View Full Version : Apitong wood for truck beds and stakes
09-25-2004, 01:29 PM
As I am restoring my A-130 stakebed pickup, I have been researching the question of wood for the bed and the stakes. As Paul from down under and many others have pointed out, these vehicles were shipped without the wood and then fitted with beds and stakes locally. Most of my research has pointed to white oak as the answer, but I have recently become aware that nearly 100% of retrofitters here in Southern California are using a hardwood called "Apitong", which is from Malaysia. If these trucks were being made today, I have no doubt that this is the way they would be fitted.
What are your thoughts?
09-25-2004, 02:19 PM
This is my opinion, from a person who has a forestry masters degree and who teaches wood and tree Id at a college in WV. I say stick with the white oak, it will last a long time is very durable, not to mention it looks great and you will help support US lumber market(however little it may be). I cannot comment on the wood from malaysia as to its durability look etc, as I am not familiar with it. However, most wood that comes from other countries is harvested by unsustainable means, usually the conversion of forested areas to farm lands, which results in erosion and high degrees of degradation to the land. Forest harvesting in the US has lots of federal regulation and is done usually in a sustainable manner so forest are healthy and there for the future. You may have no concerns for the environment or this may not effect your decision in anyway, but if I was going for a complete restored look I would want to stick with the wood species that was most likely found on it when it originally was made
09-25-2004, 04:33 PM
Thanks for your reply. I agree with you - the white oak is the original way to go. Interesting though, that in this time of cheap and cheaper, so many things in the US has gone overseas, including the commercial truck bed industry here in L.A. Nine out of ten cabinetmakers I know have gone out of business because people can buy cheaper MDF at Ikea or some overseas maker or the like. And of course, they complain when it falls apart in the first year....
A huge part of my interest in this vehicle is that it is tough and American made, and being a carpenter, I am very sensitive to the facts of deforestation and sustainable wood harvest. Your point is well taken, and as I am making great efforts to be true to the original in every way, will continue on that path. I appreciate your educated opinion on the subject.
09-30-2004, 06:25 PM
FWIW Alec, I think apitong just looks too modern.
09-30-2004, 11:36 PM
Agreed - apitong does look too modern. Any thoughts about painting the stakes? (See my other thread) The only photo I have of the vehicle is a 1958 ad that showes the stakes painted same as the truck. Indeed, I see remnants of paint on the stakes of my truck, wilted and rotten as they are. I am trying to figure out if an authentic restoration to the bed and stakes would be natural wood or painted- any thoughts?
10-03-2004, 07:25 PM
I researched Apitong for a small flatbed I was going to make for one of my Scouts...
Apitong for a Terra sized flatbed, bed only, was about $500-$750, and I'd have to go to Denver to get it.
Durable as hell, and I like the look, but it's not cheap, neverminding the cost of the equipment to machine it.
12-21-2004, 08:13 AM
Well, just a thought for you guys on this wood issue. "Stock" wood used in our truck beds would have been any hardwood at hand at the time especially during the Depression. That being said, thoughts on wood: First, apitong is an extremely durable wood but it must be oiled constantly if you want to actually use it. It is used in trailer infills out east here and in wood deck flatbeds for 25-30 years until they went totally out of style recently. A far more responsible tropical hardwood would be ipe, much harder, denser, and infinitely more durable than almost all woods other than Osage Orange and Black Locust, which have nearly impossibly figured grains for flat use. It is absolutely plantation grown, to alleve the concerns of the most ardent tree-huggers (like me). If you were out East here, I would point you to Southern Yellow Pine, which in old-growth form is harder than White Oak when dried properly and is able to take paint, which White Oak isn't if there is ANY humidity. Genuine White Oak is very hard to find, as most 'white oak' species are actually Chestnut, Blackjack, Black etc and they will rot out instantly. Even the best lumber mills can't identify it or don't care. White Oak (and Live Oak for that matter) contain silica in their vascular bundles that totally block the transmission of rot spores when they contract in the drying process. Red Oak etc can be used as drinking straws even when kiln dried and while pretty is better used as interior trim or heirloom furniature. You must use non-ferrous fasteners with oak species as the iron will react with the tannins staining the wood black and leading to the breakdown of the lignins - rendering the wood dust eventually. $$$ note: Ipe is expensive, but 400 bucks should be sufficient for your flatbed even if you use it for the skeleton. Apitong is less expensive, wonder why you can't get it there, beware that almost all Apitong comes into the country green as grass and will shrink/warp if not properly seasoned. If money is no object, plantation grown Teak will last longer than your bloodline. Genuine White Oak is probably as expensive as Teak. If you want it, make sure the seller can prove that it is genuine or it's a pig-in-a-poke.
