Sunday, June 26, 2005

Some pics I've promised...

The first ‘custom’ item on the agenda for this truck was the gas ‘fillers’ on the bed. First on the list, because the truck bed was the one area that needed the most work, much of it underneath and out of sight. I figured if I was going to put all the effort into making the bed look new, inside and out, I just ‘had’ to do this too!

The original gas filler on this truck bed was a style I've always disliked. It protruded from the side of the bed taking away from the truck's lines, was a constant source of “pilfering fun" for kids passing by, and for catching clothing parts if you were walking too close or tying something down.

I’d always favored the setup on the ’79 trucks that had a square filler door covering the gas cap. So, when I found a bed, with those doors on it while scavenging parts in a local scrap yard I made a deal and picked it up. Unfortunately, the bed was in worse shape than mine (so I got it cheap), the filler door area was about the only good (not rusty or dented) portion of the bed.

What I needed to do, was cut a panel out of each bed (on both sides as the truck has dual gas tanks) and swap the ones from the donor, to my original. First, I marked and cut out a panel on my bed (here’s another shot showing some of the other damage).

I would normally cut out the donor piece first, but sometime before I ever saw it, someone had tried (unsuccessfully) to drive the truck between two trees. This had driven this portion of the bed in about 2.5 inches. Unfortunately the pictures don’t really show the extent and depth of the damage. Let’s just say it wasn’t a simple task to pull out, even in a full on body shop, mainly because of it’s location and depth.

So, by cutting out this piece first, it made pulling the dent out level again much easier, although it still took about a hundred stud pins, in several sessions. Eventually after about two hours of fastening pins and pulling with a slide hammer (in the hot sun), I had it close to right. That didn’t include the 45 minutes or with a hammer and dolly to reform the bed line!

So, after a sweaty day in the sun, this is where I wound up. You can see all the measurements, and ‘register’ lines if you look closely. When I said working with one set of hands took more measuring, I wasn’t kidding!

Not very pretty to most eyes and not exactly where I’d hoped to end the day. The panel is ready though, to be pre-drilled. Once I do that, and attach a few rivets to ‘tack’ it in place temporarily, I can repeat the process in the other side!

Today… well, so far it’s been intermittent rain showers, not the kind of day you want to be working with steel and electric power tools outside. So, my next plan is to get about three other guys over here, snake the motor and transmission out of the truck, move the bed away from the front door of the garage and push the truck cab and frame outside. Hopefully I can get that happening by next weekend.

It’s just too hot in the sun to be attempting to do this body work outside any longer. Epoxy’s, body fillers, primers, essentially everything I’ll be using is very sensitive to temperature, and especially to direct sunlight. Think of trying to wax your car in the sun, instead of the shade, with a paste wax. It can be done, but it adds an unwanted level of complexity and ups the annoyance factor a 1000 fold!

Oh, and for those of you who are interested, this is the tool I use to do the rough cut outs, it’s called a ‘cut-off’ tool. The tool on the far right in this picture is an electric metal shear. I use those like you would manual ‘tin snips’, but it’s a lot faster, makes a cleaner cut and is a whole lot less work.

Finally, here’s a snapshot of some of the tools I needed today. I say some, because I’d already started putting things away before I thought to take this. It’s pretty much everything except the grinders, body hammers and dollies I’d already put up. The big blue, pistol looking thing at the top, towards the left is the stud gun. It’s what attaches those studs in the earlier pictures. Right below that is a ‘contour gauge’, you place it up against an undamaged section, capture the contours, and then lock it in place to use as a guide while you work. Much, much faster and easier than making the cardboard cutouts we used to use!

So there you have it, a glimpse into my Saturday and some idea of the amount of work that goes into restoring, just this one corner, of this old truck. Maybe I’m crazy, a glutton for punishment or don’t know, when, to say when. Then again, maybe, just maybe, I keep picturing the twinkle there’ll be in my wife’s eyes when she finally looks at it for the first time, finished. When I open the door for her, let her climb up in the cab, and fire it up for her first drive, and again when she comes back from that ‘test drive’ with a big smile on her face.

In the end, that’s what it’s all about, the finished product, for her. I’ll complain about the work, the heat, the sweat, and occasionally the money… but the truth is I really do love doing this stuff, I just wish I wasn’t so rusty at it right now!! I keep remembering what I could get done in a day, back in the day. Then I end up thinking I can get close to that production level and end up being disappointed/frustrated. So, yesterday I resolved to stop thinking about time, to focus on the task, let it take what ever time it takes, and then move on to the next one.

If you enjoy this type of post, or don’t, let me know. I’ll certainly have a lot more to post over the coming weeks and months.

Thanks again for stopping by!!


Spirit Of Owl said...

Ok, for a mechanical dufus like me, this was in one sense pretty heavy going! I DO find this interesting, and you of course write with passion about this subject, but I think it took me three attempts to get through... LOL Maybe small bites for me!

I am amazed at the work and effort you're putting in, and I can see how you're driven. I know that feeling of, "If I don't do this, it'll be ok, and maybe nobody will even know... except me!" It's got to be right, and even though it's tearing up your weekends, it's pretty obvious that when you've finished it damn well will be right!

RealLady must be some kinda woman. :)

Firehawk said...


The best part of the pictures has to be all the notations drawn on the panels with Sharpies. I liked the guidelines and angle notes and so forth.

Looks like you got a lot done in my book. I think that we always think we can do more than we can. I think that we take certain "ideal working days" and try to generalize from them. It's all great if you're totally up on eveything, have all your tools, and don't hit any major snags, but that's a pretty rare situation.

Anyway, good luck on your tack and final weld/smoothing...process. I think it'll look good.

Jay said...

A story in pictures: well done!

Bill said...

Spirit - You're more right on the money than you could know. Yet.

RealLady, definitely is a very special woman!

Firehawk - Thanks, they're the 'key' to everything being where it's supposed to be when I'm done.

Heh-heh... I've definitely 'idealized' somethings... that's been very evident lately!!

Jay - Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

swiftboat said...

Could not follow a word of the text but love the abstract art at the end of each hyperlink. Keep the photos rolling - they're really good.

Trevor Record said...

I agree with Jay, pictures are great. Your know-how makes me ashamed, Bill.

Bill said...

Swiftboat - glad you liked them.

Trevor - Ashamed of what? I've got 30+ years on you, it stands to reason I'd have a bit more 'know-how' about some things.

Beth said...

I could never do that! Especially in the sun. I'm lost on what and how you did it, but was glad to see the pictures.

~ Beth

Bill said...

Beth - Sometimes a little 'sweat' equity is just what I need to get myself right with the world :) Glad you enjoyed the pics.

jenbeauty said...

Whew that must have been loads of work. I guess it suffciently distracted you from life's other little blocks.

I love seeing pics. Thanks for sharing.

Karyn Lyndon said...

I think I can do it now...NOT!!! But I do think you have a great idea for a cable TV show. Instead of This Old's This Old Truck!


RealLady said...

your "efforts" are greatly appreciated - in every way! :}{;