Dec 292016

Not a lot of posts in the 2nd half of 2016 but I did get a lot of work done during the summer. Garage time tends to curtail once football season starts but this is just a hobby for now so that is to be expected. I decided to start on the body work of the truck. It may not be the correct item to work on next but it is the part of the process I am the most interested in right now. I thought I was starting small by picking the fenders to work first. I quickly realized I was probably wrong. There was a lot of damage hidden under the paint on these fenders as you will see in the pictures. One had at least a quarter inch of body filler to poorly fix a previous wreck.

I used the same process as detailed in my post where I painted the hood on my son’s car. The only real difference is that I took the fenders all the way to bare metal while the e-coating on the hood was mostly left intact. This required an additional step for protecting the metal using a self-etching primer. And since this is for my treasured truck project I spent a lot more time on the metal work to make sure I get the best results possible.

I spent over forty hours on each fender and they are not in final color yet. Not really much else to say so I will just post a bunch of pictures as proof that I am actually working on this thing.



This doesn’t look too bad, just some old ugly brown paint.



The only visible damage. Nothing a little welding can’t fix. This metal is thin so flux mig welding will not work. A great excuse to upgrade to a gas mig welder.



That’s a lot of body filler.



What have I gotten my self into. Hours of dolly and hammer ahead.



One tear repaired.



Body work complete. A lot less body filler required this time around.



3 coats of Self Etching Primer applied.



3 coats of primer. Sand with 180 grit. 3 more coats of primer. Sand with 240 grit.



3 more coats of primer. Sand with 400 grit.



Wet sand with 600 grit. Hard to tell from the picture but the wet part gives you a good idea how smooth the final coat could be.



The second fender after wet sanding. I tried to sand without water but I found the water sped up the process quite a bit. It prevented the sandpaper from clogging.


I have since corrected a few spots and have the parts ready for color. I decided to wait and paint all the parts all at once. I need to decide which part to prep next. Maybe something more flat like the hood or front fenders but that will have to wait until the spring when temperatures are constantly warming. Maybe I will tear down the engine and get it ready for the machine shop this winter. I cant promise that I will post more next year but I will keep working on it.


 Posted by at 3:39 pm
Apr 262015

Between the cold, the heat, the rain and the NBA playoffs there are endless distractions to keep me out of the garage. Getting started is the hard part. I shook off the winter blues and started today. But wait, the winter months generated a nice layer of clutter on top of all the parts and tools. Three hours later… I get started again. Now where was I. Ah yes, brakes lines and the missing brake distribution block. Of all the parts I figured I could not buy new this is not one of them. A quick internet search and quickly I realize I really need to find this thing or I will be wading through junk yards for countless hours. So I spent another two hours looking through every box of parts that came off the truck. I was sad to find that I didn’t remember removing more than a few of them. There were many exclamations of “Hope I took a picture of that thing before I took it off!” I finally found the part and of course it was in the very last box. Small victories! With part in hand I think my schedule is still intact. Next time I will get some serious work down!

Here is confirmation of a successful treasure hunt along with a bonus master cylinder:


Brake Distribution Block

 Posted by at 9:13 pm
Jan 032015

Happy New Year!

I don’t like resolutions but this post’s timing is too coincidental to not be influenced by the ritual. So here is hoping I don’t quit posting before I quit the gym…

I completed the tear down of the truck a few months ago and as I reviewed all I had done I only had one thought. “Oh my god, what have I done.” Then the doubt spread. Did I need to take it all apart, really every single nut and bolt? Will I be able to put it back together, I will never be able to put it back together! Then I started to breath again and got my heart rate under control and the panic attack subsided.

So now I literally have 4000 lbs of rusty, greasy and dirty parts all over the place. They exist in the garage, attic, shed and backyard. So lets start putting things back together! But wait, they need to be cleaned and re-finished before they can be put back on. I threw a wide range of cleaning techniques and a variety of products with just  as wide a range of results. I will try to list them all here as I remember them.


