SuperDuty Restoration - My First Paint Job - Two Years Later

Last Modified : Mar 30, 2021
My old Superduty

In July 2014, I decided it was time to fix up my old truck. It wasn't really an old truck to me - I actually daily drove this thing around. I found this jewel sitting out back behind the dealer I work for.It wasn't much to look at, but had the mighty old and strong 7.3L with a 6 speed manual transmission attached to it. It was love at first sight. A few years later and here we are. I'll give you the whole story... but be warned there are plenty of pictures included!

In July 2014, I decided it was time to fix up my old truck. It wasn't really an old truck to me - I actually daily drove this thing around. I'll give you a little bit of the backstory now... I went through some major life changing situations a few years back. Such as divorce, bankruptcy, child birth, remarriage, job change, you name it. In the process of it all, I was forced to get rid of the vehicles I had. I worked for the Ford dealer at this time and found this jewel of a truck sitting out back. Someone traded it in and was in such poor condition the dealer never got around to completely fixing and relisting it for sale.

It wasn't much to look at, but had the mighty old and strong 7.3L with a 6 speed manual transmission attached to it. I was in love at first sight. The price was also pretty attractive to me because it was affordable and I could stuff my kids into the back seats. (Side note: Turns out, you don't need to stuff anything into the backseats - there is so much room!) I'm also a homeowner, so the idea of an 8ft bed was pretty enticing since my little F150 only had 5.5ft bed. It's a very early 1999 so that has been something I have had to deal with throughout this adventure.

I call it Frankenstein

It's hard to imagine, but the truck looked worse when I bought it than in that picture. That picture was taken about a year after I purchased the truck - by the time that picture was taken I already had done several minor things to it like tint the windows, added the mirror, changed wheels and tires and cleaned it. It was so horrendously dirty.

How dirty? Ridiculously dirty. It took hours of scrubbing the paint with a sponge to get the baked on dirt off of it. Not like the paint looked much better down underneath the dirt though. The interior was trashed except for the new seats that came with it. Grease prints everywhere even the headliner. I'm fairly certain they used it as a trash truck, but I know they also used it to haul off a mess from a roofing job. The floor used the rubber mat but it had been replaced before and horribly cut around interior pieces.

The previous owner really used this thing like a truck, no doubt about it. He was the first and only owner until me. The doors and fenders were so bad they replaced them with a truck they scrapped out (hence the white stripped fenders). It also received other random used parts throughout. After learning all of this, I nicknamed this truck Frankenstein.

Frankie and I had a good run. I received some dirty looks and eerie stares but it definitely was eye catching - well, maybe, more like an eye sore. I had lots of work to do mechanically before ever touching anything on the body. Over the next year, I replaced steering gear & hose, brakes pads and rotors front and back, parking brakes and cables, brake lines, air conditioning, injectors, fuel drain, high pressure feed fittings, injector pressure regulator.. seems like the list goes on and on.

SuperDuty Rusted Bed
Even after fixing all those things, it was still just an eye sore. I decided now was the time to do something about it. I've never painted an entire vehicle before. Dabbled in painting a few times, the largest project being a motorcycle. I felt likeit coule be done but my budget was small. The truck has some serious rust issues. I decided fixing the cab corners on a budget wasn't ideal, but it is what it is. The rocker panel and cab corners on both sides needed to be replaced and it just wasn't going to happen. No doubt the bed needed to be replaced. The picture shows just how rotten the bed rails were. I purchased one from a 2013 SuperDuty from my work and even wrote an article about how to Swap Beds.

The take off bed comes white. With my fixed budget in mind, I decided the best course of action would be to paint the cab to match. The factory paint is much better than anything I'd lay down as a novice painter and would save me several hours prep work. That's too bad though - Grabber Blue would have been pretty neat.

Starting the Project

I needed to come up with a way to fix the cab corners. I obviously knew that filling the crap out of the hole with Bondo body filler would be a horrible idea. I have seen many people try that strategy but too often it fails fast, sometimes in mere months! I pondered over what I should do for days; I had so many ideas. Eventually, I asked myself "What about fiberglass mat and resin?".

I made up my mind pretty quickly. I decided to do it: What do I have to lose? Fiberglass resin and mat would hold up so much better than regular body filler. Since I decided to stick with white paint for my budget restoration project, I contemplated doing a two-tone paint job. Nothing I really wanted to tackle right now, but maybe in the future. I figured if I have to redo my cheap fiberglass cab corner job in a few years (the right way by welding in sheet metal replacements) I would add the 2nd tone around the bottom of the truck of whatever color I choose.

SuperDuty Painted Bed Frame

So it began... I removed the bed by grinding off the old bed bolts and even sold that rusty old bed on Craigslist for a couple hundred bucks. Have no fear: I was honest with the purchaser about the condition. Starting with the now exposed frame under the bed, I cleaned it all up with a power washer and using wire brushes attachments on a die grinder. I purchased a half-gallon of Rustoleum Hammered and brushed the paint onto the frame. Years later the frame paint is holding up nicely.

Cab Corner Expansion Foam filled

I cut the rusty cancer of the cab corners off and coated the inside with some POR51, grind all the paint off the exterior. Then carefully created a backing out of expanding foam using cardboard as a form on the outsides of the cab corners. The form had a hole in the middle for filling with the foam and space in the inside for draining water. After filling the hole with the gooey stuff, it took some time to let it harden and expand.

Using a knife, I made some rough cuts and carving of the foam and proceeded to sand all the paint off the metal body about 7 inches in all directions from where the patch was, which wrapped around the back of the cab.

Cab Corner Sanded

Started apply the fiberglass mat and resin in layers that overlapped the previous layer and always contacted metal body. Sand and repeat. I wrapped the fiberglass mat around the backside of the cab corner for extra strength. I think this repair lasted as long as it did because the resin and mat had so much to hold onto for repair. Finally filled the minor imperfections and feathered into the body with body filler, then applied a sandable primer.

Superduty ready for paint.

I did all the prep work, removed the windows, door seals, door handles, ect. When the windows were removed, the wife and I used that time to learn how to tint our windows. I hate tint - I've done it several times. I hate it everytime.

My paint booth was my garage. There was no ventalation system. I used a respirator though. It was cleaned the best I could. I wrapped everything and taped plastic to the interior where the door seals sit to allow me to paint the door jambs. It was decided, reluctantly, to do the roof and hood in a separate paint session outside due to low ceiling.

I sprayed it. It turned out better than I thought. The photo is a wash. Got to add my first full painted vehicle to my belt. I notice all my little mistakes. A few small runs on the door, a little light on the clear coat in a few spots. I had about $500 bucks in this painting project (not including the bed). Overall, I'm very pleased.

Superduty ready for paint.

Thankfully white hides imperfections well. All that was left was to attach the new bed, rewire it, and pick up some new tires, and I would later splice in some new carpet from a single cab truck. Two years later the paint hasn't curled, the fiberglass hasn't fallen off, and I'm still feeling pretty good.

You can check out some more pictures in my Vehicle Collection.

So that's my story. What is your story? I would love to hear it!! Feel free to contact us.