Make A Real Wood Bed With Aluminum Rails For A Model Truck

There are some nice scale pickups out there but one place they all fall short is the pickup bed. I admit I have seen some amazing models done where the modeler did a 1st class job on painting the bed but I have not seen the decal in the bed convincing as the rest of the truck.

I thought about the time to really make a convincing look with decal or paint or a combination of the two and decided a while back just making one from wood be look a lot better and take about as much time. Wood is easy to work with and even if you make the top of the bed look good there is still the underside that needs to be painted up to look like the underside of a wood pickup bed. There is usually grain molded in on both sides but I grew up with that ugly wood paneling in the seventies and really despise fake wood not mention using plastic to replicate wood seems really bassackwards to me.

I have used basswood on my first attempts and bare metal foil for the rails, it looks ok, an improvement on the plastic. The one I did for the red Ford Pickup in my top image was weathered so it came out really good as weathering always adds that realism fast. This time I wanted to try something different.

Here are the materials I used:

  1. Popsicle sticks, tongue depressors, thin craft sticks, they have many names but they are roughly 2mm thick and very cheap, basswood would work as well.
  2. 1/16 aluminum tube, not rod – but the tube.
  3. Size 8 13mm sequin pins
  4. Wood or White Glue
  5. Smooth jaw pliers or a vise with a smooth jaw or something like sheet metal you can line the jaw with.
  6. Emery cloth or sandpaper and other basic hobby tools like a ruler and knife cutters.

I started by measuring bed area of kit and determining how many bed planks I wanted then went about cutting strips of wood with a razor knife so the sum of them would match up with bed area. I glued them together side by side using masking tape to clamp them down to my bench. Later I sanded the wood to a nice finish and clear coated with acrylic clear. I chose for this one to leave the wood natural but it would be very easy to add color or stain to it. I had selected pieces of wood so I ended up with some cool grain patterns and I positioned the darkest two on each side of the centerboard. This is one bonus to using the popsicle sticks over basswood as the basswood is mostly bleached and has very little grain pattern.  I am sorry I did not get a pic of this part but I think it’s all pretty basic stuff, just gluing sticks together.

I took the aluminum tubing and essentially smashed it making a flat rail. The reason for “smooth ” pliers or vise is you want to have the least amount of dimples or teeth marks in the tubing when you flatten it. Ideas started propping up in my head of how I could make a model metal roller or press and do this properly. The next step is cleaning up the aluminum where there are any teeth marks.  It easily polishes up.

I plotted out holes and drilled and cut my rails, really wish I had a mini drill press here, especially if I could make the holes have a countersink for the pinheads. After gluing I snipped the remainder of the pins sticking through the bottom. They could be pre-cut to length but they get really hard to handle and see for me when they get that small.

When using the 1/16″ tubing the result is a 2mm wide strip. I glued each rail down over the joint where each plank meets up making sure to get glue into the pinhole I drilled in the board.

I cut out the bottom of the original bed in the kit and now it real wood top and bottom. It is fun to do real metal fabrication on a model at least in the scaled sense, it won’t get me on the Velocity Channel with my own show but makes my pickups look better.

I will post this finished truck soon.

  • Hobby Dude

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