The Need for Functionality and Aesthetics Drove this Project
After relocating the tank to under the bed, I initially was thinking I'd simply weld a fuel access door in the bed floor... then as more time went by and the ugliness of the wavy old steel bed floor continued to scream for attention, it wasn't long that I began looking for bed wood for the 8' style side. And as I'm sure you are quite aware, nobody makes such an animal... well that was until I did. Enjoy the step-by-step photo heavy article.
This was by far one of the most gratifying and fun projects on the '57 so far because not only was there some retro-fitting mechanical work involved, but I was also able to break out my table saw and do some woodworking which is one of my passions.
Dealing with the ugly bed became a top priority for me. Each time I went out to cut the hole for the fuel fill access I would literally get bummed at the ugly sight of the bed floor and then walk away. Three years ago when we put the red bed liner spray on it looked good 'nuff but apparently the rust treatment was not washed off enough and the liner has begun to bubble off. The only consolation prize is that there is no visible rust present so although the red liner is coming off, the undercoating is still keeping the rust at bay.
After doing a bit of drafting (former general contractor) I was able to design the layout of the cross members as well as the custom bed strips that will work with standard lumber sizes. This keeps the amount of work and price down to a minimum.
The next item was to locate the exact position of the hole in the bed for the fuel filler cap which will be mounted on the center board. I bumped the width of the center board up to 1x10 to accommodate the fuel door I selected keeping in mind that the fill spout on the '69 Mustang is off center and to the right (passenger) side. You can see this by looking at the square I cut into the bed. Although the square hole is centered, the fill is to the right. the 1x10 was wide enough to account for this and not run into issues with the steel bed strips.
I tried using a cardboard tube to continue the angle of the fill tube and locate exactly where it would cross through the wood floor given the height of the 'system' but it still didn't give me an accurate measurement of where to cut the hole in the bed wood. I took some scrap 1x10 and cut the hole in the center as though it were the 8' piece which will allow me to position that as a template revealing 1/2" from edge of tailgate (below) which worked perfectly.