Ugly Trucks Need Love Too

Having sorted out my truck’s critical tire, brake, and fuel issues, I finally have a chance to tackle less-important items. Some of them VERY unimportant.

Before wrapping up the rear brakes, I took the opportunity to replace the parking brake cables. Not only because they were 20+ years old, but because they had been cut and tucked out of the way to avoid dragging. The only parts that could be re-used were the lever assembly inside the cab, and the linkage inside the drum. With fresh cables and connectors in place, the parking brake was returned to operable status.

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But one of the first truly unnecessary items that I decided to tackle was detailing the interior. On a beater truck? Yes! There’s no need for the interior to be as shitty as the exterior. Scratches and such may rough up the outside, but that all happens in the line of duty. Besides, getting rid of the previous owner’s trash and accumulated grime is one of the most effective ways to make a car feel more like it actually belongs to you. A clean cab does wonders for making the driving experience more enjoyable.

After vacuuming out all loose debris, I started to clean from the top down. To clean the dashboard vents, I popped them all out and soaked them in a bucket of hot water. This was especially helpful in cleaning the center vents near the slide-out cupholder, as they had a sticky residue that likely came from splashed coffee. After this treatment, they seemed to be an even lighter shade of blue than before. Either the hot water made it worse, or some of the dark color was just dirt & grime. Not sure.

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To help clean some of the crevices, I popped off the instrument bezel to better clean the parts where it meets the radio, HVAC, and gauge cluster. The lens over the gauges had some scratches in it, so after cleaning it, I took some car wax and buffed it up a bit. It’s much clearer now.

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The cab interior has many faults, which I will not seek to repair. Holes were cut in the bezel for something that was removed before I got the truck. Dashboard and door trim also have cracks here and there. Several pieces have faded to a lighter shade of blue than the rest. Even the door armrests are lag-bolted back into the door in a cheap but effective repair attempt. I’m actually surprised that they don’t interfere with window operation.

Outside the truck, I took a razor blade to the windshield and cleaned it thoroughly. While I had the wax out, I applied it to the windshield. I’ve heard that wax was a good alternative to Rain-X and other water repellent products, but I’ve always been hesitant to use something that wasn’t “specifically formulated” for glass. So, I figured my beater truck was as good an opportunity as anything to test it out for myself.

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To complement the windshield treatment, I installed new wiper blades and filled the washer reservoir with rain-repelling fluid. That’s where I found a leak. The rubber hose was not sealing well at the washer pump, so I disconnected it and cut off the end which had aged around the barb. The freshly cut hose-end slid on much more snugly.

Back at the cab, I found the driver’s door jamb plunger switch broken, so I got a new one. The pull handles for the hood and brake releases were missing, so I got some replacements for those too.

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But why? you ask. WHY? I thought this was just a beater truck.

You know, I’ve been asking myself the same thing. Why am I doing all this unnecessary work, if the truck is supposed to be merely functional? Just what kind of “beater truck” is this anyway?

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I realized that what I’m working towards is a truck that’s used, not abused. Worn, not torn. Blemishes are forgivable, but I hate it when things are MISSING. I hate it even more when things are under-performing or just plain inoperative.

So while detailing the interior might indeed be superfluous, fixing little bits here and there are still in line with what I want my beater truck to be. The cracked & faded interior bits will stay as they are. The exterior paint will remain scratched up. That’s what makes it a beater.

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But this is the calm before the storm, as they say. I’m jumping right back into repairs/reconditioning. Next up, I’ll be rebuilding the saggy door hinges, and replacing the bed with one that I can connect a tailgate to...

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