Rust: we hate it. Unfortunately for us, our Midwest-based '92 F-150 was sporting quite a bit of the cursed stuff. Not only that, but it seems that somewhere along the line the previous owner had sent the truck to a hack body shop for a low-buck redo, so there was a shocking amount of rapidly cracking body filler partying with the corrosion. We couldn't take it anymore.
Our first call was to Erick Wells at Vintage Iron & Design in Monroe, Wisconsin. Wells is an expert body and paint technician who also happens to be a 'wheeler. He has a reputation for quality work, and he's well-versed in all disciplines of bodywork from standard collision repair and complete restorations to off-the-hook custom painting of vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles ... well, you name it. After thoroughly inspecting our rig, Wells gravely agreed with us that the Redhead was one rusty wench. We outlined that we wanted the rust to go away, but we also noted that first and foremost, the Redhead is a work truck. Wells understood and recommended replacing the rusty and dented body panels before applying a tough paint job that would look great while withstanding our abuse.
When it came to body panels it was a no-brainer to call the folks at LMC Truck. LMC is an established company that has been in business for more than 20 years. If you've never laid eyes on LMC's catalogs, you need to, because they're a sight to behold for truck fans. The folks at LMC offer tens of thousands of standard and hard-to-find parts for all major makes and models of trucks. In addition, they also offer a full line of accessories. It's safe to say that you could almost build a complete truck from the parts inventory, from windshield glass and trim to bed bolts. All of the replacement body parts we ordered were made from quality steel overseas. In our opinion, the fit and finish of all the parts were as good as OEM. That's impressive. Not only is it convenient to order from LMC, but the prices are right. If OEM body-part prices scare the heck out of you, LMC Truck prices will take you to your happy place.
The last piece of the puzzle was to call the team at Keystone Automotive in Dubuque, Iowa. They are one of 136 Keystone stores in the U.S. and Canada. These guys know intimately what it takes to prep and refinish a vehicle and they sell every item needed to get the job done. They sell to walk-in customers as well as dealerships and body shops. We outlined our plan, and they sent everything we needed to get the job done from tape to paint.
This month we detail the cab and front end refinishing up to the application of primer.
Bodywork is inherently slow and tedious, and on top of that it requires years of experience to do it right. With deadlines hanging over our head like a guillotine, and the ever-present realization that hogging a bay at Vintage Iron & Design isn't a good thing for them, we assembled a Dream Team of experienced body technicians to swarm our project in an effort to complete the restoration as soon as possible. Many thanks go out to this team for giving up seven Saturdays and many weekdays of their lives in trade for pizza and our sunny disposition. They are: (front row, l to r) Jon Wise, Craig Schiller, Erick and Summer Wells, Chris Gerrits, and Roger Wells; (back row, l to r) James Wells, Jared Pulver, and Adam Reihl.
In the next installment of "Project Fiery Redhead," we complete the cab restoration and we show you how we installed new bedsides, inner fenders, and tailgate. Of course, we'll also show you the eye-popping finished product.