Restoration Series About
Bodywork consists of all of the steps required to repair a damaged panel up to the paint prep stage. These steps include assessing the damage, grinding, repairing or reshaping the metal, molding and filling, and sanding the surface until it’s smooth and even with the rest of the panel.
In a perfect world, the autobody repair and refinishing industries would not be needed. Cars would never break or rust out, drivers would never have accidents and paint would last forever. But the truth is that auto repair and refinishing are big businesses in which many people are able to make good livings. Autobody repair, customizing and painting skills are valuable commodities in the automotive workforce.
However, since we all know that bodywork is a major part of any quality restoration…
Sheet metal work falls into two realms: manual arts and technical skills. The strategies for and operations of removing complex deformations (a.k.a. “dents”) from sheet metal body parts are so variable as to make choosing between them an art in itself.
There is usually no single correct approach to such a complex task, and various approaches may produce virtually equal results. Of course, there are also numerous substandard or incorrect approaches to this work that can hide original damage while actually producing further, hidden damage.
Because elements of judgment, efficiency, experience and even inspiration are possible in sheet metal work, it borders on being an art. However, other aspects of sheet metal work, such as hammering, welding and knowing the effects of heat on this material, are highly technical and require a clear understanding of cause and effect before you can understand and perform them successfully. These are really technical areas that can be demonstrated scientifically.
The result of all of this is that good sheet metal work requires a study of basic technical factors, experience in the actual work and imagination and ingenuity in approaching some of the more difficult problems posed by sheet metal repair.
One of the essential skills of body repair is the ability to attach two pieces of metal together. While this can be accomplished with rivets or adhesives, the most common and preferred method is welding. Welding is the process of heating metal up to its melting point, allowing the fusion of molecules between two separate sheets.
There are a number of ways to achieve the heat required to weld metal. One way is by igniting a combination of flammable gases; another is through the use of electricity to create an arc by grounding the rod (or wire), or by creating an arc with an electrode to melt the metal, then adding a filler rod of a similar material to the open gap. Fortunately for those who are starting out in autobody repair, welding is not difficult to learn. Once you acquire some fundamental techniques, you’ll find that they’re applicable to all forms of welding. You’ll also discover that familiarity with the different types of welding equipment is just as important as knowing how to use them.
From the salty tip of Texas to the moist summer air of Maine, sheet metal can take a beating. With precious few exceptions, the metal floors of most cars turn to swiss cheese after 50 years and tens of thousands of miles of exposure to water, snow and salt. Though floor pans are seldom seen and sometimes forgotten, most restorers know they will have to repair them on cars that enter their shops. Among those restorers is Jerry Kopecky of Kopecky’s Klassics in Iola, Wis.
Kopecky has restored several types of collector cars, but his restoration business has evolved to specialize in finned MoPars, especially convertibles. Thanks to his attention to detail, restorations out of Kopecky’s shop have commanded record prices for finned MoPar convertibles at Barrett-Jackson’s January auction. Kopecky’s latest project car is a customer’s 1960 Chrysler 300-F convertible, one of today’s hottest postwar cars. That 300-F is the subject of this article, though the principles that Kopecky undertook to repair the floor pans apply to all finned MoPars, as well as most other metal-floored vehicles.
Perhaps your collector car doesn’t want to start on cold mornings, runs roughly, or some electrical systems refuse to function. Perhaps it may be time to replace the wiring harness, or convert the vehicle over to 12-volts. On the other hand, especially if you intend to keep the vehicle in original condition, a 12-volt conversion, complete with an alternator, may not be the way to go.
Automotive electrical systems are usually either 6 volts or 12 volts, with the exception of many military vehicles which are 24-volts. Most older U.S. vehicles manufactured prior to 1956 are 6-volts. A 6-volt vehicle will have three vent caps on the battery. There are exceptions to every rule, and the exception is some imports (along with some GM and Chrysler vehicles) beginning around 1953 that were 12-volts. Volkswagen continued with 6-volt systems up to 1967. A well-maintained stock automobile that was originally 6 volts will probably function well on the stock electrical system. However, if you plan to install a lot of modern accessories, such as an 800-watt super-mega sound system, or to restify a 1952 Chevrolet Bel Air by installing a 454-cubic-inch Chevrolet engine, you should consider converting over to 12 volts as the 6-volt electrical system will not have the required energy to handle spark requirements on a high-compression engine.
