Nine Rules to Follow When Restoring an Old Truck

It is said that you can build a new house in half the time and at half the cost of renovating an existing old house.  The same applies when restoring an old truck.  With the novice restorer in mind, I have made this list of rules to follow when undertaking the restoration of your classic old drive...

Back in the late nineteen eighties I dreamt of restoring a classic sports car.  My budget then was minimal and after a little research I found, to my surprise that my dream was outside my financial reach. Widening my search I found that I could afford of an old truck. I bought my 1938 International in 1995 and once I had it at home wondered what do I do next.  I asked numerous questions of friends and work associates to help me find a lead.  Now that I am a long way down that road I have made up a list of rules which need to be followed in order to alleviate some of the problems I came across.

 1)  Record all physical data from the truck.  such as manufacturer, chassis number, model number, load rating, engine number.  This is a starting point when looking for parts, specific information and  contacts. Also, If possible record any history/life story of the truck from the previous owner.

2)  Photograph the whole truck from all angles before dismantling and during each phase of the dismantling process.  This identifies which part goes where and in which order it goes when reassembling. You don't want to reassemble your truck after spending all that time, effort and expense to find you left off a vital bracket or panel which has now gone missing.

3)  Don't let someone else dismantle your truck without you supervising them.    It's  guaranteed that they will get carried away with moment and chuck everything into the one dark corner where it gets lost.  I speak from experience. The mechanic whom I entrusted with my truck lost the radiator and bumper bar - both items impossible to source in reasonable condition.

4)  Keep all related parts together.  Reassembly is much easier when all associated bits and pieces are at hand together in the same container.  Put the parts in a suitably labelled zip-lok bag, if small enough or in a box/container large enough to fit all the parts.      

5)  Keep a log of the process and photograph the progress.  This records the history of the restoration and it helps to keep your sanity. And, when asked 'how's it all going' you have a something to show.

6)  Join online forums and take part in the quest for the information that's out there.  Ask questions irrespective.  If you need a part, or need info on how to go about doing something because it's rusted on or it broke of there is someone out there who has the answer and is willing to help you.  If you don't ask you'll never know.

7)  Go to online sites like Ebay, Craig's List etc. when looking for parts, parts trucks, manuals etc., any thing that relates to your truck and compare what's on offer, compare prices,  watch and learn and if you like what you see, make bid if you want.

8) Budget.  You do need to have some idea what you are prepared to pay and then triple it.  That way you won't be too disappointed, when at the end of the day, you've spent far in excess of what you originally dreamed.

9) Have fun. Enjoy the journey as the restoration progresses, drive your finished truck with pride and share the knowledge you've gained with others who have yet to realise the dream you are now living.


1st scssts classic truck show 0131938 International model D15R still undergoing restoration, on show at SCAATS 2011