Page 2 of 5 ... July 2003 - May 2004

July 2003 -- Bed Restoration

Photo of the bed with the old floor removed

The photo above shows the bed with the old wood removed.

According to my research, the RPO E81 wood floor was a rather rare option in '73 - '80 fleetside beds. Although the stepside beds continued to use wood floors as standard equipment all the way to '87, a ribbed steel floor was standard in the fleetside beds.

September 2003 -- Some Special Parts

The wood floor option uses the same front bed panel, bedsides, and inner wheel tubs as the steel floor. The pieces that are unique to the fleetside wood floor are the 9 flanges around the perimeter that join the wood to the bedsides, the rear cross sill (has a notch for the ends of the boards), and all of the other cross sills (they're not quite as tall since the wood floor is thicker).

All of those special parts for the fleetside wood floor have long since been discontinued by GM and are not being reproduced. After a few months of searching, we located a sheetmetal fabrication shop that was able to use the old rusty pieces as templates to make some excellent replacement pieces.

November 2003 -- Changing the Gas Filler Opening

Photo of the new bedside and round hole patch panel

As I mentioned earlier, Dad resorted to using an aftermarket LH bedside back in 1989 since the GM one with the round gas filler hole had been discontinued. The aftermarket bedside wasn't long rusting out above the wheelwell and needing to be patched. In comparison, the GM bedside that he put on the RH side only had a tiny bit of surface rust from rock chips on the lower/rear portion.

So this time around, Dad purchased a new GM bedside for the LH side with the '79 - '80 style square filler hole. I cut a section with the '73 - '78 style round hole from a junkyard bedside and prepared to weld it into the new bedside.

December 2003 -- Welding in the Filler Hole Patch Panel

Photo of the panel welded into place

Here is the round hole panel after being sandblasted and welded in place.

Looking back on this, I've learned that it would have been better to have used rounded corners on the patch panel since that reduces the length of the weld seam as well as some of the panel distortion that results from the tack welds shrinking as they cool. As it was, I had to do a fair amount of hammer/dolly work on the weld joint to relieve the stress and allow the rest of the panel to return to it's original shape.

January 2004 -- The Finished Gas Filler Hole

Photo of the finished filler hole conversion

And here it is with a skim coat of body filler and some primer surfacer to smooth over the weld seam.

February 2004 -- Test Fitting the New Wood

Photo of the new wood boards being test fitted in the bed

We re-assembled the bed and primed the inside. The LH bedside is the new GM one that I modified with the round filler hole as shown above. The RH bedside is the GM one that dad put on the truck back in 1989. Both inner wheel tubs are new GM parts. The perimeter flanges and rear cross sill are the pieces made by the local sheetmetal fabrication shop. The wood is southern yellow pine from Mar-K.

March 2004 -- Painting Inside the Bed

Photo of the inside of the bed with new paint

Here is the inside of the bed with a fresh coat of paint prior to installing the new wood floor.

April 2004 -- The New Wood is Installed

Photo of the finished bed floor

And here is the finished bed with the new wood installed. I used Helmsman Spar Urethane on the wood. The new bed strips, bolts, and cross sills were also purchased from Mar-K. Cross sills are not available for the '73-'80 fleetside beds with the optional wood floor. However, after exchanging a few e-mails with the helpful folks at Mar-K, we were able to determine that their '67-'72 cross sills could be used as suitable replacements. I ordered them without the bolt holes pre-drilled since the spacing is different. Making them fit the '73-'80 style bed simply involved cutting them a few inches shorter and drilling lots of holes.

May 2004 -- Back on the Truck

Photo of the finished bed back on the truck

Here is the bed back on the truck. Back when the bed was still apart, I had sanded the RH bedside back down to the factory primer and re-sprayed it with a couple coats of 2K urethane primer.