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Worst part of a restoration?


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I am about a year into my first restoration project and I wanted get your thoughts on your previous projects.

 

What has been the worst part of your projects? It could be a specific aspect of your car that was really tough or just a general aspect of restoring in general.

 

 

So far for me it has been the frustration of finding all the parts and making sure they are done as close to original as possible. I bought my car disassembled (torn apart in the 1970's) so I don't have pictures or labels or anything.

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The worst part is when you stop for a while and just can't find the energy to continue. It's like writer's block.

 

You just have to power through and continue.  

 

 

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Replacing the wood structure on my 1931 Reo Royale Victoria as most of the wood was rotted out or missing.

 

Plus the car was taken apart years ago or used as a parts car now I am trying to find the parts.

 

Thank goodness for the invention of the camera so I can tell what items should look like.

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Finding enough disposable spare cash to buy the parts when you need them. It seems like every time I need a major part I have to stop working on the car until I can save the dollars to pay for it. I refuse to just credit card it. But it does help to have a wife that supports your hobby and tries to save some $ where she can. I do appreciate that greatly. Now if I can just convince her to get her hands greasy!  
 

Edited by SC38DLS (see edit history)
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Focus & Time.

I had big plans for my Limited and then bought other cars. Not all projects but it diversified my time. Then as it has been said, Life Just gets In The way...

 

Staying Focused is the key outside of the physical needs on a restoration project IMHO.

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PAINTING!

Painting day I get up shower and wash my hair. No deoderant. It's been a restless night rehearsing in my mind the plan. The shop floor has been wet mopped the day before and everything laid out. My wife knows not to bother me before I go to the shop. Best not to even talk to me.

The source of my tension is because I KNOW, no matter how careful or prepared I am something will go wrong.

A fish eye will appear in the first coat, a bug will Kamakazi onto a panel, a paint drop will leave the gun to find bad place to land, the air hose is always trying to brush the last coat, etc etc etc.

There are a hundred ways for a paint job to go awry.

I've suffered any number of them...............Bob

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Removing old, hardened grease mixed with dirt and crud from 80-90 year old parts is a job I hate. I’ve tried lots of “safe” degreasers but they don’t work as well as kerosene and other solvents. I usually wind up covered with greasy black stuff. And, just when I think I have finally degreased the last of the ugly parts, there is always one more to do. I guess I should have bought one of those heated, recirculating tanks long ago, though you still need to dump out the dirty liquid and dispose of it. 

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- Some clients (expectations vs $$s and occasional lack of understanding for their correlation)
- Some subcontractors (quality)


Everything else has usually been pretty straightforward.

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Whats the worst thing about restoration?     EVERYTHING!

 

Restoration work is difficult, and time consuming. 

 

It is now ten times harder to restore a pre war car than it has ever been. And it's twenty times more expensive. Post war is mostly easier every year that passes........

 

The nature of peoples family, social, and hobby time is quickly changing. People across the board have lees lesiure time.......and its impacting many hobbies in a negative way.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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I will never every restore another car... once I finish the three I have going.

 

But I agree with everything Ed says.    Also,  the time scales make it prohibitive to do more than 2 or 3 cars in a lifetime.  Most of my dad's cars took him 10 to 50 years, depending on the car (with some going in parallel.)   My experience has been 4-5 on the low end,  and I'm at 15 with my Stutz and counting.

 

Unless you can afford to hand a blank check to a high end shop and say get it done in 24 months,  you will be waiting years to drive your cars around.

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3 minutes ago, 46 woodie said:

Bodywork, UGH!

I like that reply, that is what I am most worried about.

 

Probably because it is skills I don't yet have but the thought of cutting, welding, grinding on pieces of steel that would be very expensive to replace... That is what nightmares are made of!

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19 minutes ago, edinmass said:

The nature of peoples family, social, and hobby time is quickly changing. People across the board have lees lesiure time.......and its impacting many hobbies in a negative way.

That is a very interesting take. I have thought about this a lot but haven't been able to sucintly say it.

 

Where are people's leisure time going? Why is negativity impacting hobbies? Obviously, WE make time for this hobby. Is that people are spreading themselves too thin or are they choosing different hobbies? 

 

I see less participation as course many difficulties with this hobby. Less people means prices of everything goes up, lead times go up, finding quality people to the work get harder.... Very interesting though!

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1 hour ago, edinmass said:

The nature of peoples family, social, and hobby time is quickly changing. People across the board have lees lesiure time.......and its impacting many hobbies in a negative way.

Nothing new there.

It has always, or at least as long I've been involved with this, been like that. 

Only thing I can see causing the feel it's a changing is likely due to "us" (likes of you and me) getting older and possibly less accommodating/tolerant(?) for nonsense some of those with less experience at times bring into it.

You know, "Get off my lawn..." thing.

I've seen countless people come and go through this hobby, but it's only a very small percentage that stay fully committed for full duration (i.e life).

For most it's just another (brief) hobby or phase in their lives.

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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Remember, a Packard, Pierce, or a Duesenberg has ten times more parts than most of the every day man’s cars. Restoration of a one off multi cylinder giant is an incredible amount of work. Then toss in things alike a P1 Rolls............and it’s like doing three Model J’s.

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Think about it. How many have bought a second project before the first one was done. Or worse, a nice driver. How nice would the car I bought, and still have, 42 years ago had not been interrupted by the 150 transient cars during that period?

 

They said my focus would improve when I reach maturity. But I have been thinking about a GT Hawk with the engine sitting next to it for a couple of days now. Lack of space is the only reason everything in the garage runs, drives, and is licensed now.

