How to Restore a 1946-1969 Ford Pickup

Written by joann joubert
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1947 was a monumental year for the Ford company, when Henry Ford died at the age of 83. After his death, these vehicles embarked on a new era with the debut of the F-series truck in 1948. Any Ford pickup from the time period of 1946 through 1969 will exhibit these changes in terms of design and technology. These collector items are excellent candidates for a restoration project. While restoring any vehicle is challenging, by using proper tools and finding replacement parts, restoring a Ford pickup from the time period of 1946 through 1969 can be successfully completed, though it requires time and expertise.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Jack (hydraulic jack is optional)
  • Jack Stands
  • Grease
  • Large tarp
  • Labelled storage containers
  • Large rubber mallet
  • Ratchet
  • Socket set
  • Tire iron
  • Power sander
  • Expansive work area
  • Replacement parts
  • Electrical sockets
  • Broad range of automotive tools
  • Ford re-upholstery kit
  • Air compressor
  • MIG welder
  • Primer & Exterior Paint
  • Engine hoist (optional)

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  1. 1

    Purchase handbooks for restoring Ford pickups from 1946 until 1969. Also, subscribe to magazines concentrating on classic automobiles and the restoration process. Search for classic Ford enthusiast groups in your neighbourhood or surrounding areas to find others interested in restoring 1946 through 1969 model Fords who may be able to offer advice or help. The more knowledge you can acquire concerning restoring these classic Fords, the easier it will be to successfully restore one, so accumulating mass amounts of Ford-specific information is beneficial.

  2. 2

    Create a large, enclosed and clean work space that can accommodate the scope of this restoration process. Once a Ford truck has been disassembled it will require three times more space than when it was fully assembled. In addition, extra space will be required to house equipment such as an air compressor. You also want to have access to electricity and additional lighting. The more spacious the environment, the easier it will be to keep it organised. The more organised your work space, the easier it will be to prevent misplacing or losing any parts, accessories or components.

  3. 3

    Lay a tarp in an area of the room and secure to the floor. Use the tarp to place parts and components upon during this process. The goal is to maintain a clean and organised work space, so set up labelled containers for small pieces as well.

  4. 4

    Disassemble the Ford truck's exterior. Start with removing the bumpers, bonnet, front grill, doors and tailgate. Then disconnect and remove the head and taillights. Raise your Ford with a jack, then secure with jack stands. Remove the wheels completely from their assemblies, and use basic tools like a ratchet and socket set to continue to disassemble your Ford truck. If there is excessive rust on any parts, use grease and a rubber mallet to help with the process. Remove the axles from the frame by unbolting them, then set them aside.

  5. 5

    Disconnect the engine and other power components. Use a hoist to pull the engine and transmission out of the body of the Ford truck. Place all parts onto the tarp. Store all small pieces, such as nuts and bolts, within the labelled containers.

  6. 6

    Disassemble the interior of your Ford truck. Disassemble and remove the parts and components of your Ford's console and interior trim. Remove the seats and set aside for individual restoration. Use a re-upholstery kit to restore the seats. Check the viability of all interior parts, restoring those that can be reinstalled into the pickup. Remove the front and rear fenders of the truck and set them aside.

  7. 7

    Survey all parts and components that have been removed from the exterior and interior of your Ford pickup. Every viable item should be properly cleaned and restored individually. Replace all damaged parts, components and accessories. Replace any metal components showing signs of excessive rust or erosion. Finding replacement parts may be challenging, but search through Ford dealers, restoration part merchants and auto part catalogues for required replacement parts and accessories.

  8. 8

    Check for any damage to repair along the body of the truck, including dents, scratches, holes and rust. You can repair holes and rust by performing patchwork with a MIG welder, soldering small pieces of healthy metal to the damaged areas. These areas could include the main body, the frame, bonnet, fenders, doors and floorboards. You must ensure that the body of the truck is straight and smooth before continuing with restoring the exterior. If necessary, you may be able to order replacement doors, fenders and bonnets.

  9. 9

    Reattach the fenders onto the body of the Ford truck, then sand the exterior to smooth the surface area. If the panels of the truck are aligned, with the metal straight and smooth, then you need to prime the exterior. After the primer has dried completely, paint the exterior of the truck. Allow the paint to dry completely before continuing with the restoration process.

  10. 10

    Restore viable power components and prepare for installation. Restore parts such as the engine, transmission, radiator, alternator, carburettor and axles separately. Check the driveshaft, starter, axle and brake systems for viability. Replace if necessary. Use a hoist to lift the engine's components and to slowly lower them back into the vehicle. Once these parts have been properly put back into place, install the engine and similar parts. Remember that installing these components will take three times the amount of time that disassemble required. Be sure to take your time during this installation process, and prevent damaging these parts.

  11. 11

    Ensure that all electrical components are viable, then replace any damaged wiring or parts. Install and rewire the headlights and taillights, then install the brake systems beneath the Ford truck. Attach new or restored front and rear bumpers to the frame, then install the windshield. Restore or replace mirrors and windows. Re-chrome any damaged trim along the exterior.Attach new wheels to the wheel assemblies. Remove the jack stands, lower the truck to the ground and secure the wheels completely to the frame.

  12. 12

    Install the truck's interior, starting with the recently reupholstered seats. Maintain the authenticity of your 1946-1969 Ford pickup by using original colours and materials for this restoration. Install all interior components such as the door panels, handles, console and controls. Ensure that these interior components are all working properly, then test drive your Ford truck to complete the restoration process.

Tips and warnings

  • When searching for a candidate vehicle for your 1946 - 1969 Ford pickup restoration project, choose one with minimal rust damage on the frame and body of the vehicle. Smaller exterior parts may be replaced, but larger segments of the body are more difficult to repair.
  • Attempt to salvage the original parts and components, as this will protect your 1946 - 1969 Ford pickup's authenticity.

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