2023 Summer Project

2023 Summer Project

After focusing over the last few years on the mechanicals of the grain trucks (wheel rims/tires, brakes, starters, carburetors, exhaust etc.), I decided it was time for a refresh of the exteriors and started on a summer project to do so, to get ready for the fall harvest.

Project Results (Before and After)

Click to expand the photos:

1968 Chevrolet C60
1972 GMC C6500
1967 Mercury M700
Custom Dump Trailer

The Chevy took the longest. All new (recycled) plywood (and posts) on the box inside and out occupied my August, and cab body work most of September.

Chevy In Action
The Chevy in action last fall and this summer in wheat.

I started the GMC last, and the transformation was more noticeable. Rotten rack boards and holes in the box (and cab body work) required a lot of work. The cab was originally white, but got painted all red in 1993, and dad redid it with a brush ~15 years ago. I think it has sort of a “Massey Ferguson” vibe now.

GMC In Action
The GMC in action, fall 2018

The restoration on the Mercury is not quite “complete”, but it’s still a good transformation so far. I have plans for the Mercury, and need a bit more time to do it properly. I am wanting to return the cab to the proper colour code that was available for Mercury in 1967.

1967 “Vintage Burgundy” on a 1967 Mercury M100.
Mercury interior
The interior of the Mercury is in good shape, so it’s worth fixing up the exterior.
Mercury in Action
The Mercury in action, fall 2020

The trailer needed 3 rusted out posts repaired, rust remover spray, and then a good sanding and thick primer to level out the layers of paint. It also was a good unit to try out the HVLP paint sprayer for the first time.

Trailer in Action
The trailer in action in wheat this summer

Project Process

First step was a new ‘Turbo’ attachment for the pressure washer, billed as a ‘paint stripper’.

Plywood after ‘turbo’ pressure washer and wire-wheel drum sander.
A reminder to wear long sleeves and a dust mask.

The old plywood on the Chevy was pretty rotten around the edges, so priming it with a good oil-based primer, and sealing the bottom edge was in order, along with starting to create ‘panels’ (plywood + 1×6 pine boards) to cover the seams up on the outside.

The 1/4″ plywood used for the panels was salvaged from a bathroom reno (yes, bathroom – an addition to my house in the 1950’s and gutted in 2015). The back side has various shades of multilayered paint from years of bathroom refreshes, so for consistency and sealing the ‘new’ unpainted side, which would now be facing out, I used Zinsser Cover Stain oil-based primer-sealer.

Indoor assembly line for the ‘base boards’ (primed and sealed).

The interior of the old plywood on the Chevy also needed some work. Fixing the hole, priming and more panels to ‘sandwich’ the old plywood and rotten seams did the trick.

I also a added a new pressure-treated post where the hole on the left side was.

Back to the exterior of the Chevy and creating 14 plywood panels to cover the existing plywood for increased rigidity. When you’re working by yourself, you get creative on how to hold the bolts still while tightening the nuts on the inside of the box.

I moved the Chevy indoors to beat the heat and the rain, finishing the interior. It required lots more bolts, caulking, and primer on the interior and exterior.

I added new posts on the exterior and interior (and even more bolts) to shore up the tailgate attachment.

After getting the Chevy box ready for paint, I switched over to repair mode on the trailer. Lots of rust to remove and three posts to repair. Turbo pressure washer, “Krud Kutter” spray and sanding / wire-wheel for the rust, and welding for the posts.

Three posts and rust to repair.

With the rust and holes repaired, I tested out the HVLP paint sprayer by priming the trailer. I then applied caulking to the seams that collect water, causing the majority of the rust.

Having dialed in the HVLP paint sprayer with the primer on the trailer, I switched back to paint on the Chevy box. The Chevy primer was rolled or brushed on prior to removing it from the shed. The front and back on the box didn’t get primed. I didn’t think it was needed.

I was impressed how shiny the (dry) paint was still the next day,

I switched back to the trailer to finish up the paint. It took quite a bit more than the Chevy box.

