Since I will have a significant part of my battery pack under the bed, I need a way to easily access those batteries for maintenance. We thought about cutting the bed itself to make a hinged access door. But the obvious solution is to make the bed tilt-able.
Read on to see how we modified the truck so that I can tilt the bed up ...
We were inspired by the bed tilt mechanism of Stealth Dump Trucks. However I was not willing to spend whatever it is they are charging for those, so we figured we can make our own. We were looking in particular at this photo which clearly shows the scissoring bed tilt mechanism (I do not repost the photo here in case they do not want me reposting their photo - even though it promotes their product).
The reason to use the scissoring mechanism is that it lifts the bed at the same time that it tilts. This is needed (we thought) for the truck because the back of the bed drops below the bumper. So the idea was, if the bed lifts as it tilts, it can clear the bumper in the back. I do not need the hydraulic lift though because I am not using this as a dump truck. I just need to be able to lift the empty bed by hand.
We even made a model of the scissoring mechanism. But when we started looking at how many parts we had to fabricate we realized this was just too much trouble. So that forced us to take another look at things. We realized that the bumper could actually swing down if we remove one set of bolts. And a cross member on the bottom of the bed matched exactly the end of the frame rails. So we decided we could build a hinge and just tilt the bed directly with the pivot point being the end of the frame rails. The following photos will make this clearer.
This photo shows how the bumper can swing down with the removal of two bolts.
We used a straight stock rod to align the part of the hinge that attached to the truck frame.
Here is the hinge welded to the frame.
Here is another view of the hinge, showing the pins that we use for the pivot, and the other half of the hinge piece that will be welded to the underside of the bed.
Bruce is welding the hinge pieces to the bottom of the truck bed.
This view shows the hinge piece after being welded to the bottom of the truck bed.
Once that was done, it was a simple matter of putting the bed back on the truck and inserting the hinge pins. Here is a photo looking up from underneath the truck showing the hinge put together.
The next photo shows Bill using a critical ingredient to the success of the project.
Here is the finished bed tilt. Ed made some nice struts to hold the thing up. This is actually a lot strong than it looks. We really pulled on it and it is not going anywhere. The only risk is that wind could catch the bed and actually pull it back further and let the struts fall out. I will use a tie down strap to prevent that.
We were able to do this without affecting any of the original secure points for the truck bed. This means that when the bed is down and I need to drive it, we put all the original bolts back in and it will be the same as factory original. And when I need access to the batteries, I undo those bolts and then lift the bed. Yes, it will be a bit of a pain removing and installing bolts, but I expect the necessity of this to decrease over time as I get used to the batteries and don't need to work on them as often.