Nicholas Fluhart

June 9, 2013

Project Loadstar: Painting the Bed

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 4:14 pm

The bed had been painted three or four times that I could see, and at least one of those times was done with a brush so it had a thick layer of flaking paint on the exterior. Earlier in the project phase I used a 6,000 psi pressure washer to remove most of the flaking paint, but there is much more paint and rust to be removed. Since I don’t have a large enough sand blaster, I’ll be removing it with high speed wire wheels. While this may not produce show quality results, it will work perfectly for my purposes. It’s a long brutal process, but I was able to grind the loose paint flakes and a lot of the surface rust off the bed and begin with the primer.

Bed Primer

Once a good coat of primer was applied, I used coarse fiberglass filler to fill in the various small rust holes before applying the last coat of primer.

Fiberglass Filler

When everything was dry, I mixed up a batch of satin black industrial enamel with a bit of thinner and catalyst/hardener. I purposefully did not use full gloss because it would show every little dent and ding that the bed was riddled with. The satin finish would not necessarily conceal much, but it would look better than a gloss finish. I gave it at least two good coats of the satin black.

Exterior Black

Bed Satin Black

Well she’s certainly coming along. In fact, I couldn’t resist installing my period-correct marker lights on the bed, as well as a new set of mud flaps. It almost looks like a vintage rat rod dump truck…

Loadstar Rat Rod Look 1

Loadstar Rat Rod Look 2

I think at this point, we’re on the downhill side of things and the project will be winding up soon. Next we’ll address the cab and I’m sure a few other things will come up. Until then…

June 2, 2013

Project Loadstar: Dump Bed Repairs

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 4:23 pm

Metal that is in constant contact with dirt and moisture tends to rust. Dump beds are no exception. They are constantly handling various types of dirt which embeds itself in the many joints and cavities within the construction of the hoist body. The dirt absorbs moisture and holds it directly on the metal which then rusts. Rain water also collects in the bed if not kept at an angle when parked. This, along with left over dirt material in the bed, generally causes the floor to rust out first.

My Loadstar is on its second floor, which isn’t too bad for a 1966 model. However, had it been cared for properly it would be in much better shape. The original floor is made of plate steel. Typically, once it wears out most people would install new plate steel either by first cutting out the old floor and welding in the new material or by laying the new plate on top of the old plate and welding it in. In this case, when the plate floor wore out, rather than installing costly new plate, the previous owners used very old oil field tank metal. When I say “old” I mean it is from the era before welded tanks. This is a type of metal that is thinner than plate and is rolled into the shape of a cylinder and bolted or riveted together at the joint.

They took this metal from an old tank and attempted to flatten it out and use it in place of plate steel. They couldn’t quite get it flat enough, so the floor isn’t totally flat. Since it was already so thin, it didn’t last too long either. Now I don’t fault them for using materials on hand to reduce costs; I do that all the time. However, they made no attempt to clean, maintain, or service the bed, or any other part of the truck for that matter. Compounding things, when they took the truck out of service they left a few inches of sand and debris in the bed for several years. So by the time I cleaned out all the crud, it looked as you see in the photo below.

Inside Rusted
The most proper thing to do would be to cut out the bad parts, sand blast the rest to bare metal, then paint, etc. I don’t have the resources to do that on this project, so we’ll be taking a slightly different approach. First I use a knotted wire brush on my angle grinder to strip away as much dirt and rust as I can. Then, once I was covered from head to toe in rusty dust, I washed the bed with a water hose before using compressed air to blow out as much of the left over dust as possible. Once dry, I began sealing the inside of the bed with very thick coats of industrial enamel applied with a brush and roller.

