Auto Metal Direct to the Rescue: Building a Better (Squarebody) Bed Box!

Jimenez Bros. Adapts AMD’s New Bed to a Rydman Ranch C10 Rear Suspension

By Rob Fortier   –   Photography by the Author

One of the greatest aspects of the classic truck hobby is the act of completely un-utilizing the characteristics of the trucks we drive! Whether it’s massacring the suspension or, as a result of that, obliterating the bed floor beyond the point of usability, we’re professionals at ruining old trucks, aren’t we?!

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01 A recent installation of a Rydman Ranch ’73 87 C10 rear notch subframe at Jimenez Bros Customs
A recent installation of a Rydman Ranch ’73-87 C10 rear notch subframe at Jimenez Bros. Customs went smooth as silk, until …

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All kidding aside (for the most part), the more we lower our trucks, the more we have to deal with collateral damage, as it were—be it removing/severely modifying the inner front wheelhouses or, in this case, adapting a Fleetside bed floor and inner bedside panels to a recently installed, air bagged suspension rear frame section with a huge kick-up/notch. The latter scenario is something we recently encountered at Jimenez Bros. Customs, and as it would turn out, I was able to do more than just observe.

02 they went to reinstall the existing—and highly modified molded—Fleetside bed
… they went to reinstall the existing—and highly modified/molded—Fleetside bed. It didn’t come close to fitting.

Early last year, a customer brought his Silverado in for a Rydman Ranch rear notch install. At the time, the bed had already been completely modified (elevated bed floor, widened/sectioned wheel tubs, and so on) for a similar suspension job, so it was assumed the “molded” box would bolt back on with minor adjustments. Well … you know what they say about assuming.

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03 Auto Metal Direct’s all new Square Body bed floor assembly with 4 inch wider wheel tubs
So, Plan B was to dissect the entire floor and wheel tubs and utilize Auto Metal Direct’s all-new Square Body bed floor assembly with 4-inch-wider wheel tubs (PN 790-4073-64S) with AMD’s accompanying 4-inch-wider wheelhouses (PN 760-4073-4). Sounded simple enough at the time …

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Upon attempting to reunite said bed with said back-halfed C10, it was discovered that not only was there no way the bed was going to fit without major surgery, the manner in which the previous work had been done was, well, let’s just say “hack job” would be an extremely polite way of putting it. All toll, the existing bed was junk, and the amount of time and labor to rectify that would be insurmountable, to say the least.

04 AMD’s accompanying 4 inch wider wheelhouses

Here’s where I come in. Ironically enough, my pals at Auto Metal Direct had just released their all-new 4-inch-wider wheel tubs and an accommodating bed floor for the ’73-78 GM shorties—and I’d just run a release on it, so it was rather fresh in the memory banks. Of course I suggested scrapping the efforts on the stock bed and, along with Auto Metal Direct’s new SquareBody Fleetside bedsides and front panel, build a bed the better way. Jimenez Bros. Customs agreed, and the rest is this story!

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05 molded together Fleetside bed that came off the Silverado
… until we got down to the nitty-gritty (that’s not the actual word I wanted to use, but it rhymes with gritty!) of the molded-together Fleetside bed that came off the Silverado. Let’s just say it was not usable for how Jimenez Bros. Customs wanted to proceed, so …

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06 We ordered up a pair of AMD’s smooth 1 2 ton short bedsides
… We ordered up a pair of AMD’s smooth 1/2-ton short bedsides (’76-80 LH/’81-87 RH; smooth, no gas filler holes) and front bed panel.

The first order of business once the new sheetmetal had arrived was to build the outer box and square it up on the Silverado’s modified chassis in relation to the (body-dropped) cab. Though not easy by definition, with all things considered that was the easy part; plotting and locating the raised bed floor and then surgically fitting the widened wheel tubs took a bit more mental—and physical—time to accomplish. But as the accompanying photos should help attest to, it was a task Jimenez Bros. Customs. was able to achieve, save for the custom rear panel!

07 With the original plan—and bed—literally scrapped
With the original plan—and bed—literally scrapped, the first step in Plan B: build the better (new) box!

08 build the better (new) box

09 the Silverado cab had been channeled onto the frame
Now, as mentioned in the story, the Silverado cab had been channeled onto the frame (believe the kids call that “body-dropped”!) and, as such, some modifications had to be made to initially set and square up the box.

