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SQUARE-BODY MAKEOVER | Replacing Exterior Trim With Brothers Trucks

Replacing Exterior Trim With Brothers Trucks

INDING A PERFECTLY PRESERVED TRUCK at a decent price is pretty rare these days. If you pick up a project, chances are that it will need some love in several areas. Recently we featured a ’79 Chevy C-10 that Tre 5 Customs made over. All other segments were worked on, including getting the engine running and looking better; lowering the stance; improving the handling, performance and stopping capabilities; sealing the cab with all new glass and weather stripping; and completely reviving the interior. The last thing on our to-do list was to give the exterior a full-body makeover. The truck arrived missing a ton of trim parts and both bumpers, so replacing the tired-looking parts and adding some new pieces would really change the appearance of our square-body.

We needed a ton of specialty parts to complete the big job ahead, so we turned to Brothers Trucks for help. Brothers specializes in 1947-87 Chevrolet and GMC truck parts—its catalog is chock full of classic and custom parts— and the staff did a great job helping us select the correct pieces for our makeover. Everything was ordered for the exterior of the truck, from small clips to bumpers and LED lights. A few days later, boxes of top-notch parts started arriving.

Since Tre 5 didn’t want to fully repaint the truck, and there were some scratches and dents along the sides, they decided to add a little extra to the exterior. The idea of wrapping the sides of the truck was floated, and the crew decided to run with the idea since it echoed the classic two-tone paint these trucks came with. They’d already decided to reinstall the body side trim moldings, so the edge of the wrap would disappear behind the trim. This would make the job of two-toning the truck very easy, plus it would conceal some of the scratches. Check out the complete process they went through to give this project a full-body makeover.

HOW IT ROLLED IN

How’s this for a contrasting photo? Here’s how the truck looked when the project first started.

The front end was missing a ton of parts, which, if nothing else, made the disassembly process easier.

 THE FRONT-END TRIM

Here are just some of the parts that we ordered from Brothers: headlights (P/N EHL8002), headlight bezels (P/N HLB7800), upper molding (P/N GMU7800), lower molding (P/N GML7800), grille (P/N GRL7778) and clear parking lamps (P/N EPL80RD).

The crew began the minor disassembly with the existing parking lamps. They removed the Torx screws that held the lens to access the screws that secured the housing. Once the housing screws were removed, they pulled the light away from the truck and rotated the plug to disconnect it from the housing.

Installing the new parking lamps was as simple as reversing the removal process. The new parking lamps come as a complete assembly, including the new lens and bulbs.

The old headlights were up next. The original equipment headlights are sealed, so if they ever go out, the entire headlight needs to be replaced. They ended up switching to a more modern-style assembly with a replaceable bulb. The first step to removing the old headlights is to remove the three perimeter screws on the retaining ring.

As seen here, the headlight and trim ring can be pulled away from the truck and the
wire plug disconnected. Some modification to the original plug is necessary in order to
plug into the new headlight bulb. They used a set of flush cuts to snip away the excess
plastic. Another option would be to splice in a new plug, but this method works just fine.

The new crystal-clear headlight was installed with a new retaining ring (P/N HLR8000) also picked up from Brothers.

The center moldings need to go on before the new headlight bezels. The new upper and lower moldings mount to the truck with plastic pegs that are built into the moldings. These pegs go through the factory mounting holes and are secured with small nuts that cut threads into the plastic pegs when tightened.

Like a lot of parts on the truck, these small clips were missing. They secure the headlight bezels to the truck and simply slide into place.

Installing the bezels is easy, thanks to the included Brothers hardware.

Next, the crew turned their attention to the front bumper. First, they installed the bumper brackets (P/N BRKT380), starting with those that mount to the top of the frame horns.

The bumper was held in place while tightening the bumper bolts (P/N BOLT002). The corner pieces of the bumper brackets were installed from behind and tightened after the bumper was aligned.

The center grille was the last piece of the front end to install. Before they could do it, they had to address the old, dry-rotted plastic clips that hold the grille in place. They used a screwdriver to break off the old ones and remove them.

The new clips were installed in the appropriate holes.

Installing the new grille was fairly simple, but it must be inserted just so because it sits
behind the trim. They used the provided hardware to secure the new grille in place.

The new front end is complete. It took less than two hours to install the new parts, and what a difference they make.

