wood truck cap

Hi Y'all, Has anyone ever tried to build a truck cap out of wood? I just bought a Ford F-150 pickup with a 8' bed and thought it would make an interesting project. Comments? Suggestion? TIA Joe
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A hobbyist / carpenter with an emphasis on small projects.

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Mind the weight, and for that reason, you may want to go with a simple frame design skinned with 1/4" plywood. Nothing stopping you from getting creative though..
Good luck Rob
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http://www.robswoodworking.com

"KB8QLR" < snipped-for-privacy@peoplepc.com> wrote in message
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Last one I did was for a "deuce and a half". Steel frame covered with 1/2" plywood.

an
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"KB8QLR" writes:

<snip>
In a word "Heavy".
As long as fuel cost is no problem, go for it, but I'd pass with fuel over $2/gal.
HTH
--
Lew

S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
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Lots of rustbuckets hereabout are stripped to the frame and rebuilt with wooden bed and stakes/cap.
As to fuel cost, a cap which keeps the tailgate from acting as an airbrake is a net plus. At least it has been for my pickups.

Southland)
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Your tailgate dosen't do as you think.
<http://www.cartalk.com/content/columns/Archive/1997/October/05.html
The caps on my trucks, which were all fiberglass, hurt the mileage on all three examples. I attributed the mileage hit to the weight of the cap, and the bad aerodynamics of the squared-off back.
Barry
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I believe my gage.
wrote:

airbrake
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Fellow at work here did just that. That Dodge was known as the "War Wagon", from the old John Wayne oater. We spotted it on the news one evening on its side on the entrance ramp to I-81.
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On Wed, 19 May 2004 03:36:52 -0500, --==--

With time and effort, I'll bet a wood cap could be light and beautiful, ala 1950's Chris Craft boat style.
Unfortunately, pretty wood caps are rare. When I think of wood caps, I start hearing Jeff Foxworthy's voice in the back of my head.
Barry
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On Wed, 19 May 2004 10:29:20 GMT, B a r r y

I saw a very nice in southern california prolly 15 years ago. it had a built in carry rack holding a matching boat. very very nice....
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Give me a break - you're saying that hauling around two sheets of plywood and a few 2x4's are going to drastically reduce my mileage? Yeah, right.
: "KB8QLR" writes:
:> Has anyone ever tried to build a truck cap out of wood? : <snip>
: In a word "Heavy".
: As long as fuel cost is no problem, go for it, but I'd pass with fuel over : $2/gal.
: HTH
: -- : Lew
: S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland) : Visit: <http://home.earthlink.net/~lewhodgett for Pictures
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snipped-for-privacy@buzzbeer.com wrote:

Must be some weak knee'd truck, huh? I know my fiberglass cap weighs more than if I made the same design out of wood, so I wouldn't be afraid of a wood cap.
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-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@sprintmail.com
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Fine Woodworking or Fine Homebuilding magazine had a short artical and photo of a contractor who had made a topper for his truck. Some years latter I had seen the truck and topper here in southern WI and it still loked good. MGH

make
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KB8QLR wrote:

