When I picked up my '52 F-1, there really wasn't a panel on the thing that didn't need either a day's worth of hammer and dolly work or a patch panel job. From the bed pockets to the fenders and running boards to the hood, they all had their own trouble spots. But these all paled in comparison when it came time to repair the front valance. It seemed that the truck was driven for a considerable amount of time without a front bumper and without regard for the fact that said truck did not have a front bumper. There were more waves in that thing than a beauty pageant parade but luckily, some savvy "fabricator" decided that he'd fix things up real nice. He torched the stock bumper bracket openings, stick-welded two galvanized patch panels into place, and proceeded to skim the entire thing liberally in Bondo. If I could find that guy today...
Thankfully, he didn't touch the stock grille tooth openings, so at least I had that working for me. I stripped the Bondo and paint down to the bare metal and started cutting the offending pieces away. When I was finished, I was left with about one third of the original sheetmetal intact. Without hesitation, I fab'd two pieces to fill the void and set about with my MIG welder and grinder. The end result was head and shoulders above what was originally there, believe me.
That brings us to our topic of today. Since I filled the front valance devoid of any bumper openings, I wasn't sure how I wanted to proceed. I didn't mind the look of the truck without the front bumper, but I wanted to avoid that "smoothy" look that often befalls such a modification. No, it definitely needs something up front but without having a stock bumper, either front or rear for that matter, that left me with a bit of a puzzle. I could pick up a couple of stock units from an advertiser, but that didn't seem like that much fun. Oh, and did I mention that when the joker who "repaired" the front valance the first time, he also "repaired" the front framerails by whacking a good 10-inches off them?
As you can see in this photo, the lower valance on our F-1 required some serious surgery t
That little tidbit of information is what got the ball rolling on this whole nerf bar idea. I wanted to add some shine to the front of the truck since they are notoriously lacking unless you're lucky enough to find a grille that's chromed. Having plans to paint mine, I felt it just needed a little something to add some sparkle to the front end. The solution was to make a pair of nerf bars out of stainless steel that would serve to protect the valance as well as adding a little "bling" to the front of the truck. By using stainless steel instead of regular steel, it allows me to send them out to be polished instead of having to find a decent chrome shop (not an easy thing in present day California). It will also outlast a chrome finish as they can simply be removed, polished, and reinstalled whereas chrome would eventually deteriorate.
Armed with a simple picture in my head of what I wanted, I began by cutting the bracket slots in the valance and fabbing up the brackets themselves out of 1/4x3-inch stainless plate. Then I used 3/4-inch stainless solid rod and began playing with different shapes until I hit upon the one I liked. A few minutes with the welder and they were ready to bolt back up on the truck.
When the truck gets blown apart for paint they'll be taken to the polishing shop, but until then this small addition has really changed the front end of the truck and has given it a hot rod feel, exactly what I was after.
Once the new openings are located, two 1/2-inch holes are drilled, one at the top and one
A cutoff wheel on a die grinder is then used to mate the two holes. The result is an openi
We're using 1/4x3-inch stainless steel plate for the bracket portion of the nerf bars. The
Here, the two brackets are mounted to the framerails and ready to be trimmed.
I also checked that the two brackets are level with each other.
I decided to trim the brackets to 2 inches, keeping the nerf bars fairly close to the vala