For years us guys at CLASSIC TRUCKS' sister magazine STREET RODDER have built just about everything under the sun, from roadsters to coupes to sedans to phaetons, hell we've even built a school bus (see STREET RODDER August '93), but classic trucks never seemed to get the same amount of attention. A good part of that could be due to the fact that we share offices with CLASSIC TRUCKS and didn't think it appropriate to step on any toes.

But as we mentioned last month, there isn't a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool hot rodder out there who couldn't benefit from having a cool truck at their disposal. And it should go without saying that if you were to ask a hot rodder what kind of pickup they'd like to have, the answer would not be a lifted Toyota Tacoma. No, we're thinking it'd be something more akin to an early '50s pickup with the perfect lowered stance and a nice set of wheels. Adorn the door with a graphic declaring the shop name (be it real or imagined), and you've got yourself one helluva neat little parts hauler. Bolt on a pushbar for the dry lake or dragstrip and all of a sudden you just added a sport factor to the utilitarian vehicle for a most traditional SUV!

Last month, we ran through the basics of the Advance Design-era pickups and what we had in store for our very own project. This month, we're jumping right in, following along as the crew at Hot Rod's by Dean begins sorting out the bed parts from Mar-K, from basic assembly of the panels to form the actual structure to installing a bed wood kit. We'll cover installing their aluminum bedstrips with hidden fasteners as well as a Chevs of the 40's fuel filler concealment kit that allows you to hide the fuel filler neck under the bed. A Mar-K smooth tailgate will also get installed and we'll point out a couple of features that they've incorporated into that design that alleviates the need for those pesky tailgate chains. So stay tuned as our Project Shop Truck gets underway!

A few notes on wood finishes When it comes to finishing the bed wood, there are two important reasons as to why: to protect it and to decorate it. Lacking finish, the wood will discolor and deteriorate quickly when exposed to sunlight and adverse weather conditions. Alternatively, if a quality finish is applied and maintained, the wood will remain in great shape indefinitely. What finish to use really comes down to personal preference, and what kind of climate the truck is going to spend the majority of its days in, but regardless it should be either an oil finish, satin, or glossy varnish, or paint. Paint will prevent damage from sunlight and weather and will protect the wood from mechanical damage (scratches and dents). Spar varnish with "ultraviolet inhibitors" will also build up a protective film to protect the wood and the natural wood grain will show through. An oil finish for outdoor use is easy to apply and has a pleasing "fine furniture" appearance but does not protect from mechanical or moisture damage and must be refinished frequently.

How to square up your bed once assembled Once the four sections of the bed are assembled, you need to make sure the bed is square. The first thing to do is to make sure the bedsides at the rear are square to the rear sill and that the complete bed is sitting on a level surface. If one side is leaning inward and the other side leaning outward a like amount, the dimensions will be the same both top and bottom, but the bed will not measure square. You can check that with a carpenter square. Sometimes it helps to install the tailgate to keep the sides vertical during the assembly. That way they cannot shift very far if you have to loosen the rear sill mounting bolts and they can be adjusted back to square after the bed is on the truck.

If your bed is still out of square half-inch or less, it should be readily shifted to square by loosening all the bolts that are holding it together and pushing the long dimension to make it smaller, and the small dimension will get larger a like amount. It may require holding it in the square position while a helper tightens all the bolts. If you are holding it square when you tighten the bolts, it may still move slightly when you release it. A bed is slightly flexible before it is on the frame and before the wood is installed and tightened. When you install the wood and bedstrips, be sure to again hold it square while tightening all the bedstrip bolts. The truck frame will keep it square when you install it on your truck.

Chevs of the 40s
1605 NE 112th Street
WA  98686
Doc's Kustom
7138 Hw 319 N
GA  31775
Hot Rods By Dean
1 West Lone Cactus Drive
AZ  85027
Legens Hot Rods
12324 Highway 45
TN  38237
MAR-K Quality Parts
6625 W. Wilshire Blvd
Oklahoma City
OK  73132
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