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Rebuilding Wooden Beds

by Mark Marmon
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      My '59 Apache Longbed Stepside had a piece of plywood in the bed when I got it. I have a neighbor (who is a master cabinetmaker) volunteer to help me put in a new bed.

      He ordered 90 board feet of White Oak planks from a lumber dealer in Austin. I'm sure there are others in your area. We selected the best looking ones -- no noticeable knots / grain cracks. He was able to cut them easily on his table saw. The left / right side end pieces required two cuts (top and bottom) to fit on top of the angled strips. The middle pieces were "routed" to allow the metal strips to be level with the top of the planks. Six of the planks were six and seven/eights. The middle plank was closer to seven inches across.

      I put three coats of marine grade polyurethane sealer on the bottom and four on the top of the planks. I purchased enough (9) undrilled metal strips from LMC. I bought the bolts from a local hardware store when we figured how many and size needed.

      Our only "dilemma" was that someone previously had welded an extra box iron on top of the original cross-struts. We figured they did this to allow the plywood to be reasonably level. The side angle strips were welded onto the bed sides too.

      We were able to drill through the double crossed struts and use 3.5" carriage bolts. The metal was in great shape! The planks sit on top of the tailgate edge of the bed. The sealing paint (from the lumberyard) matches the truck color.

      Although the Rebuild / Restore book suggests removing the bed from the truck, we didn't have to.

      We did notice that from a previous "injury," the bed was slightly bent on one side. Still, our method of installation went fairly easy. We noticed that the strips were "lifting up" from the bed in the middle (over the wheels). We corrected that by placing another "cross piece" made from one of the extra oak boards. The bolts matched up with the others and the strips are solid.

      I'm very pleased with this repair. I took about two days (not including the sealer drying time) to complete. I couldn't have done it without my neighbor's help and expertise. These pictures show the empty bed and new wood.

Mark Marmon
1959 Chevy Apache 3200
Bellaire/New Braunfels, Texas

       Be sure to check out our extensive Forums discussions -- from General Truck talk, Electrical Bay, Big Bolts, Panels and Burbs, Engine and Driveline, Paint and Body, Interiors, Tool Chest -- The Stovebolt Collective can help in your quest and walk you through the mire and magic of working with old iron. ~~ Editor .         

v. August 2006

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