Inline Tube - Before You Restore...
Acquiring and maintaining correct and accurate information is critical for successful restoration or repair. A combination of resources will always be your best bet to gaining the knowledge you will need to work on your car or truck. It is your responsibility to know your vehicle when you order, rebuild and restore components. In order to get the correct parts for your car you must know the year, make, model and basic options such as: engine size and carburetion, disc or drum brakes, power or manual steering. Some vehicles have gone through many owners and have parts and options added from other year cars and incorrect applications. While it is hard to tell these assemblies apart, they often interfere and cause problems when comparing them to the right parts. Just because there is a part on the car does not make it the right part. Most vehicles have had service performed and off-the-shelf components added.
A.) Factory Service Manual:
These manuals were originally available through the service department at the
dealer when the cars were new and were used by the dealer mechanics to service
your car at the dealership. The book covers brakes, engine, transmission,
steering, fuel and exhaust, chassis, sheet metal, electrical and accessories.
These manuals are packed with hundreds of diagrams and pictures showing how to
service your particular car. Whether you are doing necessary maintenance or a
frame off restoration, this is a great reference guide.
Complications due to age, wear and abuse are not typically covered.
Yes, a rotisserie (frame off) restoration is a big exciting project. Yes, you are taking your car down to its lowest level and recreating its “birth.” Yes, you will know this car better than you know some of your relatives. This is huge, so do NOT start by blindly tearing things apart. This would be an obvious mistake. Prepare and plan BEFORE you remove a single nut.
A.) Draft a Plan: Never start taking apart a vehicle without a plan and procedure. Those who just start random disassembly have an exceedingly difficult time putting their vehicle back together, typically with poor results and great frustration. Outline your overall disassembly plan of attack. Designate areas for parts with marked containers for housing bolts and floor space for large items. Keep related components in one area. Have support manuals, camera and tools on hand.
B.) Take Photos of Every Key Step: Nobody would ever expect one individual to recall where every nut, bolt, and washer goes on any vehicle. Even the best memory will be overloaded in no time. Take a photograph of every critical step as you disassemble your vehicle. For complicated areas take many photos. These images will be lifesavers when it is time to assemble your car or truck.
C.) Make and Keep a Log: Document disassembly and note procedures and particulars for your work. This may sound like a diary, but these are notes that you will be happy to have when you start putting things back together and review your directions to yourself on installing front brake lines before the short block.
D.) Study: Gathering and maintaining all of this information on your vehicle is a waste if you do not use it. Study everything and understand why and how the components come apart, go together and function. Mechanical structures are logical in their application. If you do not understand why a component is on your vehicle and what it does, you will have a more difficult time working on your car or truck.
E.) Have Designated Places and Containers for Removed Parts: Throwing removed or disassembled parts in a pile is a recipe for disaster. This lack of organization is going to make reassembly more difficult. Floor space is often at a premium, but a logical layout of the parts you remove in addition to marked containers for nuts, bolts, hardware and smaller components and grouping removed items by component or stage of removal will make your project much easier to rebuild.
F.) Get a Knowledgeable Partner: If you are not experienced as a mechanic or have limited experience, get a knowledgeable partner to assist you with difficult and/or critical procedures for both teardown and assembly. Someone who knows these mechanical procedures can save you serious aggravation, troubleshoot effectively and provide you with vicarious experience that can ultimately make you the expert in the future. If you do not know of someone to can work with, network at cruise nights, through car clubs or online to meet up with a “mentor” for your project. Many friendly same-car owners are happy to help.
A.) KEEP YOUR OLD PARTS EVEN IF YOU ARE REPLACING THEM: Most vehicles that are being restored are at least ten years old. This means that replacement parts are not always easily available. Your old parts may look like junk, but they are gold until they have been successfully restored, rebuilt or replaced. Throw that part out and you have lost a very valuable reference and have tossed the fate of your vehicle to coincidence and blind luck. If you are replacing parts, keep the old parts to match up with your new items. Too many customers call parts suppliers saying that the part they received is incorrect, but they do not have the original part and they do not know what is correct. Don’t be this person.
B.) Consult Your Resources Before Assembly: Know how your component works, how and where it is installed and when to install it in the process of your rebuild. As an example, installing a one piece main fuel line before mounting the body to the frame can save a tremendous amount of hassle and effort. Many parts can be installed after major components, but are much more difficult than installing before. Plan your assembly.
C.) Prepare Your Parts: Before assembling anything, recondition all the parts that you intend to restore. Certain items are going to need more lead time for drying, a trip to the sandblaster or time in solvent. By prepping parts ahead, your final assembly will be smooth and uninterrupted. Reconditioning beforehand also increases your familiarity with the components and gives you another chance to review prior to assembly.
D.) Dry Fit Every Component: Even a simple rough fit to check clearances, linkage placement, positioning and attachment can go a long way toward a smoother assembly. Sometimes you can curb potential problems before you get too involved. If a bracket needs a modification or a compressor needs to be swung out of the way, know this before you get started. Look & plan ahead.
E.) Gather and Lay Out All Hardware for the Component You are Working On: Clear an area near the component being assembled and lay out all of the parts, hardware and brackets involved in this stage of assembly. When all elements are clearly visible you are more likely to include all of the correct parts in your assembly and you will not waste time chasing around the garage for various items.
F.) Manage Your Project: A ground up restoration is a large complicated undertaking. Because there are many facets of this project, effective management is critical to a timely outcome. While your rear axle is being rebuilt, you can have the dashboard reconditioned, the valve guides done and the wiring harnesses on order. Using your timeline and assembly planning process, you can effectively multitask. You will still have some unexpected issues crop up that will delay your project, but any effort to minimize hold-ups will pay off.
- If you are not interested or prepared to research and learn, pay someone else to restore your vehicle. An above average restoration requires a lot of data to be researched and ingested. You need to really know your car or truck, and the components it uses and what changes have been made.
- A strong mechanical aptitude is a big plus. You may not have certification or decades of experience, but if you can figure out things mechanical and problem solve, you will be much better off.
- Patience is requisite. Muscle cars are 40 years old and suddenly some restorer needs everything yesterday. Dealers stopped carrying parts for this car or truck 30 years ago. It has probably sat for another ten years. You will get it done; relax.
- When you are in over your head, get help. There may be a time when you will be better off paying a professional. Rebuilding an automatic transmission is not recommended for a novice mechanic. Milling your own cylinder heads with a block sander will not work. Get a professional involved when you need to.
- Frustration is inevitable, but do not get short or rude with vendors, mechanics or anybody else who is involved with your project. Your problem(s) are not their problems and taking out your anger on others will only make them less likely to go the extra mile for you. Does it really help your objective and enroll others to help you after you unload on them?
Have some fun!
If your restoration is nothing but upsetting, maybe vehicle restoration is not
for you. Even when you enjoy your project you will have some rough moments and
that is to be expected. But if the whole process is just a big negative, find
something that you can really enjoy.
Inline Tube - Brake & Fuel Lines, Rebuild kits, Brake hardware, Disc Brake Conversions,
15066 Technology Drive