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Bed and Bumper Swap

429CJ-3X2

Elite Explorer
Joined
November 6, 2009
Messages
1,680
Reaction score
435
City, State
Des Moines, Iowa
Year, Model & Trim Level
'01,'02, '04 Sport Tracs,
I spent much of my long July 4th weekend swapping the bed and rear bumper on my '01 Sport Trac. Anyone thinking of doing this job should not be scared off by the amount of time it took me to complete it. The actual bed swap went smoothly, and could be accomplished by 2 people in 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. I didn't have help for the most part, so a lot of time was spent planning how I was going to go about it. And, I work slow - not like this guy - . Also had some minor issues to figure out and work through.

Here's the reason the bed swap was necessary
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This is where the tailgate pivots. It's so bad the lower portion of this section moved with the tailgate.
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The rear bumper cover is far worse than appears in the photo. It's actually cut out, or more likely melted, to clear the tailpipe. And that ball in the bumper ain't coming off.
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And the paint is a mess. Looks like a coating of sap or some kind of overspray, but that's the paint.
 



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The bed bolts came out surprisingly easy, no problems at all. I used a 25" breaker bar to break them loose, but really didn't need that much leverage. Despite what the factory manual says, the 4 bed bolts are identical. To remove the bed, there are 4 bolts in the bed (T-55 heads), 3 screws that attach the the fuel filler neck to the bed, 2 electrical connectors behind the rear bumper, and 2 screws on each side holding the bumper cover to the inner fender liner. I used camper jacks designed to lift a slide-in camper to lift the bed off. The board is to keep the jacks apart.
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This worked well to get the bed off, but it wasn't enough lift to set the new bed on. The fronts of the fender liners hang way below the box and hang up on the tires. I was able to drive out, but backing under the bed would bend the fender liner backwards. After spending a tremendous amount of time figuring out how to get it high enough, I found out my daughter's boyfriend wasn't busy, and he came over to help me set the new bed on. FYI - the rear of the bed is heavier than the front. The bed isn't heavy. When we loaded and unloaded the bed when I bought it, it had the factory cover on it. The cover was probably close to half the total weight.

The bumper was a HUGE pain. At least 2 of the bolts had been replaced, and the only one I got the nut off of was the one that was over twice as long as it needed to be. I knew they would be a problem. I repositioned the bumper 3 yrs ago, and had a terrible time with those bolts. Also saw why I had so much trouble installing the trailer hitch - the corner of the frame was/is bent, which was the reason for the longer bolts mounting the bumper to the frame. I know I beat on it some getting the hitch installed, but I couldn't have mangled it like it is hitting it from under the truck. Fortunately, I was smart enough to deal with the bumper as much as possible while the bed was off. With the bed off, you can easily access the bolts from on top. This was especially important since I had to cut 3 of the bolts with the grinder. With the trailer hitch, there's not much room for the wrench to travel if you're working from under the truck, and no way to get the grinder to them like I had to do.
 






Here's the finished product. I took care of the light for the license plate after this photo.

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I'm not used to shiny paint on the back half of this truck! It's like having a new truck! I'll have to replace the hood now. It looks like it was painted with a foam brush with some horrendous "prep work" under the paint. Rough, uneven, and less than zero shine. I have another black hood, but it has a bent front corner, and a scratch. I think I can straighten the bend, and even with the scratch, it beats the current hood. The front bumper cover is messed up with several cracks, and the front fenders have issues. I have the parts, but I can live with the front end as is on this truck. If it looks too nice, I won't want anyone else driving it, and it's intended to be the "family truck" that anyone can drive. The plan is to put the 1 piece cover back on the truck, but the factory cover came with this bed and it was easier to put it back on for now. I'd like to repaint, or cover the 1 piece with some other coating, as the clearcoat is faded and peeling.
 






One side issue I had to deal with was the spring for the fuel door was broken on the new bed. The whole fuel door assembly includes the housing inside the fuel door. It was easy to pop the remains of the broken spring out with a screwdriver, but next to impossible to get the spring from the old bed installed in the new one without removing the housing. I had removed the cover from the front corner of the bed while it was off to try to figure this out. That's the vertical cover with the 10 Allen head bolts you can see when you look at the front of the bed behind the cab. It helps to have that off so you can get to the housing from the front, but it isn't necessary and doesn't get the housing out. The housing snaps into place. It's pretty tight, so you'll think there's more holding it in place, but it just snaps in. Well, there is the 1 screw below the fuel filler tube, and you have to take out the 3 screws that hold the filler tube in place. To get it out, you have to turn the fuel door housing, but the wheelwell liner blocks it. To get enough room to turn the housing, you have to remove 2 screws holding the inner wheelwell liner to the wheel arch, and at least 2 screws holding the wheelwell liner to the inner part of the wheelwell. That allows the liner to move enough to get the fuel door housing turned so it comes out. The reason the housing needs to come out to replace the spring is the spring hooks into the hinge on the fuel door way toward the front of the hinge where you can't see it or get to it without removing the housing from the bed.

