The Automobile Restoration Process

1. Check-In, tear down and evaluate.

Before any restoration work begins, we document the entire vehicle with photographs and notations. These photos are then uploaded to a customer's internet web page. A thorough inspection of the frame and all the sheet metal is done. We examine each of the panels gaps and how they line up with the adjacent panels. We also check for any prior damage from rust or a collision and inspect for prior repairs, or parts that have been changed, and document any alterations that have been done to the vehicle. Before disassembly, damaged panels or panels that appear to fit poorly are addressed. We first work to get all of the gaps aligned and each panel properly shimmed. The vehicle ia then completely disassembled down to the frame. During disassembly, documentation continues and salvageable parts are itemized and inventoried.

All body parts are stripped of the paint, fillers and rust corrosion. We media blast the body and chassis, sometimes chemically stripping a panel, other times sanding to strip. If panels are not salvageable, we will fabricate one if replacement panels are not available from any of our trusted sources. We also check that each panel has good structural integrity and will endure the test of time.

2. Body and Refinishing.

After we strip the vehicle down, all bare metal is covered with two coats of an epoxy primer. We then perform any panel replacement that is needed, as well as any metal repairs. Any frame and structural damage is also corrected.

Then begins the detailed process of filling, sanding, leveling, priming, and then finally applying a PPG basecoat/clearcoat finish. There are dozens of steps that the shop goes through to make sure the body appearance is perfect, including a vigorous clear coat leveling and final buffing and polishing stage.

3. Chassis, Suspension and Steering

Chassis components are completely disassembled, cleaned, inspected and reassembled with new OEM parts when available. Upgrades to steering and suspension can also be adapted to provide better feel, performance and reliability. Weld in reinforcements and new body to frame mounts are installed as the body is reattached to the frame. Care is taken when aligning the body to the frame to ensure proper parallel alignment. Measurements are taken throughout this procedure.

Steering components, gear boxes and power assist pistons are generally rebuildable. Modern rack and pinion and electric assist systems are available for some applications. Many steering wheels that cannot be replaced can be reconstructed with fiberglass resins and epoxy to a near factory original state. Ball joints, tie rod ends and steering linkages are best replaced with new components for safety reasons.


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before

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4. Electrical System

Vehicle chassis harnesses can be replaced if they are available. We can generally fabricate and repair any wiring damage encountered, often retrofitting a modern Painless performance harness or a custom Kwikwire wiring harness. They include updated power relays and stable mini fuse systems. Modern auto-meter custom gauges can be wired in to most cars. Alternators and generators are completely rebuilt and tested using new OEM components when available. Possible upgrades to the charging system include powerful 130A one wire alternator setups. and 6V to 12V conversions. Modern high torque starters are available for most engines and are substantially lighter than the original.

Exterior and interior lighting is returned to the same state as the day the vehicle was manufactured, unless otherwise requested. We generally avoid LED upgrades prefering to use the old-fashioned bulbs and reflectors that replicate the time period. We often get request to install factory or factory-like fog light upgrades, interior footwell interior lighting upgrades, and brighter headlamp options.

5. Powertrain Components

When performing an engine rebuild, engines are completely disassembled, cleaned, and blocks are magnafluxed for cracks. The magnaflux method is used to find cracks in cylinder heads, engine blocks, connecting rods and crankshafts as well as other components of the engine that cannot normally be seen. Cylinder heads are pressure tested with adaptors that apply a high-pressure air to the casting, which will reveal any hidden small cracks that may not otherwise be noticeable in the cylinder head.

Engines that can be rebuilt are rebuilt within factory allowable tolerances. Complete OEM rebuild kits are available for most engines and generally include all new pistons, rings, seals and gaskets, rod and main bearings, and a new high-volume oil pump. Cylinder heads are rebuilt to factory specifications, with all new guides and seals. Valves are either replaced or reground. Cylinder heads are corrected for any warpage and blocks and heads may be milled as necessary. Engines can be rebuilt to original, replaced to original like, or upgraded to a modern day powertrain system. Coyote, Hemi and LS swaps are some options that customers often consider.

Automatic transmission builds are flow tested and valve bodies and governors are calibrated to factory specifications. Manual transmissions are rebuilt using new synchronizer and bearing kits for a fuller rebuild. Rear ends recieve all new bearings and seals, final drive gearset patterns are checked and corrected as necessary.

6. Braking and Parking systems

When restoring the braking system to the original factory state we like to replace all of the braking hardware available for the vehicle. This includes all of the rubber flexible brake lines. All reusable drums and rotors are machined uniformly on a brake lathe and all metal brake lines can be replaced as needed. Upgrades to the braking system can vary from a simple factory disc upgrade to an exotic Wilwwood brake setup. Parking brake cables are replaced and fabricated from high quality cables as over the years fatigued old cables can suddenly snap.

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service
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7. Fuel System

Your average barn find that has been sitting for a number of years is often going to need the entire fuel system replaced. The deterioration on the inside of some of the fuel tanks we have encountered damages the entire fuel system, lines pumps and filters. All will need to be replaced. Carburetors that can be rebuilt are disassembled, hot tanked and rebuilt to factory specifications. Multiple carb packages are available for most applications.

8. Glass, Chrome and Graphics.

Automotive replacement glass is available for just about any vehicle. Custom glass, if needed, can be cut to fit if replacements are not available. Many styles of tinted glass are available, from the original clear, gray slate, dark charcoal, and custom fad tints. Most chrome pieces can be properly salvaged to like new condition. Please do not throw the old chrome in the trash, we work wonders with the original chrome trim. Many graphics packages were produced in the 60s and can be duplicated through a recreated vinyl graphics package or an all original painted on scheme.

9. Interior Components

The replacement of all interior components like door panels, seats, center consoles, arm rests, windows and frames, sun visors and mirrors, headliners, dash pads, carpeting for the floor all come from either quality reproduction kits or through a custom upholstery maker. The replacement materials can be an almost exact authentic reproductions of the original.

We often install sound deadening materials to keep unwanted road noises out, cancel out vibrations, and improve thermal insulation. Fatmat and Dynamat are some of the most well-known sound deadening materials on the market. The product can be applied to floors, firewalls, doors, roofs, and trunks.

Restoration parts are available for most heating and air conditioning systems. We can generally find parts to restore the system to its original condition. Cables can be fabricated and switches rebuilt. If a better heating and air conditioning system is requested, Classic Air and Vintage Air offer A/C kits to upgrade to a modern style system with the old time vintage feel and look.