Readers Rides

Planning A Car Restoration Project.

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By Mark Weisseg

I wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain just like the Wizard of Oz.
This is a 1928 Ford Model A being restored to my specifications. My brother Craig has done this for me once again, in the middle of another winter project. He will do this for me as long as the snow flies because once the weather breaks, he lives on the golf course.

When I found this barn find, it had been sitting for twenty five years.
The previous owner drove it once a year and then parked it for the next twenty five.
After a bit of haggling I bought it sight unseen. It was hauled to my brothers house with a simple challenge. We knew it drove and we knew it stopped, so I felt the deal was a good one and so did he. Now, the big question.
Rod it or make it original? For the first time ever I had a clean slate and gave this more thought than I thought I would. I knew if I made a a hot rod he would be tossing parts aside for a month or so and it would get down to a skeleton. Then, I would need to find the big engine, trans, wheels, tires, interior and so on.
Very tempting but I knew with spring coming I would lose him to the golf course so I followed my heart and advised him to keep it original.

Certainly we expected good brakes because the car stopped. What he found was the front brakes were packed in grease as if someone had a zerk fitting and filled up the drum.
Ok, job one was then to tear that all apart and start with everything new. It’s the way we both roll when it comes to brakes and steering.
I knew the interior was awful as someone at one time put in some sort of seat covers and used the same materials on the headliner and door panels.
I asked him to tear it all out. He had already decided to do that as it looked bad and smelled worse. His biggest challenge to date is the same issue he had when he did another vehicle of mine. Gunk.
Caked on three to four inches thick gunk that almost needs to be chiseled off and he has spent countless hours chiseling, scraping, pressure washing, and begging to get all that crap off so that the entire vehicle is oil and gunk free.

He has some wiring to do and he is picky on wiring so that when he is done, it will be perfect. He does not want his name on anything that would show anything less than a professional job.
After the wiring, he will explore the rear end of the car including brakes. Then, a wiper motor and about ten other things before winter is over. Then, he keeps it for a while so he can drive it and shake out the car and to enjoy the old buggy until I show up and take it away for good.

I say all this about classic restorations, you need to make decisions early and stick to a plan.
Changing anything mid stream is usually a terrible idea. First, it will cost a kings ransom and second, when you change your mind everything stops. That is why you will see so many classic cars on sites like Craigslist. The owner lost his way or lost his desire.
He could not envision the plan, and so it sits. When they sit you start piling things on top of them like lawn chairs, bikes, grills, and so on. Then, once that happens you are done for sure until someone gives you an ultimatum to get rid of the clunker in the garage. Then, you lose money too but the other half is happy.

Get a plan, lay it out with a vision and picture it done. Like putting on the green. Good golfers always say you must envision your shot and when I golfed I admit it worked. So, with a car project you must belly up and be prepared to spend the money and have a checklist.

That is the success plan for a car or truck project. Find your dream vehicle. Plan and budget, the project and then add twenty five percent because every project goes off the rails. Then, stick to your work.

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