I'm rethinking putting the 1 pc cover back on the truck. It's nice because you just lift the latch with your thumb and the gas shocks lift the lid. It goes up enough to give easy access to the front of the bed from the side. It does take considerable effort to pull back down though, and you have to raise the lid to open the tailgate. I didn't get keys to the lock, and a new lock is about $50, so there's no security as is. I don't have keys for the factory cover either, but if the tailgate is locked, access to the bed is denied. I did rig up a release wire using picture hanging wire that's long enough to leave a loop outside so I can unlatch the cover without dropping the tailgate. As long as that is tucked inside, the bed can be secured. The factory cover also allows the tailgate to open without messing with the cover, and the back half can be flipped forward if I need to haul something that won't fit under the cover. And, as heavy as it is, I can remove and install the factory cover by myself. Removing/installing the 1 piece cover is really a 2 person job. I don't know that it weighs anymore than the factory cover (might be a little bit lighter), but it's too large for one person to carefully handle.

When we were doing some clean-up at my father-in-law's recently, I salvaged a spongy anti-fatigue mat that was just the right width to use as a bed mat. I trimmed it to fit around the wheelwells and cut it to length. Works well. And it was free.
 






That looks good. Big improvement over your old bed.

Last week I made a dump run and had the OE bed cover open in the rear. After leaving the dump I left the cover open, as I will sometimes do, but that day I hopped on the highway to take a different route home. At about 65 MPH the air caught the cover and slammed shut with a huge bang. It scared the crap out of me, because I never know what might fall off this truck next. When I got home I examined the bed cover and could see no damage, but the left side doesn't latch anymore. The latch mechanism works if you latch it by hand and then release it using the key, so IDK why it's not latching (I'm not even 100% sure it ever latched on the left side). I tried adjusting the latch (there's a small amount of adjustment) and tried to adjust the part it catches on inside the bed (which has no real adjustment). I need to get inside the bed with a flashlight to see what's happening. It almost seems like the cover or its hinge is bend, but the cover is heavy plastic, so I don't think that's the issue. IDK about the hinge.
 






Did you make sure the latch mechanism is opening all the way? If it was partially closed when it slammed shut, it could be jammed or slightly bent now.

I've already decided if I ever drive on the road with the cover folded forward, I'll tie it down with a strap across it.

The difference in my truck is like night and day. Two weeks later, I still feel like I have a new truck - one I'm not embarrassed by. Before the bed swap it looked so bad it was hard to care much about taking care of its appearance, and I didn't worry about where I parked it. Now, I'm inclined to park in "safer" spots like I do the other one. I'm also enjoying knowing the horn works, and the working cruise control - both fixed with the clockspring from the steering column I bought with the bed. My workplace moved at the end of May, so instead of a 3 mile commute, I have a 16-17 mile commute with 13-14 miles on the interstate. Cruise control is nice, especially in the morning when the traffic is lighter.
 






Did you make sure the latch mechanism is opening all the way? If it was partially closed when it slammed shut, it could be jammed or slightly bent now.

I've already decided if I ever drive on the road with the cover folded forward, I'll tie it down with a strap across it.

The difference in my truck is like night and day. Two weeks later, I still feel like I have a new truck - one I'm not embarrassed by. Before the bed swap it looked so bad it was hard to care much about taking care of its appearance, and I didn't worry about where I parked it. Now, I'm inclined to park in "safer" spots like I do the other one. I'm also enjoying knowing the horn works, and the working cruise control - both fixed with the clockspring from the steering column I bought with the bed. My workplace moved at the end of May, so instead of a 3 mile commute, I have a 16-17 mile commute with 13-14 miles on the interstate. Cruise control is nice, especially in the morning when the traffic is lighter.

Yes, the latch seems to be working fine. Looks just like the right hand side latch. I don't believe I'll be driving with the cover half open again. I wasn't planning on going on the highway when I left the dump and forgot about the cover being open. You'd think the cab would have prevented the air from getting under the cover, but maybe there was a bit of a cross wind. usually I don't drive that fast, but there was a lot of fast moving traffic that day.
 






Two months after the bed swap, I find myself being irritated about the light scratches from where a previous driver apparently drove with the gas cap dangling. I have to remind myself how the old bed looked!
 






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