One way to restore leaf springs is to “re-arch” them using the cold-setting method. Cold setting is done by bending spring steel back to its original shape while cold. There is some debate over how well cold setting works, but first let’s talk about how it’s done and what it costs. There is a Web site that talks about cold setting springs by working them manually with a big hammer. However, the best work can be done by a professional using a precisely controlled, electronically operated 50-ton (or larger) press.
First, you must remove the leaf springs from the vehicle. If you’re working with rusty original parts, you’ll want to spray everything with WD-40 and let it sit a few days. Then, get the car up in the air and make sure it’s safely supported. The old nuts and bolts will come off with an air-powered impact wrench, but try not to snap them. A spring shop may be able to find replacements, but don’t count on it if you have a rare or foreign car.
The planishing hammer and English wheel are two tools that look somewhat alike and are often confused with each other. Of the two, the most commonly used is the English wheel. It is ideal for rolling a sheet of steel or aluminum into a particular shape, such as for a fender or motorcycle gas tank. But the hammer has its applications which differ from the wheel in very distinct ways.
Since the planishing hammer is one of the tools that I designed and now manufacture for The Eastwood Company, I’m able to let you in on a little secret: the planishing hammer is little more than a pneumatic rivet gun with a hammer head installed and mounted on a “C”-shaped frame with a radiused anvil mounted opposite the hammer head. The term “planishing” means to smooth up metal with gentle hammering. The concept is that the heads of the hammer and anvil will both lower the high spots and raise the low spots simultaneously as the metal is fed between them.
Most of our experience is, or course, with dried or cured paint. Refinishing an old car is a complex, time-consuming and expensive proposition, and most of our efforts are necessarily directed to making existing paint work. Sometimes this is paint that we have recently sprayed and that needs further work to produce an acceptable finish. At other times, it is possible to work with an older, existing finish in a way that allows us to improve its appearance to the point that it becomes acceptable.
Occasionally, the problems of an existing finish or of a new finish are so great that the only practical approach is to refinish. All of these situations differ from those discussed in the previous two chapters because they involve existing finishes. Finally, after a finish has dried, it must be maintained and sometimes repaired if it is to have a reasonable service life.
THE BASICS OF SPRAYING
Learning to get the paint from a gun onto a surface without it sagging, running or being too dry is not a skill, it is an art and an art that can only be perfected by practice, practice, practice. Even after numerous practice sessions you still may not be able to acquire the touch.
Your first paint job will not be a pretty sight, and your second or third jobs probably won’t be award winners, either. If you stick with it, you’ll probably get very good at buffing, because you’ll have a lot of imperfections to try to fix. But stick with it. Remember that the early cars had their paint applied by brush and were sanded and rubbed out, so it can be done.
OK, it’s time. The steering is loose, a funny wear pattern is showing up in the front tires, the wheels vibrate like crazy at freeway speeds and it won’t stay in alignment. Time to overhaul the front end!
But before you get “down and dirty,” make sure to do some planning. If you do your own work, you will need to have the proper tools available, if you don’t already have them, and the proper shop manual for your car.
If you don’t do your own work, select a shop that is knowledgeable in vintage vehicles, as the technology has changed over the years.
DOOR SUPPORT BUILD UP
Sagging doors caused by extremely weak door hinges is a common problem on many older vehicles, particularly 1930-’49 cars and trucks. Not only does this make the doors difficult to close, it can also chip the paint if the door overlaps the body or cab.
Learn how to upgrade the door hinge area by demonstrating panel alignment, as well as the process of slicing and building up the metal around door openings to achieve perfectly even gaps around the doors.
