Ultimate Bed Build and Custom Dual Battery System

DINOZR

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Here's a couple videos of the project in its current state:
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This is all the fault of @ShadowRaptor. His bed build was the inspiration for my build. I saw his build soon after getting my Raptor in the summer of 2020, and I couldn't believe how a truck bed could at the same time be so functional and useful and simultaneously be so orderly and even...clean. So thanks, @ShadowRaptor. I know you no longer own your Raptor, but its legacy lives on.

This build is roughly two parts:
1. Bed buildout
2. Dual battery system

First, let's tackle the bed buildout. The goals I had in mind were
1. I'm tired of my shit sliding everywhere on the spray-in bedliner. I can't put my gym bag in the bed in the morning because it will easily end up at the front of the bed by the time I get to the gym. That's just one example. Anything I put in there was gonna be a strewn asunder in about 1.2 miles.
2. I wanted a way to cleanly store some camping and general preparedness items.
3. I like having an onboard air compressor on my vehicles. I am fully aware of the new high pressure CO2 solutions. A standard air compressor is my preferred solution.
4. Protect bed contents from rain. I don't require 100% waterproof, but I'd like it to be close.

First, I removed the passenger side plug from the front of the bed and installed a grommet. This would allow cables to pass through when I implemented the dual battery setup.



Next, I swept and washed the bed as thoroughly as I could with dish soap. I used a pick tool to get all the little pebbles and artifacts out of the drain holes at the front. Anything left in there is gonna get covered by the BedRug forever.



Then I installed the Bedrug. I bought two of the heavy duty adhesion kits that BedRug recommends for when you install over spray-in bedliners. I'm glad I did. I needed the extra velcro strips and adhesion promoter. I scuffed the bedliner with sandpaper in the areas the velcro would attach, cleaned with an IPA wipe, applied adhesion promoter, and then applied the velcro. With this method, the Velcro is STUCK. Very solid adhesion.

I really took my time on the cutouts for the bed lights. This is where the install will either look completely factory or completely Bubba'd. I started small and iterated until it was a super tight fit, and I'm very happy with the result. Be careful not to break any of the plastic restraints on the light housing. I actually chipped one, but the light still holds fine. If you fully break one, it looks like you need to replace the entire LED light assembly. After working with the bed lights, I decided not to attempt to get the switch on the outside of the bedrug. It is such a small item that I felt like I was very likely to break it getting it out of the bed, and then I would be unlikely to get a professional looking fit. So I left it under the BedRug. Luckily, a cutout in the BuiltRight panel points my finger right to it. So practically, this isn't a problem. In a perfect world, I'd prefer the switch on top of the BedRug.

Then I tackled the BuiltRight panels. Why them before the bed cover? Well, the clamps that hold the bedcover rails need to be placed around the BuiltRight panels, and it's a tight fit. So if you have the time and cover from the weather, I think this was the best order.

Everyone tells you, quite truthfully, that BuiltRight Panels can be installed over a BedRug. What they don't tell you is that it is extremely time consuming to get it right. Everywhere you had 0.5" of clearance before the BedRug? You now have .25" of clearance. It matters. Ready to install the BoxLink brackets? You better line that shit up like Martha Stewart, because you're about to drill through your $400 BedRug. So be damn sure of what you're doing.

Next came the bed cover. I went with a BakFlip MX4. I traded this option back and forth with Retrax, and I eventually settled on BakFlip because I needed the extra space at the front of the bed for my dual battery setup. The retrax would have occupied this space with its cannister. I would have preferred an automatically retractable solution, but in practice the BakFlip has been great and I've put the extra bed space to good use. The stock drain tubes that come with bed covers are just flat out goofy, especially when our trucks have a perfectly places drain hole at the top/front of each side of the bed. I used a 1/2" PVC elbow and 5/8" OD plastic tube from Home Depot (SKU 702361 and SKU 187674) to make a better drain tube. Snake the tube behind the body panel and then push the PVC elbow onto the drain port for the bed cover. Very easy. I sanded and painted the PVC elbow black to give it a nice look.

So with that, the bed was built out and ready for accessories. Now let's talk about the dual battery setup.
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Late in the game I finally installed extra bed lights in the form of LED strips along the bottom side of each rail of the Bakflip MX4. I used the same 3M adhesion promoter that I learned to love when installing the Bedrug velcro. Clean with IPA. Apply adhesion promoter. Apply adhesive strip/LED strip. So far it is holding super tight. No delamination.
 
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DINOZR

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What did I want from a dual battery setup?
1. Power my 12V camping frig.
2. Power my ARB air compressor.
3. Power some extra bed lights.
4. Have expansion capability to run other 12V devices in the future.
5. Do all of this without touching the truck's starting battery.
6. Be easily removable to free up bed space when needed or transfer to another truck when I eventually trade in this one. This requirement makes packaging a LOT more difficult, but also much more valuable if I can continue to use the system in future trucks.

It's worth noting that I initially wanted to add a 110V inverter to the setup to expand the capability of the 400W inverter already installed in the truck. I eventually scrapped this idea. Integrating the packaging and wiring into the enclosure I had planned was just too large an obstacle. I may opt to add an inverter later, and this capability can be easily expanded from what I've created.

There are two basic ways to wire a dual battery setup:
1. Charge the aux battery straight from the main battery. This is sometimes problematic on the Raptor because of its smart charging system. It certainly can be done.
2. Charge the aux battery with a battery charger that is powered from the main battery. This is the route I went.

