Post build ..uh.. build thread.


Active member
Chapter 1: Initial design
Lurking for many years on here. I had no idea I needed all the stuff I now have, but there you go.
I have a little project going. Figured I would post it up here and show it off a bit. Not a crazy build, but for what I like to do it works well.
Bought this 2006 dodge 2500 in December 2012 from Topping Volvo in Olympia of all places. Saw it on CL, called the dealer, yep, still have it, drove down to Olympia in my old '01 and traded up 5 years newer. Sweet! This was the only one I found in about 3 months of looking that had the two front bucket seats and crew cab. Didn't want the mega cab at the time as my parking situation was tight and another 2 feet or so would have been unusable. I have since moved and would welcome the extra room, but that is a story for another time.


My intention was to remove the flatbed and replace it with a regular truck bed and just get a canopy. I had this setup on my '01 GMC and was very happy with it for my uses. After driving around with the flatbed for a while, I realized I liked it more than I thought, so the hamster started on the wheel. Uh-oh. what to do, what to do.
Some of my friends have pop top westies. Cool. Maybe something like this then?


Things that were important to me:
Completely removable - Didn't want to lose the ability to use the truck as a truck.
Storage - surfing, kite boarding and bikes are my jams. Need room for all the ancillary gear that goes along with these activities
temp bed - In the old truck, we would have to remove all the gear from the bed and load it in the cab to make the bed. no thanks. I wanted a bed that would allow storage to remain while sleeping.
Quick deployment - Drive to the beach, pop the top and hop in to change into your wetsuit when it is raining and miserable outside. Also, wanted to be able to do most things with one hand so you can access it when carrying gear and such. My thought is if it takes too many steps, you won't bother doing it after a while. maybe that is just me...
Stealth camping – don’t do this all the time, but need to be able to sleep in the back without looking like I was sleeping in the back.
Living in Wa state and needing to be in the ocean lots, we take the ferry lots. Overheight on the ferry *used* to be x2 the cost of the normal fare. If I kept it under 7’6” I was under height. That gave me a design goal height. As of October 2015 they have dropped the overheight surcharge for vehicles under 22'. Great, unless I have my bikes on the back. I am then about 23' overall. This wouldn't be a problem expect they also dropped the max height for overlength vehicles to 7'2". hmm. I am pretty close to that. have to see how this pans out.

Initial idea:


Building something like this was out of my realm of expertise. I was cool with that, I am what I am. Research started, called a bunch of places far away from me. Some were in, some said no thanks. They all seemed too far away. Keep looking. Found a dude up in Bellingham (BHam) who did custom alumimun offorad trailers. BHam is only about 1.5 hours away. Email sent. Mike responded almost right away and seemed more excited than me about this project. Good stuff. Got to talking, design updates:

Ditch the existing headache rack and design a standalone unit that would bolt to the flatbed.



Um, yes please. I will take that. Hooked. Deposit sent. Drove up to BHam and talked to mike for probably 8 hours straight. nice. left the truck and it began:

Here are some progress shots of the body. 3/16" aluminum body panels bend and welded together. There is no internal frame structure:


Mechanical room, This is located at the front of the box right under the front window.
Propex heater (SH2201)
Xantrax inverter XM1800
(2x) 6 volt batteries (Don't remember the brand)
And the control panel next to the back door.
Inverter control, heater control and roof switch, switch panel


Hehr windows. Originally wanted to have the side windows tip up, but after realizing the height, I didn’t think it would be as useful as I thought cause I am short. They slide open from the back and have sliding screens so you can toss your beer cans out at night or whatever...


Camper jacks to remove it from the flatbed. We were going to keep the tie down straps, but decided that 6 bigass bolts would be a better idea.


You can see the huge back door. My initial design had two doors, but we decided on one big one. Ultimately, this was the right call as it works perfect with my bike rack (when the bikes are unloaded): This is the 4 bike NorthShore rack. I have since swapped it out for a 6 bike version, but it works the same with the door.



Picked up from VMI April 2013. Took a bit longer than we thought, but we made many modifications to the existing design extending the lead time. I am sure Mike enjoyed all the updates!


The roof is extended with some Lenco lifting rams. they extend 30", these are the longest ones they had when we were looking. Used in the marine industry so should last a long time with my usage. You can see one here on the right. There is a switch on the control panel for these guys. They are a little louder than i thought, but the roof extends in about 30-40 seconds so it isn't too bad. The truck is louder anyway. It is waterproof sunbrella fabric.


Let the adventures begin...
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I thought that design had been done before so I took a look back at some of my trip and sure enough I found it, yours looks much better!

New Vab 015.JPG


Renaissance Redneck
Sweet Dodge! I'm in Blaine North (Whitrock), and go to BHam a couple of times a week. Where is VMI located?


New member
Nice.... been playing with this concept in my head for a while too.... your execution makes me feel much better about making the jump. Any idea how much the finished product weighs?


Active member
Nice.... been playing with this concept in my head for a while too.... your execution makes me feel much better about making the jump. Any idea how much the finished product weighs?
That is one question I get asked a lot and I don't have a very good answer. I think the whole rig weighs about 9000lbs based on the scale when I have gone to the dump a few times. Not sure how accurate that is though.

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