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Old 05-13-2013, 12:10 AM
TYTILIDIE TYTILIDIE is offline
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Location: Colorado Springs
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Flat bed conversion

Hey guys, hope everyone is doing well. I wanted to get on here and share my experience with converting one of my trucks to a flat bed. I can tell you that even though this project turned out semi OK, in the end I really don't think it was worth it. By the time I bought this truck and did the bed I really could have bought a more purpose built truck ready to roll.

Truck is a 1999 GMC 3500 standard cab long bed with a 454. One thing I learned is that the leaf springs, the rear end and the frame were identical to my 1998 2500. With that said, I went out and bought a Dually rear with springs for $200. Turns out, the rear end does not match up PERIOD. There is no sensible way to fab it in. Springs fit however. Next issue, dually wheels don't fit the stock non dually rear. Spacers are definitely needed to run them.

Once I got the truck done, I used it for spraying with my 200 gallon tank. At certain speeds and certain types of dips the tires will hit the bottom of the bed, message here is use the helper springs regardless of the work involved to make them work. With the dually springs it seems that they barely rub in any situation. My plan is to raise the rear of the truck 2-3" and the front 1.5-2".

Here is where we fail, we rented a skid and hauled it with a rented dump trailer for a landscape project. The truck had horrible pulling power (although it runs rough when hot so may not be an issue in the future). The truck was severely weighed down in the rear and was scary to drive. If I could go back in time, I would simply find a one ton dually diesel and call it a day.

Moral of the story here is that being cheap isn't always safe and sometimes the money you spend trying to be frugal might not be worth it. BIG lesson learned for us.

Here are pics of the truck




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Old 05-13-2013, 05:47 AM
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LindblomRJ LindblomRJ is offline
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It sounds like the 7p's were not followed. Looking at how the bed sits on the truck it wouldn't take much for it to rub. If you'd raise the bed an 1 1/2 inches that would be a decent remedy. 200 gallons of water weigh in at 1,670 pounds, that is a lot of weight on a single wheeled vehicle, no matter heavy the springs are. Dual rear wheels are a must with that amount of weight.

I am confused why a dually axle wouldn't fit... Unless it was from and earlier previous generation GM or other brand. The 454 is far better than the 6.5 of the same vintage. The 454 is a powerful engine, it love gas. A bit of fixing on the engine to get it running right,it should perform better.

Normally flatbeds are an awesome tool, provided they are executed right.
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Old 05-13-2013, 09:48 AM
TYTILIDIE TYTILIDIE is offline
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The dually axle doesn't fit because the spring perches are 10" narrower than the standard rear. They can not be relocated either because the hubs are only 1.5-2" away from the perches. The dually frame is actually considerably narrower believe it or not. All the reading I did I saw a LOT of speculation but the people who had actually done said spacers were pretty much it or frame fabrication. I think the older trucks were closer in match that you make them work but apparently not with these years.

Not sure what is wrong with the truck, I have tried swapping plugs, wires, fuel pressure regulator, coolant temp sensor and have had no luck. Maybe a weak fuel pump, I'll figure it out sooner or later.

What are the 7 P's?
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Old 05-13-2013, 11:36 AM
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LindblomRJ LindblomRJ is offline
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Sorry if I came across as punchy. Insomnia at 3am is a whizz cutter. I didn't realize frame width was an issue. As far as the engine, I'd hook up and obd2 scanner to see if any codes are being thrown. I'd check egr valve and both O2 sensors. They can be tested checking voltage on egr valves and ohms on the O2 sensors. Check fuel pressure to see if it is the fuel pump. A bit of time trouble shooting will save some money by not throwing parts at everything. If you do want to go the diesel route I'd avoid the 6.5. The duramax diesel made GM a legitimate player in the diesel game.

The 7 Ps are proper planned procedure prevents piss poor performance. As much as I am a Ford fan the 3500s are a good truck, I had a 96 k2500 it was decent enough pickup.
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Last edited by LindblomRJ; 05-13-2013 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:48 AM
TYTILIDIE TYTILIDIE is offline
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Hey no problem, I didn't take you as being a dick. I am actually a damn good mechanic I just don't have a lot of time and I am pretty sure the fuel pump is bad or on its way and I know what that job entails so I kind of deal with it for now. I was going to buy a pocket scanner but I have found some much better options online for software and cable combos that let you see a screen shot similar to this

I have been using Datamasters software since 2004 on my Typhoon but I don't think it is available for OBDII.
It also lets you set timing on OBDII which most pocket scanners wont let you do. You can find this stuff for around $100. I even contemplated EFi Live.
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:55 AM
TYTILIDIE TYTILIDIE is offline
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Oh and believe me when I tell you that I will never buy a pre 2000 GM truck again. I don't mind the drive trains at all, in fact, they are definitely capable and last. My issue is with the rest of the truck, door handles break constantly, door hinges are POS, things like that. I love my 2001 2500 HD, it is a beast of a truck and even though it has a 496 and I only get 9-11mpg, it has cost me very little money over the years to maintain. I bought it with 130k and it is almost to 250 since I bought it in November of 2008. It's been a great truck. My 1998 and 1999 however are a different story. They seem to be much lighter duty set ups.
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:38 PM
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doubleedge doubleedge is offline
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It sounds like the dually axle you bought was from a cab and chassis 3500. Cab and chassis vehicles have a 34" wide frame, while the dually trucks with a pickup box have a 42" frame and a wider axle (so the pickup box still fits).
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Old 05-17-2013, 10:29 PM
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LindblomRJ LindblomRJ is offline
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I hear you on the pre 2000 GMs. I am done with GM. I've always had great luck with Ford. In the end it is preference.
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