No more chipping after paint!
REPAIR WITHOUT PAINT
A small dent or a mild crease caused by runaway shopping carts, kids on skateboards and other minor mishaps is a matter of fact for all car owners but of special concern for owners of collectible cars who want to keep their classic looking classy. On a custom-painted body in particular you may wish there was some way of fixing the sheet metal without having to repaint it.
There are ways of making paintless dent repair by using leverage and skill without having to use fillers and paint. But you need to learn how to read the dent and how to reverse the impact and iron the dent out by using your brain, not your muscles.
PINPOINTING CARBURETION PROBLEMS
As more vehicles today are computer-controlled and fuel-injected, the word “carburetor” is going by the wayside in the same direction of the Beta Max, dial telephone, typewriter and 8-track stereo. Bring an older car that isn’t running right into a shop manned by our younger generation and the technician may scratch his or her head and say; “That’s old technology… we’re not equipped to work on that.”
“Pinpointing carburetion problems” by writer John L. Bellah provides you the 101 of carburetor systems, with a basic explanation on how they work, and what you should look for in diagnosing problems, along with some do-it-yourself fixes.
PAINT BY NUMBERS
When restoring a vehicle, you can do all kinds of customization under the hood and in the interior, but what truly gives off a lasting impression is the final element: the paint job. The famous painter Vincent Van Gogh once said: “I dream of painting and then I paint my dream”. Well, with some careful thought, you can also be a Van Gogh and create your own dream ride. Firsatsaatleri takes you inside the professional shop of Jon Hantsbarger, Precision Restorations, LLC, for his top 10 steps to creating a masterpiece.
Even on the West Coast and in Texas, it’s getting more difficult to find a 30-year-old or older project car without a case of the tin worm. Chances are, a project car is going to require some metal replacement, and when that metal isn’t available from a reproduction part producer or a parts car, there is but one alternative — make the part yourself.
Sometimes, the various hose lines and electrical harnesses of vintage vehicles begin rubbing on each other and chafing against other components. Most serious are the lines that break during operation or while performing preventive maintenance. Vehicles are totally dependent on the timely delivery of fluids – hydraulic, air, coolant, oil, and fuel through hoses – and of electrons through electrical system wires and components in a variety of vehicle components.
So why can it take a couple hundred greenbacks just to make a headlight bezel or a bumper guard look shiny and new? Well, because it’s time consuming, labor intensive, requires a lot of specialized equipment, materials and chemicals, and has a lot of overhead costs.
And the guys that are handling the whole operation better know what they’re doing. There are plenty of ways to screw it up.
Not all cars are equal, nor are their convertible tops. No-frills cars are likely to have relatively simple tops, but luxury cars often have more complicated tops, such as the roof covering on the featured 1984 Buick Riviera convertible.
Installing one of these tops is no easy task, so replacement of this top was trusted to a professional, D. Chase of Chasin’ Perfection.
Leonard Schrock jokes that he can’t block sand, paint and buff “all day like I used to be able to. I could just go for hours and never get tired.” After 36 years in the bodywork and auto restoration business, aches and pains can creep up on a guy.
Still, Schrock insists he’s able to do bodywork and paint projects better and faster these than he’s ever done them before. A large part of his efficiency is his thousands of hours of experience, of course, but he insists it’s almost equally due to modern technology.
Proper window and weatherstrip installation will leave the “shake, rattle and roll” to your car’s radio and Highway Hi-Fi, not its window glass.
Annoying window glass rattles and leaky weatherstrip can hinder enjoyment behind the wheel of a vintage car or truck, and no one knows that more than Jerry Kopecky of Kopecky’s Klassics. In his restorations, which frequently focus on finned MoPars, Kopecky takes great pains to correctly install the weatherstrip and glass of his own cars and his customers’ cars in the factory manner. This not only prevents the aggravation of wind noise, water leaks and window rattle, it also ensures smooth, proper operation with a factory appearance for the show field.
