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Old 10-03-2020, 12:11 PM   #1
revenski
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Default 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

I have a question regarding the original finish on the bed wooden floor in the 1938 One Ton Express truck. I never found anything specific on this issue. The Tonners are different than many other trucks (especially the ton pickups) that had a metal floor that may have additionally been covered with wood. The Ford Tonner had no metal floor, only the wooden planking with wooden cross supports. I have a couple of Ford publicity pictures that clearly show the underside of the floor as having no paint on the bed wood or cross supports. However, I never found any pictures clearly showing the top of the bed floor.

What was the factory finish on the bed wood and skid strips? Were they painted? If so, what color? I know that some manufacturers may have painted the bed wood and skid strips black. Or alternatively, the wood may have been treated with lampblack and linseed oil.

Based on what I could determine from my truck as it came to me, I finished the bed floor in clear spar varnish with stainless steel skid strips (which are what is available). I had only one small piece of the flooring about 2 feet long that showed no signs of paint or color anywhere. The steel skid strips which were all badly rusted also showed no signs of paint or having been protected in any way. Just for information, I am attaching a couple of pictures of what my truck's original parts looked like.

What I am really looking for at this point is original information from Ford on this matter. I have copies of the original salesman's manual, the Green Bible, the sales booklet, a number of adds, Jim Wagner's book and some other documents. Where else should I be looking?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Bed Strips.jpg (81.6 KB, 41 views)
File Type: jpg Bed Wood.jpg (69.3 KB, 35 views)
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Old 10-03-2020, 01:41 PM   #2
Zeke3
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

I love your truck! You ought to write James Wagner, his address is listed in the V-8 Times magazine in the Car-espondence section. The other possibility is to contact the Benson Ford Research Center to see how they could help.
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Old 10-03-2020, 02:18 PM   #3
revenski
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

I've contacted the Benson Ford Research Center for specific info relative to my truck, but they could do little because the appropriate records were destroyed in the 1970 fire, However, I will try again with this general inquiry. Also, I will definitely try James Wagner. Thank you.
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Old 10-03-2020, 03:06 PM   #4
GB SISSON
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

Back in the 90s when I had my 38 tonner I got Wagner's phone number from directory assistance and we had a nice conversation. He seemed genuinely interested in my project, and together we determined that mine had been a factory demonstrator just like yours. As for my thoughts on bed wood and bed strips, I think they were both painted body color. I had a near perfect original '53 F350 9' box that I installed on a '59 flatbed a few years back. It had all the original wood and strips and plenty of the same blue paint as the steel portions of the box. There is no doubt in my mind that in '53 the big pickups had body color strips and wood. Now it's time to contact Mr. Wagner.
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Old 10-04-2020, 12:55 AM   #5
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

I’ll second/third/fourth the suggestion to contact Mr. Wagner. I visited the Benson Ford library to do some of my own research several years ago and was told that Mr. Wagner volunteers there on Thursdays each week. He lives in Michigan. Knowing this I wrote him on a different subject more recently. He suggested I write the library with my question, and pay their fee which I did. Turned out he is the person who did my archive search, and found me engineering drawings of the wheel (7RC 1015) I was seeking help with. Over that span of weeks I exchanged emails with Mr. Wagner and can attest that he is a super nice guy.

I’ll agree with Gary. The bed floors were painted body color. I also believe I’ve seen on the Express beds I’ve had (‘38 to ‘52 are the same bed with different fender stud locations) that the undersides were natural wood with overspray around the perimeter where the guy on the line bent over just far enough to spray the edges of the metal sides. That might be another question for Mr. Wagner. Stu
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Old 10-04-2020, 08:22 AM   #6
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

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Thanks guys. I'm off again to the Benson Ford with my question and to James Wagner directly.
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Old 10-05-2020, 02:24 AM   #7
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

