After having installed a tonneau cover on my Ford Maverick, I realized that sometimes it can be a bit difficult to see inside when it’s dark out! So, I wanted to do some bed lights.
Figuring out the right way to mount bed lights was interesting, though, as there didn’t seem to be a specific “best” way to mount them. So here’s what I’ve devised! It involves some 3d printing of some custom clips, to avoid having to use any adhesives (which can easily soften and come unstuck into a gooey mess in the hot summer heat, especially in a bed with a black tonneau cover trapping extra heat inside).
Looking under the edges of the bed, I noticed some “clips” showing. They seemed to be a part of the plastic cover that protects the paint along the top of the bed — what is marked as
<29038B on this diagram on the Ford Parts website. These little clips had a hole in the middle to grant them some flex, so they could pop through the holes in the unibody construction and lock in place — so my brain wondered if I could design a part that could hold the LED light strip securely, by latching onto that clip (and ideally with a little more elegance than just using a zip tie to attach a light rope to it).
It took several revisions to properly measure and design a shape that worked well in the space, but I finally came up with a silhouette that seemed to work comfortably.
In the fourth attempt, in an attempt to figure out how to properly affix the mount to the clips, I left a hole in the top inset, thinking I’d run a M3 screw through it, but I wasn’t quite happy with it, and especially with the idea of only having plastic on one side of the hook — it felt like it could bend and warp if it wasn’t encompassed from both sides.
I knew the LED light strip I’d wanted to use. It seemed a solid option with good reviews, and didn’t mess around with complex RGB lighting — I picked up a five meter length of this lighting, and used the surplus around the house (adding a light to the cabinet my 3d printer lives in, doing a bit in the kids rooms, etc)
So, I designed a shape that could be mirrored and would join with itself to hold the LED Light Strip against the outside wall of the bed. I came up with the following in Fusion 360:
It worked marvelously! The clips on the bed were about 7mm wide, so I designed the shape to have a 2mm solid back, and to extrude up 4mm, leaving 1mm of play in it, so it wouldn’t be overly tight.
However, there was the question of how keep both halves together! I’d considered using some CA glue, which works well on the PETG filament that I’d used to print the clips, however that felt … permanent, and I’d like to be able to disconnect them if I had to without destroying them. So, time for another revision.
This time, I changed the curve to account for a through-hole sized for a 6-32×3/4″ bolt, with small divots on the outsides to allow a small washer to nestle into the parts. For ease of use in some tight spots (and to not need a very tiny wrench to hold it as I tightened) I went with wingnuts on the far end, as they’re much easier for me to reach in and hold with a stray finger and tighten against.
Practically, if you’d rather, you could probably also hold them in place using cotter pins, however I’d advise keeping the washers to distribute the pressure so there’s less stress directly on the 3d printed part.
The final parts looked something like this:
With eight clips on each side of the bed, I had to do sixteen of each half. The final mounting of the LED strip looked stupendous, and I couldn’t be happier.
For the curious, I used this switch from Amazon, using a faceplate I also designed to control the lights to replace the FlexBed 12v faceplate by the tailgate. I’ll include the faceplate in the Thingiverse project as well.
And here’s the Thingiverse project:
For anyone interested in doing a similar project for their 2022 Ford Maverick, if you have access to a 3d printer or a friend that does — give it a shot! Just remember to print in PETG or ABS, as PLA probably can’t hold up to the heat in your car on a hot summer day.