Charlie, 96 F250 Service Bed

#1
My taste in offroad travel has changed many times since I was given my first dirtbike in 1975. I have had so many Jeeps, I stopped counting, built racecars, rock crawlers, Toyota pickups and tow vehicles. Funny, these days, I just want to return exploring the path less traveled and build a vehicle that allows some of the comforts of an RV, but allows us to go deeper into the backcountry. While I could have started with a newer platform, I have had this truck for about 10 plus years and I have always liked it. I also like that the truck is pretty simple. I have always liked Service trucks because they can be so organized, so without a care in the world about financial ROI, I decided to build something unique.
IMG_3799.jpg
This project started many years ago when Charlie was called "Chase Charlie for the NATO Phonetic Alphabet as this truck was the third chase truck when I use to race desert cars. The truck was just flat abused and even used to mark race course for King of the Hammers. The truck was pretty much offered for anyone to drive anytime at desert races and KOH duty for many years. I have a lot of memories with this old truck, so I figured I should give it some love.
Goals
Build a self-sufficient go almost anywhere Sherpa vehicle that Angie and I can camp in, go kayaking, fishing, hiking, exploring and will be secure if it ends up parked somewhere strange.
I will try and keep this build thread moving forward, but I have done a lot of work on this truck in the last 3 months, including pulling the motor and replacing a bunch of critical engine components, including the clutch. In addition, I have completely redone the interior of the truck save for a few items I have left to finish.
Past work
Rather than lift the truck, I installed a Fiberglass hood and fenders made for a Bronco back when it was a chase truck. This has allowed me to install larger tires without a lift. I am really stupid about vehicle steering geometry and hate when the vehicle does not perform at least as good as stock. I never liked any of the lift kits available for the TTB front end. I built the front and rear bumpers myself many years ago, as well as the chase rack. These are all getting an update, or have been updated in the last months.
The Plan ( dream list)
I guess it will be best to break this up into focus areas. Most of the fun stuff will take place with the service bed.
Service Bed
The passenger will be the kitchen. I am hopeful I can craft a slide out cooktop in the first door at the front. I am not sure where I will mount the propane tank yet, but I have options. Spice rack and cutlery will also live here. If room allows the cast iron will also end up in this location. The middle bin will be the pantry, the rear bin will be the sink and cleaning station. I have an ARB awning and walls for this side of the rig and it is close to Angie, so she can jump out and make me a sandwich. I need to find a place for the BBQ and a folding table to round out the kitchen.

Drivers side will be basic storage of all those things you need handy. I have already built a gun safe in the first bin that is going to be hard to crack. I am also thinking I can put all the fuse blocks in here as well as jackets and personal items.I am also thinking of stashing the Honda generator here. The middle bin will be all the computers and camera crap. There is a nice fold down table here as well. Our daypacks and more personal stuff can live here as well. The rear bin will store the onboard shower and hygiene stuff. We have a Tepui tent on order with a room that will deploy to the driver's side so I can work inside the room at the stand-up desk that the middle bin affords. We have a quick pop tent that we use for a shower, that will go next to the toilet bin.
Bed
I have two aluminum packrat side out drawers that will get mounted in the bed for tools and extrication gear. The bed is covered so getting things out is a PITA. I plan to build a slide out bed for the cooler and all the bins that will get stored in the bed. Spare parts will go all the way in the bed as well as the house batteries.
I have already fabricated racks for two kayaks, the spare tire carrier, and the 3 jerry cans. I am still trying to decide what to do with my roof rack. We bought a Yakama Dr. Trey bike rack for our bikes to ride out back. I still need to figure out where the chainsaw, pulpal, maxxtrax and things like a shovel and an ax will live, but the 60" Highlift is mounted. Of course lights everywhere. Those yellow lights seem a good idea to keep the mozzies (skeeters) away.

Drivetrain
5.8 L V8 1994–97 210 hp (160 kW) 325 lb⋅ft (441 N⋅m)
Axles 5.13s and ARBs. Keep the TTB Dana 50 and at some point, I will do coil overs and bypasses. I have a box of never been used racing shock stuff so it will likely find its way on this truck. Add disk brakes to the rear Sterling 10.25. The TTb does not scare me as far as wanting to swap a Dana 60, I like the ride.
Motor checked out with good compression, it will stay around, but I plan to replace the entire exhaust and see If I can't make this breath a little. I may register the truck in Montana at some point, when that happens it will get upgrades. It will never be a race car, I am not in a hurry these days.

