Picture of Refinish your old Radio Flyer wagon
My kids have an old Radio Flyer wagon that was in need of a good makeover. The paint inside the bed was all worn away and replaced by an ever-worsening layer of rust. The paint on all the other parts was chipped and peeling as well, showing signs of rust underneath.

I'll show you the steps I took to strip it all down and refinish it. While I can't technically call this a restoration (because it wasn't returned to its original state), it looks good and is functional--which is what I was after. My kids now have a shiny new-looking wagon that will hopefully hold up to many more years of use.

It took a little time and attention but this wasn't a terribly difficult project. If you have an old red wagon that needs a little love, perhaps you can get some useful ideas from this. Thanks for taking a look.

Step 1: Disassemble wagon

Picture of Disassemble wagon

I began by removing the complete wheel assemblies from the wagon bed and disassembling the pivot plate and handle from the front bolster (the axle and support structure).

You can purchase new wheels and hub caps as well as most other parts for current wagon models at Radio Flyer's website. If you need to remove the wheels, this page on Radio Flyer's website has instructions on how to remove the hub caps. Note that they get destroyed in the process. If you're restoring an older discontinued model, finding parts may be a little more tricky . . . but there's always eBay.

TonyC68 months ago

you've got to be kidding me , this i fabuluos.......it looks brand new, unbelievable. between paint and parts wonder what the bill was , that is excellent work

I plan to use the wagon outside a lot to haul plants, bags of dirt etc. if I were to consider drilling in a few rain water drainage holes to the bed..... Where wud u suggest they be located? After all, the rust usually starts up from sitting water, and tho I wish I were better at clearing out all standing water, stuff happens.

seamster (author)  sally.carroll.75051 year ago
Hmm. I'd just throw a bit of water in there and see where it pools up, then put the holes in those spots.
Sounds like a good plan. I liked the finished pic but the sunlight made the inner bed appear gunmetal grey... Which I preferred over the black

Any suggestions for a grey paint with some grit to it
seamster (author)  sally.carroll.75051 year ago

Grit? I don't know. As far as color, just choose a color you like :)

gammylu1 year ago

Beautiful job! I followed your steps- thank you! A question: Did you paint the bed after the undercoating was applied and dried? The reason I ask is that my coating is sticky and some of the black rubs off. (Not good for grand kids' clothing) It has been a couple of weeks from final coat application. What do you recommend? Thanks.

Thanks for your reply. I too painted the outside of the wagon bed red before the inside of the bed with the black coating. We have had rain and humidity so maybe it does need more time to dry and cure. I hope so. I used all Rustoleum products. Their coating says its "paintable" so that's why I thought I might do that to prevent rub off of the black. Thanks again.

seamster (author)  gammylu1 year ago

Hi! I painted the inside of the bed with black undercoating paint, after the outside and bottom portions were painted red.

Regarding the stickiness, I'm not sure exactly what may be going on in your case. Some paints just take a long, long time to fully cure . . . and how long often depends on a number of factors (type of paint, thickness of coats, climate, etc.)

I have had stickiness issues in the past when using a primer of one brand and top coats of another. Krylon and Rustoleum often don't jive very well together, so I tend to stick to one brand or the other for complete projects.

You may just need to give it a little more time.

Hope that helps! Let me know if the stickiness goes away!

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Kris T.2 years ago
Thank you! This was such a great instructable, I used it myself on my own wagon. For the most part, it was in pretty good shape, so I figured I'd just use the truck bed spray for the interior. It looks so nice!
plumber42 years ago
Looks good! I have done a couple wagons but they were more "hotrod" customs with bigger pneumatic tires and flame jobs. I like the inside, great idea. I used a similar product on the bottom if my little vintage trailer and it turned kinda dusty over time and faded. Did you have something similar happen with the product that you used?
seamster (author)  plumber42 years ago
I haven't noticed anything odd happening with the coating I used yet, but it's only been a couple of weeks.

I considered doing a hotrod job on this as well, but in the end didn't want to justify the extra time and effort! My approach was just to extend this wagon's useful life as easily as possible. But it would've been so much cooler with flames and real tires...

The flames and other custom stuff were time consuming but were for good cause; one for a close friends first child and the second for a charity auction. They both were full pain jobs with automotive paint and clear. Fun to do but yours is more useful for what I use my wagons for. I was thinking rhino liner for a wagon.
aeyring2 years ago
Very nice! I have the same wagon, but bought younger, that'll need this treatment soon.
zieak2 years ago
Beautiful job!