So my aux battery setup has the following main components:
1. Odyssey AGM 94R Battery
2. Redarc BCDC1225D Battery Charger and Solar Charge Controller
3. Blue Sea Systems Fuse Block
4. Exhaust fan (probably not necessary, but a nice safety feature in case of an overcharge condition)
5. Blue Sea Systems breaker switched panel at near tailgate to control on/off for all accessories
5. Connectors, wiring, battery mounts, and a micro relay to make it all work together

And I packaged it all in a Milwaukee Packout "large" toolbox. Why, you might ask? Several reasons. The Packout was the perfect size to fit a 94R battery. It fits snug so that I only needed to add a couple small rubber bumpers to constrain it. And it had enough space to the side to easily mount the other components. The Packout also offered much better mounting solutions than a standard Pelican style case. I traded Pelican cases until I was blue in the face, and still settled on the Packout. In particular, the Packout has a "Packout Mounting Plate" that I ended up using as part of my mounting solution.

Here's a look inside the box and a wiring diagram.

Connectors

To get power in and out of the box I needed some reliable connectors. I am a fan of Deutsch connectors, and their locking, weatherproof nature made them a natural choice. The box has 4 connectors:
1. Input: Deutsch HDP20- Brings in Power, Ground, and Ignition Switched Power from truck
2. Input: Deutsch DTP 4-pin- Input for Solar Panel
3. Output: Deutsch DT 6-pin- Takes power to the Blue Sea Systems switch panel at the rear of the bed
4. Output: Deutsch DTP 4-pin- Powers ARB compressor

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Note that I later ditched the PowerPole connector shown in the above photo for a Deutsch DTP. I decided to try PowerPole and I shouldn't have. Below is a wiring diagram of the aux battery box.

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DINOZR

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So with the battery box done, how did I mount and wire all this?

I looked at 1000 ways to mount the box, from simple ratchet straps to drilling the bed. I came up with this: You know the Ford factory option for loading ramps that ride inside the sides of the bed? I had those and never used them. So I ditched them. And during this project I stumbled onto the fact that one of the four brackets used to hold the ramps would make a great way to connect the battery box to the Ford Boxlink system. This also means my mount system is universal to any BoxLink setup. So it's a very rigid mount, quickly removable (about 30 seconds to loosen one 13mm nut), and transferrable to the new generation of F150s that still uses BoxLink.

The basic setup is Battery Box (Milwaukee Packout Large Toolbox) --> Milwaukee Packout Mounting Plate--> 12" long by 0.5" thick aluminum spacer, drilled and countersunk to match Packout Mounting Plate--> Ford ramp mounting bracket, drilled to match aluminum spacer

This setup has been riding in my bed for almost 2 months now. It doesn't rattle, clunk, or move more than 1/8" in any direction. It's almost completely rigid, and I can remove it in about 30 seconds and install it in about 60 seconds. This has been a great solution.

Now to wire it all in.

First I tackled the wiring harness local to the bed. This is the harness that connects the battery box with all the bed accessories and the switch panel near the tailgate. I wanted this to look good--even look factory if I could. So I really took my time, planned it, ordered the exact materials I needed, and took it a tiny step at a time. I wanted it all integrated into one cohesive, neat harness--not a bird's nest of wires everywhere in my bed to snag things and look like Fred Sanford's driveway.

I started by using 1/2" nylon rope to create a mock-up of the harness. Nylon rope is cheap, easy to work with, and bends with a similar radius to a wiring harness. I used this to figure out my branch points and harness lengths. I routed the rope in the path I wanted, pieced together all the branches with cloth tape, and labeled each end with its terminating connector. Then I removed the mock-up harness to use as my standard during the real harness creation process.

Creating the harness was a painstaking process. I used mostly 3/4" and 1" 3:1 heat shrink tubing in 4 ft lengths as the main sheath and sheath for all the branches. Some tips:
1. Put connectors on last. It seems like work you can do early, but once you can only insert heat shrink tubing from one end, you have made life harder.
2. Don't heat shrink the main sheath until the very end. Mistakes are easy to correct before you heat shrink, and a giant PITA to correct once you heat shrink.
3. You need a 110V heat gun for tubing this size.
4. Liquid soap is a great lubricant for getting tubing over wires
5. A fish tape or fiberglass fish rod is a necessity
6. Test fit, check function, check routing, and only then do you heat shrink the final harness.

I'm very happy with the final product.

With that I routed in the final harness and also mounted some more BuiltRight Accessories.

Now the work I have left to do is to route power, ground, and an ignition switched 12V signal to the battery box. I have my materials and my routing figured out. I just need to make time to do it. I'll be using 6 AWG cable for the hot, coming directly from the battery (40A fuse in line about 18" from the battery). Ground will come from the bottom of the frame where a bed bolt penetrates the frame. I'll be sticking a M12 locknut on there and grounding to it (I've confirmed continuity with the battery ground). And then I've got a 12V ignition switched signal coming from the passenger side interior kick panel fuse block. All 3 of these will meet at the grommet I've installed in the plug in the front of the bed, run up and under the bed rug, and attach through the Deutsch HDP20 connector on the battery box. This will complete the function of charging the aux battery whenever the ignition is ON (that's why I need the ignition switched wire, to tell the charger that it's OK to turn on). The box is already functional and I've used it a great deal. It just can only charge from solar, or an external battery charger. So after I top it off I've got limited capacity. But it was plenty enough to power my frig while camping in April, and the bed lights are a great help while working on this project and mounting things to the BuiltRight panels. So stay tuned to see me complete this beast of a project. And please don't ask how much it all cost. I honestly don't know, and I'd really rather not think about it. I didn't do it to save money. I did it because it was a really intriguing challenge.

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DINOZR

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More photos of the wiring harness build and install

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DINOZR

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Photos of the semi-complete setup and using it with my solar charger while camping

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DINOZR

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Coming soon...completing the wire harness to power the charger for the aux battery from the main truck battery.
 
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