How to Repair and Shorten Longbed Chevy C10 Bedsides

When it comes to classic trucks short beds rule the coop for desirability and resale value. Most enthusiasts turn their nose up to a long bed truck. What's slowly happening though is that nice, clean examples of short beds are becoming few and far between and when they do pop up you're going to pay a premium. Recently some guys have started shortening the beds and chassis of long bed trucks to get the same look but without the price gouge of a short bed truck. Our friend Sean Ramáge of Empire Fabrication recently took on the big job of taking an original-paint set of long bedsides and repairing the damage and shortening them, all while keeping as much of the original finish as possible. He shared the process with us and gave us an insight into what it takes to tackle a job like this.

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The first thing you need to do is lay out the cuts that you want to make on the bedsides. Ideally the cuts should be made in a place that is a simplistic as possible. Avoid making cuts over compound curves, fender arches, multiple body reveals, or where you can't get behind the panel. Sean decided to make clean cuts in front and behind the wheel openings where he could easily work the weld seams. He explains once the cut lines are marked out you need to make sure that there aren't any dents or damage surrounding the seam as they will alter how everything fits back together. If there is any damage you must repair them first before you proceed with welding OR cutting.

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Sean first located and marked all the dents and worked them out by hammering off-dolly (hammering directly next to the dolly to release the damage). In this particular instance he also had to use the panel beating bag and a plastic mallet to repair the bottom lip of the fender. Once he had the major dents roughed-out he came back and used the bulls-eye picks to smooth out any minor small dents or imperfections.

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With the panel straight once again he was able to cut the bed into two pieces and remove the excess material needed to make it the desired length. Sean then fit the panel back together and made sure there were no gaps between the butt weld seam. This is because he would be TIG welding the panel back together and unlike MIG welding, you want a tight fit when TIG welding sheet metal.

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After tack welding the panel back together Sean checked to make sure the panel was straight and true. He then used the Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC welder with the #9 Mini Torch attached to carefully weld the seam back together. He made sure to keep the welds as small and cool as possible along the way to minimize the shrinkage in the heat effective zone. Once the panel was fully welded Sean came back with a flat faced hammer and dolly to planish the weld flats and relax the panel to cure the shrunken areas around the welds. Sean comments that you need to be very careful to make sure that you ONLY hammer on the heat effected zone (the discolored area around the weld) to avoid over stretching the area.

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From here Sean hits the repair area with an 80 grit abrasive disc to reveal any low spots in the repair area. From here he delicately uses the bulls-eye picks to bring up those low spots and repeats the process with the abrasive disc to check his work.

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The result is an invisible weld seam that is as straight as it left the factory. This process isn't a quick one and it will take a good portion of a day to complete, even for a professional like Sean. Hopefully this gives you an idea of what it takes to shorten your bedsides and start converting your truck to a short bed.

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For more work from Sean and Empire Fabrication be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

-Matt/EW

21 thoughts on “How to Repair and Shorten Longbed Chevy C10 Bedsides”

  • Jeff

    How about making a 8 foot bed a 9 foot bed or bigger?

    Reply
  • Long Beds Forever
    Long Beds Forever October 28, 2014 at 6:24 am

    I don't care how hard it is too find a short bed. It still has to be alot easier to find one than it is to cut up a perfect long bed.
    Short beds are useless.

    IF YOU CAN'T HAUL A 4' X 8' SHEET OF PLYWOOD IN IT, THEN IT IS USELESS.

    Yes I know, you don't haul anything in show trucks. But no matter how nice your truck is, it seems like you will still eventually haul something in it.

    I know that if I ever bought a short bed truck, (but I never will), and found out that they cut up a long bed to do it, I would be pissed.

    Send all your long beds to me.

    Reply
  • Tom Powell

    Great article, good tech info. need more like it
    Thanks

    Reply
  • Dale Francis

    I have a 1979 El Camino which half the bed has been damaged by a rear end collision.. A few months ago I purchased Eastwood 175 welder in which I plan on using to put a new bed in with .what would I do to prevent warping when replacing the bed?

    Reply
    • MattM

      Dale,

      Warping is a neccesary evil when welding thing gauge steel no matter what. The key is learning to control and reverse it. If you take your time and do stitch welds and jump around the panel you will minimize the warpage. Some hammer and dolly work may still be needed depending how perfect you want to get it before adding filler.

      Reply
    • Steven

      You'll need to cross brace the bed at first before you remove it.
      When you weld the metal you'll need tools like a but weld clamp ,peen hammers, and then space your welds FAR apart to let the area cool off before welding solid......I USE A 3 mix gas like " STARGON" it allows more welds with LESS HEAT effected area...TIG welding dose the same too. Learn on scrap first ! Remember : a hot weld with a FAST DEPOSIT RATE is best.

      Reply
  • mark Rich

    Bed sides look great now how do you get the measurements or what source an same for the frame when you cut it your information would be greatly appreciated thanks

    Reply
  • Helmuth Serjogins
    Helmuth Serjogins October 28, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    There seems to be a lot of fill in the blank! So how much do you remove?

    Reply
  • Phil Mickey

    Great work! I now understand it is possible with attension to detail. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Richard Whiting
    Richard Whiting October 28, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Short bed? Why would you want a short bed? Why would you want your plywood to hang out the back. My Chevy truck has the 9 foot bed. You can raise the tailgate with the plywood inside. Ha!! Total safe hauling!

    Reply
    • Jeff

      Ya but yout still have a long bed truck that no one wants. A shortbed all you need to do is lower the tailate and the plywood doesn't hang over, just tie it off and your ready to go and you look cool doing it.

      Reply
    • Jeff

      You need to get off this site and go to rednecks R Us , you know nothing about being cool. Oh I have no problem hauling plywood in my shortbox.

      Reply
  • ken

    i would liked to see the cuts and how to keep it straight ...and how much do you take out on each cut .....Ken

    Reply
  • Lawrence s.

    Have done a few myself. The 60-66 are fairly easy as the box is fairly square with slight taper in rear. You take out a 12inch piece from the front section and a 8inch piece from the rear section. 20 inches in total

    Reply
  • bob McArthur

    he is a great metal man , I would not reccomend this project for an ametuer . This task requires a lot of metal working skill

    Reply
    • Steven

      Your right Bob. Takes a lot of skill BUT where dose a guy start ? I had a great teacher that would have the young shop guys work next to an old timer. The next time you HAD to do it alone. Car clubs do the same thing with members helping other members. DO YOUR TEST WELDS ON SCRAP FIRST ! write down the settings you used....

      Reply
  • jim beaver

    i have done quite a lot of them and it is labor intensive but well worth it. to the guys with the 9 foot beds you are not rodders so you cant understand it ,ill bet you go buggo if you saw a three foot bed with only four inches of side wall,its all about a guy and his desire to do something. Hotrods for ever.
    Da Beav

    Reply
  • Don

    Hey, Richard Whiting some people build trucks to haul Ass not plywood. Sorry if the nail gun hit a nerve.

    Reply
  • tractorman44

    Awesome, now I know it can be done !!! Currently working on a 70 C10 with a good straight long bed and have been considering attempting this....though my skill level is not nearly as good as his.

    Oh... and I carry my plywood in the '85 F 250 or the '03 Ram 3500 dually.

    Reply
  • tinpony66

    while we're at it lets take a SS396 and make a 2 seater out of it!

    Reply
  • Jeff

    To the retard that thinks it's rediculious to make a shortbed out of a longbed, you must not know a thing about hot rods. You might want to find a different blog site, rednecks R Us !!!

    Reply

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