Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Paint Restoration And Polish

When the old 1978 Ford F-250 was acquired for our new Project 4MyCrew, we knew it was in decent shape. From a cosmetic standpoint, the 45-year-old truck’s body and the original paint were faded passed their prime. However, one thing was clear. Through a diligent paint restoration process, Ivan Korda and his team would be able to salvage the original finish and preserve the authentic look of a vintage truck.

For your convenience, here is a refresher on this project vehicle’s introduction. You can see the four decades of wear and tear showing. And as far as we are concerned, that means years of character to build off of and not remove or eradicate. Of course, that means there is a tremendous amount of work to do.

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Paint Restoration And Polish

To be fully transparent, restoring old vehicles to new shine and glory is not for everyone. It is not extremely difficult if you have the skills and experience, but it is very time-consuming.  It takes good old fashion know-how and elbow grease. This goes double for the paint restoration.

This is meticulous work, and if not done correctly can easily remove layers of paint finish that are worth preserving. If you find yourself facing this daunting task at some point, pay attention. We always recommend studying, practicing, gathering the proper tools and equipment, or consulting with your local experts who are already prepared for this job. On a special vehicle, or even not so special, you only get one crack at a proper paint restoration.

Paint Restoration Versus New Paint Job Application?

Why bother with a detailed paint restoration versus applying an all-new paint job? Well, it mainly comes down to the vehicle owner’s preference and end goals. In Ivan’s case, as we stated the vehicle was in pretty good shape, and he wanted this truck to be useable. You know, something to load up the crew and go do truck stuff. What good is a truck if it is wrapped up only to be uncovered for perfect weather car shows?

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Paint Restoration And Polish

Milos from MJ Detailing sampling restoration probabilities with close attention.

Paint Restoration Pros:

  • Cost Effective
  • Preserves factory appearance
  • Adds character
  • You can do it yourself

Paint Restoration Cons:

  • Time-consuming
  • Requires knowledge and experience
  • Potential for mistakes
  • Requires specialized equipment and materials

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Paint Restoration And Polish

If you are paying for a proper vehicle paint restoration, do not skimp out. A good job from a pro could cost as much as a cheap paint re-spray. If an individual is charging a few hundred peanuts for paint correction, they could be trying to save time by cutting corners or just so inexperienced that they’re willing to work practically for free.

Another capital benefit where paint restoration trumps a paint re-spray, is that most paint jobs might require a color correction anyway. In this game, you always get what you pay for.

4MyCrew Paint Restoration Process

At this stage of Project 4MyCrew, Ivan’s primary goal was to salvage the original paint and have it polished before moving on to the metal and rust repairs. He consulted with Milos from MJ Detailing out of Memphis, Tennesse who specializes in high-end detailing of automotive, aircraft, and boats. Milos is a true car enthusiast and also offers expert paint correction and ceramic coating services.

Ivan explained his needs to Milos and they came up with a game plan. The initial prognosis was good however there were years of filth that needed to be scrubbed away. Every good paint restoration begins with a foamy bath and wash down.

Milos advocates against using a scrubbing brush on vehicle finishes unless absolutely necessary. In this case, it was required because of the trace amounts of mold found on the roof and hood.

Getting down to the crux of it, the paint restoration process is a hands-on job. Milos used a Rupes Gear Driven Bigfoot Millie Dual Action Polisher with a 5.5-inch Rupes yellow polishing pad. It’s a sponge pad that is ideal for single-stage correction. The yellow pad is known for gloss enhancement work. The purpose of this is to remove stubborn dirt from the paint and restore the gloss finish.

With this type of process, the goal is not perfecting the paint, but rather removing haze and restoring clarity. The Sonax Perfect Finish compound used does great correction on softer paints while still getting great results in restoring shine. However, on harder types of paint with severe defects like F-250 it restores gloss while simultaneously working out and correcting smaller amounts of imperfections.  

Project 4MyCrew: 1978 F-250 Truck Paint Restoration And Polish

Machine And Polishing Compound Used:

  • Machine: Rupes LHR15 Mark3
  • Pad: Rupes Yellow pad
  • Compound; Sonax Perfect Finish

After Many Hours, How Did The 45-Year-Old Paint Restoration Turn Out?

With such a large vehicle like this 1978 Ford F-250 Crew Cab, and considering the age and condition of the truck, this job required an extended amount of attention. It took over three and a half times longer than the average paint correction of a newer normal-sized car. But the end results presented significant surface improvement and vibrant color brought back to life. This old truck still has it!

The bottom images show before the paint restoration, and the top images show the end result.

Ivan commented “It is pretty amazing what the right combination of experience, from Milos, and these specialty automotive products can accomplish. We did a few test patches before starting and we know the result would be excellent when compared to the dull and tired 45-year-old paint. I am very pleased!”

Photo gallery


What Is Next For Project 4MyCrew?

After it was all said and done, this paint restoration clarified our next steps. The F-250 needs to be taken to our friend Eric Arrington to get all of the metal work and rust repair completed. From its long life as a truck doing truck things, there are a few small imperfections to be addressed. The roof has an area above the drip rail that to be replaced and that would be the ideal opportunity to install a brand new bed floor from our friends at Auto Metal Direct. Stay tuned for the next feature on Project 4MyCrew!

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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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