Project ‘Gun Smoke’: Our 1989 Ford F-350 Diesel Gets a Full Paint Job – 48 Hours and Just $600 ! (Video)

It's a paint job you can do at home!

A couple of months ago, something out of the ordinary happened. One of our viewers, David Morrow, donated a truck to us. This wasn’t a hollowed out shell of a truck. It’s a running, driving, 7.3 IDI Ford F350 4×4 with a manual transmission.

His conditions were that we auction the truck, so that the proceeds could benefit a local organization called Mountain States Children’s Home. The children’s home here in Longmont gives kids a place where they may grow up in an encouraging and uplifting environment.

However, before the truck could be auctioned, there was work to be done. First the old Ford needed new fluids and a brake job. Once that was done, it drove reasonably well. But there was no shortage of other issues.

Rust plagued the factory bed, so we bought a $900 donor truck. The donor F-150 had a bed with no rust and fewer dents. The F-350 was going to be a “farm truck” of sorts, so minor imperfections weren’t an issue.

With David’s help, we swapped in the bed from the F-150 and fixed a leaky rear tank with JB Weld in true farm truck fashion. But David couldn’t help himself. As the truck sat in his garage between shoots, he spent hours upon hours perfecting it.

David fixed a shock mount, straightened panel gaps, coated the frame to prevent rust and accomplished countless other time consuming tasks while we were away.

Body panels from three different trucks left our F-350 “GunSmoke” with more paint colors than a dog’s eyes can see. Before we could paint it all one color, we had a great deal of work to do.

Paint is all in the prep and after 30 years, our body panels had their share of imperfections. With 48 hours on the clock, we set out to do everything we could to make the truck solid and straight. Patch panels were welded in place of rust, dents pulled and smoothed out and minor imperfections got a thin coat of Bondo.

Once the panels were reasonably straight, we masked the truck and hung plastic in David’s barn. It was a truly DIY paint job that any amateur with the space and time could repeat.

The advantage of a $600 dollar paint job done at home, is that any damage to it can be repaired at home. The thousands of dollars an auto body shop would charge for a factory quality paint job doesn’t make sense on a truck that is destined for work.

After two grueling days, and layer after layer of primer, sealer and paint, “GunSmoke” was once again its factory paint color, smoke metallic. As if that wasn’t enough, David took the time to build a stunning pair of side steps that double as rock sliders.

The body work isn’t exactly factory fresh, but it is significantly better, and there is more work to be done still. Our F-350 is in desperate need of new tires, and an alignment wouldn’t hurt either.

Massive thanks go to David, who has made this entire project possible by pouring his time and talent into it out of pure kindness. More videos are coming on our F-350 over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to TFL Classics for updates on the project truck GunSmoke.