You can accent your favorite vintage car with new pinstripes, and all it takes is a little preparation, some research, a few tools, some special tape and time. All pinstripes were put on the featured vintage luxury car in less than eight hours! It may take even less time if you are striping a 1970s or 1980s car using these tips, too.
We’ve received many excellent “Tech Tips” through the years, from many different readers. In this post, we’re running several different “Tech Tips,” all generated from one reader: O.C. Kocher of Saint Cloud, Wis.
Mr. Kocher submitted the “Tech Tips” listed here in one batch, so we’ll present some of them in that same fashion with our thanks to him for his generous contribution.
Bob Schirmer, who along with his father Ray Sr. and brother Ray Jr. — R.C. for short — runs Glen-ray Radiators in the northern Wisconsin city of Wausau, almost can’t bear the thought of sending out a radiator that looks, well … crappy. But that’s what the customer wants, strangely enough — a radiator that doesn’t need to look good, just one that won’t leak or overheat. In fact, the customer has requested that the radiator for his 1973 Plymouth Duster be ugly.
Restorers want to save as much of the factory original sheet metal as possible. This means cleaning off all of the rust and corrosion. However, if the oxidation has reached a certain point, the metal will be rusted through and can’t be saved. In that case, the bad spots must be cut out and replaced with good metal. That involves sheet metal fabrication work and bodywork, which are not the topic of discussion here. Here, we are interested in cleaning the metal to determine what can be saved, and keeping that metal clean until the car is repainted.
We followed a Mustang fastback to Townsend Auto Body in Waupaca, Wis., where it was sprayed a metallic maroon base coat/clear coat, and we picked up some paint tips and tricks from pro Mark Townsend. Townsend’s shop boasts a modern spray booth for professional-quality paint jobs, and the pointers he shared revolved around the equipment and products he used in the Mustang project. Even if you don’t have all the professional equipment of a full-time body shop, there are plenty of things to learn from this master of his craft, so let’s dig in.
Everyone dreams of dragging a long-stored, one-owner car out of a barn, especially if the car is an early fastback Mustang. Regardless of the make of barn find, nearly all of them have one thing in common: they need floor pans.
When Bob and Richard Rieck took on a customer’s 1934 Ford fiberglass kit car project, they knew what they were getting into. Sort of.
The twins from Grafton, Wis., have been working on cars in their Heinz & Sons Auto Body shop for the better part of four decades, and they’ve tackled fiberglass reproduction projects before. But even for experienced professionals, kit cars can be a big bag of headaches. Rarely do such projects go together easily, and builders should expect the unexpected.
When I first got the Barracuda into my driveway, the first thing I did was take out the dash frame for a complete restoration. It was something I could do during the winter months in my little work space. I removed all the plastic bezels for a complete makeover, blasted the frame and polished up all the metal trinkets and knobs that make up a mid-’60s instrument panel.
After restoring the all the pieces, and coating the frame in a nice blanket of blue, I re-assembled the gleaming parts back into their respective places, stood back, and admired my handywork. But something stood out as just not belonging in my newly freshened dash set-up. While everything looked new and relevant to a high end project, the yellowed-out numbers on my black-faced gauge clusters stood out like a punk rocker at a James Taylor show. It just didn’t belong….
Paint is probably the first feature people immediately notice on a vintage vehicle. In order to get the best paint results, it is necessary to have the right tools for the job. There are a number of paint spray gun types on the market and in this article we’ll describe the styles and their uses to the hobbyist.
One of the things to take into account when selecting a paint gun is the type of material that will be going through it. It’s important to have separate guns for primers and colors. Primer is thicker than paint and requires a larger tip size to get the proper film build.
The windshield on my ’67 Barracuda was in pretty poor shape when I bought the MoPar A body about 8 years back. Rather than replace it at the time, and since it was OEM piece, I figured I would live with the small chips, scratches and wiper haze that had softly clouded my vision since getting it on the road five years ago. Just the thought of breaking that seal and opening up another can of worms in my apple of a restoration was just too much for me or my wallet to bear.
