There’s no doubt about it, super singles are all the rage. You can’t get on an Instagram truck camper feed at any one time without seeing at least one. Why are they popular? Why are so many truck camper owners converting their ponderous duallys into a more nimble, off-road vehicle? Aside from just looking better, super singles track better off-road and provide a better clearance for off-road exploration. If you’re interested in having this terrific truck mod done to your truck, this article will help. Buckstop Truckware makes one of the most popular single wheel conversion kits in today’s market. In this article we ask Dorian Hartfield, owner of Buckstop Truckware, to explain what Buckstop’s philosophy is and what his company’s super singles conversion kit comes with.
TCA: Thanks, Dorian, for taking the time to talk with us. Can you tell us about your single wheel conversion kit? What exactly does it do?
Dorian Hartfield: The Buckstop Single Wheel Conversion transforms a typical work truck chassis into a heavy-weight capacity off-road capable vehicle. These vehicles are in the 14,000 to 19,500 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW) range. The basis of conversion is remove all six highway tires from a dual rear wheel truck and replace them with off-road tires, while at the same time maintaining full payload capacity. Off-road performance is improved for several reasons: off-road tires offer better traction both from tread design and the ability to be run at a lower air pressure. The four tires are in alignment, so that the rear tires follow in the tracks of the front and aren’t breaking new ground. This also helps the driver to avoid obstacles. Overall, the truck gains 3 to 4 inches of ground clearance at the axles and 7 inches under the frame. And finally, the possibility for objects to become lodged in between the two dual rear tires is eliminated.
TCA: Why would somebody want to invest in a Buckstop Single Rear Wheel Conversion Kit?
Dorian Hartfield: An F-550 or Ram 5500 on super singles is the ultimate platform! It has the highest weight capacity, most powerful engine, and most robust chassis of all vans and light duty trucks. In most cases, these vehicles will be used at 80 percent or less of capacity leaving a large margin of safety. Buckstop has put years of work into development of the most comprehensive, highest-quality conversion system.
TCA: What is Buckstop’s philosophy when it comes to such kits?
Dorian Hartfield: The engineering design parameters are limited by available tire sizes for the weight capacity and OE front and rear axle widths. The conversion kit is designed on those foundational elements with a desire for minimal changes. Buckstop has found the optimal suspension lift to be 3.5 inches at full weight load, full articulation, and full turning. Front fender flares are roughly 8 inches wide to provide coverage over the entire tire similar to OE fender designs. All in all, it’s the best balance.
Buckstop has engineered and sourced all of the necessary components to implement a Single Wheel Conversion. The critical components are not available from a local 4WD or tire store. Buckstop manufactures the wheels, fender flares, and suspension kits.
TCA: What does the Buckstop Single Rear Wheel Conversion Kit include?
Dorian Hartfield: Our kit is comprehensive and includes tires, wheels, the suspension lift, fender flares, speedometer calibrator, and a heavy-duty winch bumper, like the one you have on your rig, to tie it all together. Buckstop offers several suspension packages with the most popular being a premium kit including replacement coil springs, radius arms, standard or remote reservoir shock absorbers, adjustable track bar, heavy duty sway bar, and two-stage, soft-stop springs.
TCA: Wow, your kit comes with more than we thought. Is it true that you’re working on a 4-link rear suspension system to go with it?
Dorian Hartfield: Yes. We just partnered with LiquidSpring to develop of a revolutionary new hydraulic computer controlled 4-Link rear suspension system. The LiquidSpring system gives a silky-smooth ride and any load condition—full or empty.
TCA: Nice! What size wheels and tires can your conversion kit accommodate?
Dorian Hartfield: Wheels are 20×11 inches to accommodate 335/80R20 military tires. Different tire brands are roughly 41 inches in diameter and range from 6,300 to 7,300 pounds load each. Buckstop wheels are produced in steel or aluminum. Aluminum wheels are lab tested, certified, and stamped with DOT Compliance weight-rating markings. The wheels are a single-piece design—no extra bolt flanges, no O-rings, and do not require separate wheel spacers for mounting.
