump trucks. The 8-foot model has a 2-cubic-yard capacity and a 1.5-cubic-yard capacity in the 6-foot insert. An 8-foot polymer insert is also available with a 1.6-cubic-yard capacity. Inserts include in-cab body-up indicators and a 3hp hydraulic pump that produces dump angles from zero to 45 degrees. A black powder-coated steel frame and ¾-inch tailgate hinge pins provide support for each insert’s 6,000-pound payload capacity. Double-pivoting and removable tailgates are standard, while a built-in cab guard is standard for the poly unit. Options include bolt-on cab guards, tarp kits and wall extension brackets.
Buyers Products Company:
The Metro from TruckCraft, with its optional three-way dump hoist, allows you to dump up to 3,500-pound loads to the left, right or rear of the pickup. This all-aluminum insert, crafted from extruded 6061 T6 aluminum components for high strength, has drop-sides to allow for easy forklift access. The drop-sides, tailgate and bulkhead are anodized for lasting durability. The adjustable bulkhead has a screen window with foam handgrips and the 56-square-foot bed features six recessed tie-downs. Sides and tailgate can all be removed without tools.
TruckCraft: truckcraft.com; 800-755-3867
The Swenson Insert Dump Body features a 12V Monarch electric hydraulic pump and comes in 4,000- or 7,500-pound lifting capacities. Versions are available for 6.5-foot (short bed) and 8-foot (long bed) models. The carbon steel model features 12-ga. steel. The stainless steel versions come in 14-gauge standard and 12-gauge for the Stainless Steel HD model. Swenson safety features include a self-locating body prop and 9-foot tethered hand control. Comes with a one-year warranty and has optional cab guard and vehicle battery harness.
The VP/VC 6600 Pickup Hoist for 2011/2012 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup mode is part of Venco’s VP6 Series and uses a scissor hoist to turn an 8-foot pickup box into a 6,000-pound-capacity dump truck. An integrated lifting nest, hinge assembly and body stiffener forms a rugged body understructure to rigidly support the pickup floor. The Venco/Venturo bumper relocation kit maintains the original look of the vehicle and a Class II Hitch rating, and allows for a 45-degree dump angle. Combination electric/hydraulic pumps are available in single-acting (gravity down) and double-acting (power down) versions. Safety prop and handheld pendant control comes standard.
Venco/Venturo Manufacturing: venturo.com; 800-226-2238
The TC-121 ULTRA from TruckCraft is an all-aluminum dump insert that weighs just 420 pounds. The ULTRA offers low weight and high strength with a payload capacity to safely dump 7,000 pounds. With a capacity of 2.5 cubic yards, a dump angle of 47 degrees can be achieved in 15 seconds. The dump insert features a double-acting tailgate that can also release from the bottom to spread materials. The ULTRA’s 48 1/8- by 98-inch floor size can hold a full sheet of plywood flat on the floor with the tailgate closed. Comes with a 3-year warranty and installs in your truck in less than two hours with no welding.
TruckCraft: truckcraft.com; 800-755-3867
The EZ-Dumper Dump Insert bolts directly to most full-sized pickups in about two hours with few or no alterations. The insert dumps to an angle of 48 degrees in less than 30 seconds using a 12V double-acting Monarch hydraulic pump connected directly to the pickup battery. It is also available in a 6-foot model that fits most short bed trucks and has a payload capacity of 1.5 cubic yards and 5,200 pounds. Available with optional steel cab protector, tarp kit, 20-inch high steel side extensions, a tailgate extension and a coal chute spreader tailgate, the EZ-Dumper comes with a two-year front-to-tailgate warranty.
EZ-Dumper: ez-dumper.com; 717-762-1303
The Meyer Payload insert, available in carbon steel or stainless steel, quickly converts a stand ¾-ton pickup into a high-performance dump truck. The dump insert makes it easy to haul stone, mulch, dirt, firewood or any material that needs to be moved from place to place. Use with the double-acting tailgate standard or replace the tailgate with a Meyer Tailgate Spreader by inserting four locking pins. With the addition of the spinner assembly in the pickup receiver hitch, you’re ready to spread a wide variety of snow and ice control material.
Meyer: meyerproducts.com; 216-486-1313
Pierce Arrow Inc.
The Pierce Two-Ton Dump Kit is designed specifically for converting a pickup bed into a dump bed. Making use of the existing bed, it adds a hydraulic pump and a hydraulic cylinder to lift the load and allow the contents to dump. Kits are available for most makes and models, with some requiring welding and reinforcement of the bed.
Pierce Arrow Inc.; piercearrow.us; 800-658-6301