I built one for my 84 Nissan King cab. We were in Hawaii and the prices they wanted were so high I decided I could do better for less. I lucked into a place going out of the aluminum camper business and got the sheetmetal as well as door, windows, trim and sticky tape stuff cheaply enough to make it happen. Desigh: cab over shell topper tapered from bed width to roughly follow the shape of the cap, ending up at 4' wide for the top, just high enough that a Navy seabag, 3 across actually, fit on the overhang over the truck cab when done. Sides came out to being a 4' sheet of plywood wide. Don't recall if that was deliberate but probably was. I knew enough to try to avoid slpicing or reinforcing a plywood joint. Front of the shell came to the front of the cab and tapered back, don't recall the exact pitch but it was close to the windshield pitch. Frame was 1x2 spf, picked to avoid knots with clear 1x3's at the top of the cap and the botom of the cab overhand for support. Front panel, panel at the back of the cab and rear panel were all 3/4" plywood, notched for the 1x3's. Made cardboard templates before cutting any wood, and only made a few in process design changes, like cutting 2" off a 10' side panel because it was too ling, then adding a 1" lift kit to keep from rubing a hole in the roof of the cab;-) I user plywood gussets at the joints as well as glue, may have used glue when attaching the 1/4 plywood to the outside. Insode was attached with screws, in case I wanted to make wireing changes to the lights. Installesd a ceiling vent, van style for airflow, and it was done. Light enough that I could maneuver it into place by standing on a spare tire in the bed of the truck,and lifting it on my back, I was much younger, but so awkward I needed help to get it there. Ended up using black foam pipe insulation glued between the cap and cab roof to help with airflow and bounce. The foam held up for at least 15 years, but was cracking for the last few. Let me know if you want any more info, the cap may be still sitting in one of the kids yard down in GA. I can call and have them measure, and check the way i put on the aluminum trim, which was the wrong way:-( But a bead of silicone after that rain up in the mountains took care of the leaks. Gas milage improved with the cap on, empty or full and we drove it from LA to Charleston, SC in 85, via the 4 corners and Wolfe Creek Pass in CO. Joe
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I've decided against building the cap.
Joe
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Joe,
Don't give up so quick. In 1993 those fiberglass solid lids were starting to show up, so I decided to build one rather than pay what I thought was way too much for the store-bought version.
This one was a little different than stock, though.
Rather than having just a hinge at the front, I made a scissors lift linkage, but made it non-symmetrical so as I lifted the back of the lid about 4', the front lifted about 18". This linkage was made from 1" square steel tube, and I paid a welding shop $20 to do the fabrication I needed.
Why bother with this? I got some fancy car cover fabric from a shop that did custom covers, and with a hot melt glue gun, made a tent arrangement that attached to the truck box, tailgate and lid with double sided tape. When the lid went up, so did the tent. I got this idea after a 3 week camping trip where it rained about 19 nights. The back of the truck always seemed drier than the mud me and the tent were in. It also had the advantage of allowing camp to be set up or broken down in about 10 seconds flat.
The lid itself started with good pine 1x4s with crowns cut into their top surface placed across the bed. 3/8" exterior construction plywood was glued and screwed to this, with about a 3" skirt around the edge where it connected to the top of the box. At the corners of the top surface and the skirt pieces, I used big (maybe 1") quarter round molding to give a nice radius. The truck bed sides were actually curved slightly, so everthing was cut and fit to match, and all the plywood ended up with nice, gently curved surfaces.
To finish it I used a layer of fiberglass chopped strand mat and polyester resin. The surface took some sanding and filling, but quickly worked down to a reasonably professional finish. This was basically autobody work, but the surfaces were almost all big and flat, so it went quickly. The place that sold me the fiberglass materials also sold special paint for fiberglass that they color matched based on the truck's paint color code. It matched perfectly (well, as far as I could tell....).
I also used 3/8 plywood to build a platform in the truck box that gave a level surface over the top of the wheelwells. The platform surface was made up of loose panels that could be lifted to access storage space below. Foam rubber and a sleeping bag made up the rest of the accommodations.
It took about a month's worth of weekends to build. Subtract the lift mechanism and tent and you're down to 2-3 weekends. The thing lasted fine outside for the six or so years until I replaced that truck. I put it on and off myself (the problem with the lid is it's not good with tall cargo). I doubt if it was any heavier than the commercial fiberglass models. Got lots of compliments and requests for the manufacturer's name while I had it. Oh, and at the time I had a B&D jigsaw, B&D 3/8 drill, and some hand tools to build it with. The process was a lot like building a wooden boat -- everything was "cut to fit".
When pickup bed caps got popular in the mid 70s, they were made with wood (2x2) frames and used aluminum and plastic materials for the skins. That's a lot of parts to cut, fit and assemble. Spraying fiberglass into a mold with a chopper gun allows you to mass produce caps with far less labor. That's why production of these things has all gone to fiberglass. Not weight or any other type of performance.
So don't give up. I forget what mine cost, but it was a lot less than buying a commerical lid. It was also a very enjoyable project, and made later camping trips far more pleasant. (Turns out I really like working with fiberglass and have used it in a couple of later projects, too.)
Good luck!
Tim
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Joe, Do you mean a CAB or a cover for the bed?
I help a rust-bucketeer friend of mine by welding together a frame for a 41 Chevy truck cab. The frame was to support an aluminum skin with wood side panels, much like an old Ford woody look. The cab interior was all wood trim. It was very cool.
If you are talking about a bed-cap/cover, I think it would be easily done using the same method, aluminum frame with an aluminum skin veneered/laminated with a nice wood.
Dave

an
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It was a camper shell, no floor, that went from the tailgate to the front of the truck cab. Bad ASCII art: _________________________________ / | / Camper | / | /____________ | |_ | / Truck | Hole for | / Cab |_sliding window | / here |_______________________| windshield Truck bed here above here
Joe
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I'm going to make one out of 1/4-ply for the straight sections and cedar-strip (a la canoe-building technique) the curvey parts. Shouldn't weigh much at all and look a helluva lot better than anything I'd pay five times as much for.
Lots easier than building a canoe, too :)
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