The thing that makes trucks unique—and the number one reason people buy them—is the bed. Right now, you’re probably thinking Thanks, Captain Obvious, but there is a point here. If trucks are that popular, so much so that they make up the majority of all auto sales in the U.S., then why don’t we spend more time outfitting their bed areas? Admittedly, with all the excitement of the overland movement, things are changing, but we’d venture to guess that at least 60 percent of truck beds remain completely bare— devoid of any add-ons, upgrades, or accessories.
You might recognize this ’04 F-250 as a sometimes project around here at Truckin, and we decided it was time to get its bed area looking better than new, after the years of abuse it endured working as a chase vehicle in Baja. The shell was still solid but filthy, and the tint on the glass was purple and peeling all over the place. The bedliner was sprayed in when the truck was new and had some divots taken out of it as well as being severely faded. Besides that, we’d always wanted some better storage solutions than just throwing everything in for a trip and dragging it back out when we got home.
Decked is a relatively new company that busted onto the scene with its revolutionary bed drawer systems. The idea was as simple as building a lightweight, easily assembled version of the raised floors and hidden drawers people have been building out of wood and metal brackets for decades. Decked Storage Systems are easy to install or remove, weatherproof, secure, ergonomic, and made in the U.S.A. The system’s low-profile design leaves plenty of room for further outfitting of your truck as needed.
Burt before we could put such a nice-looking system in our workhorse, we needed to make the bed area worthy! We started out at Toys for Trucks, in Hesperia, California, where we resprayed the 15-year-old bedliner with new material from PCS Coatings. PCS is the go-to alternative for small shops that simply cannot afford the high prices of the big-name franchises, and the product meets or exceeds those big names in every single aspect. After our bed was looking good, we reinstalled the shell and headed to AP Sounds & Customs for some custom glass tinting using Dub IR film. Besides the glass in the shell, the AP crew also tinted the door and Super Cab glass up front, adding to the full stormtrooper treatment of the truck. Finally, back at the shop, we made quick work of the installation of our new Decked storage system. It was a long three days, but the results are worth it, and we’re confident the bed area of our F-250 will look good and function even better for another 15 years! Check out the websites for more info on how to outfit the bed of your work truck or weekend warrior!
| Even after a pressure wash, the bed area of our ’04 Super Duty was looking pretty haggard. There were chips in the spray-on bedliner, and the tint on the glass was purple and full of scrapes.
| With the shell off, we headed out to Toys for Trucks in Hesperia, California, for a respray using Protective Coating Solutions (PCS). The crew got busy by first taping all the edges with wire tape before masking off the rest of the truck.
| The removable panel on the tailgate was the only area badly chipped, so we opted to strip it completely before respraying it. We’ve also seen shops use good ol’ body filler to fill gaps before respraying.
| Next, the tailgate was wire taped, masked off, and sanded with a DA sander. We weren’t looking to smooth things out—just knocking down the high spots and helping with adhesion.
| The bed bolts and tie-down anchors were removed and treated to a coat of heavy duty black paint.
| Then the entire bed got a quick but thorough sanding, followed by a wipe down with Acetone.
| Chris Eyles of PCS recommended applying a coat of the company’s adhesion-promoting primer before the actual bedliner material.
| It’s simply sprayed on with a standard HVLP gun in a light coat. Then we waited for it to dry completely before moving on to the bedliner material.
| Soon we were spraying the PCS material through the high-pressure heated gun. First, a medium coat is sprayed in an even coat.
| After a few seconds of dry time, a texture coat is dusted on to give the bed that signature PCS look.
| Then the tailgate was coated to match, including the stripped cover. We inspected the bed for any areas that needed more texture, but things were looking pretty much perfect.
| Now it was time to pull the wire tape, which makes for an ultra-clean edge where the liner meets the paint, and demask the entire vehicle.
| We were amazed by the quick work from Toys For Trucks, and the quality of the PCS Coatings material and finish. Soon, we were on our way to the next stop!
| Once we hit AP Sound & Customs in Anaheim, California, we jumped right into the retinting of the truck, and the shell we had reinstalled. The AP crew began with the door using Dub IR tint.
| For the front and rear doors, AP uses its plotter, which is full of software to cut window film for almost any vehicle. This really cuts down on the time to perform a tint job.
| They pulled the side glass and removed the hardware to make things easy. They were back in the truck in a matter of minutes.
| There are no programs for camper shell glass, so AP did things the old way: laid a big piece of film on the outside of the glass and trimmed it to fit.
| Once its lying flat, it’s ready to be transferred to the glass wall in the shop.
| The inside of the glass is now cleaned one final time to ready it for the film.
| Any fine-tuning is done on the wall before the backing is peeled away from the film.
| Then the film is laid into place and smoothed out onto the wet glass.
| With the squeegee, every last bubble and bit of moisture is smoothed out from under the film, letting the adhesive do its job on the glass.
| Those long bubbles around the edge are known as “fingers.” A few attempts are made to smooth them out.
| Then we brought in the big guns. Well, the heat gun, anyway. The finger was gone in seconds.
| The side glass followed the same procedure, and a cut was made so the hardware could be reinstalled.
| We caught a shot of the Super Duty exiting AP Audio & Customs and looking better than ever. We thanked the crew for their quick work and headed to our final stop.
| Once out of the box, the Decked Truck Bed Storage System looked a little daunting, but after reading through the exceptionally nice-looking instruction booklet, we were ready to rock.
| Once we knew which parts were which, we started by bolting the C-channel to two of the ammo cans. We also laid out the “vert axle” (center support) for the driver-side deck half to be laid on top of.
| Now the deck was bolted to each of the ammo cans using handtools (the instructions are very clear about not using power tools for the installation).
| The deck half was also secured to the center support.
| The first half of the Decked system was then installed into our fresh-looking bed area.
| The second half of the deck was bolted to the C-channel and ammo cans, then it was lifted into the bed as well.
| Then the two halves were bolted together. With the Decked system centered in the bed, we then used the provided J-hooks, which run from the tie-down anchors in each corner of the bed into the corner of each ammo can. Then they were snugged down evenly, securing the Decked system to the bed floor.
| Next, we installed the wheels onto the vert axle and the rearward ammo cans. Then we attached the most important component of the Decked system: the stainless bottle opener!
| The leading edge of the deck also receives a piece of stainless. It comes complete with a measuring stick and has more conversion info than a Pee Chee folder.
| Yet another of the cool features are the ammo can covers that flip over and lock back into place with a pair of can holders.
| Moving to the top of the drawers, a tube brace, along with a wheel and bracket, are bolted into each corner.
| The drawer is now ready to slide into place—after we remove the rear wheels we jumped the gun on.
| Up on the deck, we installed the optional Core Tracks, being careful to drill into the steel tubes under the composite.
| We assembled the hardware drawers and installed the dividers and set everything in place and gave it a whirl. The drawers slide in and out with ease and lock out of the way when closed. And if you think you lose weight-carrying ability with the Decked system, think again! It carries a 2,000-pound payload! We’re excited to get another 15 years out of our ol’ Super Duty!