Waking up a 1915 International Harvester Co. engine
Open the shut-off cock. Be sure sufficient oil is in the crank case and gasoline is in the tank. See that the spark level (lower level on the steering post) is retarded (in utmost forward position). Open the throttle lever (upper lever on steering post) part way. Place the switch plug on the coil, turn to “Bat” for battery, then hand crank with a rapid motion. If that doesn’t work, prime the cylinders via the priming cups. If the spark is OK, then the vehicle will start. Once the engine starts, throw the switch from “Bat” to “Mag,” then advance the spark and close the throttle to an idling position.
Sounds complicated? It was all part of the start-up process for a two-cylinder, air-cooled, International Harvester Co. Auto Wagon, circa 1911-1915.
One of the most obvious signs of a quality restoration is the condition of a car’s paint. Many people paint cars, but a small few do so with a mind toward judging, and in those cases, the restorer’s reputation is on the line. As paint evolves, these esteemed restorers develop new techniques to achieve the show-stopping results they have perfected with other products. Among those who has evolved with paint is Jerry Kopecky of Kopecky’s Klassics in Iola, Wis.
What do you do when you can’t find a part? If you’re Dennis Bickford, you make it yourself. When that’s not possible, Bickford teams up with those with the equipment to make the parts he and his customers need. And he’ll be the first person to say, “You can, too.”
With the rising interest in the last few years in collector car circles for original cars, restoring the original finish can significantly improve the car’s appearance and enhance its value.
By restoration, I’m talking about restoring the shine to the original finish, not fixing scratches or chips about which I wrote a few years ago. Nor, can the methods described in this article address cars where the original finish has failed and is cracking, checking, pitting, etc.
Players are in place! The TV camera is rolling! Music begins…and the announcer shouts: “Let’s play ‘Old Cars!’”
The pretend TV show gets in full swing after contestants are introduced. Then comes the first question from the show’s host: “What’s better: To buy a collector car that is restored, or find one in unrestored condition?”
Owners used lightweight oil in the winter and heavyweight oil in the summer. Then, detergents were added so another choice was introduced — detergent or non-detergent. After further development by oil chemists, multi-viscosity oils were offered, eliminating the need to change oil weights with the seasons. That situation remained the same into the late 1970s.
Recently, I wrote about the changes in engine oil formulation. While the hobby has now generally digested the change to GF-4 oils, the auto and lubricants industries are hard at work on more changes, namely GF-5, to come in a couple of years.
Changes in lubricant specifications are not limited to just engine oils — automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is also undergoing its own transformation. When automatic transmissions first entered the marketplace on a regular basis, a single ATF meeting the requirements of the American manufacturers was the norm. General Motors called its ATF Dexron II and Ford’s specified fluid was labeled Mercon.
While the practice of cleaning a spark plug might not apply to high-energy ignition systems introduced in the mid-1970s, it remains good practice for cars with six-volt systems.
The typical voltage at the spark plug in six-volt systems is not sufficient to efficiently clean the plug, unless the car was driven under high-speed conditions to bring the plug to the upper part of its temperature range. Cleaning with a spark plug cleaner (a small media blaster) was the standard practice recommended by plug manufacturers in the days before high plug voltage eliminated its need. The limited exposure to the cleaning media will not alter the heat range.
Ah, spring! With the snow melted away, the sun high in the sky, and birds chattering overhead, there’s nothing better than dropping the top on your classic roadster and going for a spin down a tree-lined lane, or opening her up to zip down an empty country road. Of course, you’re also going to want to make sure your beauty is looking her best for the spring car shows, especially after a winter wrapped in tarps in a cold garage, so here are nine things you should do before you drive further than around the block:
The centrifugal timing is a function of the centrifugal mechanism. If it is not correct, it can be fixed by cleaning accumulated lubricant and dirt and repairing worn components. Fine tuning of the centrifugal component can be accomplished with the tension of the springs restraining the centrifugal weights. A distributor testing machine is necessary to accurately check centrifugal advance timing and make all adjustments.
