If you are going to use your truck to haul lumber, piping and other heavy cargo, you need a way to load it up to the truck bed. Therefore, many pickup truck owners install crane on the truck bed. We have asked our friends who have installed crane and have found out the best way to install and reinforce truck bed crane.
How to install truck bed crane? Weld or bolt a long plate of iron at the bottom of the truck bed right under the crane base and bolt the base of the crane with the plate. The plate under the bed is either bolted or welded with the truck frame itself.
Your truck bed crane is most likely to come with with a pair of angle brackets and a metal plate to fix the crane to the truck bed. The angle brackets go under the truck bed and the base of the crane is bolted on the metal plate. However, it may seem enough but in the long run, you will find your truck bed bend and uneven, especially if you are carrying heavy lumber. You need to reinforce the crane with some additional metal work so that it lasts longer, without putting much pressure on the truck bed itself.
Here’s How You Can Install and Reinforce Truck Bed Crane
You can get some of the best pickup truck cranes under $100 and can easily lift at least 500 pounds. The crane already come with a thick base plate. But it basically bolts on the sheet metal of the truck bed which is not a wise option if you are going to use it every day and for heavy loads. They do come with angle plate that goes under the bed, but it’s not enough to keep the crane in place for a long time. The strongest part of the truck is the frame. So, you have to find a way to bolt it to the frame itself. This will bring the pressure of the crane on the truck frame and not on the bed sheet metal.
You can place the angle frame under the truck bed either in right angle triangle or parallel to each other. Keep at least one of the angle frame near the rim of the truck bed. Then bolt the crane base to the bed and the angle plate underneath to secure the crane. If you want you can drill out custom holes to suit your needs. This is the usual way to install the crane. But as you lift heavy loads, you will see your truck bed flex and may even rip off. To solve this problem, you need to reinforce the angle plate that goes underneath the truck bed.
You can weld the angle brackets to a solid iron bar that is long enough to reach and fix to the truck frame. You need at least two iron bars which will be welded to the angle plates on either side. Both the iron bars should be bolted first to the truck bed sheet. So, you have to drill the truck bed as well the corresponding bars beforehand. If your truck bed is not flat, instead has a raised surface, you can use an additional metal plate as washers. Now place the angle brackets under the truck bed where the reinforced iron runs to the truck frame where it is welded in place.
Another way to fix the crane is on the sides of the truck bed wall. It’s possible only if the crane is short and can rotate to rest in the truck bed wall when not in use. But fixing it on the side is risky as it may damage the wall; moreover, there is no way to reinforce. Here’s a 1/2 ton capacity pickup truck crane.
How to Install Hand Winch to the Pickup Truck Crane?
Pickup truck cranes don’t usually come with a hand winch. But it will really make things easier if you are going to use that crane every day. The hand winch should go on the top bar of the crane from where the steel cable with a hook will rest.
First, you have weld a metal plate on the top arm of the crane. Cut the metal plate as wide as the hand winch base. Find a suitable spot from where you can operate easily and weld the plate on both sides. Now bolt down the hand winch on the metal plate and run the reinforced steel wire through the arm. If you have a steel wire, you need a couple of pulleys towards the end of the top arm. Now, you are all set to use your hand winch to lift heavy loads. Check this out if you are looking for a crane with a hand winch.
How to Install Electric Winch to the Pickup Truck Crane?
When you are lifting a heavier load on your crane, a hand winch may not be enough. You will need the help of a motorized winch. Most cranes don’t come with the electric winch so it has to be bought separately and installed on the crane arm.
Just like a hand winch, you have to weld a metal plate upon which the electric winch will be fixed. Install the electric winch on the crane arm and connect it to the battery in your truck bed. It does come with push-button switches for easy operation.
Can I load lumber using the truck bed crane?
Yes, most truck owners who install a truck bed crane typically use it to life lumber, plywood, piping, construction material bags etc. You can lift one end of the lumber with the crane, but for the rear end, you need additional support. If you are doing it on your own, you need to plan ahead.
Does a truck bed crane damage the truck bed?
If it’s not fixed on a sturdy support or is not reinforced from under the bed, it may damage the truck bed. After all the bed is just a metal sheet, which may flex due to the crane’s concentrated load. Plus, it may affect rear suspension and axles if you will be using the crane frequently.
Will lifting load on pickup truck bed crane make my truck unstable?
During the moment of loading, it may cause the cab to slightly rise up, depending on the weigh of cargo you are loading. But it would make any difference in riding comfort, handling, and stability.
Truck bed crane can seriously affect the structural integrity of the truck bed. If you are planning to use it every day we suggest you reinforce the crane base. Use your own metal plates along with the angle plates the company provides. Moreover, if you have a taller crane you have to weld additional support on the truck bed sides where the crane body will rest. It prevents the crane from putting too much pressure on the truck bed sheet. You also have to take care of the truck bed more frequently. The bolts and joints will make it vulnerable to rust, and dust. We advise you to spray paint the base of the crane and around areas where you have bolted the frame.
With a wrench in one hand and a trucker’s hat on my head, I’ve been knee-deep in the world of trucks for over a decade. From tinkering in greasy garages to cruising down open highways, my life has been one big trucking adventure. I’ve hauled, repaired, and revved up more rigs than I can count, and now I’m revving up your truck knowledge with articles that’ll steer you right.