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DIY Bedsides Reinforcement Brackets

Discussion in 'Technical Chat' started by totmacher, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. Apr 9, 2017 at 5:14 PM
    #1
    totmacher

    totmacher [OP] automotive hypochondriac

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    Cut & broke off some stuff.
    I've seen where a few people are selling these things.
    I have a welder and some metal scraps around so I thought I'd try making a pair myself.
    NCM_2394.jpg
    NCM_2396.jpg
    If you want to make a set for yourself, look at the others out there, look at your tools, remember your skills. This thread might be more of a lessons learned than a true how-to.

    You can see the marks on my tailgate catches where it was hitting originally and where it's been hitting lately since I added the shell plus rack. If it had splayed open much more, my tailgate wouldn't have even latched anymore.
    NCM_2418.jpg

    You're on your own for measuring hole spacing. I don't know how much variation there is from truck to truck. I just used a tape measure and slightly oversized all drilled holes to allow a little wiggle room for the bolts.

    I'll put up a bunch of words first, then the pics.

    1. Remove existing bolts so you can get in to measure and test fit as you go. Remove taillights for access.

    2. Slide your tie-downs all the way back in the rails if you can. Attach a ratchet strap and tighten it down to pull the bedsides square. Make sure to do this before any measurements, test fits, and final installation. With the tailgate closed, you'll be able to watch the gap at the sides so you don't pull them too far.

    3. You'll be able to tell from the load on the strap that you want the brackets fairly strong. Just because it's what I had laying around, I used some
    a) 1-1/4 x 1-1/4 x 1/8 angle
    b) 3/16 thick plate
    c) 3/16 thick x 1" wide bar.
    d) 1/8" thick wall square tubing (cut down to make 2x1/4 angle).

    4. Estimate your lengths, notch the angle, bend it to 90 degrees, weld it back. Remember that it might shrink or otherwise deform in the heat of welding so clamp it tight before welding. I welded a small piece of scrap over the corner to further strengthen where I welded it back. You'll want the bottom leg long enough to have some strength but short enough that it doesn't eat up bed space.

    5. Use some flat bar and cut each end to 45 degree so you can put a gusset in the corner where you bent the angle. Pay attention not to make the gusset too big though or you'll end up getting in the way of a bolt.

    6. Weld a longer piece of plate or bar under the short side of the bracket that is long enough to go from the corner of the bed in to the main bed bolt. I didn't have any long & wide enough so I used the plate the I had and then cut down some square tubing and butt welded it to make the bottom plate long enough. Having the short bend from the tube made it basically like angle so it still had some strength to resist bending. Kept it short enough to not stick up higher than the ridges of the bed floor.

    7. Drill 3 holes on what will be the vertical side against the bedside for whatever size bolt you want to use. I used 5/16 grade 8 bolts, washers, and nuts.

    8. Cut a piece of flat bar to go behind it (behind the tail light). The metal part of the bedside is really thin. At least use a fender washer if you don't put a plate back there.

    9. Optional depending on how high you want to go. Some brackets being sold are don't go all the way up to the top of the bed rail. I wanted to. Just because I could. I put an angled cut on the top of my bracket matching the angle of the side of the bed and then welded a piece of flat bar on. Then bend the end of the flat bar so it can go flat against the side of the bed. Drill a hole for a bolt to go through to the existing hole where you removed one of the stock bolts. Weld shims if you need to to fill any gaps from poor bending planning. :oops:

    10. Drill some extra holes where ever you want tie-down points. Remember to bevel or smooth the edges of the hole so there isn't sharp edges biting into your rope or plastic hooks you might use. I also welded reinforcement around one of the larger holes just because I had some scrap material available.

