The M-5 running boards rusted through on most of the trucks.  They were stamped from heavy gauge steel and reinforcing plates were spot welded on the bottom side in the two areas where bolts went through the boards.  As in every other place that Studebaker doubled the metal thickness, water got in between the layers and caused rust - lots of it! 

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When the rust is this bad, throwing a bunch of weld beads at it will not solve the problem.  If there are any decent used running boards out there, I never found any.   I suspect that they were snatched up years ago.  I did find more boards like mine, though at pretty cheap prices.  So, I got a pair of those (the guy wouldn't sell me just one!).  In the area between the bolt hole pairs, there was a long straight section with the right ridges and width.  I put an abrasive cut-off wheel in my 7-1/2 inch circular saw and sliced off some strips 5 inches wide.  I cut the pieces to get the width of the tread area and a little of the edge.  Boy, did the sparks fly!

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Sawing off strips from the donor board.

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The board to be fixed marked for cutting.  Note the repair strip on the right side.

After wire brushing the cut area and the edges of the patch to remove paint and rust, I put the patch in the hole with a gap of about 1/16th of an inch all the way around.   I used some special grips from Eastwood to position and level the patch before tack welding it in place on all four sides.  Then I welded an inch or so at a time, first on one side, then in a different place on the other side.  After each short weld, I hammered each weld bead (with a dolly underneath) while it was still hot to stress relieve the area.  Even so, the welds induce a lot of stress in the metal and try to curl the board up like a potato chip.  I had left the vertical edge uncut to try to get the spacing correct and hold the board straight.  I wound up clamping some angle iron to the board as I welded to help maintain the shape.  It pays to go slowly to let the whole board cool off between welds.

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Placing the patch in the board.

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Angle iron clamped on to keep the board straight during welding.

At the back edge of the board, the lip had also rusted away.  This is the area where the filler panels below the bed get bolted to the running boards.  Same story: double the metal and rust is guaranteed.  I had to make some new strips for the lip and weld those on, too. 

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Putting the new lip in place.

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The back side of the board with the welding finished. 

Eventually, I was done welding.  Then, I carefully ground the welds on the top side to get back the shape of the beads and flat areas.  I left the back side unground to provide strength and stiffness.  I also added a 12 inch long, 1x1/8th inch strip that I welded on edge just below the notch under the back of the cab.   That stiffened up the board a lot and may prevent future cracking at the corner of the notch.  The boards will be sandblasted to remove any surface rust and body filler will be used to smooth the weld area. Then, they will be primed and painted all over and undercoated.  Rather than spot-weld the stiffening pieces that were there originally, I formed up some similar shaped pieces from 12 gauge sheet metal.  I'll paint them and then put some adhesive between them and the boards. I'm not sure what function they perform, anyway.   I hope that water will not attack the new metal!

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If you don't want to do this much work on your old boards, there are now fiberglass boards - and fenders, as well - available from Class Glass Performance in Frederick, MD.   See the truck parts at   They also have fenders for the later Studebaker C-cab trucks.

When the running boards go on, they mount with special bolts.  After a lot of research, I discovered that these are called "step bolts" and are available through specialty fastener companies.  They look like carriage bolts with rounded heads and square shanks, but step bolts have larger diameter (1-1/8), slightly rounded heads.  I had to buy a box with way too many bolts for me, so if you need some, send e-mail.  The bolts are 3/8-16x1, zinc plated steel.

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