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70 is just months away and I'll die without ever understanding how to wire a car, and there isn't a living human that can explain how to do it. Rebuilding and finishing body panels is pure joy, a Second place Ferrari at Pebble Beach was my best yet. Bob 

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1 hour ago, padgett said:

Why "patina" is so popular...

I think because paint work is so costly and so involved. They would rather be driving with rugged paint than saving and saving for a paint job that will make them to afraid to drive the car. Also patina seems to be in fashion in anything from clothes to furniture. 

 

15 minutes ago, keiser31 said:

For me, it's working on stuff alone.

I agree with you on this, even the most  terrible job i.e scraping grease is more fun someone to chat with while in the process. 

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Just now, 1937hd45 said:

70 is just months away and I'll die without ever understanding how to wire a car, and there isn't a living human that can explain how to do it. Rebuilding and finishing body panels is pure joy, a Second place Ferrari at Pebble Beach was my best yet. Bob 

I am suffering through that very thing right now.

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10 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

 

 

What model is the Ferrari? 

 

Bob 

What I meant to say is that I am suffering trying to get my wiring correct and finished in my 1931 Dodge. Sorry for the misunderstood quote.

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I was gonna stay out of this....

But for me (I’m that guy that has to hire everything out) it’s meeting a person who says they can do a particular thing, “Oh yeah, I just did TWO of those last year” — because I pay them to do it and find out they can’t. 
Without exception.

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1 hour ago, keiser31 said:

For me, it's working on stuff alone.

For me, it's quite opposite (see my first "signature" line).

 

In most cases, I prefer to do things by myself, unless the assistance is very experienced and has similar way of approaching/thinking.

Can't count the times when having someone assisting turned out a mistake or more trouble than worth.

 

About 10 years ago, a client and his brother wanted to "help"(?) with installation of his vintage V12 Ferrari engine, which I had just fully rebuilt and dyno tested, into freshly painted and detailed engine bay. 

While I might've told it before, long story short, the engine was almost in with few inches to go, blankets and other protective gear everywhere, me guiding from one side, owner on the other and his brother operating engine hoist (which I had thoroughly instructed him on right before we started), when suddenly the engine "drops", ends up sitting slightly crooked and both the owner and his brother, start jumping around and hollering "OMG !", "OMG!", etc...

...while I'm stuck with my hand between one of the distributors and the firewall, having to raise my voice to yell at them that "my hand is stuck... and hurts like MF, so I need you both to calm down and pay attention to my instructions, right f'n now !". 

Fortunately, nothing broke on the engine, engine bay or my hand. 

 

And yes, I've done numerous similar heavy lift jobs by myself and (knock on wood), never had such problems. Most problems have included assistance.

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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Re age catching up with us. We have been restoring professionally for 42 years. My Son grew up in the biz and took over 4 years ago. I am now 72 and in declining health. In all those years I have not managed to restore a car for myself.  I have a car home in the garage that I have now owned for 51 years and counting. It wasn't even collectible when I bought it. It was just a 13 year old used car, A '55 Jag DHC. That's my personal frustration.

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1 hour ago, keiser31 said:

For me, it's working on stuff alone.

 

I am the opposite as well.

I can get way more done when I am alone compared to having a helper.

I do on occasion call one of the kids to help with something heavy or to hold the bolt while I got to the other side to start the nut kind of a thing.

I am always talking to myself, Once in awhile I get caught having one of my private discussions with myself.

They all think I am crazy anyway.

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All good responses. It just highlights no matter how much of the work we do ourselves, most of us have some limitations regarding part(s) of the process. When each of us reach an impasse, of necessity, we have to put our trust in someone else to do what we can't do. Trust becomes the operative word. Most often we only have one shot at getting it right, when we have to delegate we loose control. 

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1 hour ago, JACK M said:

I am always talking to myself, Once in awhile I get caught having one of my private discussions with myself.

 

I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that as long as you don’t argue and disagree with yourself...  
... or at least that’s what my psychiatrist told me. 🙄

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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The worst part of my restoration so far was finding out that I needed to replace the door latch mechanism on the passengers side. The part is only good for a 1940 Roadmaster, or Super. So I found one in North Dakota and the guy in the wrecking yard removed it with a cutting torch turning the part to junk. I sent the part back to him after I received it. Called a guy in Idaho who said he had it, but wanted $300 for the part (highway robbery), I said no thanks. I finally found one from $100 in Minnesota. Six month search. Frustrating. The other part that I still haven't found is the gravel guard that was on my car and the shop threw it in the trash. Three years later still looking. 

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The worst part after spending a year going thru and replacing everything is when you start to drive and debug it and discovering about half the replacement stuff don't work and you have to tear apart and fix or replace the replacement stuff.

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"Rust repair and body work" - agree and only buy cars that need none (here rust must come from elsewhere).

 

Have worked alone all of my life. Only person in family that has any interest.

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Right now I am scraping, wire wheeling, painting the underside of my car (79 trans am Tenth Anniv). This is by far the worst restoration experience I can think of to date. Car is cribbed and I am working off of a creeper. Dirty, miserable job, that once finished probably only about 3 people will ever see. I did my 77 with a rotiserrie and it was easy peasy. I hadnt planned on getting that involve with this car, figured just leave the bottom alone and move on. BUT, we all know about mission creep!

 

Anyway, restoring is a hobby that I enjoy doing to spend my leisure time. I do have a finished car I can drive and enjoy which makes working on one in the shop that much better.  Cant really think of any one thing other than the afformentioned that I dont enjoy.

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The worst part for me is after the car is completely re-assembled and then trying to get it to drive dependably. In other words, having to take things apart... again.

 

Phil

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I hate the smell of gas on my hands.  Worst of all though? 30 year old gas and getting it out of the car. Yuck! Digging the old grease out of a rear end is bad too.

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