    11. Grind or sand sharp edges. Round your corners. Then paint it all.

    12. Keep that ratchet strap in there holding the bedsides in.

    13. Bolt your brackets. I suggest finger tight on the bottom 2, then snug the lowest one on the side, then tighten down the bottom 2 fully, then work your way up the side. Should help keep things squared up good this way.

    a) The bottom corner where the swivel tie-down was is a 7/16-20 thread. I thought it seems like a good idea to take the spacers/washers off the swivel and reuse them to fill the space. The plastic bed bottom has some flex in the corner so the spacers let me tighten the bolt without flexing the plastic. Flat washer, lockwasher, thick spacer, plastic retaining washer. Assemble this one on the bracket before you place it unless you drill your hole big enough for it all to pass through. I think the bolt I used was 1-1/2 inch long. Use Grade 8. You want strength.
    NCM_2408.jpg

    b) The bed bolt is M12x1.25 thread. I was able to reuse it but I also had a 4" long grade 10.8 hex bolt and large washer in case I needed them.

    c) Don't forget the backing plate on the sides. Or at least fender washers. I have 3 bolts here but one is hidden in this pic.
    NCM_2410.jpg

    d) The top most little ones are M6x1.0 thread. I could have reused the stock ones but I wanted stronger. I sheared one and decided they were weak. This prevents the weld nuts from stripping since the bolt gives way first but I didn't like it. I found some grade 10.8 flange head bolts and put it through. Then I put a locknut on the backside behind the weld nut just in case.
    Length will vary based on thickness of metal you used, if you even went all the way up like I did. I replaced one of the other top bolts too.
    NCM_2409.jpg

    14. Remove the ratchet strap and marvel at your work.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  2. Apr 9, 2017 at 5:14 PM
    #2
    totmacher

    totmacher [OP] automotive hypochondriac

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    Cut & broke off some stuff.
    And here are finished pics that might help make better sense of everything above..

    You can see up top where I swapped out the black stock bolts for higher strength bolts with large washers to help disperse the load. The stock metal is all pretty thin so I thought it seemed like a good idea.
    NCM_2411.jpg
    NCM_2412.jpg
    NCM_2416.jpg

    This is why I said in main post above to be careful about your corner gusset. I like big washers to distribute loading.
    NCM_2415.jpg

    The bottom leg is just right for the OEM bedmat to drop down. The extra material under the bolt makes the mat stick up just a little more but it's not bad.
    NCM_2417.jpg

    You can see the white grease here is over the original marking. Confirms that I got the bedsides pretty much back to their original pre-shell position.
    NCM_2419.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  3. May 10, 2017 at 6:37 PM
    #3
    Dragons Taco

    Dragons Taco Well-Known Member

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    Can ya spell Tonneau
    Nice writeup!
    Good job at fab'n. Love seeing someone roll their own.
     
  4. Jul 20, 2017 at 7:00 PM
    #4
    monteredondo

    monteredondo Member

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    That is sweet. I am going to build one and hopefully integrate a tubular tailgate to hold tire and fuel cans. You did a nice job.
     
    totmacher[OP] likes this.
  5. Oct 15, 2020 at 7:57 AM
    #5
    Porroquio

    Porroquio IG: @porroquio

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    hi! i also asked this on another thread but haven't received an answer yet.
    Is it really necessary to drill and bolt to the bed in order to fix the stiffeners?
    I was wondering if it would be possible to use only the stock bolts from the base frame, D-ring, and upper side to fix a stifferner design like the one from Total Chaos, without significantly compromising strength.
     
  6. Oct 15, 2020 at 8:25 AM
    #6
    totmacher

    totmacher [OP] automotive hypochondriac

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    Cut & broke off some stuff.
    You talking about bolts on the vertical side drilling into side of bed?

    Doesn't the TC bracket also have you drill holes for the vertical section? I did not think it only attached at the top. Those bolts up top by the bedrail are kinda weak and small in my opinion. I sheared one without much effort.

    I think having a few bolts spread around might help distribute loads better throughout the bracket.
     
    Porroquio[QUOTED] likes this.
  7. Oct 15, 2020 at 8:34 AM
    #7
    Porroquio

    Porroquio IG: @porroquio

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    Yes, TC requires drilling on the vertical section.
    I understand. I haven't checked that top bolt myself, but if it's kinda weak that justifies the drilling and use of additional bolts down the vertical section.

    Thank you very much!
     

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