Painting Inside Bed
Inside Bed Painted
Since I didn’t have the means to completely remove all the rust, my intention was to seal as much of it as I could. While this wouldn’t be acceptable for a show-quality job, it will work just fine for my purposes. Next I focus on structural repairs. Most of the rust holes are focused at the front and the joint where the floor meets the sides. The middle portion of the floor, albeit thin, is still functional. I decided to run 1/4 inch thick 4 inch angle across the front and down the sides. This will improve the structural integrity of the bed and cover the big holes. My friend Philip hooked me up with some long pieces of 1/4 inch plate 8 inches wide. He had it bent into 4 inch angle iron. I sealed the bottom of each piece before installation.

Angle Iron
Once painted, I backed the truck up into the shop to begin the repairs.

Backed In
I use my Clark forklift to hold up the tailgate so I’ve got easy access to the bed, then I retrieve my oxy-acetylene rig to cut the pieces to the correct length and of course my antique Westinghouse welding machine to install the pieces.

Ready for Repairs
My welding machine is in questionable condition, but it’s all I have. I made it work pretty well in this case as the repairs turned out OK. I did however encounter a challenge fitting the straight pieces of angle iron into the base joints of the inside of the bed. The floor was not perfectly flat as previously discussed, and also the sides of the bed had bulged out a bit from the thousands of heavy loads it has hauled. To remedy this, I cut the angle iron into shorter pieces, butted them together and welded them in. Then to fill in any gaps, I welded in filler metal. For filler metal, I took several long 5/8 bolts that I had in the scrap pile. I cut the heads off the bolts, essentially making them into studs, and laid them in the gaps and welded them in. I used industrial sealer to fill in any remaining gaps to hopefully dissuade dirt from packing itself into the cracks and holding moisture.

Angle Installed
Once everything was installed, I went over the new metal with a thick coat of industrial enamel. For my purposes, the inside of my GarWood dump bed is ready to use! But before that can happen, we have other areas of the truck to address. Until next time…

May 26, 2013

Project Loadstar: Step Board Repairs

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 7:14 pm

This installment of the Loadstar Project will cover repairing the drooping step boards that are such an eye sore. In the photo below, you might notice the step board below the door appears to be bent down. This tends to happen on the old Loadstars because there is very little support for the step mounts. They basically hang from the lower edge of the cab’s sheet metal. The front is supported by the front fender, but the rear has no other support and subsequently fatigues the cab sheet metal which allows it to swing back in toward the frame and droop.

Right Side

My first thought was to install a brace from behind the step to the frame. This would effectively push the step up level and hold it there. However, the problem with the passenger side is that the fuel tank is located directly behind the step, and there’s no easy way get around it. So for this side, I decided to use my welding machine to repair the original mounts at the sheet metal. Fortunately, this was doable because the passenger side step board was in better shape than the driver side because it likely saw less use. My welding machine is an antique Westinghouse AC arc welder so using it, or any arc/stick welder, to weld sheet metal is very difficult . These types of welders are designed to weld thicker material and easily burn through sheet metal leaving the metal more damaged than when you started. Nevertheless, it’s all I have so I’ll have to be precise. I put a bottle jack under the step board to push it up to it’s correct position. I then turned my welder down to a low setting and commenced on dressing the fatigue cracks in the sheet metal around the mounting bolts. Then I went ahead and welded the step board directly to the cab in a few spots for added stability. When I lowered the bottle jack, the step board stayed put. I stood on it, putting my full weight on the outside corner, and it is now very solid. Success.

I turned my attention to the driver side. I attempted to repair it in the same manner discussed above, but it was too far gone so I returned to my original idea of installing a brace. Since there is plenty of room behind the step board and to the rear of the hydrovac booster, I could easily weld a support from the back of the step board to the frame of the truck. I browsed my scrap pile for something I could use as a brace and I found the perfect item. It’s a piece of leaf spring left over from the leaf spring project. This is why it pays to keep junk around.

Leaf Spring Piece
I turned my welding machine back up to handle the thicker material, and then I found a suitable, effective location for the brace and welded it in place.

Step Board Brace
It worked perfectly. I can now do jumping jacks on the step board, if I’m so inclined to do so, and it will easily hold my weight without sagging into its prior cosmetic abomination.