 FIXING THE REAR

Moving on to the rear of the truck, they began with the new rear bumper (P/N RRB7380). They figured it would be easier to install the license plate bracket (P/N LBA6772) and license plate light (P/N LLA6772) before the bumper was installed on the truck.

Just like up front, the brackets to the frame were mounted before installing the bumper. The rear bumper brackets (P/N BRKT80F) sandwich the rear part of the frame rail, with one piece going on the outside and one piece going on the inside of the frame.

The bracket covers (P/N BCPFS87) were also installed before the rear bumper. These pieces are all left finger-tight until the bumper is aligned.

With the mounting brackets and covers loosely in place, the bumper is set on the mounts and the new bolts are installed to secure the new rear bumper.

Initially, they received the truck with the tailgate removed, but tossed in the back of the bed, and all of the mounting hardware was missing too. Brothers had it covered with new mounting hardware. New hinges were installed at the bottom of the tailgate opening (P/N TGH8000).

At the top of the tailgate opening they installed the new tailgate latches and arms that Brothers sells as a one-piece unit (P/N TGA8700).

Next, they were ready to prep the truck for the center strip. The taillights were really the only part on the truck that were still in place and in the way of the wrap. They were removed to make wrapping the truck easier and because they would be replaced.

The crew cleaned and prepped the area where the new wrap would be installed. Having a clean surface is very important to promote good adhesion.

Here’s a look down the side of the truck before the wrap was installed. Notice that
the truck was also missing the key locks and turn signals. In this case, they were already
missing, but they should be removed if you plan to do anything like this to your truck.

Cameron from Arizona Autoworks came by to assist us with the vinyl wrap. He began by measuring the height of the stripe and cutting appropriate lengths of 3M 1080 Satin Black vinyl.

The precut pieces were gently laid on the truck. Manipulating the vinyl is fairly easy for someone with experience. The material stretches around large contours with ease, and a heat gun is used to shrink the vinyl around tighter corners and crevices.

Once the vinyl was smoothed over and all of the wrinkles and air bubbles had been worked out, the material was trimmed around any openings. The wrap job was particularly easy because all of the cut vinyl edges will be concealed by the new trim.

 SIDE TRIM

Speaking of trim, Brothers sells a complete body trim set (P/N TMS80SB). The set includes everything you see here and will completely wrap the center stripe of a truck.

All of the pieces mount to the body through existing holes. The hardware comes with the kit and is in bags attached to its corresponding trim piece. They made sure to keep track of this as we installed the new trim because every piece mounts differently.

Some of the pieces, like the upper cab corner piece, are attached through the pillar and accessed through the interior of the cab.

Other pieces, like those on the door, are a combination of pushthrough clips, nuts at the back of the door opening and screws at the front of the door opening.

They took their time and eventually installed all of the trim pieces. Here’s a photo of some of the other pieces in the kit. Brothers also sells these pieces individually, if you have one that’s damaged or are missing a few.

The turn signals on the fenders were missing. Fortunately, Brothers has a matching part for our front parking lights. These new side-marker lights (P/N EML7380) went in with the provided hardware. You can see how the new trim covers up the edges of the vinyl wrap.

The new fender-edge moldings finish the new trim on this project. These also come in a complete kit (P/N WOM7380) and take care of all four wheel wells. The kit comes complete with the new screws that simply screw into the existing holes.

New LED taillights (P/N LED87FD) replace the old, faded pieces and provide a more visible light, which not only looks better, it’s safer. The new lights simply plug right into the existing sockets.

 FINAL PIECES

Since yet another functional piece of the truck was missing, a new pair of rearview mirrors was ordered from Brothers. The new outside mirrors (P/N OMA7387) were installed using the brackets and hardware provided.

The new windshield wipers were the last parts to install. Brothers sells a kit that includes the new arms and blades (P/N WAS8784). If you’ve never removed the wipers from one of these trucks, you will find these photos useful. There’s a small hidden tab that needs to be lifted up in order to free the wiper arm from the mount. A pick tool was used to grab the tab and lift it up as the arm was pulled away from the truck. Installing the new wipers is as simple as pushing them down over the splines until the clip locks them in place.

 THE RESULTS

There was a lot of work put into this truck during a few months’ time, and we’d say it was well worth it. The truck came a long way from where it was after five years of neglect.

 

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