Pickup Truck Accessories
the right accessories, you can turn your pickup into a virtual Swiss Army Knife
on wheels that’ll work harder, last longer and might earn you a few bucks to
boot. I know you spent plenty on the truck already, but even a few low-cost
add-ons can increase an outfit’s value as a workhorse and offer a bit of
self-reliance in the process. For example, the money we saved pulling our
daughters’ car from a snow-filled road ditch completely covered the cost of
installing tow hooks on the pickup, and we didn’t have to wait for the wrecker
to show up from town. The hooks came in handy again after I put the truck into
the same ditch. Our eldest daughter came to the rescue that time with a tractor
– I was thrilled to be able to hook the tow-strap to the truck without having
to swim in the mud.
To use your truck for other
more specialized work, you’ll need accessories to match the job?– like the 350-gallon plastic tank
we bought to haul water for cattle in a remote pasture. The tank’s cost was
small compared with the expense of running plumbing to that outpost. Thanks to
our trusty little gasoline-engine-powered transfer pump, filling the mobile
reservoir with creek water took less than five minutes, which made the chore
simple enough that I never ran the waterlines. Tow hooks and water tanks are
just the tip of the accessory iceberg though. No matter what you need to pull,
push, haul, build or fix, add-ons can turn your truck into a working partner.
Electric or PTO powered
(with gear reduction) rotating spools wound with steel cable – experienced DIY
or professional install.
Winches are most often used to pull disabled machines and stretch long
runs of fence wire before fastening it to posts. However, with care, and
sufficient rigging, a winch can be used to drag logs from the woods, direct a
soon-to-be-felled tree’s fall, right an overturned tractor, slide a large
haystack and much more. For the best value, choose a heavy-duty electric model
with at least enough capacity to pull your pickup’s weight. If you also need an
air compressor, consider an integrated winch-compressor attachment.
Plastic, steel, aluminum or
fiberglass liquid hauling containers – easy DIY install
Turn your truck into a small tanker for hauling tractor fuel, water,
maple sap or any other liquid. Choose welded steel or aluminum bed-mounted
DOT-rated fuel tanks with transfer pumps for delivering bio-diesel or gasoline
to remote equipment – only use tanks approved for the fuel you are hauling.
Choose plastic tanks specially shaped to fit between the wheel wells for
vegetable oils, livestock water and other aqueous materials. Knowing the
fluid’s density and the load capacity of your truck are key to understanding
the volume you can safely haul and the maximum capacity of the tank you’ll need
to haul it.
Steel or aluminum front
bumper or frame attachment designed to protect the truck’s grill (and
radiator), headlights and other front-end components from impact – easy DIY
A grill guard protects your
truck’s front end from close encounters with brush, wildlife or your own
livestock, and it provides attachment points for additional lighting. Choose an
aluminum model if front-end weight capacity is a worry. If steel is the
material of choice, be sure that it is powder-coated for the best rust
Rectangular pieces of rubber
or other composite material that extend beneath the truck’s wheel wells to
intercept missiles launched by spinning tires?– easy DIY install.
The front pair will protect the
truck’s body from nicks caused by thrown gravel, mud and road salt; the rears
will do the same and protect a trailer in tow, or the car on the road behind
you. Choose an anti-sail and anti-spray design at least as wide as the truck’s
Hydraulic lift, associated
frameworks and hinge that convert the pickup’s bed into a dump box –
experienced DIY or professional install.
Hydraulic pressure is supplied
with PTO or 12-volt DC electric power. If you regularly haul bulk materials
like mulch, firewood or aggregate in sufficient quantity, dumping the load is
as easy as pulling a lever or flipping a switch. Choose a package with a
self-contained, electrically powered and controlled hydraulic (electric over
hydraulic) system if your truck isn’t already equipped with a PTO pump.
Electric winch or hydraulically raised dump box that fits inside the
pickup’s bed – easy DIY install.
Like the bed hoist, this
accessory allows you to use your pickup as a small dump truck, but it doesn’t
require significant modification to its frame or bed. When not needed, the
entire unit can be removed in minutes.
Aluminum or steel attachment
that mounts to the bed just behind the cab?–
easy DIY install.
A headache rack keeps loose
cargo from flying forward through the rear window and into your head. This
accessory is a must if you intend to heap-load your truck with firewood or
stack hay bales above the bedsides. Choose high-quality aluminum or powder-
coated steel models to resist corrosion.
Everything you need to push
snow in the winter – experienced DIY or
Includes plow, undercarriage,
plow frame, lights, hydraulic system and controls. Recommended on 4×4 trucks
previously outfitted with the manufacturer’s plow-ready package. Choose from
among the range of heavy- to light-duty systems based on snowfall and surface
area to be cleared.
point for load-securing straps or lines – easy DIY install.
Most pickups come equipped with
a few good tie-downs in the bed floor, but for many loads, their locations are
ineffective. Install a few additional permanent tie-downs to secure special
equipment like water or fuel tanks, and keep several stake-pocket mounted
versions in the toolbox or behind the seat for flexibility.
Lockable steel, aluminum or
plastic container designed to fit in a pickup’s bed – easy DIY install.
Select from among models that
install across the bed at the front, along the sides, or as part of a rollout
system to secure and organize your tools. If you also need to supply fuel to
remote equipment, choose a toolbox with integral tank and transfer pump.
Aluminum and powder-coated steel will offer the highest security and longevity.
Portable 12-volt DC arc
welding system that doesn’t take up any bed space and is powered by the
vehicle’s engine – experienced DIY install.
Repair fence gates, tractors,
implements and virtually anything else made of steel without having to drag
anything back to the shop; fabricate brand new components at any off-grid
location using your truck’s engine for power.
Twelve-volt DC compressed
air supply – experienced DIY install.
Operate small pneumatic tools,
fill tires far from the shop, and maintain your vehicle’s rear airbag helper
springs (if equipped) with a compressed air system tucked under the hood or
between the frame rails. Choose a complete package for easiest installation.
Lightweight but strong
rectangular shapes used to create a sloping surface between the ground and
truck bed?– easy DIY
Choose from any number of
steel, plastic, fiberglass or aluminum models in the longest length practical
(longer ramps make gentler slopes) to safely load garden tractors, tillers or
other wheeled equipment into your truck’s bed.
A long-time pickup man, Oscar
“Hank” Will has enjoyed making his trucks more useful by installing everything
from auxiliary transmissions to gooseneck hitches – often with a bit of help
from his wife, Kate.
This article was originally published in Mother Earth
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper’s Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.
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