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Picture of Restoring Tonka trucks
This summer i decided to start restoring Tonka trucks, my son loves them and i enjoy quality metal toys so and making things myself so this is what i came up with.   Its my first instructable so bear with me, and i didn't have many of my pics from the process so i am using what images i have to make this instructable.   I will have a more detailed one this summer when i have a little more free time to tinker in the garage and grad school, work, wife, and child are not demanding my attention.
 
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Step 1: Finding a truck

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I went to a lot of garage sales and websites to find older trucks, just ask around so many people have them stashed in the corner of a garage that are not being used anymore.   I let my friends and family know what i was doing and they kept an eye out for trucks.  The older the better for me.........

Step 2: Taking apart

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The next step is to disassemble the truck, Most Tonkas are similar in design so most of this information is relevant to all trucks.  Nylint trucks are a little different so you will have to work with what you got,  and get it ready to strip.   I used a couple of vice grip pliers to get the top-hat nuts off the wheels, lock one pair on each side and twist them off, and remember to save them.  If they break just order some online.  Then use a large socket to remove the wheels from the tires by pressing them out of the tires.  Remove the cab by straightening out the tabs located under the truck and pull the cab off use a Flathead screwdriver to help if the cab is stuck, just twist it between the lip and the cab.. 

Step 3: Stripping

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You can use whatever method of paint stripping you choose for this step but get it to bare rust.   I started with used Muriatic Acid diluted with water but i don't recommend that, its DANGEROUS AND YOU CAN GET BURNED USING IT< RESEARCH IT IF YOU ARE GOING TO TRY THAT I ASSUME NO RESPONSIBILITY IF YOU CHOOSE THAT and if you leave the metal in too long it burns the rivets out of the truck and that makes the project even harder.   I made a sandblasting cabinet out of an old freezer i have and that seems to be the best method.   If you don't have access to a sandblaster then a grinder and some patience is your answer.  i used a wire brush wheel to do most of the cleaning.  Get the rust off and get it to bare metal.

Step 4: Time for paint

Make sure you clean the piece before painting it, I used mineral spirits and a reg to get it all cleaned up.  Once its dry get the paint you want to use and go to work, i used a car aerosol spray can paint at my local auto parts store.  Make sure you spray own a base coat of primer and wait the designated time before you spray on your final coats of color.   A good coat of clear at the end will keep your truck looking good and keep some of the dings off it.  I also choose to add some style by using chrome paint on the wheels, gas tanks, and grills.

Step 5: Custom paints

I choose to mask out some designs for a few of the trucks.   Use painters tape of thin line masking tape when you want to lay down some cool designs.   I traced a design on masking tape to make the smaller designs but free handed the thin line tape to make the design on the box.  not the best but it was my first time doing this so give me a break.  Once mask it down wait for paint to dry and pull the mask off. 

Step 6: Assembly

Put the wheels back on using the top hat nuts, place them one the use a flat surface pound them back together.  I used the back of a socket and a piece of flat steel to not ruin the paint in the rim.   make sure to put the box on before putting on the back wheels.  Then use either rivets or bolts to attach the box back to the frame.   make sure it is low profile head as to not interfere with the back wheels.  when placing cab or other accessory pieces make sure the tabs are straight and place them in their home, then bend them over to secure them in place.  Once everything is back in place enjoy the work you have created and get ready for all your friends and family to ask when can you have one done for all of their kiddos.
Awesome job, Buzzyman! You did a wonderful job! I'll definitely be referring back to this when I restore some 40+ year old Tonka's this spring. Thanks for sharing!
seth14454 months ago

this helps a bit got a stack of old trucks from my childhood wanted to restore so thanks

wclapie7 months ago

ok. do you use original paint? if so, where do you find it? I want to restore a 1970's blue dump truck. thanks for the example!

zfrye01 year ago
I used to have on as a kid. I had a big one that my little body could sit in and I would slide from one end of the room to the other.
joechacon983 years ago
Very nice! I remember playing with these tough toys as a kid. Come to think of it I may still have it!!!
I Will have to give this a shot!
l8nite3 years ago
You went all out ! I usually just wirebrush, tape and spray, you got really nice results, I'm sure there's some happy kids around you