  • Pressure washer – great for removing loose grime and rust from larger parts like frame and suspension.
  • Wire brush, good for the smaller parts and removing deep crusted grime in combination with de-greasing agents (see Chemicals section below)
  • Angle grinder, its versatility is only limited by the variety of disks you can use with it.
    • Wire wheel, these can take off rust, grime, paint and… well, everything. There is a size and shape for just about every need.
    • Grinding wheel, good for knocking down un-wanted welds and metal damage.
    • Cut-off wheel, great for removing parts that did not come from the factory and bolts that have forgotten the “lefty loosy” part of their design.
    • Stripping disc, strips things, like rust and stuff.
  • Sand Blaster, I used a light duty one for parts that I want to take back to a nice clean finish or just to have fun.
  • Sand paper, its sand paper, it sands things and comes in a billion different grits.
  • Scotch Brite pads, good for wet and dry scrubbing and prepping painted surfaces for additional coating.
  • Rock tumbler, cleans nuts and bolts as good as it cleans and smooths rocks.


  • Simple Green, this stuff at full strength is potent. I used it to soak deeply grimed pieces and as part of a slurry with the rock tumbler with nice results.
  • Gunk Engine Cleaner, specifically the gel variety. Takes care of the greasy, oily stuff.
  • Soap and water, a good environmentally friendly detergent for light cleaning.
  • Alcohol, for prepping before painting.
  • KBS Coatings, Rust Seal system. Found this as an affordable alternative to sand blasting and powder coating. A detailed review is coming soon.

So the shelves in the garage are a little more crowded with cleaning tools and chemicals but more importantly there are parts ready to put back together! Thanks for reading, I will leave you with pictures…


Bare, naked, very clean frame.

Bare Naked Clean Frame

Before and after a little wire wheel cleaning. The safety equipment viewed here is essential. That wheel has tasted blood and it thirsts for more.



Just a little wire wheel cleaning

A little farm style modification. Angle iron to help support the bumper for a little more towing power. These non-oem parts will not be seen again.
Rear Frame Added Towing Support

The last parts to come off. The entire front suspension. Some will be cleaned and reused, some will be replaced with new parts. Stamped steel parts are cheaper than I expected.
Front Suspension

 Posted by at 9:20 pm
Nov 072014

I am sure we have all heard the saying but it seems to ring true in so many situations. It becomes extremely relevant when taking on as large a task as completely rebuilding a vehicle. Obviously you need the right tools and expertise but you also need a plan. Let’s face it, planning is a skill in its self and some people just don’t have it. Not to fear, like any skill it can be learned and even augmented by tools. Spreadsheets and whiteboards have been the planners best friend for a long time and there are workbooks published specifically for rebuilding a car. I have been a fan of Trello since i discovered it several years ago and I have been looking for a good excuse to put it through its paces. I plan on tracking this project there and in public so if you feel like checking it out you can search for the first phase “D150 – Rolling Chassis” and follow along.
One bite at a time







Speaking of phases, this rebuild will be broken down into three separate phases each with its own budget.

  • Rolling Chassis – Projected completion spring 2015 – $2000
  • Body and Interior – Projected completion spring 2016 – $3000
  • Engine and drive train – Projected completion spring 2017 – $5000

So what is the goal? Is the spring 2017 significant? I am glad you asked because it is. There is an event put on by HotRod Magazine every year called the Power Tour. Click here for a recap of the 2014 edition. My son will graduate high school in 2017 and I thought taking him and this truck on a tour of a portion of America with a bunch of like minded car lovers would be the experience of a lifetime. Maybe you could join us! See you soon with more updates.

 Posted by at 1:04 pm
Sep 022014

Sorry Number 5, this truck has already been disassembled. I am just now getting around to talking about the tear down process. I will not bore you with all the details of taking a vehicle completely apart. Most people will never try, most are not stupid enough to consider it. Maybe I will drop a post with a lot of pictures of the tear down.