I will keep the 5 speed, love the granny 1st gear. Just replaced the clutch, motor mounts, harmonic balancer, water pump, timing chain housing etc.
Interior has been completely redone, over the last couple weeks, I will at some point replace the bench seat with a set of PRP daily driver seats. I still need to mount my Lowrance GPS and the RAM mount for the Ipad. The Kenwood dual band HAM radio will be going in soon as well. I own a half dozen commercial frequencies, so we don't mess with CB's anymore.

The only armor I need to build is a set of sliders, steps and upgrade all the skid plates under the rig. Bumpers have been serving me well for about 10 years now. The winch is only a 10K unit, but I have a snatch block if it ever stalls out and extra rope.

Lastly, it needs a paint job as it is ugly. Trying to decide if I want to tear it apart and paint it, or just get a wrap. The jury is still not out on this. Angie and I plan to use this machine to explore so I don't want to get upset if it gets desert pinstripes with a few dents. The truck will ultimately end up in Northern Montana or Idaho and I don't plan to get rid of it unless I win the lotto and build a newer version of the same thing. I have had about 30 years to learn what I need.
 
Last edited:
#4
New Shoes on Charlie today, the 37's look much better. My son found a tag inside the KM2's I took off, they were 8 years old. They still had a ton of tread, but the bigger BFG AT's look much better and are quiet. BTW This truck does not have a lift kit.

image1.JPG
 
#5
For those interested in how I built the bumpers. https://www.fabricationforum.com/threads/1997-ford-desert-chase-truck-bumper-build.16/

159.JPG

CAD (Cardboard Aided Drafting) allows me to build full-scale models so I can verify mounting fit and inspect any visual elements of the build. After I marinate on a design for a while, I simply take apart the model and transfer the dimensions to CAD (computer-aided drafting) to be cut out on the Torchmate table.

chase truck charlie bumper 031.JPG

I wanted a very clean look so two design elements. First, countersunk winch mount, so that you could not see the winch and if someone wanted to steal it, they had to take the whole bumper. Second, the radius of the front grill needed to match the radius of the bumper. Let me show you how I transferred the radius to my model and checked fit.I created a linear pattern on my foam core board and transferred measurements across from the model I hung on the truck. I chose random increments to create intersection points.

chase truck charlie bumper 032.JPG

Using a speed square to confirm the measurements at the vehicle.

chase truck charlie bumper 034.JPG

My homemade angle finder was used to transfer the face of the bumper angle for the first cut.

chase truck charlie bumper 033.JPG

This drafting tool has served me well over the years. It is flexible but holds its shape well. I bend the tool to the desired shape and used my reference points on the foam core for correct placement.

chase truck charlie bumper 036.JPG

chase truck charlie bumper 037.JPG

Here you can see the final model assembly.

chase truck charlie bumper 039.JPG



Over the years I have learned a few tricks that include slots, tabs, and keyways. I will share this in another post on building the kayak rack mounts. I enjoy experimenting with strength vs weight design and these design elements help reduce weld time and the need for a fixture. When I designed the bumpers I had weight in mind and did not want to sacrifice strength. When I built this bumper I was new to using the torchmate. Now If I built an assembly like this one below, I would have used tabs and keyways to align this bracket. Keeping this straight while welding was difficult.

097.JPG



The internal frames are built like a honeycomb with a combination of various thickness metal. The Torchmate allows incorporation of holes and weight reduction design in ways I could not easily maintain with hand cutting. I am also able to stack metal in various locations to add strength. The winch mount is a prime example. I was not sure if I went too weak in this design, but after 8 years, the bumper has not shown signs of failure pulling some pretty good weight. If it ever does bend to the point that I need to replace the bumper, I have DXF files to build a new improved version.

111.JPG

I wanted to make sure my mounts did not become the weak point. Note the sleeve inside the frame rail.The mount on the right here was welded into the bumper at final assembly. This works as my tow point.

120.JPG

Another view of the mount. 8 years ago I was just learning to weld, I am still a hack as I don't practice the art enough, but my son is a certified bad ass welder, so I make him do most of my welding now.

121.JPG

Last view of the mounting assembly.

122.JPG

This final shot shows the radius pretty good and the hidden winch mount.

160.JPG

The real magic is the Torchmate table, I could not have built most of these projects without the CNC table.

