Fabricating a Ladder for the GFC... with a story

A little background first. Got my camper in March of 2020, build #671 (perfect timing as all things went to sh#*) went camping with my 3 sons most weekends of the spring/summer/fall all over the pacific northwest. Caught whopper trout on the fly rod, drove hundreds of miles on dirt roads, ate more marshmallows than any human should consume in a a lifetime and created some amazing memories with my favorite humans in the world. My plans for 2021 are extensive as I am always looking to up the ante. So I did a few things to the old 2005 Tacoma this winter. Upgraded the suspension, custom fabricated my own bumper, got a winch and now am in the process of building a ladder. Now when I say fabricated my own bumper I know some of you are getting visions of the dudes who just bolt a metal fence post to the front of their truck and are ready to send it the next weekend, buuut I decided to go a little different route. I have a good buddy who owns a fabrication shop and is just a freakin’ whiz at creating and making all kinds of solutions for his customers and so we got to work on my bumper build. Long story short, that went so well that we are now in the process of making a ladder and I am pretty pumped about how it’s coming out. So I thought I would share. Pics of the the bumper, ladder, favorite humans (and doggo) below.

Some notes… my friend Luke specializes in aluminum fabrication (although he uses steel as well) but in my bumper build and in this future ladder build we are using aluminum. Should having a working prototype for the ladder this month. We already ordered gas struts for either side to lift it up, and will have a bumper plate and lock so it doesn’t rattle when I drive. It also will have a sleeve so that I can still hook up the boat or whatever I am towing behind the truck.

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That bumper is impressive! Fits the truck beautifully. Looking forward to seeing the ladder!

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Thanks! We are ordering the aluminum this week. Should have some good pics soon of it mounted up before it gets powdered coated.

Bumper and your mock up of the latter looks great. Is The latter fixed or is it removable? Where Are you planning on mounting it at. I’m guessing from the back with your tow hitch? If it is removable where do you plan to store it at.

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Thanks! For everyday operation it will hinge out of the way. It will include a sleeve on the bottom that slides directly into the existing standard tow hitch that will have the same type of pin to lock it in. If I wanted to remove the ladder I would just have to take pins out of the top and release the gas struts. For normal use and camping I will always have it attached.

I could see a version of this for people that are ladder averse. It could act more like stairs by lengthening the hitch mount to make it less steep and then have a handrail that could swing up into place. Here’s a very rough, totally-not-to-scale sketch.

Our hitch mount will extend a bit to help with the angle, but I was trying to make it where I could still fit in my garage with the ladder attached. The aluminum will also help with it being lightweight. I am trying to stick to the theme of the way GFC fits on the vehicle being as minimalist as possible.

Great idea I am very intrigued. Will you be making these and selling them?

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FYI, the bumper looks great. One word of caution is to be careful how you have the winch mounted to the aluminum bumper. Depending on the load and how you have the winch mounted, a heavy load could pull the winch right through the softer aluminum. This video shows how someone had a failure because the way he attached the winch to the bumper didn’t distribute the load well enough: https://youtu.be/pUZYWsUJ0EE?t=1190

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If there is enough interest, I’d for sure consider selling them. Thankfully we have a powder coat oven and everything we need to really scale if we wanted too, and I love this kind of work.

Thanks PNW. Believe me, I have seen enough of those videos to scare me about anything I mount to my truck. Thankfully when it comes to the calculations and precautions that have to go into this type of build my buddy Luke is really great. He builds aluminum tanks that house chemical retardants as well as complete fire engine builds for trucks that are shipped all over the world and he is constantly looking to make them as strong as possible while also handling an insane workload over the life of the truck. I myself am more into the aesthetics where as he is the mastermind behind the construction. I plenty of times have come to him with ideas and he just flat out tells me it will break in 5 minutes, lol.

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Also very interested if you decide to sell to the group - looking forward to seeing it!

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We are definitely moving forward with selling them. I should have much better pictures of it next week. I’ll document it all on here as we weld it up, do first test fitment and powder coat. I will be doing a run video on dirt roads as well.

Awesome - looking forward to see it!

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Would someone with an XL camper be willing to private message me for some details about measurements? We are all set now for the regular camper, but need a few specifics on the xl. Hopefully will have some in person pics soon!

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Yeah I’d be happy to. Have a 2020 Ram 1500 with an XL. Shoot me a DM with your questions

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Awesome! Ok, I will reach out later tonight about a couple of measurements I need. Thanks!