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I missed a spot, oops. Brushed it on afterwards.

Turbo pressure washing the Mercury removed loose paint as well as the patina on the hardwood box racks. Oil-based primer on the wood and rust primer on the rest was in order. I also tried a new product, “Surf-Pro Rust Buster Primer” on the tailgate. I then painted the wood racks light grey, then masked them off and gave the primed surfaces a light sanding before the final paint on the box itself.

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I painted the bumper with a small roller (and foam brush) later.

After turbo pressure washing the GMC, it was apparent the 2″x10″ rack boards weren’t going to cut it, so I removed them. I then filled holes in (non-structural) posts with expanding foam and paintable silicone caulking. I also had to wire-wheel and sand before and then after the primer to smooth out the rough paint before the final coat.

Repairing posts with expanding foam, primer and caulking (after rust remover spray).
I also took the opportunity to fix interior holes with 6 inch rubberized aluminum exterior flashing tape.

Some serious grinding (silicon carbide grinder attachment) was needed on the hood of the Chevy. The surface rust pock marks had been painted over twice in the last thirty years (no holes on the top at least). Covered it over with high-build primer, ready for a few light sandings afterwards.

I also gave the box interior a spray coat of exterior latex paint to protect the plywood.

As summer moved into fall, next on the to-do list was creating new rack boards for the GMC. The previous ones were single 2″x10″ hardwood boards. The new ones were created from rough cut 1″x12″ boards that came from sugar beet wagons that my dad used starting in the 1950’s.

The assembly line was set up for creating two boards for each pocket to fit the brackets on the truck. Oil-based primer was brushed on the ‘good’ side of the outer boards, and then both sides and edges were painted with the HVLP latex paint sprayer in the barn.

I also brush-painted the GMC box rack brackets with a matching rust enamel.

I moved the Chevy into the barn so I could continue masking and sanding the cab with the hoist up. I also sanded the hood a few more times with high-build primer, filled holes with Bondo, and covered the running boards with rubberized rocker guard.

With the GMC in the shed, I was able to complete masking, sanding, Bondo body work (and more sanding), as well as caulking the seams on the cab and other cracks and holes with a paintable silicone caulking.

Both fenders on the GMC needed extensive Bondo body work.

After completing body work and more sanding, primer-sealer on the GMC and Chevy was in order.

After the primer on the GMC and Chevy, and the light sanding of spots that were showing loose paint or other anomalies, came the paint. The process was roof down, and hanging off the ladder over the windshield was tough. Once they dried, I drove them back into either the shed or the barn for unmasking.

With the green tape and red paint, it was like Christmas unmasking the trucks. 🙂

I removed the GMC grill before cab primer and paint this go around, returning it to the original white. It wasn’t removed 30 years ago when it was painted red with the rest of the cab (the cab was originally white too). It also made it easier to mask off the radiator with boxes I had.

After painting the cab on the GMC, I installed the rack boards, 2 per pocket. Once they were installed, I screwed them together with deck screws, touched up the paint and sealed the tops with grey Flextra thermoplastic rubber-based sealant.

The October rains allowed me time to finish up with the trim, mirrors, grills, and bumpers with semi-gloss rust enamel. 

I also added some reflective tape on the corners of the Chevy and GMC.
To finish it off, I installed a new chain (and flashing) on the Chevy.

The Pre-Harvest Lineup

Breaking the trucks out of the shed and barn, I decided to take a lineup pic (Thanks Mom!). It is very similar to the one I took 30 years ago…

Project Results
1993 Lineup
Same location, different direction. 30 years ago in 1993.

2023 Fall Harvest


I would like to thank those that have helped me over the years in the ongoing project of getting and keeping the trucks road-worthy.

  • Joe Wuest
  • Greg’s Tire
  • Larry’s Custom Exhaust
  • Preece Enterprises
  • Clayt’s Auto
  • Bruce Baker Automotive
  • Jim Owens
  • Terry Broom
  • Tony Denys

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