TCA: What makes a Buckstop SRW Conversion Kit better than those made by the competition?
Dorian Hartfield: The Buckstop difference comes in three forms. First and foremost, we spend a lot of time with each customer working through all of the options and deciphering all the things coming across the Internet to sort out what’s important from what’s not. We put in the time to help each person in their thought process. Because most components are built in-house, we can provide exactly what the customer needs. In terms of the product, Buckstop produces the highest quality components. There are several ways to cut corners, but that’s not our philosophy. Buckstop produces laboratory tested and certified DOT compliant wheels that are stamped with the appropriate weight-rating markings. In terms of the single wheels kit, Buckstop offers several stages or performance levels. Another nice thing about the Buckstop Single Wheel Conversion Kit is that it includes the heavy-duty winch bumper. Also available as an option are underside skid pan protection and large platform running boards. By batching all of the components together, we can keep the cost down. The bumper is extra wide and fits perfectly with the extra wide fender flares. It’s the icing on the cake.
TCA: Is this super singles kit only for Ford F-550’s or do you make kits for Ram and Chevy 5500s too?
Dorian Hartfield: Conversion kits are available for Ford F-450 and F-550 from 1999 through current years. Ram 4500/5500 from 2010 through current year. We do not build conversions for the Chevy at this time—only bumpers!
TCA: Aside from payload, are there any limitations converting a F-450/4500?
Dorian Hartfield: The F-450 occupies an interesting intermediate space in both the cab/chassis and consumer pick-up versions. The F-450 does not come with the 4.88:1 axle gear ratio that is necessary for the 41 inches tires. It’s better to go straight to the F-550 (or Ram 5500). However, the 450 lends itself nicely to a smaller weight vehicle maxing out at 14,000 pounds. Buckstop offers a light-weight single wheel conversion that is designed for light truck tires instead of the military tires. This is a 38 inches tire with a 4,000 pound capacity each. The standard tires run more smoothly and quieter than the military tires and the truck isn’t as tall.
TCA: What are the downsides of having a single wheel conversion?
Dorian Hartfield: Single wheel trucks are big! They’re 7 inches taller than stock and feel big to drive—even though they are no wider than a standard dually. Generally, an empty F-550 or Ram 5500 is a rough ride when empty and somewhat deletes it’s use as a daily driver. But that’s all changed with the Hydraulic LiquidSpring suspension. It makes a 550 or 5500 ride like a 3/4-ton truck. Fuel, engine, service, parts, interior features, etc are all the same as a non-converted or lighter-weight truck.
TCA: We love the Northern Lite truck camper rig that you built that sports one of these conversion kits. Do you typically see customers replacing the OEM truck bed with a flatbed of some sort?
Dorian Hartfield: Mostly flatbeds though chassis-mounted campers are possible.
TCA: Is Buckstop’s Single Wheel Conversion Kit made in the USA?
Dorian Hartfield: Not only made in USA, but made at our facility in Prineville, Oregon.
TCA: What is the cost for one of your rear wheel conversion kits? Is the installation done in Prineville or can it be installed by an authorized dealer or DIY’er?
Dorian Hartfield: Complete conversion kit prices range from $13,000 to $26,000. That means a person can run down and purchase a brand new F550 for $50,000 and put $20,000 into the conversion and end up with a hands-down premium heavy-capacity, ultra-strong rig for $70,000—less than a new Suburban! Installation can be done by either a DIY’er or a 4WD shop. We also install right here in Oregon.
TCA: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your SWR conversion kits?
Dorian Hartfield: The Buckstop Single Wheel Conversion and F-550/Ram 5500 is really starting to come into focus in the market. We’ve been doing conversions for eight years or so, but they are now becoming more and more within reach for expedition vehicles. The quality of the conversion has increased as has the demand for performance from the market. There are several body companies that allow people to build a “DIY EarthRoamer” for $100,000 to $175,000. We’re excited to be working with more and more OE truck builders who offer a ready-to-drive adventure truck for those who don’t want to build it themselves. We’re always thankful for all our customers on the Buckstop Team. We work interactively to constantly provide the best product.