077.JPG
 
#6
I guess I should suggest that if you want to build your own projects like this and don't have a CNC table, you may be able to find someone at FabricationForum.com or a few other forums, that will take your foam core models and transfer them to DXF files. They will also cut out small jobs for fair prices and mail you the raw material. With some research, you can also find job shops that will cut your shapes locally. The maker community is another resource to consider. Here in Reno, we have a maker space that will allow you to pay a monthly rental to use the community equipment. Most have CNC tables these days. Last, don't be afraid to build things yourself. The web offers an unlimited resource of how to guides for DIYers. When I started building things like this I had more ambition than experience. I have wasted my share of material. While some people might make fun of your work, design, or welds, at least you are building your own projects. IMHO that is way cooler than buying the trendy parts and pieces.
 

bob91yj

Adventurist
Founding Member
#7
I see the "man cave" made it's way to Reno. Nice job on the bumper, although it doesn't appear that Fat City approved safety flip-flops were used during the construction!:cool:

Those torch Mate tables are amazing.
 
#8
I see the "man cave" made it's way to Reno. Nice job on the bumper, although it doesn't appear that Fat City approved safety flip-flops were used during the construction!:cool:

Those torch Mate tables are amazing.
Man Cave in Reno is much nicer than the SoCa version. I spend all winter pretty much messing around in the shop. It is a great post Vegas2Reno and post-Rubicon stop off point. I wanted to buy a bar at one point, so I built one that I can play bar owner and not have to deal with it on a regular basis. We call it the Kodiak Club.

IMG_3211.JPG

IMG_3210.JPG
 

bob91yj

Adventurist
Founding Member
#9
Damn Jeff, that's sweet!

We went from a house to a travel trailer, the down sizing was brutal. My SIL @Christopher Wright ended up with all but my travelling tools.

BTW the circle is complete for my family. My old YJ was yard art for a couple of years, when Chris came into the family he got it running again, even used it as a daily driver for a bit. I've known Jody (fawkin') Everding since his stock CJ-7 CRCA days... Chris responded to a Craig's list add in Imperial Beach. He went down to get a modified XJ shell, old school rock crawler. It was Jody that was giving it away. Chris showed him a pic of the YJ, still has the yellow cage. Chris got the XJ corpse free, which is a good thing, I think we all know that Jody is hard on the equipment!:rolleyes:

Seeing you here is bitchin', brings back a lot of cool memories. We're going to have to meet for a Death Valley trip next fall. It's better to travel with similar vehicles IMO. My Dmax won't keep up with the lighter weight vehicles, we still have the LJ for trips with faster movers.
 
#10
Damn Jeff, that's sweet!

We went from a house to a travel trailer, the down sizing was brutal. My SIL @Christopher Wright ended up with all but my travelling tools.

BTW the circle is complete for my family. My old YJ was yard art for a couple of years, when Chris came into the family he got it running again, even used it as a daily driver for a bit. I've known Jody (fawkin') Everding since his stock CJ-7 CRCA days... Chris responded to a Craig's list add in Imperial Beach. He went down to get a modified XJ shell, old school rock crawler. It was Jody that was giving it away. Chris showed him a pic of the YJ, still has the yellow cage. Chris got the XJ corpse free, which is a good thing, I think we all know that Jody is hard on the equipment!:rolleyes:

Seeing you here is bitchin', brings back a lot of cool memories. We're going to have to meet for a Death Valley trip next fall. It's better to travel with similar vehicles IMO. My Dmax won't keep up with the lighter weight vehicles, we still have the LJ for trips with faster movers.
Angie and I would love that. Truth be told, I am building this truck with specific things in mind that the JK would not have served us well for. I will likely build a Toyota PU, or Flatfender when this build is finished to resume trips to Fordyce and Rubicon. For now, I have my sights set on high mileage way off the grid travel. My hands down single best trip ever have been the 10 days we drove the peninsula in the Fat City Liberty Buggy. I realized I enjoy the remote travel more than the thrill of racing. I could have done all of that trip in this truck and enjoyed a lot of additional camping opportunity. Los Coyotes might occupy the second spot for best trips. It is killing me not to join you for the 500.
 
#12
That place is awesome. Did you take that Brownie?
No, I was far from born when that beast stopped walking the earth. That is the 1950 Boone and Crocket big game award winner. It was taken by my adopted aunt's father on Kodiak Island. I have the award and the skull also. It is poor shape but looks great on the wall of my adult clubhouse. The rug does not do the true size of the bear credit. Somewhere I have slide photos of this prize hanging at weigh in and it is frightening in scale.
 

