Turn Your Pickup Truck Into a Dump Truck

Turn your pickup truck into a dump truck by building a wooden box for under $100.

| November/December 1983

  • Trucks Tailgate and Bumper Combination
    The truck's tailgate/bumper combination must allow the gate to drop below the level of the bed in order to operate.
    Photo by James H. Miller
  • Level Ground
    The homemade dumper's greatest disadvantage (as compared with conventional hydraulic systems) is that it will only work well on fairly level ground.
    Photo by James H. Miller
  • Dump Box in Action
    The author/inventor's "dump box" in action
    Photo by James H. Miller
  • Activating the System
    A light touch on the brakes activates the dump system.
    Photo by James H. Miller
  • Put Back by Hand
    The wooden box can be pushed back into place by hand.
    Photo by James H. Miller

  • Trucks Tailgate and Bumper Combination
  • Level Ground
  • Dump Box in Action
  • Activating the System
  • Put Back by Hand
Build a $100 (or less) alternative to the $1,000 (or more) hydraulically operated dump systems.

Having owned a pickup truck for most of my adult life, I've encountered many situations that caused me to wish I had some way — other than with hand or shovel — to unload the various materials I've hauled in the vehicle. Unfortunately, the only alternatives to manual labor that I'd ever seen, heard of, or read about were hydraulic dump-bed conversions . . . which cost a thousand dollars or more, including installation. And, when it came right down to it, I knew my own need for that sort of time and laborsaving device was neither frequent enough nor severe enough to justify much expense. So I continued to shovel and toss, thinking — as I'd bend and lift, bend and lift — "There's just got to be a way to build an affordable dump system."

The Light Dawns

Well, late one afternoon — as I was laboriously heaving big blocks of oak firewood out of my truck — an idea struck me. (Actually, the inspiration took the form of a Picture in my mind, kind of like the light bulbs that flash on in cartoon characters' heads.) I visualized a movable insert (or liner) that would fit inside the truck bed . . . which would be mounted on rollers to permit forward and backward movement ... and would be secured to the bed with cables that'd allow it to roll back far enough for the rear end to drop over the edge of the bed to the ground.

I figured that any dumpable materials could be loaded in such a liner, and that a securely closed tailgate would prevent any movement to the rear during transit. On the other hand, with the tailgate lowered, unloading could be accomplished simply by backing the truck up and applying the brakes. In theory, this procedure would cause the liner to roll back out of the bed until the center of gravity moved to the rear, causing that end to drop down automatically and dump the cargo. If the truck were then driven forward to clear the dumped material (with the tilted liner being drawn along by the cables), the bay could be lifted and pushed back into the truck bed by hand!

I could see it all so clearly that I just knew that the plan would work, and I could hardly wait to put my system together and try it. However, I still didn't know exactly what materials I'd need to transform my idea into reality, but I did know that my budget wouldn't allow the purchase of a lot of costly supplies. And, unfortunately, my "inspired vision", at that point, relied on such "luxury" components as a metal liner, conveyor-type rollers that would reach all the way across the bed, and expensive steel cables.

Enlightenment Strikes Twice

Then, for the second time in 15 minutes (and after almost 40 years of total darkness), the light came on in my mind again. I suddenly envisioned a way to start my project the next morning . . . and to dump something that same afternoon (if the project turned out the way I hoped — and thought — it would).

Samuel wysong
4/13/2012 3:00:20 AM

I believe the point is that the author did this himself and saved his money in the long run. No need for a $3000.00 dump bed you may only use every so often when you can have a $100.00 option that does essentially the same thing.

Jake Hale
3/31/2009 3:16:19 PM

I agree with angie! Very Scary! I've never heard of the z-dump insert. The "Lil Tipster" dump insert is available from from DEL hydraulics in the USA, and DEL Equipment in Canada. They have been around for years and years. I have had one unit that outlasted one truck...and I now have it installed in a second truck. This unit has saved my back many times over. I have loaned this truck out to friends...many of them now have the same unit in their trucks! Jake.

Angie Armstrong
2/15/2009 4:43:48 PM

This diy dump insert for your pickup sounds dangerous, cables? not to mention the wear and tear on your truck. for around $3000.00 you can get an EZ Dumper installed from the manufacturer in Ontario, Canada. www.ezdumper.com all steel, Hydaulically operated, remote controlled, with a push of a button its designed to unload up to 6000lbs in less than 30 seconds.


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