Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??
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  1. #1
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    Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Hey guys. I need a bigger truck than my F350, which is overloaded and out of room in the bed. I am considering purchasing this truck (pic below) and extending the cab to axle length from 60" to 84" so I can have an 11 foot bed instead of the 9 footer that's on it.

    I know these trucks came available from the factory with reg cab and 60", 84" and 120" cab to axle lengths, so the frame should be strong enough to take the additional length. Finding one of these trucks with 4wd is a rare thing though, so I don't know that I will find one with the engine/trans/4wd/cab/wheelbase/mileage and asking price I am looking for. The truck meets all the other requirements except for the cab to axle length. I figure it shouldn't be an insurmountable task to change the frame length, but I've never done anything like that before.

    My question is, HOW to do the extension... bolt in a section?? ...weld in a section?? Side plate it?? Where would I acquire the frame section? Anybody have experience doing this?

    Thanks for any ideas!

    Here is the truck-



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  2. #2
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Oh man, ya just let the genie outta the bottle. STAND BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have a feelin' this is gonna be a Loooooooong thread.
    "Any day above ground is a good day"

  3. #3
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Great! I'm up for all the ideas and opinions everyone has!
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  4. #4
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertRider33 View Post

    My question is, HOW to do the extension... bolt in a section?? ...weld in a section?? Side plate it?? Where would I acquire the frame section? Anybody have experience doing this?

    The pic below is my truck (freight hauler). This rig has had the frame lengthened 101". As a tractor the wheelbase was 199" from the steer axle centerline to the mid-point between the tandems, it is now 300".

    If you are only going to add 24" of bed length I would recommend adding 12" of frame length. Too much wheelbase will overload the front axle.

    Directly under and behind the cab is where you have a nice straight run of frame rail and this would be the best place to add length. Trying to follow curves would be a pain in the butt.

    Try to find a junker truck with decent frame rails to use as a donor. When you cut your frame fish mouth the ends <> of the side rails. Cut the add in sections of the donor rails to match the fish mouth and weld them in.

    To reinforce the add in area, use a second set of donor rails that are a couple of inches longer than the maximum distance of the add in. You want to cut the reinforcements length wise and add material so that the reinforcing channel will fit snugly over the add in area.
    Use 8 bolts per side ( don't put any bolts in the upper or lower frame flanges), one each above and below the fish mouth <> in the original frame rails and the other 4 evenly spaced in the add in area. Use Grade 8 bolts with large flat washers and self locking nuts (DON'T use nylon insert nuts, find the type that are all metal). 1/2" or 5/8" bolts will work well.

    Maintaining alignment is VERY IMPORTANT! you will have the best result using jack stands under both axles and carefully measuring the axles center to center. Having the same wheelbase on both sides is a good thing!

    Once you have the truck back on it's wheels you can lengthen the driveshaft, brake line and wiring to suit.


    Rex


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  5. #5
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Overloaded and you want to make it longer? I don't see this ending well. I think you're going to have to step up a class or 2 to a F450 or F550. As mentioned before adding length between the axles is going to move weight fwd, watch the front axle. Use Huck bolts instead of bolts if you can find someone who can put them in. Don't end up with a driveshaft that's too long if you plan on driving over 40 mph. 50 inches sticks out in my mind as max length but check with a driveshaft shop it been too many years since I've done this. You might have to end up shortening one driveshafts and adding a section.
    Tough as nails and damn near as smart

  6. #6
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Go here: http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php...=Frame+stretch

    Or email Wello about stretching a frame. I know his work is mainly larger trucks, but the stuff he does to them should be the same you would do to a F-350/F-450/F-550. I would also suggest you step up to a larger GVW truck if you're considering building one. Maybe look at an older 2.5 ton truck like a Chevy C-50/C-60, Ford F-500/F-600, lopping off the frame to the length you need & add a 12' bed. Most won't be 4x4, but if that is necessary, you could modify it with a military front axle from Boyds in Utah.

    Just remember which ever way you decide to go, we need pics. And full write up on the build process.
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    DR33,

    As Samm has indicated you've re-opened a can of worms and you're fixin' to get all kinds of do's and don'ts on frame stretching. Some apply across the board, some will be more than adequate for the type of frame your inquiring about and some apply to frames with hardened flanges (as the one in rode2rouen's post). Pay close attention to frame alignment and adhearance to correct driveline basics with regard to maximum lengths (as tresi points out), proper operating angles and u-joint phasing/cancellation.