Vacuum timing is a function of the vacuum advance mechanism and is also tested using a distributor testing machine. It either performs as intended or it does not. However, there are adjustable vacuum advance mechanisms available for some distributors, but not all.
There are many reasons that car collectors seek previous-owner information. First, it is simply fun to know the ownership history of a vehicle. Second, a previous owner might be able to tell you more about your car and verify that it still has the same standard and optional equipment it left the dealership with. You may also learn if the car has been in an accident or had major repairs. Furthermore the previous owner may still have literature, parts or documentation on a car, including photographs. In some car clubs, documentation from the car’s previous owner may also be required to maintain your car’s unique registry number. For some fortunate car owners, their car may have been owned by a famous person, which might increase its value. With so many people claiming a famous owner in their car’s history, documentation is a necessity for the value to be positively affected.
Reputable title companies will tell you they hope most hobbyists don’t need their service. It’s not because the title companies don’t want to help fellow old car owners get a title, it’s because the process for getting a title has gotten more difficult as time and new laws pass. In some states, it’s darn-near impossible to get a new title for a vintage car.
One of my earliest car memories is sitting in the family car and waiting for my dad to run an errand. The car was off, and I could hear a clunk sound once every couple minutes. That, of course, was the sound of the electric clock rewinding itself. Perhaps that is why today, for all my collector cars, I prefer to do a mechanical restoration of the electric clock rather than perform a quartz upgrade.
Today, many of the clocks in the collector cars I see are no longer functioning. Yet, it is not that difficult to get them running again and keep them running. With no more than a little patience and some simple tools, it is quite likely you can have your clock back in action in less than an afternoon.
SEAL SURFACE RAPAIR: SEAL REPLACEMENT STEP-BY-STEP
One thing old cars and trucks have is a lot of seals. And, like brakes and oil, these “expendables” wear out and must eventually be replaced.
Replacing the seal is easy: just pound out the old one and carefully press in a new one. But what do you do if the surface that the seal hugs is shot? These surfaces can be pitted from rust, or just plain worn from many millions of rotations being hugged by the seal. Don’t bother replacing the seal unless you do something with the sealing surface — the seal just won’t last.
STAINLESS STEEL BRAKE JOB
Many old cars with original brake systems only have a single-circuit brake system, unlike my truck. On such cars, the master cylinder has only one chamber, and if a brake line should blow, hydraulic pressure is completely lost, and the driver has nothing but the emergency brake to prevent disaster.
For safety’s sake, a few hobbyists have converted the original single-circuit brake system on their vintage vehicle to a dual-circuit system. Unfortunately, a car’s originality is lost when this conversion is performed. But there is something that can be done: Line a master cylinder and wheel cylinders with stainless steel and employ stainless-steel brake lines.
REUNITED: CORVETTE GETS ITS DRIVETRAIN BACK
The shop already had a completed rolling chassis for this 1969 Corvette by the time Walter started the drive train installation. The 350-cid V-8 was on the hoist and ready to drop in.
Before he lowered the engine in place, however, Walter shimmed the front end to get the alignment close and make things easier later. From there he bolted up the flywheel, pressure plate, Muncie four-speed transmission and driveshaft in short order.
SAVING STEEL: SHRINKING DISC CAN SAVE OLD METAL
According to one grizzled guru of the auto body trade, a reversed (smooth side out) abrasive body disc will generate heat through friction without removing precious metal — thus creating an effective shrinking disc. Another has succeeded with a homemade disc of stainless steel, which could get one to thinking that the neighbor’s hubcap, or Fido’s bowl, or maybe even a lid from Mom’s Revere Ware, could be modified to function as a shrinking disc. But we don’t recommend y’all try that at home. Improper tool usage, and/or usage of improper tools, puts body parts at risk. Not just hoods and doors and so on, but arms and legs and so on, too.
