Reborn Rig: Flattop Conversion
February 1, 2012
By Bruce W. Smith
Scott Brown watches closely as Jesus Cedillo and a three helpers lift the sleeper cap off a 2000 Peterbilt inside the Texas Chrome Shop.
In a couple hours the TCS truck customizers will have transformed the 63-inch Ultracab standup sleeper he’s looking at into an old-school flattop using a Talladega County Fiberglass Unlimited conversion kit.
It’s exactly what the owner of Scott Brown & Daughters, LLC has in mind for his ’98 Peterbilt, which is next on the shop’s waiting list. The conversion can’t come fast enough for the Devine, Texas owner-operator. And it’s not just about having the custom look, either.
“Having the upper bunk and a little extra headroom isn’t nearly as important to me these days as it is being able to load overhead at grain silos and rock hoppers,” says Brown who stands 6’4”. “That difference in height between the Ultracab sleeper roof and the flattop is the difference between being able to take on a job or not.
“What makes this conversion nice is the Ultracab opening into the sleeper is large enough so a big guy like me can get back there easily. So you have the added functionality of the low roof with old-school looks.”
Brown, who hauls everything from aggregates and grain to oil field drill rigs and equipment, says his pending flattop conversion will also include the addition of a rear window so he can see out the back of the cab while winching or making sharp turns in tight places.
He’s not the only owner-operator out there who has a case of Flattop fever.
Roland Mendez, one of the owners of San Antonio, TX-based Triple R Diesel and Texas Chrome Shop, says “We do at least one Talladega flattop conversion a week for customers and we’ve done at least 20 of our own trucks before we re-sold them last year. We have guys waiting in line to get this done.”
The cost of the conversion varies from shop to shop. Texas Chrome Shop sells the basic Talladega kit for $1,650. If they do the conversion and paint the sleeper to match the cab, the cost is about $3,800 for the basic package. Adding a rear window and more elaborate paint and body work ups the ante.
The good news, according to Mendez, is “An owner-operator can easily double what we charge for the conversion on re-sale value because factory flattops are getting hard to find.”
Doing the conversion isn’t that difficult; it’s more time consuming than technically challenging. In short you remove the standup sleeper top, shorten the roof support and drop on the Talladega flattop roof. The typical do-it-yourselfer can do the work over a weekend.
Talladega County Fiberglass Unlimited
talladegafiberglass.com; (205) 405-6436
Texas Chrome Shop
Texaschrome.com; (800) 332-9999