F-150 won't start

My parents have 1997 F-150 4.6L 4x4 with about 82k on the clock. I was using it today to haul some stuff to the dump and to haul some gas cans to the gas station.

It started and drove fine as it always does. I dropped off the yard waste at the dump and proceeded to the gas station where filled up the truck (to the tune of $70) as an offer of application for letting me use the truck. I also filled up my 4 gas cans and secured them via bungee cord to keep them from moving about in the bed. I dropped the truck off and go on my way.

When I dropped the gas cans off, I got back in the truck and it wouldn’t start. I got a click/thunk and then nothing. The battery appears to be good, but I hooked up my battery charger to it just in case, I tried to start it again after about 4 hours on the charger and the same thing happened. I gave the starter a few whacks with a mallet and that didn’t improve the situation either.

I’m thinking it needs a new starter, but I’m more than willing to hear some other opinions.

ugh, the spell checker failed me. I filled up the truck as a token of appreciation

You might be exactly right, but before you score a replacement starter (since it flunked the mallet test) you might also check the battery w/ an ammeter and voltmeter, the cables, clamps and connectors and I’d also check the starter relay for a solid ground and good current flow when someone turns the ignition key. In the F150 '97, I think it’s on the right inside fender well. With 82K on it, it might be due for both the relay and starter, although the click is a good sign.

I tried to start it again this morning after the charger had been on overnight and weirdly it started right up. I dunno.