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A Guide to Garages Part-2

My Space Published: 17th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

A Guide to Garages Part-2
A Guide to Garages Part-2 Some folks have all the luck! But with some thought and cash you can also transform your lock up, too
A Guide to Garages Part-2 Simple Dexion bolted to garage walls boarded up creates a lot of storage space – for light stuff only!
A Guide to Garages Part-2 If you can’t have a workshop pit then consider a body roller which allows you to work at a normal height
A Guide to Garages Part-2 A hydraulic lift not only helps with repairs but also frees up floor space, perhaps even for another car
A Guide to Garages Part-2 Proper tool boxes and cabinets keep a garage tidy – note spanner rack for ease of use and identification
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Where would we be without our garages! So isn’t it time that you gave yours as much thought and care as you bestow on your beloved classic and turn it into the lock up that you’ve always dreamed about?

Don’t neglect your lock up – it’s the most important and yet overlooked asset you’ll ever likely to own. And yet too many of us use it as a glorified junk room, stuffing it with household surplus we should throw out. And then there’s the kids’ bikes, the washing machine and so on! If you have to make a New Year resolution that you remotely intend to stick to during 2009, then let it be sorting out your beloved garage for once and for all. A good well planned out garage is a joy to behold as well as a safe and satisfying environment to work in. What’s more you don’t need to spend a fortune to make your humble lock up something that you’ll love to spend quality time in. Sadly too many of us don’t want to spend a penny on the place to achieve that goal and use every shortcut known when kitting it out with the likes of shelving and so on. It’s false economy and you should view any expense in your garage as a worthwhile investment for years to come.

Back to basics

There’s lots you can do to improve your garage but before you embark upon any radical makeovers get the basics sorted out first. After a thorough clear out you’ll be amazed at just how much extra space you have liberated. Discard any unwanted household items and only keep in there what you have absolutely to. A ruthless attitude is vital and what has to be stored in your garage such as bicycles and lawn mowers that can’t be stored anywhere else, can be hung from the wall with special brackets, for example. Use natural light to the max and cheer up that gloomy atmosphere with some cheap and simple redecoration. 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 so much nicer, brighter and professional, it is also easier to keep clean. If you do paint the floor (and this will help keep future dust down) then use proper garage floor paint. But if you want the ultimate then try out the new fad in floor tiles which are becoming increasingly popular. These interlocking PVC tiles are easy to lay or take up, simple to clean plus keep the warmth in. Typically it costs around £350 to kit out an average single garage and £650 for a double unit. Not cheap but they will last for years and look really cool 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 environmentallycontrolled 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 ‘shell’ 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.

Time to transform

Don’t waste space by letting old ideas, penny pinching and household furniture dictate your new look garage; start with a clean piece of paper and mind – and that garage floor! Park your classic in the centre, choosing the optimum working position. If possible, draw a chalk line around the vehicle making it a strict ‘no-go’ area. Unless your garage is wider than average, the sides should be left as clear as possible. Hopefully there will be a fair amount of space left at the front and back of the building. Your challenge (and believe us, it will be one!) is to use any available space to the best effect. Now you may think this next idea grandiose but it could save you money in the long run. We’re talking about considering having a dedicated workshop installer, or even an interior designer, have a look at your garage and come up with any fresh ideas or novel ways of freeing up any hidden space for a nominal fee. It’s not a waste of money; in fact, a fresh pair of eyes may liberate so much added room that you’ll think twice about that garage extension you were considering and so save thousands in return. A good sturdy workbench is the most essential piece of equipment you can have in your garage; old furniture, which to be honest, most of us use, is rarely strong enough. Or good enough. Ideally, a bench should be framed with draws and cupboard space or an open area to store jacks and axle stands. Proper professional benches and tool cabinets, although pricey, are money well spent and, like any tool, are a good investment as well as an asset for years to come. Old cast-off office furniture such as filing cabinets work a treat while floor-to-ceiling shelving such as Dexion is extremely versatile and adaptable. You can go the whole hog and have a fully professional set up installed from the likes of Dura that really make you proud of your workshop! Likewise we would all have those lovely SnapOn tool cabinets that F1 mechanics cherish, 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 by the bench like a pro. With each tool in place, simply 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 from around £100 new. Proper tool cabinets racking and shelving do not cost the earth and will make working on any classic much more enjoyable and safer. Look to the likes of specialists in the field such as Big Doug and Garage Pride, both who offer a comprehensive range of products to suit all sizes of pockets and garages.

Highs and lows

One you’ve used a workshop pit you wonder why and how you ever struggled on your back for all this time! Leaders MechMate markets a wide range of one-piece fibreglass shell workshop pits that make under-car work bliss and a lot safer too. 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, either – especially as many may now welcome any work going. Just be careful of any home amenities such as electric/gas/water/drains that may be unearthed during the excavation. If you don’t want to go down, why not look up? Specialist axle stands, ramps, lifts and body rollers can do much the same job at less cost. We’ve used a body roller, marketed by CJ Autos (01706 367 649), for years and it works a treat. In fact, in some ways, 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. Or how about a hydraulic lift? There are a number of reasonably priced two-post electric lifts that run off domestic 240v mains power and make working underneath a car a doddle. We even 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 to accommodate his cars plus has a lift at his disposal. If a lift a bit too much for you then considersome of the ‘super’ jacks and ramps that are available from the likes of CJ Autos and Restoration Ramps. There are certain types that you drive on and it raises the entire car by a useful amount for added work space These are the next best thing to a proper working pit and fair value.

Give me shelter

No fancy garage, then how about a pre-fab? Okay, so they don’t boast the benefits of a proper brick out house, 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 pounds. Add some light (even an extension lead from the house as and when required will suffice) and you’re away. Bear in mind though that before you even think about constructing a permanent garage, you must consult your local authorities for approval and planning permission. If that’s a non starter, then a carport is one preferred alternative. These are much cheaper than a full-blown lock up (typically starting at around £800-£1000) and provide muchneeded shelter although you will still be at the mercy of the elements to a degree. If it isn’t possible to construct a permanent carport outside your home, then how about a portable garage that sits on the drive or front garden? These simple, fabric tent-like car covers are 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 to allow air to circulate and inhibit condensation. The steel and fibre pole frame is said to be simple to construct, while a large zipped door provides full access plus there are also three smaller doors. The size of 7.3m x 3.5m is enough for most classic cars and vans and the price is an affordable £345. As you can see there’s no excuse for not having some form of garage. Sort yours out now, and it will repay you everytime you’re out there working on your classic.

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