Radio Flyer Restoration

3,722

22

14

About: Husband, Father, Woodworker,

A quick walk through on how I restored a Radio Flyer Town and Country wagon.

Step 1: Finding the Wagon.

While walking through a local Habitat Restore I spotted something I could not leave without.

A 1980-1983 Radio Flyer Town and Country (if you know more about year please leave a comment)

Step 2: A Closer Look

Just a few more pictures of how it arrived before the restoration process takes place.

The red slats were pretty faded and front piece you'll see in the next few sets broken.

Main bottom pretty stained.

All the metal was rusted.

Step 3: Tear Down and Inspection

After tear and parts layout the the worst part was on the front slat. It appears the handle has just hit it one too many times.

Everything came apart pretty nicely. Other than the wheels they are put on with Safety Nuts or Lock washers (what ever you would like to call them) I was afraid to take them off being a once use item and unable to find the correct ones again.

Step 4: Fixing the Front Slat

I Pulled the single slat off the front runners. Once i had it off it fell into two separate pieces.

Grabbed some titebond 2 and clamped it all back together.

Let it dry really well then take the clamps off and inspect before working with it.

Trying to get of the cracked chunk out in the prettiest way I traced a line to the best of my free hand ability.

Grabbed my Router table and using a flush trim bit I took away as much of the meat of the wood before moving it to my (Ridgid) table top spindle sander.

Out come was pretty nice.

Step 5: Sanding Frame of Base

The frame of the base as pictured had a bit of build up from the years. Old varnish and clear cracking and just needed some attention.

I went back to the table top sander and ran the boards a few passes all the way around. I did this with the sander over a joiner or planer as I wanted to keep as much material as I could.

The last picture was right before I hand sanded for a smooth clean finish.

Step 6: Washing Sanding and Painting

Moving on to the metal.

First I took some good old soap and water and just scrubbed as much as I could off.

(NO PICTURES SORRY) I sanded it all down

again I didn't pull the wheels so had to tape it all off Strung it up and shot some paint.

And the out come here was BEAUTIFUL...

Step 7: Sanding and Prepping the Base Bottom

I was a bit unhappy with the out come here but its what is expected with 30 years of use.

As I was sanding I had to continue to sand deeper into the wood issue here I started to sand through the top layer of plywood which is NOT a good thing.

So i had to back off just smooth it all out and move on.

At the same time its not a new one and it is a restoration piece so just chalk it up as character!

Step 8: Assembling the Base and Frame

Pretty straight forward step here

I just reversed my tear down and added a bit of wood glue and some extra brad nails here to try and help it last another 30 years.

Step 9: Coating / Weatherproofing

I coated the entire base before assembling the wheels and sides with Helsman Spar Urethane ( https://www.amazon.com/Minwax-63205444-Helmsman-Ur... )

It gave it a Deep rich look and will protect it from the weather and even more staining over the years!

Step 10: Clear Coating the Slats

Again wanting to keep the wagon as close to factory as I could I cleaned them really good and added a few really good coats of spray on clear coat!

And WOW the red really pops

Step 11: Time to Put It Together.

Adding all the wheels and slate holders.

Step 12: And Its a Wrap!!!

could not be happier with the outcome of this little wagon.

Being able to build and restore this little wagon for my son puts a smile on my face and I truly hope one day he will understand what that means as well.

I can only hope it holds up for him and lasts another 30 year!

I would love any comments positive or negative I enjoy learning from others and giving back to this awesome community!

Fix It! Contest

Second Prize in the
Fix It! Contest

Share

Recommendations

  • Plastics Contest

    Plastics Contest
  • Make it Glow Contest 2018

    Make it Glow Contest 2018
  • Optics Contest

    Optics Contest

14 Discussions

0
None
JenniferM508

Question 20 days ago on Step 10

I have recently aquired one. I need to replace the base. The plywood is rotten. My question is what did you use to clean the red slats without ruining them? I don't want to repaint just get all the grime off without removing any paint

2 more answers
0
None
jones424JenniferM508

Answer 20 days ago

I just took a bristle brush (something like you clean a shower or tile with) and soap and water. but be careful as the red will bleed and chip off sorta easy or mine did. I then just took clear coat over the whole thing and brightened it back up. Good luck and be sure to share some photos once finished.

0
None
JenniferM508jones424

Reply 17 days ago

Thank you! I will. I will definitely post the Grand Finale!

0
None
Tura Street

5 weeks ago

This looks pretty cool. Thanks for sharing.

0
None
PakrninjaGaming

2 months ago

Great Job! I have the exact same wagon that my grandparents had on the farm for us kids to play around in. I inherited it and plan on restoring it some day, maybe for my grandkids years down the road.

1 reply
0
None
jones424PakrninjaGaming

Reply 2 months ago

Thank you!

That is great and if you do please share I love this stuff. I love the idea of passing down memories with items.

0
None
jones424KennyC63

Reply 2 months ago

Thank you sir! Hope all is going well!

1
None
Wildcat Man and Robin

2 months ago

Sweet! We have an old metal radio flyer that we put bigger, fatter tires on to make it more usable for hauling things over rough terrain. I love that they were invented by an Italian immigrant and named in honor of two other inventions, the radio and airplane. Your model is listed on their website, “First introduced in the 1960’s, the Radio Flyer Town & Country is a rugged, traditional wood wagon that has a “down-on-the-farm” feel that kids love. Its features put safety right up front, including smooth streamlined corners, a controlled turning radius that guards against tipping, and a quiet ride” https://www.radioflyer.com/heritage/

1 reply
0
None
jones424Wildcat Man and Robin

Reply 2 months ago

Wow! Thank you so much that was very helpful! I looked and searched and never found that page!

0
None
EcoExpatMike

2 months ago

It looks great. I got my son a little one (apparently first such wagon in all of Pangasinan Province). Much amusement when he loaded up his little brown stuffed bear and took it for a tour of the neighborhood.

1 reply
0
None
jones424EcoExpatMike

Reply 2 months ago

That sounds like a good time! Thank you for the kind words!

0
None
seamster

2 months ago

Beautiful work on the restoration! I fixed up a metal radio flyer wagon several years ago (did an instructable on it too!).

Very nicely done on yours!!

1 reply
0
None
jones424seamster

Reply 2 months ago

Thank you doe the kind words! I did stop by your page as well impressive work