Andy G

Adventurist
#13
No, I was far from born when that beast stopped walking the earth. That is the 1950 Boone and Crocket big game award winner. It was taken by my adopted aunt's father on Kodiak Island. I have the award and the skull also. It is poor shape but looks great on the wall of my adult clubhouse. The rug does not do the true size of the bear credit. Somewhere I have slide photos of this prize hanging at weigh in and it is frightening in scale.
Nice. I lived on Kodiak for just shy of 9 years. Took this one in 2007, and assisted on 4-5 hunts with friends. Apologies for the blurry picture...

IMG_1552_1024.jpg

Now back to our originally scheduled programming. :)
 
#16
Bumper looks great! Makes me think I should try to DIY one.
Do it. Just go buy a couple sheets of foam core and some painters tape. You can build a complete model without a commitment. Flap discs and orbital sanders make up for a lot of fabrication mistakes. BTW, Love your build thread.I binged the whole build in a single night.
 
#17
Love the Utility Bed. I've got a very similar '93 F350 that is going in a similar direction, but with a flat bed and boxes down the sides. I like the service bed a little better, but the flat bed is free.
 
#18
Do it. Just go buy a couple sheets of foam core and some painters tape. You can build a complete model without a commitment. Flap discs and orbital sanders make up for a lot of fabrication mistakes. BTW, Love your build thread.I binged the whole build in a single night.
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

I like the foam idea, its a great one! I just need time and I wish I had the garage space to work inside right now.
 
#19
Love the Utility Bed. I've got a very similar '93 F350 that is going in a similar direction, but with a flat bed and boxes down the sides. I like the service bed a little better, but the flat bed is free.
I really like the practicality of both Flatbeds and Utility beds. I want a flatbed next. Something I can really beat the heck out off.
 
#20
Universal Kayak Rack Mount.


I don't have any pictures of my Foam Core models this time, I guess I never took pictures, but I can explain the process and hopefully inspire others to enjoy DIY fabrication. In this post, I will share how I used keyways, slots, and tabs to interlock my assembly for less welding and improved strength.

I still enjoy designing on paper as this is how I was originally taught design. I have done design work directly into CAD, but I sometimes enjoy putting pen to paper and frankly, in some cases, I am quicker with a pencil. From here I have choices, I can scan these drawings, use a wizard, trace them in CAD, or just do a new design directly in CAD. Lots of resources can be found online to help. There are many different versions of software and CNC tables, each has advantages and disadvantages. It is not my intention to sell any specific products on this forum. A quick Google search will yield the process for each of the methods I have suggested.

We are going to go from this;
IMG_3221.jpg

To This;
IMG_3800.jpg

First, let me share a great resource. https://www.8020.net/ This stuff is awesome to work with, and if you can't weld, you can bolt stuff together with this grown-up erector set. The crossbars on my Kayak rack are made of this awesome product, I simply had to build the mounts.
I started this project with foam care and made full-scale working models. I wish I had pictures, as I went thru 3-4 versions before settling on this design. I used 10 gauge mild steel and found that I will stop buying mill scale material and start buying P&O from now on as I still have not found a good way to remove mill scale. Rust seems easier.

This first picture is my first attempt at an actually finished assembly. Notice the slot and keyway joints. I found this design to be very difficult to weld and the design did not meet my requirements to provide its own alignment. You can see the fitment is poor.

IMG_3318.jpg


Here is where I ended up. If I ever make a version 3.0, I will open up some of the openings, as getting the nozzle inside was difficult.


IMG_3325.jpg

Side by Side comparison of both versions. Notice how much better the second design fitment is?

IMG_3326.jpg


Another view of both versions. I believe the second version also offers additional strength.


IMG_3329.jpg

This view will give you an idea of the minimal welding these required due to the design features. The bottom windows allowed access to the welds at the bottom. one and each corner and one longer weld under each window. 6 small welds at the bottom in total.



IMG_3324.jpg

Midpoint and top welds.



IMG_3319.jpg

Here I tried variations of my weld procedure as an experiment. If I was going to manufacture this as a product, I would develop a welding procedure, but since I am only building a set, I decided to play with welding locations. They all seem equally strong regardless.


IMG_3335.jpg

Below is the final raw assembly. I ran this over my belt sander to clean it up and make them all look finished. To finish them off I painted them and tapped the hole at the end of the 80/20 spreader bar. The tie down fits nicely into the top loop. These can't be removed without access to the inside of the service bed. I am still searching for a way to lock the boats onto the rack. If you have any ideas on locking the boats, I would love to hear them.
IMG_3330.jpg


The finished project, two boats. I will share the rear bumper and fuel tank/ tire carrier at some point soon. Hope this inspires others to build things that meet their personal needs.

IMG_3804.jpg
 
Top Bottom