Speedaway Sled Restoration

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Blog entry by Lenny posted 01-04-2015 09:32 PM 3623 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

About ten years ago, while cleaning up my mother’s garage for her, I asked if I could take this old Speedaway sled. It had belonged to one of my younger brothers. The thought I had in mind was to one day restore it. It’s been sitting in my garage and/or shed since bringing it home. I finally took it out this past November and began the restoration.

I really enjoy the show “American Restorations” that appears on the history channel. It is a spinoff of “Pawnstars”. Rick Dale, the owner of Rick’s Restorations in Nevada, takes on restoration projects of every kind and sort and the work he and his crew put out often amazes me. Some restorations are to basically fix and clean up the item, leaving its patina, others are made to look like the original product, as if just placed on the showroom floor. On this sled, I was going for the latter. Rick sets a high standard of workmanship and seeks perfection in every job his company takes on. This was my mindset as I began the project.

The three slats are only 3/8” thick so my first thought of sanding them was not going to work. New ones had to be made. That caused me to decide to manufacture all new wooden pieces. I bought some ash and, using the original pieces as templates, made new ones.

The fasteners on the sled were rivets. Some were quite long and all but one was 3/16” diameter. The rivet that holds the middle slat was ¼”. I looked into purchasing rivets and then into how to install them. Long story short, I scrapped the rivet idea and went to ¼” carriage bolts and nuts. The sled will be used as a decoration, not actually used for sledding. Therefore it did not need the functionality (steering) rivets afford. Still, I was hesitant because of my desire to keep things original. I enlarged the necessary holes in the metal to accept the carriage bolts. In order for the bolts to sit flush on the metal, I had to grind the square portion on the underside of the bolt head. In the wood, I was able to countersink for the bolt heads. I added some Locktite to hold the nuts in place.

I looked into having the metal sand blasted but with an estimate of $40 to $80, it was more than I cared to spend on this. I have some wire brush drill accessories and used them to strip the metal of rust and paint. I couldn’t get to the underside of the trusses so I used a paint stripper and small hand held wire brush there. Once the metal was clean, I sprayed it with two coats of Rustoleum Rust Reformer and followed that up with 2-3 coats of Rustoleum Protective Enamel spray paint, red for the runners and black for the upper portion. As this will sit outdoors as a Christmas decoration, I applied two coats of marine varnish to all wooden parts.

Before applying that varnish, I had to do the graphics and lettering. This was easily the most tedious aspect of the project. The graphics and especially the lettering were faded and difficult to see in areas. I did my best to outline with an ultrafine Sharpie, what I perceived to be the correct lines. I then used a clear mylar product from an art store to trace the letters. Next, I used transfer or carbon paper to transfer the letters onto the new middle slat. Finally I hand painted the letters one by painstaking one. I noticed that the slats were attached to the base via domed-head nails. I found some stainless steel escutcheon pins online that matched well and ordered them. I added a length of rope and voila!

I am also posting this as a project.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

8 comments so far

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2202 days

#1 posted 01-05-2015 12:45 AM

Very nice work Lenny,looks brand new like you wanted !
A whole lot of work there for sure, have a similar one in the shed that was mine back in the day.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3097 days

#2 posted 01-05-2015 03:47 AM

Lookin’ good Lenny. Maybe you’ll get your own show? ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View patron's profile


13524 posts in 2763 days

#3 posted 01-05-2015 03:52 AM

nice to see you working again lenny

this sure looks nice
‘ya done good’ (as they say)

i know you usualy work from plans
just been thinking though

you got great skills
a nice shop
lots of time

seems to me the plan has been in your heart
all along

go for it
don’t wait for something you already feel for yourself

you got that wood from the old sled

go ahead and whip something lenny together

if you don’t like it

you can always go back
and stand in line
for a burger from mc donalds

be safe
and have a good year

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View littlecope's profile


3051 posts in 2923 days

#4 posted 01-05-2015 11:59 AM

Fine Work Lenny!
I’ve got an old Sled I’ve been wanting to do that to for years… It just never seems to rise any higher on the priority list…
The question that comes to mind is: Is your Brother now going to want it back? :)

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Roger's profile


19714 posts in 2225 days

#5 posted 01-05-2015 01:10 PM

Very fine restore Lenny. Lotsa gr8 details, and nice paint job as well. You have a steady hand. :)

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View NormG's profile


5424 posts in 2425 days

#6 posted 01-05-2015 08:03 PM

You did a wonderful job i this sled. I also enjoy Rick’s projects and how they look when revealed

-- Norman

View handsawgeek's profile


591 posts in 817 days

#7 posted 01-05-2015 08:18 PM

It would be nice if Rick himself was a member of Ljs and could see this. He’d be mighty proud.

-- Ed

View Lenny's profile


1469 posts in 2949 days

#8 posted 01-05-2015 08:49 PM

Thanks everyone. Mike, “He ain’t gettin’ it.” pure and simple! lol Ed, I am seriously considering writing a letter to Rick and sending photos.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

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