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A guide to garages

Undercover Operations Published: 10th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

A guide to garages
A guide to garages Okay, so the above is a pipe dream to most and your lock up looks more like our main pic but with some thought and a few quid you can work wonders.
A guide to garages New garage doors (left) aid security and keep draughts at bay - go for window types for maximum natural light
A guide to garages Superb tool cabinets
A guide to garages Car bubbles not only protect a car from the outside atmosphere and so keep rust at bay but provide a vital cushion against falling objects in the garage such as kid’s bikes.
A guide to garages Room for one on top! A hydraulic lift is not only a boon for repairs but can also provide a crafty extra level to your garage (it’s quite safe to do so). Cost is around £1500 - much cheaper than an extension
A guide to garages Garage floors can be sexy - try new wave of floor tiles which look good and keep warmth in. Prices around £350
A guide to garages Affordable portable storage from Hamilton Classic
A guide to garages Car ports may be a poor man’s garage but they are effective enough and provide decent shelter to work under. In fact, thanks to good ventilation, it’s preferable to a sweaty prefab which can sweat

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For a classic car owner a garage is a Godsend. So why are so many lock ups just a glorified junk room? Make it a New Year resolution to make the most of yours during 2008!

Too many enthusiasts think purely of the car when starting a project. And yet before you even wield a spanner, you must sort your garage out to make the working environment as comfortable and safe as possible. Your classic will benefit too as there’s nothing worse than a draughtridden, damp lock up to ruin a restoration – or your resolve. A good well planned out garage is a joy to behold and best of all you don’t need to spend a fortune to make yours into a professional looking workshop. Sadly too many of us don’t want to spend a penny on the place and use every shortcut going. It’s a false economy and you should view any expense as a worthwhile investment for years and years to come.

Clearing the decks

The trouble with garages is that they are a magnet for junk and spill-overs from the house. After a good clearout you’ll be amazed at just how much extra space you can liberate by being so ruthless and not allowing house stuff into your space. Bicycles and lawn mowers can be hung from the wall with special brackets, for example. Use natural light to the max. Grey is probably the best colour for the floor with either Brilliant White or Magnolia for the walls and ceiling. Not only does it look good, it also reflects natural light and is easy to keep clean. If you do paint the floor (and this will help keep dust down) use proper garage floor paint, but if you want the ultimate try out the new floor tiles which are becoming popular. These interlocking PVC tiles are easy to lay, take up and clean plus they keep the warmth in. Typically it costs around £350 for an average single garage and £650 for a double unit. And they look really great too! Naturally to make a garage fit for car hibernation, you need to stop any leaks or draughts. Opinions differ on covering a car up in a garage because unsuitable PVC sheeting will cause it to sweat resulting microscopic paint damage. If you do want to cover your classic up, use a proper ventilated car cover. By far the best course of action is to place your car in an environmentally- controlled atmosphere such as an enclosed bubble where the temperature can be precisely regulated. Carcoon and Cair-O-Port are leading players in this market and a typical model will cost around £300-400. Similarly a de-humidifier is a worthy buy to keep moisture at bay if you want to keep the car exposed in the garage.

My space

Don’t waste space by having old ideas and furniture dictate your new look garage; start from a clean piece of paper – or rather floor. Park your car in the centre, choosing the optimum working position. If possible, draw a chalk line around the vehicle making it a ‘no-go’ area. Unless your garage is wider than average, the sides should be left clear. Hopefully there will be a fair amount of space left at the back of the building. Your challenge (and believe us, it will be a challenge!) is to use this space to the maximum effect. You may think this next idea is overkill, but a dedicated workshop installer (or even an interior designer) may find novel ways of freeing up a lot of extra hidden space for a nominal fee. In fact a fresh outlook may liberate so much added room that you’ll think twice about that garage extension you were considering and so save thousands of pounds in return. A good sturdy workbench is essential as old furniture, which most of us use, is rarely strong enough or durable enough for hard use. Ideally, a bench should be framed with draws and cupboard space or an open area to store jacks and axle stands. For this reason proper professional benches are money well spent. Old cast-off office furniture such as filing cabinets work a treat while floor-to-ceiling shelving such as Dexion is very versatile and adaptable, but you can go the whole hog and have a fully professional set-up installed from the likes of Dura that really makes you proud of your workshop - if you have any money left over from Christmas! In an ideal world we would all have those lovely SnapOn tool cabinets like F1 mechanics too, but they can cost more than some of the classics we own! A simple five-tray cantilever toolbox suffices, but it’s far better to have a peg-board fixed to the wall with tools neatly laid out in order by the bench like a pro. With each tool in place, use a permanent marker to draw a silhouette around them. At the end of the working day, you can tell exactly which tool is missing at a glance. Alternatively, you can buy a board ready made for around £40, while fully self-contained tool cabinets start new from around £100.

Up and down

One you’ve used a pit, you wonder why you ever struggled on your back before! MechMate markets a one-piece fibreglass shell that makes under-car work bliss. Breaking up the concrete and digging out the earth is a real back breaker, but costs nothing although a local builder may not charge much for this. Just be careful of any electric/gas/water/drains that may be unearthed during the excavation. If you don’t want to go down, look up! Specialist axle stands, ramps, lifts and body rollers can do the same job at less cost. We’ve been trying out a body roller, marketed by CJ Autos (01706 367 649), and it works a treat. In fact it’s better than a pit or ramp as it allows you to work at normal height; the only problem is the space needed (at least 2.5 metres) to enable the roller (which can be powered) to turn the car on its side. Prices start from just a few hundred quid. Or how about a hydraulic lift? There are a number of reasonably priced two-post electric lifts that run off domestic 240v mains and which make working underneath a car a doddle. We know of one enthusiast with a high-ceiling garage who installed one to store two classic cars (one up, one down). At around £1000 it saved him the cost of building a double garage!


Don’t give up completely if you can’t have a proper garage. How about a pre-fab? Okay, so they don’t boast the benefits of a proper brick one, but so long as you have the land for a concrete base, then you can buy one as a flat pack for a couple of thousand. Add some light (even an extension lead from the house as and when required) and you’re away. Bear in mind though that before you even think about constructing a garage, you must consult your local authorities for planning permission. If that’s a non starter, then a carport is the preferred alternative. These are much cheaper than a full-blown lock up (typically starting at around £800-£1000, try Exchange & Mart) and provide much needed shelter although you will still to some degree be at the mercy of the elements - but it’s better than nothing! If it isn’t possible to construct a permanent carport outside your home, then how about a portable one that sits on the drive or front garden? These simple, fabric tent-like car covers like the types available from Hamilton Classics. Called Auto Pod, it’s a fully-enclosed outdoor shelter made of a lightweight fabric which is both weather and UV resistant. It has a tough PVC floor and there are vents in each corner to allow air to circulate and inhibit condensation. The steel and fibre pole frame is simple to construct, and it has supporting guy lines to offset heavy weather. The large zipped door provides vehicular access, and there are also three smaller doors. The size of 7.3m x 3.5m is enough for most classics and the price is just £345. If all this have galvanised you into sorting out your garage then all we have to say is good luck!

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