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03-29-2005 12:42 AM '53 AD extended cab how-to68
The final milling step is to add all the holes in the boards. Since they are mostly held together by carriage bolts through the bed strips and through the spaces between the boards, there are surprisingly few holes to drill.

Most of the holes to drill are in the side boards that bolt directly to angle strips welded to the bed sides. DON'T trust marking these holes using the old bed boards. As shown in photo 1, clamp the boards to the angles and mark them for drilling on the press.

The other hose to drill are for the 6 long bolts that attach the bed to the frame. These have an offset 1 1/2" washer with a square carriage bolt hole. Use a Forstner bit to counter sink a 3/16" deep hole for the washer, put the washer in the hole and mark for the smaller hole and drill that with a brad point bit to pass the bolts. Photo 2.

Finally, I mounted all the x-members, boards, and bed strips on the frame to make sure they all fit properly. This is the step where I discovered the 7 1/4" boards were too wide. The entire series of boards should be exactly as wide as the bed x-members.

Those old bed strips will be replaced with polished stainless ones.

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  [Entry #117]

03-29-2005 12:31 AM '53 AD extended cab how-to67
Photo 1 sows the condition of the yellow pine boards and the groove that the supplier machined it them. Pretty bad shape! Photo 2 shows my groove in a test strip of Ipe wood.

Photo 3 shows the sawdust residue from this strange wood. Note the bright yellow color! That is the color of the dust coming off the wood when it is sawed. That resin is also what makes this stuff bullet proof.

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  [Entry #116]

03-29-2005 12:27 AM '53 AD extended cab how-to66
Once the boards were sized they need some more refinements.

First, they needed the sides rabbeted and grooved to accept the bed rails. Photo 1 shows a sketch for this modification. Here are the dimensions,

A. 3/4" (board thickness)
B. 1/4"
C. 1/4"
D. 1/2"
E. 1/8"

Using a feather board I easily cut the side rabbet on my table saw (photo 2), then I cut the deeper groove with the board flat on the saw.

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  [Entry #115]

03-29-2005 12:21 AM '53 AD extended cab how-to65
Machining the wood was straight forward. Here is a list of published dimensions for old GM truck beds. I found that I had to cut all my wide boards to 7" even - the published 7 1/4" was too wide.

1947 to Early 1951 - 9 Boards
4 1/4" 5" 5 1/2" 5 1/2" 6 3/8" 5 1/2" 5 1/2" 5" 4 1/4"

Late 1951 to 1955 1st Series - 8 Boards
4 1/4" 7 1/4" 5" 7 1/4" 7 1/4" 5" 7 1/4" 4 1/4"

First step was to run an edge of each board through the joiner to straighten it (photo 1). Then I ripped them to length on the table saw (photo 2). Finally I squared one end and cut the boards to length on the chop saw (photo 3).

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  [Entry #114]

03-29-2005 12:14 AM '53 AD extended cab how-to64
I had a problem deciding what kind of wood to use for the bed. In my 1990 restoration I used yellow southern pine. Tried to keep it varnished but it quickly split, cracked, warped and turned ugly gray. You can see some shots of it in later posts here. Oak is another popular option but it seems to go bad very quickly too, regardless of the car it is given. I finally decided to try Ipe, a Brazilian hardwood used for outdoor decking.

15 years ago this stuff was a nuisance plant that the Brazilians knocked down and buried. These are probably the photos you see of them 'destroying' the rain forest - this stuff grows so fast and so huge it takes over the forest and must be eradicated. It is what the Atlantic City Board Walk is made of. it has in recent years become very popular for patio construction. It is so dense it sinks in water, has the same fire rating as concrete, contains a yellow resin that kills insects and is super stable once cured. It is so heavy, I should have great traction in my old truck! Cost is similar to oak.

Photo 1 is a picture of one of the boards. This board is 13" wide which is common. You can see the yellow stuff in the grain.

This should avoid the degradation that pine or oak experience. Claims are that this stuff will last at least 100 years on an outdoor deck! If left untreated, it will weather to silver gray but not split/splinter and decay like common woods. I am going to try to keep the red/brown color by finishing it with a UV protection oil coating like Ads say a coat every 6 months or so will maintain fresh color. I'll believe it when I see it!

To prepare for machining the wood to size I first measured the planks of my existing pine and marked them (Photo 2). I also double checked the measurements by measuring between the bolt holes in the bed X-member (photo 3).

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  [Entry #113]

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