    That being said, if you go with an F-350 I have no idea if they're still available but we used to get 'wheelbase stretch' kits for them for roll-backs and wreckers from Jerr-Dan or Century Wreckers that included frame sections, frame liners, driveline section, crossmember, exhaust/brake line/fuel line extensions, etc. to do the job. Used to take about 4-5 hours to complete and was an all weld-in process. Jerr-Dan is now owned by the Oshkosh Truck Corp. but I believe it was Century that we got the kits from so you could contact their factory or nearest installer/dealer to see if they have them available.

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  8. #8
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Originally posted by Tresi:
    Overloaded and you want to make it longer? I don't see this ending well. I think you're going to have to step up a class or 2 to a F450 or F550.
    Tresi, you misread his question. His current truck, the F350, is undersized and overloaded so he wants to get the second truck shown and modify it.
    Also, what are 'Huck bolts'? Do longer driveshafts tend to vibrate, bow more or be harder to balance properly?

    DesertRider, does the 'new' truck currently have the weight capacity you need, just not the space? Can the rear axle easily be moved forward a bit if you lengthen the frame front, to put the load over the axle better and to keep the rear driveshaft from needing to be as long? I have no experience in this so am 'just thinking out loud', not offering advice.
    BTW, are you in the desert, or just near one? Is the supply of trucks, wrecking yards for trucks or truck parts very limited there?

  9. #9
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Longer driveshafts are harder to balance or impossible to balance depending on length. As Duaneb55 mentioned if the u-joint yokes get out of phase they will never run smooth no matter how long or short. Huck bolts actually is a trademark name for a fastener more like a rivet. Not only does it provide tension to pull to joint together like a bolt it actually expends in diameter as it is installed so that it fits tighter in a properly sized hole than a bolt.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Driveline manufacturers publish design limits for the permitted maximum length of components in a given series. You'll have to be careful not to exceed those lengths.

    Probably the stretch should be a cut that moves the carrier bearing cross member rearward; this way the less-angled front shaft could be lengthened, and the more critical rear shaft's angle, and length, would not be affected.

    Ideally this stretch could be made with a chunk of matching frame and crossmember, spliced at the crossmebers, leaving the original carrier bearing crossmember in place, but no longer supporting the bearing. Does that make any sense?? If somehow you could find a complete rear frame section, the stretch could be made with just one cut and weld. There are plenty of burned-up SuperDuties around, should be easy to find a matching frame chunk.

    But the truck itself... I hate to discourage, but as time and miles went on, the 350 now seems to be as tough or tougher than the 450. The 450 is not much more truck, and is limited by the same 16" rubber anyway. To me, the 450 turned out to be an axle-eating, caliper-wearing, flywheel-tearing, steering knuckle-pounding truck; complete with a high-dollar trouble prone transmission, parking brake, and rear axle. All this grief for not much more -if any- capacity than a 350. If you're pushing weight limits, maybe look at the next step up in trucks, as suggested.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by denrep; 02-15-2009 at 02:47 PM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    I have done 30 -40 of these. Mostly Ford.

    I am willing to help but, for me to explain it here, I'll just say a phone call would work better. PM me and I'll make some time to help.

    TJ

  12. #12
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Bastard View Post
    I have done 30 -40 of these. Mostly Ford. . . .
    Whatcha' usin' FB?
    OE frame chunk, or press-bent filler??
    Extra crossmembers?
    Reinforced inside or out?
    Reinforced by "L" or "C" or nothing?

    Good Luck

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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Denrep has a point about the tranny in 450s being bad. Look around you will find these trucks are cheap and there is a reason. If you need more room/weight capacity I would recommend moving up in class size. Just make sure it has hydraulic brakes and you will keep the DOT off your butt once they know they won't be able to write those tickets for brakes out of adjustment. And they do spread the word about who to hassle and who not to.

  14. #14

    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by denrep View Post
    But the truck itself... I hate to discourage, but as time and miles went on, the 350 now seems to be as tough or tougher than the 450. The 450 is not much more truck, and is limited by the same 16" rubber anyway. Good Luck

    Who ever made a 450/4500 truck with 16 inch wheels?
    All I've ever seen had 19.5's, 16" won't clear the brakes on a true Dane 80 or the current batch of rears used in these trucks. The earliest F-450's used a true D80 with 10 bolt hubs and (on everyone I ever saw) 19.5 wheels. Dodge had to use the hybrid D80 in their Cummins powered trucks just for that reason, to fit 16" wheels, the hybrid is a D80 with
    D70 size hubs.
    One tons run around 11,000 gvw today, 450/4500's run in the neighborhood of 14,500 and 550/5500's are aproaching 18,0000. (I know, someone will do a google search and put out "exact" numbers in a minute or two). That's a very significant increase.