I don't know how the factory painted the bed on your 38 Tonner, but I can offer some thoughts on what they did on my 40 Tonner. This truck was a one owner low mileage vehicle when it came to me so I think that what was there was unmolested OEM Ford factory product. Photos 1 and 2 show the bed before removal. There was evidence of the body color green on both the steel strips and the bed wood. Photo 3 shows a section of the bedwood where the hold down washers are placed. Note that the wood which was under the washers is also green which leads me to believe that the wood was painted prior to anchoring the bed to the frame. Photos 4 and 5 show one of the wood crossmembers that supported the bedwood. After cleaning off the crud the exposed wood appeared to be covered with a coat of red primer then painted green as the rest of the bed. That red primer also showed up on other crossmembers. I think that the crossmembers were primed elsewhere then painted green as an assembled unit since the top of the crossmember had no green paint. There was evidence of green paint on the bottom of the bedwood close to the front of the bed. No primer evident on either the top or the bottom of the bedwood, but traces on the metal strips. I think the bed and all bed wood were painted top and bottom in the body color while off the truck. This guess at how the bedwood was painted using what forensic evidence was still there isn't cast in stone and I would like to hear how it was actually done.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg BED-1.jpg (63.2 KB, 35 views)
File Type: jpg BED-2.jpg (62.3 KB, 32 views)
File Type: jpg BED-3.jpg (20.9 KB, 33 views)
File Type: jpg BED-4.jpg (49.4 KB, 32 views)
File Type: jpg BED-5.jpg (29.0 KB, 29 views)
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Old 10-05-2020, 07:15 AM   #8
revenski
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

Wow! I really appreciate your detailed account of what you personally experienced. The bed on my truck when I got it looked quite different than yours, and I was able to determine little from it. My bed also had clear signs of modifications and had been beaten up a bit.
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File Type: jpg DSC_3771.JPG (171.7 KB, 18 views)
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Old 10-05-2020, 10:35 AM   #9
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

Not exactly early v8 but in the mid seventies my Grandfather bought a new step side short box F 150. The bed floor was wood and painted black like the rest of the truck, the wood had the texture of rough sawn cedar which surprised me.
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Old 10-05-2020, 10:39 AM   #10
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by revenski View Post
Wow! I really appreciate your detailed account of what you personally experienced. The bed on my truck when I got it looked quite different than yours, and I was able to determine little from it. My bed also had clear signs of modifications and had been beaten up a bit.

Your bed looks similar. Attached are photos of how I approached the reconstruction of the bedwood and installation of the bed. I was able to reuse all but one of the OEM wood crossmembers. For the deckwood I opted to use Apitong which is a hardwood that we put on the decks of our lowbed and trailers. I was fortunate to have the original deckwood to use for patterns. The metal hold down deck runners came from Northwest or Macks - can't remember which. All wood surfaces were liberally coated with Tung oil before being installed. I kept the original bedwood and can send you those dimensions if the sheet metal on your bed is the same as mine which it looks to be. Try to salvage those large washers that anchor the bed to the frame. I think they're unique. The other hardware that anchors the metal runners which hold down the bedwood to the crossmembers are carriage bolts that came in the kit with the metal runners.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg BED-6A.jpg (70.6 KB, 26 views)
File Type: jpg BED-7A.jpg (53.9 KB, 28 views)
File Type: jpg BED-8A.jpg (56.1 KB, 29 views)
File Type: jpg BED-9A.jpg (58.5 KB, 32 views)
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Old 10-05-2020, 02:12 PM   #11
revenski
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

I'm actually asking this question after the fact. I completed my truck in June of 2019. I had nothing in the way of wood to use for templates either for the floor or the crossmembers and very little in the way of hardware, none of which was reusable. I did manage to find all of the original style hardware from a couple of different sources. I found crossmembers at Bruce Hokey's that were very close to correct and that I modified as needed. The bed wood for which I chose oak was relatively easy to do. The two outer boards took a bit to get exactly the right curves around the wheel tubs. The skid strips are stainless from Mac Hills, and the wood is finished in 10 coats of spar varnish, gloss on the top and semi-gloss on the bottom.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg WP_20190412_15_26_44_Pro.jpg (64.8 KB, 19 views)
File Type: jpg U1b.jpg (54.6 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg Bed2b.jpg (85.0 KB, 19 views)
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Old 10-14-2020, 08:16 PM   #12
GB SISSON
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

Not to flog a dead horse, but I was looking through some really old pics last night and came across this. It's the 9' bed I mentioned earlier. You can see it was originally a lighter greenish blue. Not the royal blue you mostly see. But on close inspection the underneath colors match on wood and metal strips.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 9'box blue.jpg (55.3 KB, 20 views)
File Type: jpg 9' box inside.jpg (71.5 KB, 18 views)
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'47 1/2 ton pickup next project, '47 one ton panel 99% stock nearing completion, '47 2 ton with 8ba and 9' script stakebed, '46 1/2 ton woodie project,'59 F350 9' flareside pickup with cummins 6at. 'Rusty ol' floorboards, hot on their feet' (Alan Jackson)
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Old 10-15-2020, 10:47 AM   #13
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Default Re: 1938 Tonner Bed Floor Question

GB - Always good to hear from you. Thanks for the pictures.
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