Restoration of an AMF 508 Fire Truck Pedal Car!

Pedal cars have been popular for decades. Several American companies manufactured them in the past, including AMF. I had the opportunity to find a fairly complete model 508 fire truck in late 2013. The graphics suggested it was sold in the late 1970's and for the past few years it sat unused outdoors. Here's how I went about restoring it.
The entire car was covered with surface rust but relatively undamaged. The decals were flaking off but readable.
The items missing are the ones you would expect, plastic parts like hub caps and the red light that was originally mounted on the hood. Since the ladders were just hung on hooks, they were probably the first things lost.
The bell on the hood was missing the clapper and had been pushed to one side.
I suppose it was common for a second kid to try to ride on the back step causing the bends in the back panels.
One of the nylon bushings connecting the pedal strap was broken, which explains the entire running gear on the right side being missing.
Surface rust wasn't limited to the outside, but surprisingly the cotter pins holding the steering together survived.
Most of the parts were attached with number 10 slot head bolts that rusted solid and had to be drilled out during disassembly.
Once the front wheels had been removed the entire front assembly came out and taken apart.
Each piece of the running gear was stripped of rust and old paint.
Here's the rear axle saddle after primer paint.
And here's the front axle assembly. The angle of the braces and pivoting of the wheel arms made painting this piece a small challenge.
Once the old paint was removed from the wheels, the rubber got taped off in preparation for paint.
The AMF 508 came with "whitewalls", so the wheels required a 2 step paint process. First a coat of black over the entire surface. Then holding a plastic container of the right size in place the white could be applied.
Once the other parts were ready, the work on the body could begin. Stripping the rust and paint away revealed the sheet metal of the fire truck was in good shape with only a few dings and some pitting.
The bulk of the sanding went pretty quickly but the creases and corners required several hours and the use of a variety of sanding and grinding tools.
After repairing the minor dents revealed by sanding, the underside got the automotive primer first, including all the recesses.
The entire body got 3 coats of primer with each coat drying at least 24 hours. Since this was done in winter, paint could only be applied when the temperature and humidity were right so some coats had several days to dry.
The same routine was followed when applying the red paint, beginning with the underside.
To get the best result, the red paint was applied in several light coats, allowing each one to dry completely. This eliminated any runs.
Plastic replacement ladders can be purchased, but it was easier and far less expensive just to make new ones out of wood using the original dimensions. Several photos on the Internet show ladders that are far to big.
One of the most difficult features to reproduce is the "chrome" grille. Silver paint is tricky so I always do it last. It has to be applied in very light coats and has to dry thoroughly between coats.
I decided to eliminate the hooks and mount the ladders to the ladder bars permanently. With mounting holes predrilled, 2 coats of white paint make them look right.
Replacements for the seat can also be purchased, simple stick on versions are cheap but you can also buy pleated padded vinyl models costing around $40. I cut a a piece of thin wood and covered it with batting and vinyl. It attaches with a short bolt through the body.
There were a few items that had to be purchased, like the nylon bushings for the rear axle assembly. I was able to fabricate the missing pedal strap that runs from front to back. With everything painted, the pedal car could be reassembled.
Originally, the nylon bushings on the rear axle assembly were held in place by crimping the axle after they were in place. After filing away the crimp, I drilled holes in the axle and used cotter pins to hold them in.
All new hardware was used in assembling the pieces. The steering shaft was cleaned and covered with clear coat to retain the original look.
The front steering is assembled with cotter pins and ready to be installed.
The front steering assembly would limit access to the mounting holes for the bell and light so they were attached first.
Feeding the steering shaft up through the body allows the front steering assembly to be bolted in.
The rear axle assembly went in next. Nylon locking nuts were used on everything.
Bolting in the new padded seat covered up the bolts on the rear axle assembly that go through the body.
Freshly painted pedal hangers slip into the steering assembly, the pedal straps slip over the ends with new pedals and retaining caps to hold it all together.
Actually, I had to loosen the rear axle assembly for the wheels to clear the body, but that was easy enough.
With the running gear in place it was time to mount the ladder bars. The bolts were trimmed to not protrude beyond the nylon locking nuts.
The AMF 508 fire truck is finished, with the exception of a string to ring the bell with.
Using the proper dimension on the ladders makes a better appearance and allows kids to get in and out easier.
The license plate decal was covered during painting to retain some originality.
To dress up the appearance of the steering wheel, I fabricated some inserts.
Restoring the AMF model 508 fire truck pedal car was fun and it's nice to see a classic American toy preserved for another generation. I'll be selling it and hope it goes to a boy or girl that will get plenty of joy from it.
Previously, I've built a 41 Willys Gokart and 50's Mercury style stroller.



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