    Like I said, who is making a 450/4500 truck with 16" tires???

    JTMcC.

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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Thanks for all your responses!

    OK, Huck bolts sound like the way to go. I have heard of them but didn't know anything about them. Thanks for the explanation.

    Yes, I agree, having the front and rear axles parallel to eachother once everything is done would be a good thing.

    I'm very interested in this Century frame extension kit. I know these trucks were used as carrier bed tow trucks quite a bit in their day and there are still alot of them serving tow duty now. I have also seen quite a few with very long stake beds and dry box bodies too. I'll have to take a closer look at the frames next time I see them.

    Fat Bastard, I will send you a PM. Thank you.

    On the wheelbase/driveline length, Ford made the trucks originally with 84" cab to axle length as one of the wheelbase length choices so I'm sure the driveline will be ok so long as I set it up the same way Ford did on the trucks that came with that wheelbase length from the factory. They probly use a longer front half section and move the carrier bearing and hangar crossmember back. I'll take a look at trucks with the longer wheelbase to be sure how they did it. I can have the local driveline shop lengthen and balance the shaft for me so it works properly.

    My current truck, the F350, is rated 9200 lbs GVWR and is overloaded by 1000 lbs without the trailer and up to 2000 lbs with the trailer. The truck in question is an F450 and is rated 15,000 lbs GVWR, so it should be plenty strong for my intended use.

    The chassis-cab trucks have straight frame rails from back of cab to end of frame, so somewhere between the back of the cab and the front leafspring hangar would be the best place to do the extension, I would think?

    I want to keep a short distance (no more than 48") from the rear axle center to end of frame, for trailer towing purposes. If the rear of the frame is too long, I won't be able to position the gooseneck hitch ahead of the axle where it's supposed to be cause a trailer won't clear the rear of the frame. Also, the longer the rear of the frame, the more leverage effect the tongue weight of a tag trailer has on the truck.

    So I want to have an 11 foot bed and 4 feet behind the axle, which means 7 feet from back of cab to axle, which is one of the standard cab to axle lengths Ford, GM and Dodge all offer on their class 4 and 5 chassis trucks. For the '97 F450's, the 3 cab to axle lengths offered by Ford were 60", 84" and 108", with the wheelbases being 137", 161" and 185", according to my '97 Ford commercial truck guide.

    The rear axle weight rating is 11,000 lbs and the front axle weight rating is 5000 lbs on the 2wd F450's for '97. I don't know what the front axle rating is on this 4wd truck. It should say on the info sticker on the driver door jamb so I will look for that, as well as the axle code so I can figure out what the gear ratio is. The info I have in my '97 Ford commercial truck guide that I got from the dealer back in '97 states the trucks came with 4.63 and 5.13 ratio choices. Either ratio will be plenty of gear for me. My current truck has 4.56.

    The 16" wheels and tires don't bother me. 235/85-16E tires, which is what the trucks came with originally, have more than enough load rating when used on a dual rear wheel axle. Their combined load rating should be a bit more than the max capacity of the axle. I figured it out once before but don't remember the numbers, but do remember that the numbers worked out fine.

    My current rear axle load weight is 6500 lbs without trailer and up to 7500 lbs with trailer, which is also the limit of my single rear tires (285/75-16E @ 3750 ea @ 80 psi). My axle (10.25" SRW Sterling/Visteon) is only rated to 6250 by the axle manufacturer, Visteon. My rear wheels (Stockton Wheel custom made) are rated 4000 ea @ 100 psi. So the rear axle is the weak point on my F350. That shouldn't be a problem with the F450's 11,000 lb rated rear axle.

    This particular truck has the 5-speed manual transmission, which should be the ZF S542. It is a good trans with a granny low first gear and an overdrive 5th. The only issue I have heard with it is the slave cylinder for the hydraulic clutch and from what I hear it isn't a major issue. The tranny with the problems in those years was the E4OD automatic with overdrive. I definitey don't want that one. I specifically chose the truck I have now cause it has the C6 auto instead of the E4OD.

