If you are a fan of vintage and custom trucks, watching an evening cruise of the old-time vehicles followed by a root beer float and sock-hop music may just be the perfect way to end a warm summer day. For those who may be more interested in the mechanics of the event, looking at the vehicles’ engines, exhaust systems and accessories may be more fascinating than bopping to the rhythmic tones and savoring the old-fashioned snack food. Some of the more fascinating accessories that are found on the older pick-up trucks are the running boards.
Built for heavy hauling, many of the trucks have been the workhorse of choice, back in the day, for farmers, foresters, contractors and other folks involved in rigorous labor. The running boards served as a step, giving an extra boost of support as the driver or passengers climbed into the vehicle’s cab. On some models, the running boards extend back to the raised area over the back wheels. This configuration allowed for individuals to step up for leverage as they lifted and positioned items in the front part of the pick-up bed. Few of the original truck running boards remain on refurbished or customized vehicles. The older metals they were made from often rusted and wore out.
The fastening bolts and clips eventually broke from stress or weak metal. So newer versions have been fit on the vehicles — some handmade to precisely replicate the originals. Some of the vintage truck owners have been pleasantly surprised to find running boards made for certain models of brand new cars fit their old trucks perfectly and have the advantage of being made of modern materials that resist the problems that caused the old running boards to break. With some reinforcement of the trucks’ bodywork, and clever application of new, stronger attachments, the modern running boards do not detract from the overall aesthetics when a custom truck is driving in an old-car parade or sitting on the field in a car show. If you buy a new truck today, you may discover that some dealers sweeten the look and price of the vehicle by having running boards installed. Many pick-ups, however, come without running boards or other accessories. In some cases, this approach gives you the opportunity to select your own add-ons as part of the price negotiations.
More often, buyers wait until after they have made the purchase and brought the truck home before they start accessorizing. This gives new owners more time to select from the wide variety of boards that are available from several different manufacturers. The quality is far superior to that of vehicles that are decades older. Technology has advanced the methods of processing steel, plastics and fiberglass into sturdy accessories that hold up under all types of punishment. There is even coating that is applied to some types of running boards to protect the paint from the ultraviolet rays of the sun and reduce the chances of chipping and peeling.
The most commonly selected running boards for a flashy display are the ones made of stainless steel. These can also be very utilitarian, with a raised-diamond pattern that provides slip-resistant footing when boosting yourself into the seat. These type of accessories are relatively easy to maintain. If mud gets stuck on them, it can generally be washed off with a spray nozzle set on high and attached to the end of the garden hose. If necessary, hot soapy water, a scrub brush and some good old-fashioned elbow grease will eliminate the worst types of grime. After a short time in the sun and breeze, the running boards are dry and gleaming like new.