RESTO RUG DOCTOR: HOW TO INSTALL A CARPET
Replacing the carpet in a restoration can make a big difference when it comes to look of the car’s interior. Carpet easily wears out, gets dirty, shrinks, and can fade, but installing a new molded carpet is a great way to freshen up the interior. By following these simple steps, you will be “cutting a rug” in no time.
KEEP COOL: THERE’S MORE TO A COOL ENGINE THAN COOLANT
An engine can overheat for a multitude of reasons. Some reasons are ridiculously simple while others can be complex, requiring major repairs or even complete replacement of the engine block or cylinder heads. In any event, overheating problems need to be immediately tracked down and corrected to avoid major repairs.
NEW KNOB: PAINSTAKING REPAIR OF A BROKEN SHIFT KNOB
Granted, the restoration of a mid-’60s shift knob is a seemingly silly subject for in-depth tech. That I’ll not dispute. But a red-eyed, chrome-plated, aftermarket skull just wouldn’t fit the stick of this bone-stock and well-weathered International Scout. Furthermore, an authentic replacement would appear out of place.
FUELED BY FRUSTRATION: FIXING FAULTY FUEL GAUGES
The is one of an automobile’s most important instruments. An accurate gauge helps keep one from running out of fuel, or at least indicates when more is needed. However, some believe that cars generate gas or that someone else will fill the tank. Does that sound familiar?
PLATE PERFECTION: THE ART OF LICENSE PLATE RESTORATION
I’ve never had any desire to restore license plates before, but these days, it’s good to have extra tricks in the bag. So, as long as we’re all together here, I’ll show you how it’s done.
SANDING BLOCKS, FAIRING BOARDS & FILLERS IN ACTION
In any given facet of the automotive trade, it pays to pay attention to technology. In my own protective bubble as an automotive painter, technological advancements have made their way through the chemistry we use, as well as how we use it, all the way into the most inanimate of tools, including the sanding block.
AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM BASICS
Many collector car owners wonder what to do about their air conditioning (A/C) systems as ever-changing government regulations dictate the type of refrigerants allowed. In 1994, Freon, or R-12, was outlawed and replaced by R-134a and that is now being replaced. Before addressing how best to cope with these changes, a review of A/C system basics is in order.
FROM THE GROUND UP: BODY REPAIRS & RESTORATION
The project vehicle was a solid but weather-beaten hardtop that was located in Arizona. It was immediately ticketed for a complete rebuilt that would eventually include a new Ferrari Red paint job, tan interior, new GM crate motor and modern automatic four-speed tranny.
MAKE VACUUM LEAKS HISS-TORY
Insufficient intake manifold vacuum can be deadly to an internal-combustion engine. It will reduce engine efficiency, causing a loss of power and fuel economy and rough operation, especially at idle. Prolonged vacuum leaks can eventually cause serious engine damage. Here’s how to fix it.
HUB OF MOTION: REPLACING BEARINGS ON A FULL-FLOATING HUB SYSTEM
Some of the following information and parts sources will be helpful whether you’re working on a British sports car or a Model A Ford. Removing and installing bearings, greasing hubs, brake repairs and tips on tools are pretty much universal, no matter what vehicle you’re restoring.
NEW BRAKE BOOSTER HAS SARATOGA READY TO ROLL AGAIN
The original brake booster unit in this 1957 Chrysler Saratoga needed to be replaced. Follow these steps to give your car a boost
LOCKED AND LOADED: RESTORING AN IGNITION LOCK
The following tips have been learned over the course of restoring 1935-’36 Ford ignition locks. These tips may also be helpful for restoring other early Ford V-8 ignition switches.
UPHOLSTERY 101: AN ARMREST PROJECT WITHOUT TOO MUCH ELBOW GREASE
Fabricating new armrest covers is a fairly straightforward proposition that uses some basic techniques and the existing material as a pattern. We’ll show you how.
KING OF THE ROAD: DON’T IGNORE KING PINS IN SUSPENSION REBUILD
This article will address one component of early suspension systems. King pins tie steerable front axles to the weight-carrying axle, such as in a Model A Ford, or to the control arms in those cars with independent front suspensions. King pins can be found in cars up to the mid 1950s, when ball joints replaced king pins.
