Pickup truck beds are great for hauling all kinds of cargo, but they often don't have a sufficient number of tie-down points for securing items. For example, many pickup trucks are equipped with four tie-down loops, with two near the cab on each side and two adjacent to the tailgate. That can leave truck owners with the need to jury-rig lashing or attempt to tie down loads with whatever might be on hand. Unfortunately, such efforts can often lead to disastrous results if the load comes free and is lost or causes an accident. The good news is you can create a low-cost structure that will provide an almost infinite variety of secure tie-down points in the bed of your pickup truck. Keep reading to see what you will need as well as how you can easily assemble the components:
Build your own chain tie-down anchoring system - Tools and materials needed
Stainless steel tow chain - Purchase two 8-foot lengths of chain rated for at least 5,000 pounds of towing capacity; most full-size, long-bed pick-up trucks are 8 feet in length, with tie-down loops mounted slightly-less further apart on each side. Buy a chain that is stainless steel, galvanized zinc or vinyl-coated for rust resistance and to better protect your loads and truck bed.
Chain quick-links, quantity of 4 - These devices consist of a single chain link with a cutout that can be opened or closed with a threaded nut. Be sure the quick-links you purchase can fit through the tie-down loops on your truck and are also rated for towing.
Hook-and-eye turnbuckles, quantity of 2 - Select a turnbuckle that is 6 inches in length with either a ⅜-inch or ½-inch diameter. Be sure the turnbuckle finish is protected against corrosion and rust.
Build your own low-cost, tie-down anchoring system - Step-by-step procedure
1. Attach the chain quick-links to each tie-down loop - Open the threaded nuts on each quick-link and slip the quick-links over the four tie-down loops; do not close the threaded nuts yet. If your truck has tie-down loops at the midpoint of the truck bed, pass over them, as you don't need to attach quick-links at this point.
2. Attach the chain to the quick-links near the cab-end of the truck - Take an 8-foot length of chain and slip the end link over the chain quick-link nearest the cab of the pickup truck. Close the threaded nut on the quick-link to secure the chain to it. Repeat this same process for the quick-link on the opposite side of the truck bed.
3. Attach the turnbuckles to each chain - Once you have joined the chains to the quick-links on both sides of the bed nearest the cab, and the threaded nuts are tightened by hand, you are ready to install the turnbuckles. Begin by opening a turnbuckle to its maximum extended distance, then attach the free end of the chain to the turnbuckle hook; depending on the length of your truck bed, you may need to insert the turnbuckle hook through any one of the first several chain loops to make the chain taut. Grasp the turnbuckle and pull the chain taut, then loop the eye of the turnbuckle over the quick-link near the tailgate; close the threaded nut on the quick-link to "lock" the chain. After finishing one side, repeat these steps for the other side.
The last step in attaching the turnbuckles is to tighten them to make the chains as taut as reasonably possible. Position an adjustable wrench on the turnbuckle adjustment nuts, then slowly tighten it until the chains have little to no remaining slack. Be careful not to over-tighten the turnbuckles, or you risk bending the tie-down loops.
4. Use the tie-down chain anchoring system - Once you have attached the tie-down chains on each side of the pick-up truck, it is a cinch to use them. Simply utilize the chainlinks as tie-down loops by attaching ropes, elastic cords or even ratcheting straps. After unloading your pickup truck, you can remove the tie-down components or leave them in place if you wish. It is helpful to spray a short burst of penetrating oil or silicone lubricant to the chain surfaces once every few months to help maintain them.
If you need sturdier tie-downs or want a truly permanent solution, contact a truck bed manufacturing company like Hillsboro Industries.