A How-To Guide for Restoring Vintage Ford Trucks

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Hello men and women who are interested in restoring a vintage Ford truck. Most likely you are looking at a serious project here, unless you have a truck that is in relatively good shape or one that has been previously restored.

Before you actually begin restoration work, it is best to consider the time, money and energy it will require. The project itself can take many months. In addition, you will be searching the internet and swap meets for parts. You may be fabricating parts or having someone else make them for you. In fact, you will be creating something from nothing, or close to nothing, if the parts and components of your vintage Ford truck are rusted, corroded, missing or broken.

Once you’ve decided you truly would like to pursue this project, here are a few broad guidelines:

  • Establish a work space. It should be big enough so you have access to all angles of your vehicle: from underneath, the back, front, sides, and engine compartment.
  • Work on the major engine components, including the motor itself, the transmission, drive train and axles. If the engine is in tough shape, you may have to have the cylinders re-bored and the valves ground.
  • Dismantle and restore the body panels, fenders, rocker panels, bumpers, hood, doors and cargo box. Sand down all rust and rebuild any parts or sections of parts that are completely rusted away.
  • Work on the interior, including the seat(s), dash panel, steering wheel, and windshield. You may have to have the seat re-upholstered; you may have to replace the speedometer or other gauges. Check the heater and repair, if necessary. Make sure the windshield wipers operate correctly. Do the interior lights work? Also check the headlights, parking lights, turn signals, brake lights, and running lights. Make sure all the connections work properly and install new bulbs where needed.
  • Address the brakes, the suspension, and the exhaust system. Rebuild the brakes, if necessary, by having the drums turned and replacing the pads, springs, cylinders, and other worn parts. Repair the rear springs, if needed, and install new shock absorbers. If the exhaust pipes are pitted, replace them. The muffler is probably old so replace it.
  • It may be best to leave the painting of your vintage Ford truck to a professional paint shop. However, if you decide to paint it yourself, be sure to have the appropriate equipment on hand, including a sprayer and compressor. You should also construct or buy a paint booth, not only to control the atmosphere of the painting area, but also to make sure you have proper ventilation. Before beginning exterior painting, remove the exterior trim, including emblems, chrome accents, and lights. Tape off any lights and chrome, such as headlights and bumpers, so you do not paint them inadvertently. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for priming and applying the finish coats.

Once you have the major areas repaired and restored as outlined above, then you can apply the final touches. You can add custom detailing, like pin stripes; you can spruce up the interior with custom mats and seat covers; or you can improve engine performance by adding fuel injection or custom exhaust parts. Then you can show your truck at auto/truck shows, and “rub elbows” with other restorers and vintage Ford truck collectors. You may also choose to join an antique auto/truck club where you can compare notes with those who have already restored a vintage Ford truck and with those who are planning to take on this job. Once you have restored or rebuilt a vintage Ford truck, you can expect to experience a new world of restorers and antique vehicle collectors, many of whom have inspiring stories to tell.

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