[How To] Tilt your bed!
This is an explanation of how to tilt your bed with air including pictures.
I recently had a few requests asking how I did this mod. It’s pretty simple if you have some decent type of fabrication skills and patience for measuring. Materials include: 2500 bag or equivalent, air management (valves, line, fittings, etc), steel for fab, and hardware. You can change what I’ve done here to fit your needs, but this seems to work fine for what I’m trying to do. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to pm/email me. I’m sure I’ll forget a few things.
Start out with making your 4 hinges/brackets. I don’t have any pics of me making them, but the completed pictures will give you a good idea of what’s going on. I used 2” flat stock for material. It ends up looking a lot like 2 x 2 square ¼” wall, but it’s just wide enough for your bed’s hate channels to slide into.
The two hinges on the passenger side need to have rounded corners so the bottom of the bed won’t hit and bind (picture 1). Your other two brackets on the driver side need to be flared out at the top to ensure the hat channel will slide into place when you let the bed back down (picture 2).
Make sure you weld these brackets/hinges together square. If they become out of square from the weld’s heat, it will throw everything off. Tack first, then fully weld. I also boxed the bottoms to keep them square. If you do this also, drill a hole in the bottom to keep water from collecting (when it’s welded to the frame). After they are fully welded and looking pretty, mark and drill your pilot holes for your ½” bolts, then step up your bits to ½”. Once again, make sure these holes are squared up!! Think of this as making a hinge from scratch for the front door of your house. If something is off 1/16th”, your door (bed) is going to open crooked, squeak, and probably wont shut right.
Now that your hinges are made, you’re ready to move onto some framework. Start by removing the 2nd bed mount back on the passenger and driver side. On the driver side, this is the mount just behind the gas filler neck. These areas are where two of the hinges/brackets will mount. Also trim down the passenger side front bed mount, otherwise the bed will bind on this when tilted (picture 3). Remove the gas filler neck to make some modifications. I’ve seen a few different style necks on 2nd gens, but this is what I’ve done to mine. Before cutting/welding, be sure to get all gas out, duh. Shortening this will ensure your tilting goes smoothly (picture 4). Basically this has to be done and is your new way to fill up gas.
Okay, throw your bed back on and bolt it down with the 6 remaining bed bolts. Be sure you have it centered on the frame where you want it to be (forever more). Now you’re ready to mock up the placement off your 4 hinges/brackets.
Grind the paint off for a good welding surface to tact on your hinges. You’ll have to check out the pictures to see which four hat channels they will slide up onto (picture 5 & 6). Tack the hinges in place, be sure they are perfectly perpendicular/square with the frame. Once again, this is important to be sure your bed tilts and falls back into place correctly. Take your time on this. Once they are tacked WELL in place (not permanently), you are ready to drill your holes through the hat channels. Now you are going to have to somewhat ruin a ½” bit for this. Only because you have to cut the bit shorter. This is to fit your drill and bit up between the bed sides when drilling. You’ll be using the ½” holes in the hinges/brackets for positioning the bit. Don’t try to use a ¼” or 3/8” bit on this, it could throw your hat channel hole off center. Also, when you are drilling the hat channels, be sure to do both sides of it with the hinge’s hole to guide the bit. Don’t try to drill the other side of the hat channel with the bit going though your first hat channel hole. Did I confuse you yet? You’ll see when you are doing it yourself. Now that the holes are drilled, slide the appropriate length bolt through and washer and nut it down. Take out your six bed bolts and lift the bed up manually. Be confident that your tack welds are going to be strong enough to temporarily hold some weight. If they bed goes up and down easily (besides the weight of it) and falls into the brackets easily, you are ready to fully weld them to the frame.
This may also be a good time to extend your tail light wiring harness and relocate your two rear ground wires.
Okay, so the thing goes up and down just fine. But you’re still doing this with man power. Where’s the air power come in? You can experiment with bag placement, line, and valve size depending on what you want this thing to do. I used one 2500 stone bag and two ½” valves I had laying around. With ¼” line, it can hop three people in my bed no problem. I did have 3/8” line installed, but it was just too fast. A bed doesn’t weigh much compared to the front of your truck.
You might not be able to mount your bag in the location shown because of a five link, tanks, compressors, etc, but you could do a similar lower bag bracket between the two front bed mounts, just above the stock muffler location. I used 3/8” plate for the bag mounts and 2x2x1/4 for the upper bag cross member to stretch between the two rear hat channels (picture 7, 8, & 9). I also boxed the frame in for both a flat mounting location and to prevent the frame from twisting. Fully lifted with no fatties in the bed requires about 95 p.s.i.
Last big question… does the bed move when you're not riding around tilted? The answer is yes and no. I drilled holes on the driver side bracket just as I did for the hinges on the passenger side. So if I choose, I can drop hitch and clevis pins through the holes to keep the bed perfectly still, no movement. But I really haven’t used them much. That would require me to get out of my truck and pull em out every time I wanted to get silly. So to prevent noise, I used ¼” thick rubber pads on the bottom of each hat channel for the bed to ‘rest’ on. No lie, it doesn’t work 100%, but it helps a lot. Also, if you are running stock wheel wells, you cant have your truck laid out and tilt it at the same time, other wise the inside of your tire will rub on your stock wheel well and warp the bed side in like crazy... watch your clearances.
Some more finished pictures for ya...