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Automated Toolbox - Commercial Truck Utility Bed

Most automated solutions come from the desire to make ones day to day tasks easier, or with more flair. Ned Richards, co-founder of Richards Electrical in Australia came up with a creative way to operate his truck's utility bed with linear actuators. 
Simply by replacing his existing gas shocks with some 35 lb force light duty linear actuators and a four channel remote control system, he can now operate his toolbox doors with a press of a button in or out of his cab. By using two 35 lb units he is able to open the 10 KG door at approximately two inches per second, with a total static capacity of just over 140 lbs. Safety was one of our main considerations during this project, and Mr. Richards left the standard locking mechanism on the toolbox doors for added security.
Actuator Replacement for Shock Richards Electrical provides prompt and professional electrical services across Australia, and Firgelli Automations is proud to have been chosen to provide products to ease the day to day operations of their fleet. For those interested in implementing a similar system to your truck we have compiled a list of tips and steps to take in order to set your rig up with actuators.


In-Bed Utility/Tool Boxes

For in-bed utility and tool boxes prep and installation is typically quite straight-forward since gas shocks/springs are usually present. If gas shocks are already installed, the following steps will take you from the planning to execution stage of your project:
  1. Measure the Stroke Length - The term stroke length refers to the difference between two lengths: fully extended and fully retracted. Determine the stroke length of the shocks already installed.
  2. Measure the Retracted Length - After removing the gas shock and fully compressing it, the overall length of the shock can be established (this should be from hole to hole).
  3. Determine the Force Required - Since this step is vital to the lifespan of the actuator that will be installed, it is recommended that some extra force is added to this figure to ensure the actuator is not running at full load at all times. Remove the shocks and measure the amount of force required to raise and lower the hatch or door.
  4. Use the Actuator Finder - Narrow your search with the Actuator Finder. Typically it is best practice to search by force required first, followed by stroke length, and lastly by retracted hole to hole length.
  5. Add the Actuators and Brackets to the Cart - Each line of actuator has a specific bracket which is designed to make installation easy and provide lasting support for your automated projects. Keep in mind that some modification may be necessary. The most common alteration is drilling a new mounting hole for the brackets to accommodate a slightly longer/shorter actuator.
  6. Decide on Control Systems - depending on how many actuators you are using in your set up, you may want to go for the two channel system or four channel system
  7. Provide Power - Route electrical wire to the receiver or rocker switch chosen.
  8. Take Pictures - We enjoy seeing our customer's projects and would be inclined to post an article about yours.

Under Bed Utility/Tool Drawers

While still common, and quite simple in installation, tool drawers are slightly more involved depending on your set-up. Instead of using rod-style actuators to automate the door or hatch, track actuators will be used to slide the drawers in and out. The control systems, actuators, and brackets will vary from our above installation, however the principals remain the same and the outcome is an impressive automated system.
  1. Determine Force Required - this is the first step to matching your box up with the right actuator. Fill up your tool box and measure the amount of force it takes to open and close your tool drawer.
  2. Measure Stroke Length - Using a tape measure, make note of how far the drawer actually moves out.
  3. Location of Actuator - Track actuators are perfect for such tight applications since their overall length does not change, since it is just a sliding block which will travel up and down the track. Depending on the design of the tool drawer, a good spot for an actuator will have to be found where the track and motor can be mounted solid to the frame of the truck/utility bed, and the sliding block can be mounted to the frame of the sliding drawer.
  4. Decide on Control Systems - A contact closure box can be set up if rocker switch control is needed, or a two channel remote control system for track actuators can be used if a key fob is preferred.
  5. Set-up Power System - Besides the mini tack actuators which run on 12 volt (35 lbs of force maximum), all variations of heavy duty track actuators (ranging from 200 lbs of force to 400) run on 24 volts. Power adapters can be sourced, or a separate 24V battery supply can be mounted nearby the actuator set up.
  6. Take Pictures - Send us more pictures and videos of your results so we can share them with the rest of our customers!
If you have further questions or would like to add to this post, feel free to contact our friendly and dedicated staff via our contact page.
By Jean-Pierre DeClerck | | Actuators, Automated Tonneau Cover, Automated Vehicles, Automotive, DIY, How To, Linear Actuator |
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