12-21-2004, 03:02 PM
I was discussing this issue with a friend of mine today and we were both 50/50 about what wood to use. In the Mid-Atlantic, we agreed that oak probably would have been used, too, but my buddy states that in New England some body manufacturers used ash for a long time. Very hard, but in Maryland it would rot out in a few years. I guess it depends on climate - I have a friend in Maine that has building boats with white Pine for 30 years, and his father for 50 before that. White Pine is the least durable wood to use on anything exposed down here, turns brittle then to mush as soon as it loses it's h2o. I wouldn't get on a boat made from White Pine, but there are plenty afloat up there 70 years old plus. Also, Adirondack canoes and guideboats were often made from ash, some still useable 100 years later. One thing to consider, the wood was probably considered a wear/maintenance item back then, and if you are actually going to work it who cares what wood you should use? When it split or decomposed they would have replaced it with something cheap TO THEM. If it is a show truck that is to go in parades, why not do something showy? Follow ups: (1) use silicon bronze bolts (1/4" should do) with oak so as not to stain the wood and (2) use Rosewood oil on the ipe if you go that route. Teak oil will also work. Very pricey, but if you are already springing for the wood, ???
12-31-2004, 07:15 PM
I built the bed on this truck and used Ipe, or Ironwood. I used (5) 3" cross pieces which is what the wood lays on, then I welded 1" channell (on end) in between the wood pieces. It looks like teak, but wears like iron. IMHO, it's the best of both worlds, because it looks great, and you can load stuff on it. If it gets scratched, the scratch will turn the color of the rest of the wood in a couple of weeks. It's 100% clear. It will not accept wood stain very well, so dont bother. It dosent swell or contract with tempature very much either. Just put it in and your done.
Rex A. Reed
12-31-2004, 08:57 PM
I recall a word of caution from a trailer manufacturer concerning Apitong. A splinter in the flesh is prone to be come infected quite quickly and is difficult to heal. Wear gloves.
01-01-2005, 08:06 PM
Just a note to Ipe, Apitong, teak, greenhart etc use. All of these have oils and natural waxes that make it hard to seal, glue etc. These oils can cause reactions not unlike poison ivy when cut or machined. They also contain silica which with the oils aren't the best things to inhale. Be careful.
I would recommend sealing the ipe bed with teak oil or rosewood oil. While incredibly hard and dimensionally stable, it WILL check and cup because most of it is sold green and flatsawn to boot. I saw a complete deck disaster 2000sf+ had to be ripped up and thrown in the dumpster. Seal the cut ends with wax. Acetone is the best cleaner if you need to glue it up. Use Gorilla glue only.
Ipe is harder than kiln dried oak, and rivals teak for rot resistance.
09-01-2005, 08:15 PM
Well fellas, here it is nine months later, and I have finished my truck. What I decided to do was go one section at a time, begginning with the wooden trunions that sit on the frame and are actually supporting the bed. I milled these my self out of White oak, which I found in extremely limited quantity at the best yard in town. I had to laminate two pieces in each direction to get the length and thickness I needed. It was quite a chore, but worth it. When It came time for the bed and the stakes, I called the same yard and asked if I could get some wider pieces, and they laughed. "Not likely" they said. They were willing to provide me with the same 5.5" White Oak pieces that I had used before, and the wood for the bed alone would have cost $650. THEN I would have had to T&G it, shortening the width. SO, I went with the Apitong, which here in Southern California is plentiful and cheap. The Bed, which was pre-milled T&G, and the wood for the stakes, and ALL the hardware, screws and boltsfor the whole thing came to $550. Since it is a user truck for my construction business, I am happy about it. I finished everything with a siliconized stain, prefinishing the undersude of the bed before I put it down. While it may or may not be the purest approach, it was the best one for me. I thank all of you who commented so thoughtfully about this subject, and invite you to see my posts of the finished product.
09-02-2005, 01:54 AM
That's looking *extremely* nice, Alec :D
09-03-2005, 07:59 AM
I dont know how abundant it is where you are, but I recomend cypress. The stuff just wont rot....ever. We use it on our custom wood garage doors, and it is easy to paint, and esay to work with. Maybe a little softer than you want though.
09-07-2005, 11:27 PM
Hapless, what sort of expansion/contraction clearance do you allow for with cypress? I am considering recommending to a client that their deckhouse/wheelhouse be made of cypress, and I have about 5000 bd ft of dry 120 yr old long timbers to use. My experience is that the stuff moves a lot, and while incredibly durable (especially the old growth stuff I am using) I am worrying about making the floating joints too tight. Vertical tongue and groove, with panels and drop windows. It is obviously a marine environment, and will be at max humidity most of the time but will also bake in the summer sun for 1 1/2 - 2 months.
09-10-2005, 10:07 PM
expansion isnt much of a problem here......curling is....we just but it up and have never had a problem to solve the curling issue, we run shallow vgroves down the back and use alot of wood screws, as well as f-26 and silicone.
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