That concludes this seventh installment of the Loadstar Project. Next I’ll address some dump bed repairs. Until then…

May 19, 2013

Project Loadstar: Brakes Part 2

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 11:19 pm

Time for some power brakes! In this sixth installment of the Loadstar Project I’ll be addressing the power brake booster, sometimes referred to as a “hydrovac”. Into the shop it goes…
Dump Truck In Shop 1
Dump Truck In Shop 2
Now this has been one of the more “pain in the neck” repairs I’ve done to this truck. First off, I knew the main diaphragm in the brake booster was bad. I had a similar booster from my F-700 with a stuck piston but a good diaphragm. I was desperately hoping all I needed for mine was the diaphragm because parts for these, specifically an overhaul kit, are expensive and hard to find. If I could switch out the diaphragm with the F-700 unit, it would be an easy fix. These boosters are not even made anymore, and although a remanufactured booster can be had for around $250.00, I really hadn’t budgeted that in to this project.

So once I had it in the shop I rolled under the truck to begin. The lines and fittings looked rusty and hard to remove, so at first I thought I would try to repair the booster with it mounted on the truck. I removed the main diaphragm cover to reveal, as anticipated, a broken diaphragm. What I did not anticipate was that half of the chamber would be full of old brake fluid which splashed everywhere and was the actual cause of the deteriorated diaphragm. Now, bare in mind this is supposed to be a dry chamber, so the fact that it is full of brake fluid reveals a more sinister problem than a broken diaphragm. It means the piston rod seal is leaking fluid from the cylinder into the diaphragm chamber. This explains why the previous owners told me they were having to add fluid, thinking it was a leaky wheel cylinder.

Time to find an overhaul kit. I searched high and low and found nothing. Finally, I happened across a brake parts remanufacturer’s website called They had a series of kits in their online catalog, so I just needed to figure out which type of booster I had and locate the correct part number. Like all boosters are supposed to have, there was an aluminum tag on the unit with a series of numbers. These numbers identify the brand and model of booster. I made note of my numbers and searched the website for the rebuild kit for my unit. Unfortunately, my number didn’t pull up anything. However, as a last resort, I called the phone number on the website and they actually have a parts counter for customer support. Surprisingly, the guy I spoke with knew exactly what I had and exactly the correct kit I needed, which they had in stock by the way, and he shipped it out that same day. If I remember correctly, I think the cost was about $85.00. I couldn’t be happier.

So trying to do this with the unit still on the truck, I now have to remove the steel brake line and the end of the cylinder which is a large nut as seen below, so I can slide the piston and rod out in order to replace the leaking seal:

Cylinder End

Chamber Side
Removing Piston
I went ahead and removed the smaller diaphragm on the bottom along with the springs and other components as everything would have to be cleaned thoroughly and seals replaced.

Small Diaphragm Chamber
Now I have to remove the main shaft seal and “retainer” for lack of a better word. This is where the problems begin. The seal and retainer are pressed in. Once the piston was out, I removed the appropriate snap rings and tried to use a punch to drive out the retainer. Fail. I hit it with everything I had and it didn’t budge a bit. It was at this time that I determined I would have to remove the entire unit from the truck so I could put it in my hydraulic press. Below you’ll see a photo of the chamber side. In the very center is the part that I have to press out from behind once the snap ring is removed.

Chamber Side
To fit the part in my press, I remove the chamber housing and put the cylinder in the press as shown below:

Cylinder In Press
I didn’t have much problems pressing out the retainer and spacer, but the parts being plastic were slightly damaged. Unfortunately, the kit did not come with replacements so I’d have to repair these and reuse them.

Seal Retainer & Spacer
So now that I had the entire unit disassembled, it was time to clean. No easy task. As seen below, the parts were heavily rusted. I could only hope the cylinder would take a rebuild, otherwise I just wasted $85 on the kit.

