Building Your Vehicle – Part 2 – Tear it Down

 Hot Rodder's Stories  Comments Off on Building Your Vehicle – Part 2 – Tear it Down
Apr 202012


Tear It Down


In Part 1, which was all about planning for your project, it was mentioned that you should locate and purchase your project vehicle.  For this article, we will assume that you have done so and are in possession of the vehicle.

If you are like me, from the moment you got the vehicle home, you have been itching to dive into the tear down and to get started beating out the dents.  First, you need to have a method in place for bagging and tagging all the reusable parts.  For storing small parts, ordinary sandwich bags with the zip-lock work really well.  You’ll need to have 100 or more on hand, as well as another 20 to 30 gallon size bags.  For the engine and transmission parts, you can go to a machine shop and, for just a few dollars, pick up a few very large, heavy duty bags.  Once you have your parts bagged up with the associated hardware, make sure to label the bag with a good permanent marker.  Write down what is in the bag and where it came from, ie, “Passenger Door Panel”, or “Wiper Motor”.  For those parts that are just too awkward to bag, my solution is to use green masking tape (sticks to just about anything) and write down where the part came from.  It may seem silly to tag a large part like a door sill, but even a small notation indicating L or R can make a long day easier.

Now you may be wondering what to do with all those baggies! I use plastic tubs from one of the big box stores – they are fairly inexpensive and readily available in various sizes.  A typical tear down may require 10 to 15 tubs for all of the parts.  I also try to group parts together in the tubs, which prevents me searching through every tub for similar parts.  Here again is a great place to make use of your green masking tape.  Just tear off a few strips and put them on the outside of the tub, and write down your project name, and list what the tub contains.  Even if you only have one project in your shop, the project name keeps you from opening box after box of Christmas ornaments and old clothes before you find what you are looking for.   I use shelving that I built in the corner of my shop to store items.  If they are too big for my shelves – for example, seats or the engine – then they go to another storage building on my property.

I know it’s a bit of a buzzkill for me to talk about storing and organizing and labeling when all you want to do is get your hands dirty, but I can’t tell you how many good, usable parts I’ve had to replace  because I couldn’t find them again when I needed them. This small thing is a big money saver and eliminates a lot of frustration!

You are almost ready to pick up those tools, but – if you haven’t already done so – you need to take a lot of pictures of the vehicle.  No matter what you have; car, truck or tractor, get pictures of the interior, exterior, engine, underside, etc.  When you do start taking things apart, take more pictures of the individual parts and the hard to see stuff.  It makes it much easier to put it all back together if you have a visual to refer back to.

Now, last but not least, you need to get a pen and paper and, as you pull parts off, make a notation of their condition.  Are you reusing, replacing or refinishing?  Parts that are being reused in their current condition get bagged and tagged and put away.  Parts that need to be replaced should go on your “Parts Needed” list, and should be stored separate from your reusable parts.  TIP: Don’t get rid of the original until you know the replacement is going to fit.  Parts that need to be refinished or repaired, but are reusable should go on another list and, again, be stored separately.  Finally, make a list of parts that are just plain missing!  Luckily, missing parts are easy to bag up and take up very little space.  Of course, they also tend to be the most expensive and the hardest to find replacements for!

Using this system, or whatever method you prefer, will help keep your project organized and on track.  Now, get out there and power wash everything, take pictures, break out the tools and have fun!

Jeff Allison


PS – I have set up a forum  Take a look and load up a few pictures of your shop or your project.  Thanks for reading!


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Building Your Vehicle – Part 1 – THE PLAN

 Future Projects and Ideas  Comments Off on Building Your Vehicle – Part 1 – THE PLAN
Mar 122012


I’ve been thinking about what the topic should be for this month’s article, and I’ve kicked around several ideas for stories I could tell about the different builds I’ve done. I could write down any one of my many experiences as a car builder,

Daily Driver / Factory Correct Restoration?

Daily Driver / Factory Correct Restoration?


throw in some humor or, maybe a little drama, and you might read it once, and think, “well, that was a neat story,” and that would be the end of it. Nothing wrong with that.

However, I thought it might be more interesting to start a series of articles that span a time period of multiple weeks or months and cover the different problems with, and methods for building a vehicle. The idea would be to canvass the build process with generalized information applicable to any restoration, and add some detailed articles on specific parts of a build, concluding with the issues involved in finishing up and getting the vehicle on the road or track.

The best place to begin with any project is to make a plan. Before the first turn of the wrench or the first spark from the grinder, you should establish a solid plan by asking yourself some crucial questions. Start by figuring out the answers to the following questions.

  1. What do you want from your vehicle? Do you want a street car that you can race or a race car that goes out on the street? Do you want a factory correct restoration, a rock crawler, etc? The time to decide is before you start!
  2. What vehicle will you purchase? Be very sure you have answered question #1 before deciding on a vehicle. For instance, if you have a 1969 GMC Pickup in your shop and you really want a road racer, you probably don’t have the right vehicle. It may be better to sell the truck and buy a Mustang, Camaro, Corvette, or any number of imports. Conversely, if you have a ’69 Charger that you are driving to work everyday, and you want a factory correct restoration,
    you may need to rethink your commute because I see you being late a lot!! Also, keep your level of skill in mind. Don’t save money buying a rust bucket because it’s cheap if you don’t know how to
    weld or do body work. Take the time to find the right car, truck, motorcycle or wagon that truly fits your plan. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Chevy, VW and Ford probably have the most parts available from the aftermarket. A Helica or Tucker are going to take a lot of looking. If you choose an obscure project vehicle, you are going to spend great amounts of time looking for obscure parts, not to mention the money it will take to purchase or refurbish those obscure parts. If you have the time and the money – go for it! If not, you should probably rethink.
  3. If you’ve already got the vehicle, have you assessed its condition to determine the level of restoration needed?
    1922 Helica – Only known running Helica – Owned by Jean Francois Bouzanquet of Paris – Photo by Photo France
  4. What is your budget? How much can you spend – TOTAL?
    WRITE IT DOWN! This isn’t Congress, so don’t plan to spend what you don’t have!
  5. How much time do you have to invest; weekly, monthly, yearly? Estimate the time you think your build will take … then TRIPLE it!
  6. Do you have the space to garage your project, or are you renting, or even borrowing? If you are renting space, be sure to subtract the cost from your total budget amount. If you are borrowing space, be sure to discuss with the owner how long you will need the space. Be Honest! There is nothing worse than being half done and in bare metal when you get kicked out into the rain!
  7. Have you had a rendering of your project created? If you are going with a factory correct restoration you could skip this step, but I like to have a rendering as it is a visual of my ultimate goal. It also allows you to play with
    colors, wheels, modifications and so many other options. If you are not artistically inclined (like me), there are many artists available to do the rendering for you.

Lots of potential! - If you can handle the rust repair


This is probably a good stopping place for now, since I’ve given you so much homework to do. Obviously, this is the least enjoyable step in the build process, but this is the best way to foresee and prevent costly mistakes, which may save you enough that you’ll be able to afford the leather rather than the vinyl interior! Now, go to work!