10 some modifications had to be made to initially set and square up the box featured image

11 the bed floor’s integrated rear crossmember will not locate and mount the rear of the bed as it normally would
Since the floor will be “highly” elevated, the bed floor’s integrated rear crossmember will not locate and mount the rear of the bed as it normally would; for now, a temporary square-tube brace was used.
12 Using a chalk string the bed was positioned and squared up in reference to the cab as it’s currently mounted
Using a chalk string, the bed was positioned and squared up in reference to the cab as it’s currently mounted.
13 During this process the rear suspension was articulated which revealed that the inner bed side panel
During this process, the rear suspension was articulated, which revealed that the inner bed side panel at the wheel opening needed to be relieved in order to fit the 26-inch wheels (anything below 22 inches would not have required this!).

14 at the wheel opening needed to be relieved in order to fit the 26 inch wheels

15 With the bed situated where it needed to be the new AMD bed floor was dropped in place
With the bed situated where it needed to be, the new AMD bed floor was dropped in place and preparations made to locate it “above” the Rydman Ranch frame section.
16 Right off the bat we knew the rear corners of the bed floor would have to be clearanced to fit
Right off the bat we knew the rear corners of the bed floor would have to be clearanced to fit “around” the rear stake pockets, while the front stake pockets would have to be sectioned upward.
17 the initial clearancing done
Now, with the initial clearancing done, it was just a matter of fine-tuning the exact elevated placement of the bed floor within the box.

18 it was just a matter of fine tuning the exact elevated placement of the bed floor

19 I suggested the possibility of using Rivnuts to not only secure the bed floor to the front panel in its new location
As that was being done, I suggested the possibility of using Rivnuts to not only secure the bed floor to the front panel in its new location, but also along the bedsides, too, as the original mounting holes/locations would no longer apply.
20 The fortunate part about the 4 inch wider tubs—they’re 4 inches wider and along with the bed floor
The fortunate part about the 4-inch-wider tubs—they’re 4 inches wider and, along with the bed floor, more than adequately accommodate the larger-than-necessary rear wheels/tires. The unfortunate part …
21 Guess that’s not as bad as having to widen them AND the wheel openings in the bed floor
… we had to section them to accommodate the elevated bed floor! Guess that’s not as bad as having to widen them AND the wheel openings in the bed floor, which is why we called on AMD in the first place.
22 Now that the tubs were trimmed and fitted we could do one last squaring up on the bed floor
Now that the tubs were trimmed and fitted, we could do one last squaring up on the bed floor before …
23 finally mounting it to the bed itself using the installed Rivnuts
… finally mounting it to the bed itself using the installed Rivnuts. Now we’ve got a solid box to work with moving forward.

24 Now we’ve got a solid box to work with moving forward

25 Two main up front with two main rears and two smaller support brackets off the frame notch
With the floor secured that allowed us to make measurements and fab up the bed mounting pedestals, as such. Two main up front with two main rears and two smaller support brackets off the frame notch.
26 Throughout the process we’d be utilizing (relying on) a body dolly from Jeg’s
Throughout the process, we’d be utilizing (relying on) a body dolly from Jeg’s. Having a means in which to support and mobilize the bed made a huge difference.
27 bed floor and box mounted onto the frame via custom fabbed pedestals
OK, bed floor and box mounted onto the frame via custom-fabbed pedestals—now all that’s left is to finish the rest!
28 It was decided that making all new lids would be the method
The major part of “the rest” was to fill the holes atop the wheelhouses. Rather than attempt to slice up and widen the old upper pieces, it was decided that making all-new lids would be the method.
29 The new upper wheelhouse sections were made from one piece of 18 gauge cold roll
The new upper wheelhouse sections were made from one piece of 18-gauge cold roll, the same material the tubs are stamped out of. As you can see, the front/rear and side edges were formed into the main piece.

30 As you can see the front rear and side edges were formed into the main piece

31 The corners on the other hand were formed individually and grafted in place
The corners, on the other hand, were formed individually and grafted in place. A bead roll was added to the top for strength as well as appearance’s sake.
32 There’s still some finishing metalwork to be done but for now you get the idea
There’s still some finishing metalwork to be done, but for now you get the idea! Also note that the rear bed floor crossmember has been removed.
33 Jimenez Bros Customs needed to fabricate the custom rear filler panel
This was done to allow the tailgate to fit/close, but before that Jimenez Bros. Customs needed to fabricate the custom rear filler panel, which will include gas filler and battery jumper provisions. For our intents and purposes, the Better Bed Box is good to go.

Sources
AUTO METAL DIRECT
(888) 255-3485
autometaldirect.com

JIMENEZ BROS.
(951) 992-2335

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