    Yes, the truck will most likely have the driveline mounted parking brake, which is mounted to the back of the transmission on the 2wd's. I assume it would be mounted to the back of the transfer case on this truck. What are the problems with these parking brakes?

    The rear axle in these trucks is the Dana 80. It is the same rear axle Ford has been using in F350 duallies since '99 and F450's since '88. Dodge also used it in their 3500 dually trucks untill '02 or '03 when they switched axle suppliers from Dana to AAM. The Dana 80 is known to be a beast of an axle with no problems in the trucks they are put in, so far as I know.

    The front axle I assume will be the Dana 60, which has been the standard Ford 4wd front axle used in F350's, 450's and 550's for a few decades now. I have one under the front of my F350. I don't know of any problems with these axles, though I'm sure a heavily loaded F450 would be hard on any axle's ball joints.

    I wish my F350 had kingpin knuckles instead of ball joints, but Ford quit using kingpins on the Dana 60's after '91. My '92 F350 was the first year for the ball joints. So far I haven't had any problems with them. My old '77 Chevy K20 with Dana 44 front axle ate ball joints for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack. That truck should have had a Dana 60 under it, the 44 was way too small for that truck. Probly fine for 1/2-tons but not for 3/4-tons.

    I think I replied to all the issues raised so far. Yell at me if I forgot anyone!

    Thanks again for all yall's remarks and advice.
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  16. #16
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by JTMcC View Post
    Who ever made a 450/4500 truck with 16 inch wheels?
    All I've ever seen had 19.5's, 16" won't clear the brakes on a true Dane 80 or the current batch of rears used in these trucks. The earliest F-450's used a true D80 with 10 bolt hubs and (on everyone I ever saw) 19.5 wheels. Dodge had to use the hybrid D80 in their Cummins powered trucks just for that reason, to fit 16" wheels, the hybrid is a D80 with
    D70 size hubs.
    One tons run around 11,000 gvw today, 450/4500's run in the neighborhood of 14,500 and 550/5500's are aproaching 18,0000. (I know, someone will do a google search and put out "exact" numbers in a minute or two). That's a very significant increase.

    Like I said, who is making a 450/4500 truck with 16" tires???

    JTMcC.
    The '88 to '97 F-Superduty (450) trucks had true Dana 80 rear axles with 10-bolt hubs and disc brakes and 16" x 6" wheels with 235/85-16E tires. The wheels are unique to these trucks, with their 10 lug holes and larger wheel center dish shape to clear the larger brakes. They are not the same as F350 dually wheels.

    For '88 to '97 Ford trucks-

    F250HD pickup GVWR was 8800 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 6084 lbs.
    F350 SRW pickup GVWR was 9200 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 6084 lbs.
    F350 DRW pickup GVWR was 10,000 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 7500 lbs.
    F350 DRW chassis/cab GVWR was 11,000 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 8250 lbs.
    F-Superduty (450) chassis/cab GVWR was 15,000 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 11,000 lbs.
    F-Superduty stripped chassis (motorhome chassis) GVWR was up to 17,000 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 11,000 lbs.

    All this info comes from the Ford commercial truck info guides I picked up at the dealers over the years.
    Last edited by DesertRider33; 02-15-2009 at 05:56 PM.
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  17. #17

    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertRider33 View Post

    I want to keep a short distance (no more than 48") from the rear axle center to end of frame, for trailer towing purposes. If the rear of the frame is too long, I won't be able to position the gooseneck hitch ahead of the axle where it's supposed to be cause a trailer won't clear the rear of the frame.

    Don't get too hung up on locating the pin right at the rear axle centerline. On my welding rig (and thousands of other welding rigs out there) my goosneck ball is well behind the rear axle. In fact mine is, I believe, over three feet behind the axle and it tows just lovely at 75 - 80mph on the freeway. You just have to have enought rear spring to deal with the pin weight farther back.

    JTMcC.

  18. #18

    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by DesertRider33 View Post
    The '88 to '97 F-Superduty (450) trucks had true Dana 80 rear axles with 10-bolt hubs and disc brakes and 16" x 6" wheels with 235/85-16E tires. The wheels are unique to these trucks, with their 10 lug holes and larger wheel center dish shape to clear the larger brakes. They are not the same as F350 dually wheels.

