Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Bed Restoration And Rust Removal

The Project 4MyCrew 1978 Ford F-250 is just getting into the thick of it. At this point, we have acquired the truck and made a general plan, and the vehicle received a total color-correcting paint restoration. With that work done, we were able to make a deeper assessment of the entire vehicle and body panels. We identified the real problem areas and knew our project was going to require a significant amount of rust removal and an entire truck bed restoration.

Knowing the truck is now on its third owner and it has lived a long 45-year life, there are a few things that require attention. For our purposes, we want to preserve the character of this old truck, but at the same time give it new life. That means creating a lasting foundation to build from. For us, that means making this truck rust-free.

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Bed Restoration And Rust Removal

Body Panel Rust Removal And Metal Repair

We want to address the little problem areas before we move on to the rest of the build. Unlike many of the throw-away cars on the road today, back in 1978, automobiles were made to last. But they were not immune to the weathering of time. That goes double for this 1978 Ford truck. With a little know-how and meticulous metal craft, any cancerous corrosion that has occurred can be cut out and replaced with new material.

The problem areas of our 45-year-old 1978 F-250 Crew Cab Truck.

The project vehicle owner, Ivan Korda, made contact with @Fabricated By Eric in Atoka, Tennessee to handle the skilled metalwork. This included rust removal and metal fabrication on the vehicle roof drip rail, inner and outer lower door corners, passenger rear bedside, and a seriously focused truck bed restoration. 

Passenger Side Drip Rail Rust Removal Surgery

It takes meticulous craftsmanship to repair one of these vehicle roof drip rails and make it look like it was in original factory condition. Yes, bondo can make things easier, but that is not a worthy approach for a vehicle of this caliber. Thankfully the aftermarket restoration industry is thriving on keeping these old iron horses on the road. We searched around online and procured several repair panels needed.

The rust removal process on the roof’s side drip rail begins with using an abrasive to get down to clean metal. This step involves carefully removing the paint finish and surface rust so you can prepare the metal and mark off the area that will be cut away. Masking tape is used to create a template and a clean cut line. Eric then used several clamps to ensure the panel was secured in place.

Autobody work is made easy with patient experience and the proper tools.

A precision cut was made and the cancerous corroded area was isolated and freed from the rest of the roof panel. With the tape and clamps removed, the rusted panel was pulled. Eric used a rust-dissolving formula and applied it all over, around, and inside the exposed cavity. The area was then wiped clean.

Next, Eric masked off the vehicle body panels and sprayed the exposed metal inside the cavity with a protective anti-corrosion coating. At this point, the new patch panel was prepared to be put in place of the old one. But before that happened, that panel also received a protective coating. You can also see in the images below the new replacement that we sourced online has pre-determined holes for the spot welds.

All Patched Up

The new patch drip rail panel is being prepared to be mated to the rest of the roof. Note the bottom side of the patch panel was coated with anti-corrosion protection.

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Bed Restoration And Rust Removal

The razor helps maintain an even seam when mocking the panel in place.

From here, getting the patch in is pretty straight forward. The replacement panel is secured in place. Eric was then able to tack it to the rest of the roof panel. Note the tack spacing to evenly control metal temperature. The seam was then fully welded along with the spot weld within the gutter. Finally, all the welds were carefully ground smooth for nice even surfaces across the entire work area.

The whole thing turned out flawless and as good as we could have hoped.

The replacement panel is secured in place, tacked down, welded, and then ground smooth.

Inner And Outer Lower Door Corner Rust Removal

Next, Eric turned his attention to the Crew Cab’s lower door corners. Each of the four doors needed some attention on both the interior and exterior. For this, we also sourced some patch repair panels online which saved us from pursuing a lot of extensive custom metal fabrication.

This was a big job that was magnified by the presence of four doors.


Even with the supplied repair panel sets, Eric had to get crafty and only harvested off certain sections to piece together new patches. In one instance, he had to create an all-new custom patch and hand form that into place since we could not find a suitable turnkey solution.

The interior door panel kit we found to help repair our old rusted-out door corners.

The lower door corner rust removal process begins with taping off the sections of the interior door panels that we wanted to preserve. Eric made sure to leave enough un-corroated metal that he could sand down bare. He then peeled back parts of the exterior panel fold to expose even more of the corroded metal on the inside of an exterior panel. This allowed him to begin trimming away and removing the cancerous iron.

With that corroded crust cut away, including a small portion of the exterior panel, Eric began fabricating a custom patch. He used the old piece to mark out a rough size cut line on the replacement patch. A shear was used to carefully trim out the new piece. Metal shaping tools were used to form the raw metal into closely fitting patches.

Hammer Time

Just like the old saying goes, “When in doubt, pound it out.” In this case, hand shaping and forming sheetmetal just takes a little pounding, muscle, fitness, and a lot of patience. Eric got busy forming our patches and after a few adjustments, they were ready for the final details.

Also, a few highly specialized tools help Eric produce fine craft metal fabricated results.

A few of the specialized tools in Fabrication By Eric's shop.


This hand-formed metal patch fills in one of the door’s lower corner exterior panels. Because it is on the outside of the vehicle, it will be very apparent and exposed, so it was critical to get this piece right. With the panel cut to fit, and a new fold created, Eric clamped it into place, tacked up an even seam, and finished it off with a nice clean weld.

Give, Donate, And Harvest

On these next patch jobs below, Eric used portions of the sourced interior door panel kits as starting points. Each piece was prepped by first removing the finish that came with them, and then he harvested the corner material. It was then fitted as a corner patch and hammered into shape to match the interior panel contours.