The process is rather simple.

  1. Take pictures
  2. Lefty loosy
  3. Put it in a bag
  4. Label it
  5. Take more pictures
  6. Find a place to store it
  7. Find a place to store it that does not piss off the wife

As a drive way mechanic growing up I could not always afford new parts. Junk yards aren’t that scary just make sure you are up on your shots. Could not always afford special tools. Did not always have the patience to adhere to safe practices. I managed to grow up and get a good job so I can afford all those things I could not before. Patience, not so much.

I apologize and recommend you do not do what I am about to show you. I am embarrassed to even share these but maybe someone will learn from my mistakes, even if I do not. Keep in mind these pictures are about 5 years old (2009) so I can safely say I would never attempt this ever again.


Tear down had finally reached the point to where the cab needed to be removed. I don’t have a lift, crane or fork lift capable of lifting the cab off of the frame. What I did have was a jack, landscape timbers, a butt load of loose paver stones and a bunch of people willing to help (or witness a new level of fail).


Yes, i did that and surprisingly we all survived.

Cheated death again! All the spectators were truly disappointed there was no blood. Landscape timbers have so many uses, but not for fence posts, just stop Pulte!

My sister expresses her approval of a job well done.

I hope you have all learned a lesson, I sure have, maybe.

 Posted by at 11:22 pm
Jul 252014

I have had years to think on what I want to do with this truck. At first I thought I would shoot for the moon and make a show car. Really, have you ever seen a Dodge D-150 show car. Exactly, so lets not go there. This is my first frame off restore so really how long and how far do I want to go. Since I don’t want this project to be the only restore I complete in my life I figure it should be simple and just finish it. So I will learn my lessons and apply them to the next project. Since I am not really working to resell the finished product and I have plans for future restores then it makes sense for this to end up being a shop truck. This does not mean it needs to be boring. The fellas at Gas Monkey Garage have recently advanced the idea that the shop truck should still be a cool truck that anyone would love to drive. Big engine, big power, low, fast and loud. Here are a few examples.


So that’s what I am going to do with this truck. Lower it, stroke the 360LA to 408, swap the 3 speed auto for a 4 speed manual transmission, bigger rims and a loud exhaust. There are a few custom items but a lot fewer than when I first started: remove the window wing and replace with solid door glass, custom dash, grill and since this is Texas an updated AC unit. Here are a few inspirational pictures of a 78 Warlock.

 Posted by at 1:55 pm
Jun 092014

So here is the truck. It is a 1984 Dodge D-150 step-side short-bed.

These trucks were designed for work. Most of them ended up seeing a lot of hard times but you would be amazed at how durable these trucks truly are. This particular truck was not a farm truck or a trailer hauler. No, its destiny was even more challenging… A teenagers first car, not once, but twice. A good friend of mine and his younger brother both drove this as their first car all through high school. I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. Once the boys were done with it, it sat for quite a while. Then I decided I had to have it. They sold it to me cheap and I actually drove it for awhile. It was a good driving truck, just not a good daily driving truck due to the fact it was a little mpg challenged.

So what do I do with this thing. It’s not going to be a commuter and I don’t live on a farm but everyone can use a truck. I decided to tear it down and see what makes it tick. I grew up taking apart just about everything else mechanical I have ever owned so why not this thing. If I can’t put it back together I’m not out any real money and maybe finally I would learn the lesson I never did growing up.

I want to keep each of these posts short and since I actually started tearing the truck apart over five years ago I will not be in a rush trying to get the documentation caught up all at once. Needless to say, the truck is completely apart. It was a great learning experience. Writing about it here will be another form of learning. Next time I will tell you what the plan is on putting it back together. In future posts I hope to talk about the tools, products and skill used to do all the work.

 Posted by at 11:25 pm