    For '88 to '97 Ford trucks-

    F250HD pickup GVWR was 8800 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 6084 lbs.
    F350 SRW pickup GVWR was 9200 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 6084 lbs.
    F350 DRW pickup GVWR was 10,000 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 7500 lbs.
    F350 DRW chassis/cab GVWR was 11,000 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 8250 lbs.
    F-Superduty (450) chassis/cab GVWR was 15,000 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 11,000 lbs.
    F-Superduty stripped chassis (motorhome chassis) GVWR was up to 17,000 lbs and the rear axle weight rating was 11,000 lbs.

    All this info comes from the Ford commercial truck info guides I picked up at the dealers over the years.


    Gotcha.

    JTMcC.

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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    The F-450 trucks being discussed here were all shipped new with 16" tires, and no other tire size option..

    The truck pictured in post # 1 is typical of a 1992 - 1998 Ford Super Duty.
    I have owned several, including 1988, the first edition 450, and never saw one with an original equipment tire size other than 16".

    Although GM 30 series were available with 19.5s way back, even before the HD-3500 which shipped standard with 10 stud 19.5 wheels.

    Good Luck

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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by denrep View Post
    ... If you're pushing weight limits, maybe look at the next step up in trucks...
    My point is that if you really need a medium duty truck, not a heavy duty pickup, then a medium duty is the truck to buy.

    The heavy duty ton trucks cost a fortune to keep running when pushed to max limits.

    For example a Ford 600, or GM 5500, of this same era could have a Caterpillar or Cummins engine, Allison 540 series transmission, and much heavier components throughout. Everything is just better suited for the job - Radiator, brakes, axles, springs, u-joints, steering gear, alternator, starter, etc... all adding up to a tough long life chassis at no more, (in fact probably less) cost. The real medium duties will run the first 1/2 million miles practicaly maintenance free.

    Sure the other trucks will make high miles too, but with lots of maintenance bucks getting there.

    Good Luck

  21. #21

    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by denrep View Post
    The F-450 trucks being discussed here were all shipped new with 16" tires, and no other tire size option..

    The truck pictured in post # 1 is typical of a 1992 - 1998 Ford Super Duty.
    I have owned several, including 1988, the first edition 450, and never saw one with an original equipment tire size other than 16".

    Although GM 30 series were available with 19.5s way back, even before the HD-3500 which shipped standard with 10 stud 19.5 wheels.

    Good Luck

    Got it.

    The tires on my (3500) are rated at about 2800 in a dual rear application. That's about 11,200 lb capacity on the rear. Pretty good but it's still a bit dumb in my take to not put 19.5's on a 15,000 or 17,0000+ truck.

    JTMcC.

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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by JTMcC View Post
    ...Pretty good but it's still a bit dumb in my take to not put 19.5's on a 15,000 or 17,0000+ truck.
    The 19.5s are twice the tire of a 16; they're a real truck tire, with a decent side-wall to height ratio.

    If I had to limp in on an overloaded tire, I would take a bald old (but not weather checked) 19.5 over a brand new 16.

    That's what was wrong with the US built ton trucks; the manufacturers wanted to sell a heavy truck made out of pickup components - half of which really were passenger car components.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by denrep; 02-15-2009 at 07:14 PM.

  23. #23
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    That truck will do the job. The place I used to work had 30 or 40 Super Dutys (450). They were 94 to 96 year models. They all had 11 foot mechanics beds loaded with a 6000# Auto Crane, air compressor, Trailblazer welding machine, and all the tools you could shove in them. I cant count the times I hauled a CAT 3406 engine, dozer transmission etc in the bed of it. The only trouble we had out of them was the crappy park brake, and that dual mass flywheel that tore up alot until you could get an aftermarket one. Best I can remember, mine weighed around 13,400# without an engine or anything extra in the bed.
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    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    Quote Originally Posted by Coyote View Post
    ...The only trouble we had out of them was the crappy park brake, and that dual mass flywheel that tore up alot until you could get an aftermarket one. . . .
    Coyote - We just spent four grand!

    The brakes are an unserviceable POS that cost at least $1500.00 to fix, if caught in time.

    The brake uses a thimble-full of it's own lube oil, separate from the transmission. If the brake runs hot and the small amount of oil bakes or leaks out unnoticed, the bearings shaft and case immediately fail beyond economical repair.

    Flywheels and clutches are another story...

    I'm not trying to bad-mouth the trucks, just relaying my ownership experience.

    Good Luck
    Last edited by denrep; 02-15-2009 at 07:42 PM.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    1,254

    Re: Extending truck rear frame rails / wheelbase length ??

    DesertRider33, I'm gonna second Denrep on the idea of taking a look at a medium duty truck as another, possibly better option.

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