Once correctly fitted as close as possible, the exterior panel folds are flipped over to trap the panel and prepared for welding. 



For this fixup, more material running down the edge was needed. You can see Eric projected his repair area with some masking tape. This helped him determine how much metal the donor would have to give. The replacement interior door panel kit was again prepped for surgery and the material was harvested and then affixed to the door.

At this point, the material was seamed up and tacked into place. The final steps include welding, clean up, polishing, sanitizing, and then a protective layer of Zero-Rust anti-corrosion coating is applied.

This part of the project was a lot of effort because of all the little meticulous pieces. Because of that, it was a big and costly job, but the end result will be a tremendous fit and finish.

Truck Bed Restoration And Rust Removal

This next job was one of the biggest on the truck project but went by smoothly and quickly. This of course is mainly owed to Eric’s years of experience, and the advanced planning implemented. We know the truck bed was a complete rust bucket, but we also knew we wanted to preserve most of it.

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Bed Restoration And Rust Removal

In preparation, we contacted Auto Metal Direct (AMD) and ordered a Premium Bed Floor for 1973-1979 F100 F50 F250 Short Bed Styleside and a corresponding 32-piece Bed Floor Mounting Hardware Kit. Inner bedsides and the tailgate are both available from AMD, but in our case, we opted to keep most of what the truck had earned in its four decades. This would allow us to cut out the rot, and save the rest, preserving much of the truck’s charm and character.

What showed up from Auto Metal Direct was a secured and hefty custom wooden crate. With the parts in hand, we knew it was time to get back to work.

Auto Metal Direct does not mess around when it comes to shipping.

The first step was to remove the truck bed from the old truck’s frame. The two had not ever been separated since they were married back in the late 1970s, so Eric doused all the mounting points and hardware with a rust penetrator the night before. The next day, it all came apart easy enough and the truck bed was set on stands for a proper restoration while the truck was rolled outside.

With the truck bed removed off the frame, progress was made really quick.

With most of the truck bed easily accessible, it made for quick work removing the sections we knew had to go. After some pounding and prying, sawing and chiseling, plasma torching, and the ever-useful cut-off wheel, Eric had the truck bed floor gutted and fairly cleaned up.

Some tools of the trade and the results after they were put to use.

Auto Metal Direct Truck Bed Floor Replacement

The AMD bed floor is designed to completely replace your existing truck bed floor and the four bed floor supports. However, since our bed was in great shape we left the original front and rear supports in place to simplify the amount of work needed to fit the new bed. If it aint broken, don’t fix it, right?

Auto Metal Direct is known for its high-quality OEM-level manufacturing of products. This bed floor replacement kit was no exception. It practically fell right into place. The only thing we did, which is not really required, was to add weld holes. We wanted this installation to look OE, so Eric made quick work of it and used a spot weld punch. 



The image below on the left is showing the underside and the spot weld holes lining up perfectly with the rest of the factory truck bed. On the top side, it was even better tucked in close with precise fit and finish.

Test fitting the AMD truck bed floor replacement presented impressive results.


From here, it was all just turning and burning. The entire AMD floor replacement was welded in and permanently attached to the rest of the truck bed. Eric ground the welds flush with the new floor. More Zero Rust was sprayed to coat the bare metal welds with a thorough anti-corrosion protective layer.

Solid fit and finish!

Spot welds welded, grinded down smooth, and then a coating of anti-corrosion protection is applied.

The AMD bed floor is complete and installed back on the truck just like the factory one came. We used all-new bed bolts from Auto Metal Direct to make it crisp and clean. But there was something else pending. With the truck bed removed from the frame, we could make a deeper and more thorough inspection. It was determined that both bedsides needed some repairs and rust removal to complete the truck bed restoration.

Side Plot: Bedside Repair And Rust Removal

Starting with the driver’s side, Eric made preparations to fix this bedside that was leaning. He made adjustments and secured it to a prop, then welded it about as square as it would go.


Effort counts and details matter!

This passenger side wheel well appeared to have gotten beat up from a rear tire blowout. When the tire exploded it messed the lower bed side up pretty good. After years of weathering, this was the consequence.

Eric was confident he could hammer and dolly this piece out versus having to cut the compromised metal out. As you can see by the images it looks like nothing ever happened. Outside of the paintwork, the metal is OE level straight again. 


The process: Eric worked the metal a bit to straighten it out, and sanded down clean to prep for paint.

Finally nearing the end of the truck bed restoration, we found a pretty sour-looking piece of rot. It was cut out and a custom patch was prepared and put in its place. That about wraps it up for this stage. We can say the rust removal was quite a job on this big old truck, but @FabricatedByEric and Auto Metal Direct had the cure.

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Bed Restoration And Rust Removal

Stay tuned for the next step of the truck bed restoration process which will probably include a bed liner coating. How does matching the bed liner color white to compliment the exterior of the truck as a subtle finish sound? We are aiming to preserve the vintage character, but we still want it to have modern performance and durability. We believe we can pull that off without disturbing the originality of the project. It will have a nice contrast of new and old like the rest of the truck build.

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Bed Restoration And Rust Removal

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Bed Restoration And Rust Removal

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Micah Anderson

Micah is a 20 year authority in the off-road industry with extensive experience founded on marketing, events, and racing. Professionally skilled in all things creative, Micah is passionate about faith, freedom, and anything powered by adventure.
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