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Refinish your old Radio Flyer wagon

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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.
 
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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). 

The wheels were in fine shape so I left them in place on the bolsters. I highly recommend leaving the wheels on if at all possible. This saved me both time and money and I was still able to strip down and refinish the bolsters adequately with the wheels in place.

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.
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Kris T.10 months 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!
plumber411 months 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)  plumber411 months 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...

plumber4 seamster11 months ago
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.
aeyring11 months ago
Very nice! I have the same wagon, but bought younger, that'll need this treatment soon.
zieak11 months ago
Beautiful job!
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