4 Useful Tips for Classic Car Restoration You Can Use After Your Auto Mechanic Course
In the United States, automotive restoration generated over $1.4 billion in sales in 2014. That’s not the only reason to delve into classic car restoration; most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.
Restoring a classic car to its former glory can be challenging, and demands a lot of TLC, patience, and skill—as well as a good tool kit. Car restoration can make for a great pastime, hobby, or side project, but is a rewarding experience for any classic car enthusiast. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when giving your dream car a much needed facelift.
1. Imagining a Realistic Final Result
Generally, the level of restoration depends on your expectations. Do you want to take your car out for a flashy ride every now and then, or do you want to restore it to its original condition? If you want the car to look good, you should focus on cosmetic aspects, rather than how well it runs. If you want to drive it frequently, pay more attention to non-cosmetic aspects like the interior mechanics.
2. Where’s the Starting Line?
One of the first steps you should take when restoring a classic car is to identify the main areas you want to start with. A thorough restoration will require a lot of your time, and you should know which parts will give you the most trouble. Will it be engine repair? Upholstery? Finding that original, never used, incredibly rare turn-of-the-century brake light? Whatever you decide you need to spend the most time on, start with the easiest aspects first.
For a non-cosmetic project, you can begin with the braking system because of its relatively straightforward design. Put the more labour-intensive, complicated portions like engine replacement or interior repair on hold until the simpler things are taken care of. Your time in auto mechanic school will have taught you which systems in a car are the most and least complex, and to avoid the headache later, ease into your restoration by starting with something easily fixed.
3. Draw an Outline Based on What You Learned in Your Auto Mechanic Course
A key aspect of a successful car restoration is being properly prepared. Improvisation may work occasionally, but you should have a working plan to follow, and what you learned in your auto mechanic course is a great foundation to build on.
In order to guarantee proper handling, for instance, make sure you’re aware of the particular suspension and steering components. Pay attention to the electrical system, because a faulty wiring system can result in significant and costly damage. Common maintenance includes flushing the radiator and transmission fluids, changing the engine oil, and replacing any older components like spark plugs or air filters. If you’re interested in cosmetic or interior work, prepare the body of the car for new paint by removing any rust or corrosion or replacing any unsalvageable parts with fresh metal.
4. Replacing the Engine: Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke
When it comes to a car’s engine, some restorers feel it’s more authentic to use a period-correct replacement. Replacing the entire engine is a possibility, but if you’re concerned with your budget, it may be a better idea to do some maintenance yourself. Your garage experience will come in handy here, because it not only teaches you what to replace and how, but saves you money on outside consultations.
Tearing down an engine will likely take a bulk of your project’s time, because disassembly, finding working replacement parts, and then installing them are very time-intensive. If you’re going to take out the engine, obviously you must first make sure it can be fully removed first. Detach the carburetor, generator, starter, and fuel pumps from the electrical connections, and disconnect all wires, cables, and fluid lines. Consult the car manual if you have it on hand. If you’re going to replace or repair the entire engine, an engine hoist may be necessary in order to remove it fully from the car.
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