Leroy's Power Steering Hydraulic Dump Bed Conversion

This homemade hydraulic dump bed conversion may very well be next year's hottest Detroit option.

| January/February 1985

As anyone who owns one can tell you, a truck's a mighty handy vehicle to have around. The trouble is, once you've stuffed it to capacity, you eventually have to face the prospect of shedding the load, and, no matter what you're hauling, that always means work.

Often (especially when the cargo is gravel or manure) that particular task is one most folks would rather let someone else do. Well, our Eco-Village director, Leroy Richter, has discovered a willing "volunteer" that's available every time he cranks his rig over: the truck's original power-steering pump.

That's right! Unlikely as it sounds, Leroy has successfully tapped the force supplied by that commonplace factory-installed component and directed it to a pair of hydraulic cylinders mounted to his vehicle's chassis. By engaging a control valve from inside the cab, he can activate the pistons which push the rear-hinged truck bed upward, dump the load and then reverse the valve to force the double-acting cylinders and bed back down against a pair of stops. It's simple, it works, and it cost him about $500 in materials (including a new bed!) and a full week of work to complete. Let's take a look at Leroy's hydraulic dump bed conversion.

Dump Bed Conversion Basics

The dump bed conversion project started a year or so ago when Leroy purchased a utility company's 1975 Chevy ¾ -ton fleet truck at auction for $1,095. Though mechanically sound, the vehicle's sheet metal needed repair, and the service bed had been removed, leaving a bare chassis. His first step, then, was to obtain a bed and work up a reliable hinge mount for it. Rather than scour the wrecking yards for a conventional pickup box (which would have been expensive and somewhat limited in capacity), Mr. Richter opted to fabricate his own bed by using channel iron, square steel tubing and heavy-gauge sheet metal.

Two 95-inch-long sections of 5-inch channel serve as the bed's main structural components, which in turn support six 3-inch cross members: five 80 inches in length and one only 48 inches long (to allow two short bridges to be welded in over the rear axle area). A perimeter frame of 4-inch channel iron ties the cross members together, and 2-by-6-inch gussets at the main rail joints strengthen each junction.

The bed floor is made of 14-gauge sheet metal, and nine .080-by-1 ¼ -by-13-inch up rights — topped with rails of the same material and covered with 16-gauge steel panels — form a substantial frame. Leroy also added an 18-inch-high forward cab guard (made of square tubing and expanded metal) to protect the rear window and to provide convenient tying points.

3/5/2007 2:45:07 PM

I noticed that you mentioned using the power steering pump to run the dump cylinders. Do you mount a different pump or use the existing? Existing could be a safety issue. I worked in a a Saginaw plant that built pumps (the big 132). FYI - We drilled out the hole in the flow fitting one day and put it on a pump with a high reject valve(1800 psi). It normally ran 1.2 GPM at 1500 RPM but pegged the 5 GPM test stand gage at 500 RPM. Could be useful it a higher required GPM (off vehicle) application.

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