Booster Parts
I washed everything in my parts washer and air dried it before bead blasting in my blasting cabinet. I laid out all the parts and the rebuild kit along with the instructions.

Booster Rebuild Kit
Cleaned Parts
I polished the piston and rod with a wire wheel so the seals would travel smoothly. Then I installed the piston cup seal. I also honed out the inside of the cylinder with a brake cylinder hone.


I pressed the seal retainer with the new rod seal and o-ring into the cylinder. Then the entire unit is reassembled the same way it came apart. Now it’s ready to go back on the truck.

Brake Booster
Once back on the truck, I manually bleed the system. When adequately bled, the moment of truth arrives. It’s easy to tell if the diaphragm portion works. I start the truck and if the engine dies when I push the brake pedal, the diaphragm is bad. If it stays running and I hear a vacuum sound, it’s good. As for the cylinder portion, I would have to drive the truck to test it.

The verdict: I start the truck and push the pedal. The engine stays running and I hear the booster working. So far so good. I drive the truck out of the shop and hit the brakes hard. The wheels easily lock up. Success! I drive it around the yard and test it thoroughly. I then re-check my brake fluid level. Looks good. The only unusual thing about it is that the brakes are a little slow to release. Other than that, everything works. I now have power brakes on my Loadstar!

May 12, 2013

Project Loadstar: Chassis

Filed under: Project: Loadstar,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 6:14 pm

After the leaf springs were successfully installed, I decided to paint the chassis and select the tires to be used. Choosing which color to paint the chassis will depend on the color of the cab and other components. While the truck was currently sporting, albeit severely weathered, a red cab, white bed, and dirt colored chassis, the original color of this truck was green. There are a variety of good looking paint schemes that I could use. However, one thing is for sure, I’m not big on “bling”. Rather, I want something industrial and period correct. I had a few ideas rolling around in my mind when my dad happened to bring by the latest issue of Classic Plant and Machinery. The cover features an old dump truck and wheel loader. Although the truck on the cover is not an International, I like the classic paint scheme and I think with a little modification I could create a similar scheme that would look great on a Loadstar. Below is a pic of the magazine cover:

You’ll note the green cab, black bumpers and red chassis. For my Loadstar, I decided on a green cab and red chassis while the bed, fenders, and bumpers would be black. Once I visualize a finished product, the excitement carries me through all the hard work to complete the project. So here we go…

The first order of business was to find some decent tires. The current tires are 8.25-20 and severely weathered beyond use. I didn’t want to buy brand new tires for a truck that I would only use once in a blue moon, so I decided to pull the wheels from my decommissioned F-700 winch truck. They are slightly weather checked but are light-years ahead of the Loadstar tires and will work fine for occasional use. Slightly larger, they are 9.00-20 already on Dayton rims, so they should bolt right on. We pulled the old wheels off the Loadstar, carried them out to the country and swapped them out on the F-700. Once I got the 9.00-20’s home, I steam cleaned them.

Wheels Hauled Home

Cleaning Tires
Since the chassis had so many years of caked on dirt, sand, crude oil, and asphalt, it required thorough wire brushing (we used a knotted cup brush on an angle grinder) and washing. Once adequately cleaned, we first primered the chassis and then painted it red. I used Regal Red oil based industrial enamel with a catalyst hardener added for durability.

Chassis Primered
Chassis Painted Regal Red
Front Axle Regal Red
Back to the wheels. I’ll note, the rims with the 9.00-20’s from the F-700 are wider than the rims that came on the 1600 Loadstar. The rears fit fine, but the fronts rubbed the tie rod ends so we had to break down the front tires and mount them on the original narrow front rims. Not fun, but it had to be done.

Tire Break Down Narrow Rim

I painted the rims black with silver around the outer edge. Here’s what they look like on the truck…

Rear Wheels Wheels Installed

That wraps up the fifth installment of the Loadstar Project. More to come…

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