BUMPER BOLT-UP: CHALLENGER GETS REPRO BUMPER
“There is quite a bit of adjustment in the bumper brackets. You can see the tail pan is slotted for the bumper bracket so you get some up-and-down adjustment and you get some side-to-side adjustment. It’s a two-man operation to get everything set up the way you want it, but not too difficult.”
BRINGING HOME A ‘BARN FIND’
Just about any barn find is able to be transported in a trailer, and many are towable, while a few can actually be driven home. However, sometimes what is towable or “trailerable” (and maybe should be) is transformed into drivable. Here’s how to do it.
TUNABLE TENSION: AN OL’ FASHIONED FITMENT FIX
Gappin’ doesn’t just happen. When a body on a rotisserie must become reacquainted with the frame rails to which it belongs, or when new mounting pads and a box full of shims aren’t enough to square things up, you’ll likely twist panels and cut parts to get a good gap. Here’s how you can fix it.
TIPS AND TRICKS TO MAKE YOUR NEXT DOOR ASSEMBLY EASIER
Mounting door hinges and hanging doors is one of those restoration steps that professionals — such as the guys at Ken’s Klassics in Muscoda, Wis. — make look easy. But as many novices can attest, it can be a frustrating job, especially for first-timers, and frought with trial-and-error learning.
FITTING FENDERS: SAVED BY THE SHIMS
What started out as a standard, straight-forward procedure in our ’31 Cadillac project took a surprising twist in the form of a twisted front fender.
TIP TOP FLOOR PANS
Many unit-body cars need floor panel repair or replacement. Whether it’s best to fix an isolated rust hole in the existing floor or cut it out completely and install an entire floor pan depends on the size of the hole and your preference. The floor pan is an important structural part of a unit-body car, so large rust holes or widely dispersed pinholes mean a new floor pan is in order. However, if the rust is isolated, new patch panels can be installed, thus saving some of the original sheet metal and money in your wallet.
PATCH PANELS MADE EASY: RUST BUSTING ON A ’37 SCHOOL BUS
When Fast Freddie’s Rod Shop got a chance to renovate and customize a 1937 Chevrolet school bus, shop owner Fred Kappus Jr. knew it could be one of the more fun projects his shop had ever taken on. He also knew it could be one of the most challenging.
FENDING FOR YOURSELF: ATTACHING FENDER SKIRTS
Fender skirts are a fad that comes and goes. When vehicle documentation shows that a car had fender skirts when it left the factory, some owners want them reinstalled, regardless of the current fashion. This usually requires a lot more work than it did to glue fender skirts to the model car they built as a kid.
BUFFING SOFT METAL CARBURETOR PARTS
If you work slowly and skillfully, you can buff aluminum parts to the point where they have the luster and sheen of a piece of chrome.
TIPS FOR WORKING WITH A FRESH WIRING HARNESS
To the first-timer, a car or truck’s wiring harness looks like a giant plate of spaghetti without a beginning or an end. Determining where to take the first bite can be an overwhelming decision, but following the basic principles of wiring plus the following tips can make installing a new wiring harness a little less of a mouthful.
METALWORKING 101: FUNDAMENTALS OF FABRICATION
Metallurgy is simply the science of metal and metal alloy. Everything from selection of the correct type of metal, composition, gauge (thickness) and size, to welding, treatments, and working techniques will be better understood with a fundamental knowledge of metallurgy.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT PANEL ADHESIVES
Many automotive OEMs prescribe the use of adhesives when conducting parts replacement procedures. Typical applications involve the use of either Squeeze Type Resistance Spot Welding (STRSW) and/or MIG/MAG welding when spot welding cannot be performed due to body design or welder access constraints. Some vehicle builds may use a combination of Self Piercing Rivets (SPRs), Blind or Solid rivets, or the formation of a hem flanged joint.