The Stepside Chevy pickup of the 1950s and 1960s has become a classic. With its large flared bumper and rounded hood and headlights, the 1953 is reminiscent of a time that has been described as "simpler." When refurbishing a classic truck, the bed is one area that will require special attention. The 1953 Chevy came standard with a wooden bed floor, as opposed to today's modern steel beds. As with most wood exposed to weather for a half century, it will probably need to be replaced. Replacement parts, up to and including a full bed replacement, are made by several manufacturers for most years and models of Chevy truck, including the 1953 Stepside.
Remove the bed from the truck by locating and removing the bed-to-frame bolts. Take note of the condition of the wooden spacers that support the bed. Purchase replacements if needed. Cut the bolts holding the bed boards to the metal straps underneath with a reciprocating saw and tap them up through the boards with a hammer. Pull the bolts out on top by hand, or use pliers for stubborn bolts.
Lift the bed from the truck. Unbolt the two corners of the rear sill bar from their positions at the bottom of the rear bed stake pockets with an impact gun. Cut the bolts holding the bed boards to the sill with the reciprocating saw.
Remove the bolts in the corners of the bed, between the front panel and the bed rails on either side, to complete the disassembly. Sand the pieces of the bed to remove old paint and any rust. Use metal oxide sandpaper on a random orbit air sander for best results.
Spray a coat of rust inhibitor --- two to three coats of paint, depending on colour and manufacturer's recommendations --- and clear coat onto the bed parts with an air gun. Mix your paints and finishes according the label instructions for best results and allow the label recommended drying times between coats. Apply the paint with steady, brushlike movements, keeping the spray gun moving to prevent pooling, which causes runs and drips in the finish. Allow the finish to cure completely before reassembling the bed.
Reattach the side bed rails to the ends of the front bed panel with the bed front hardware kit included with the Chevy bed kit. Use an impact gun to tighten the bolts. Reinstall the rear sill bar, attaching it with indented hex head bolts, provided with new bed kits, or reuse the originals. Tighten the bolts with the impact gun.
Fit the edge boards, from the Chevy bed kit, under the angle trim at the sides of the bed. On a Stepside, these will be one long piece, from the back of the cab, to the rear sill bar. Fit the end of the boards into the open channel on the front side of the sill bar. Fit a bolt through each hole in the angle trim and in the rear sill bar. Fit a nut and washer onto each bolt, leaving them loose for adjustment.
Fit the remaining boards, with bolt strips between them, into the bed. Position the bolt strips with their turned-down edges in the grooves along the long edges of the boards. Lift the bed onto the truck and fit the spacers in place at each bed to frame bolt. Thread the bed to frame bolts through the holes, fit each with a washer and nut and tighten them with the impact gun.
Fit a bolt through each hole in each bolt strip, threading them through the holes in the frame straps underneath. Fit a washer and nut onto each bolt. Once all bolts are in place, tighten them with the impact gun.
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