Hey guys this is my first writeup on one of my projects, turning old EC135 helicopter skid tubes into running boards for my 99 f250. Now I didnt really write this as a tutorial on how to do this because i doubt anyone will be able to get their hands on these tubes unless they work in the industry or are willing to chop up skids that cost about $3500 each new. The final product may not look as good as some store bought kits but I like the unique style and the story behind them. So here we go...
Started by collecting 2 "unairworthy" skid tubes from a couple of helicopters in our fleet, here is the picture of the helicopter that i removed the blue tube from
These tubes are considered "unairworthy" when they get a dent that is larger than 1.5 inches in diameter, which both of these are definitely out of limits and are scrap at this point. The dents are from landing on hidden objects such as a rock in a field, this is a medical response helicopter so landing in remote areas is very common and will damage tubes often.
I wanted to make the running board extend past the cab of the truck and be used as a step into the bed of the truck as well, so i made the length of the tube the same as the black door guard trim on the truck. First thing to do was cut the curl off the nose of the tube and drill out the rivets holding on the end caps, then punch out the end caps. I then cut off about a foot of the end to make it the length i wanted.
Next to do was strip the paint off of the tubes so it was just bare aluminum that needed to be primed. And of course mock up the tubes to the truck to see what they might look like. i included the picture from the drivers seat looking down to show that when the door is open there is a lot of the step exposed, when the door is closed the tube is tucked inside the tires of the truck
after reinserting the end caps it was time to prime the bare aluminum and then wet sand
Another mockup now with the EZ oval tube mounting brackets
Now the hard part... each end of the tube has 4 pre drilled holes with nut plates on the inside of the tube so it can be mounted on the helicopter. Because I cant weld the aluminum tube to the steel mounting brackets i have to build a steel cradle to bolt to the underside of the tube and then weld the steel cradle to the brackets on the truck. First step is to cut 8 4" long pieces of steel and then heat them up and shape them to be the same contour of the tube. I will admit that im not the greatest metal worker and didnt have the best tools to do the job, but i made it work for the project i was doing.
then drill the holes in the curved steel to bolt up to the tube and cut the long pieces of steel for the length of the tube
And weld them together, again i know i am not a very good welder but they will hold
Finally reassemble the tube and cradle, position them on the truck where i wanted them and weld the cradle to the brackets. first looks with them on the truck (just primer still)
They look a little close the the cab of the truck but when the door is open they are perfectly functional, they help a lot when trying to get into the back seat. Since these pictures were taken i have unbolted the tube from the cradle and put PRC sealant between the tube and cradle to keep them from slapping eachother while driving down a bumpy road. Im still debating painting them gloss black and add wingwalk (anti skid stuff like rhino lining) to the top so you dont slip off, or if i should just rhino line the entire step.
Anyways i will post a picture when its all done, right now its too cold to paint so i will have to paint it when i get it back in a heated shop again. Thanks again for looking and let me know what you think!