How To Begin Your Classic Auto Restoration Project
Many people begin to work on a restoration process and get lost in the details before they even manage to make a dent in the project. Is there an orderly way to go about restoring a classic automobile?
Without an unlimited amount of funds for your restoration, you will have to make some hard choices. The first one you will have to make is what kind of changes you want to take care of first - cosmetic or structural. When performing an authentic restoration, both types of changes will eventually have to be done. But most professional restorers will concentrate primarily on restoring the structural integrity of the automobile. Don't misunderstand. The cosmetic stuff - painting, enamel, finishes, upholstery - are all important and will be taken care of. But these things will always take a back seat to restoring and repairing the components that actually make the car run.
The second major decision you are going to have to make is to decide just how far you want to go with the whole restoration process. For example, if the car has a mechanical fuel pump in good working condition, are you going to nevertheless replace it because you believe that a restoration should be a "total" restoration? Or are you, instead, going to leave working parts as is and only concentrate on replacing parts that absolutely need to be replaced.
If you opt to stay 'pure' and only sanction the use of original parts, you will end up spending a lot more money and in most cases contributing no appreciable difference in the eventual condition of the car. With the later option, you only spend money where necessary. If a part works well, you leave it in. You not only get more bang for the buck but the money you save can be applied towards the exteriors of the vehicle making it a bona-fide showcase vehicle.
Where are you planning on doing your restoration work? This is probably the most important decision you will have to make when restoring a vehicle. By this time you should have put together your restoration time line and should have a good estimate on how long the process will take.
A good idea is to add a ten to twenty percent so called fudge factor to your estimated time line in order to give yourself a bit more leeway. This is the amount of time you will need to have the work area available to you. Try to find a work area that has a size of four to five times the footprint of the classic car you will be restoring. The bigger the better.
This may seem like a huge amount of space - and it is. But, you will mainly use this space for keeping track of all the auto parts that you will be using. You are going to have to keep track of each component you remove from the car. You can't just leave parts that you take from the car on the shop floor. Whenever you remove a car part, label it and place it in the correct storage section. Keep the removed car part around even if you have put a replacement part on the automobile. If something doesn't work when the restoration is complete, you'll be able to go back to the original part to resolve the problem.
The space that you choose should be clean and it should have lots of lighting. In addition, if it is at all possible, try to find one that has the availability of a either a stationary or portable pneumatic car lift. This will make your work immeasurably easier and more enjoyable over the coming weeks and months.
At Jeff Lilly Restorations we specialize in building Hot Rods and Auto Restoration of all makes and models. View our channel for more technique videos!
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