Chevy And GMC Pick Up - Bed Assembly
I needed to replace the bed on my 77 Chevy Silverado K 20. It had a wood floor, and the wood was rotted. I wanted to replace the wood, but unfortunately, the steel was all rusted and rotted as well. It was not easy to find repair panels and parts for a fleetside Silverado with a wood bed floor. Step side beds with wood floors are much more common than fleet sides with wood bed floors. I ended up replacing it with a brand new steel bed. The only catch was..... I had to assemble it myself. So, I bought the front of the box (bed), the floor, two bed sides, two rear wheel wells, and a new tailgate. The guy threw in the fuel tank doors (the truck has dual tanks) for free. I had no idea how hard it was going to be. I don't recall the exact amount of bolts, but I picked up a box of 100 bolts, and a box of 100 flat washers, and a box of 100 lock washers. I think I ended up needing about 15 more of all three. So if you plan to assemble a new bed, you are going to need at least 100 bolts, washers, and lock washers. I started taking pictures after I removed the old rotted bed, and my buddy hauled it away for me. I also started taking pictures with a Polaroid, because it had some film left in it, so please excuse the quality of the first picture. Naturally, I sanded, primed, and painted the truck frame while the bed was off. You can read more about that process here (this is my 80 GMC, but I did the same thing to my 77 Chevy)
I began by painting the underside of the bed floor. It came with a primer / sealer on it, so I gave it three coats of Con-Lux Enamel (Industrial grade, not for sale to the general public) with a brush. I wanted to use self etching primer first, but it would have taken me way too long to strip the underside to bare metal. It made a real mess, but I took the extra care to paint the insides of the floor support channels. I did this with a sponge type 'bottle brush' by taping two broom handles together, and then taping the brush on the end. I would soak it in the gallon paint can, then push it through the channel to the other side, then pull it back through.
After the bed floor was painted, I 'edged' it. This is painting all the edges, because once assembled, you can't get to them to paint them. The first piece to get bolted on was the front of the pick up box. This is because I didn't want to scratch the back of the cab, or the front of the box installing it on the truck, and it would be hard to reach up over the frame to install the bolts. It is much easier to do off the truck. Before attaching the bed front panel to the floor, I applied a thin layer of Brushable Seam Sealer to the bed floor edge. This is important. If moisture gets in between the two pieces of metal, it will start the rust process all over again. I got the Brushable Seam Sealer from Then I painted sanded the primer / sealer off the front of the bed panel, and applied Self Etching Primer, followed by a top coat of the blue (final color). I gave it 3 coats of blue, because I figured I don't want the paint to fade, and I really don't want to have to remove the bed again if I don't absolutely have to. I got the Self Etching Primer from Eastwood too.
With the help of a friend, we lifted the new bed floor onto the frame of the truck. You can see in the picture that I also edged the floor where the front of the box bolts to the floor. In the front corners of the floor, there are drain holes on each side. I used the Brushable Seam Sealer on the top and bottom of them, and after it dried, I poked a hole through it. My old bed was rotted all around the drain holes, so I wanted to protect my new bed. I was also installing a body lift at the same time. You can see in the picture that the bed is lifted, but the cab is not. I also want to add that while the bed was off, I replaced both cab corners because they were rusted out. I also replaced the rocker panels, doors, floors, hood, and front valence. I got most of these parts from J.C. Whitney. I painted the back of the cab with three coats of blue, followed by the white for the two tone paint scheme. You can also see in the picture that I painted around all the holes in the bed floor where the mounting bolts would be going. I didn't want just primer under them. Because of the body lift, the standard carriage bolts get replaced with hex bolts and large heavy washers under the heads of them. We installed all the mounting bolts and left them a little loose, to allow us to align the bed with the cab before snugging them up.
Before mounting the bed side, I applied Brushable Seam Sealer to all the seams on the bed side. There are many to be sealed. One long one is under the top lip of the bed side, and it is much easier to do it by flipping the bed side upside down before you put it on the truck. You can't see it in this picture, but where the wheel well meets the bed side there are many seams to be sealed. Inside the tail light opening there are also seams to be sealed. Inside the fuel door opening are more. Before mounting the bed side to the floor, I applied the Brushable Seam Sealer to the edge of the floor, just like I did for the front box panel. The bolts that hold the bed sides on go from under the bed floor 'out' into nuts that are welded to the inside of the bed sides.
After both bed sides were on, I installed the wheel wells (not pictured). It took a little finesse to get them to fit, but I got them in. They too were edged prior to installation, and I applied Brushable Seam Sealer to them as well. Once they were installed, I moved on to the tailgate. Keep in mind when you buy a brand new tailgate, it does not come with the 'guts' it is just the shell. So you will need the rods, hinges, latches, and handle from your old one, or you can buy a new handle from J.C. Whitney. Check out my page on Tailgates for more info.
Installing A Used Bed
Rocker Panel Replacement
Overall, it was not a hard job, and it really didn't take that long. If I recall, it took about 4 hours to assemble, but I had all the parts edged the day before. The bed floor was painted and prepped, etc.
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