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When Pro is way to go

When Pro is way to go Published: 23rd Mar 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

When Pro is way to go
When Pro is way to go
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Seek expert help when you need it or you could pay dearly in the long run...

Even the most experienced in restorations find times when they need to call in professional help and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. In fact, clever use of employing a professional in the right areas can actually save you money. Bodywork spraying is the most obvious for many as are involved chassis repair work where skilled, accurate welding is demanded for safety’s sake as much as anything else.

One specialist we spoke to who is a Daimler expert typically charges £5000 to fully refurbish a chassis frame to betterthan- new standards which if regularly cared for will last the life of the car. Trim is another skilled craft that looks easier than it really is and can make-orbreak a restoration project.


Most home restorers will gladly tackle the oily bits with glee, if for no other reason that they are of pretty simple design on many mainstream classics. However, it’s not always the case and even then a marque specialist may know some wrinkles and ‘tricks of the trade’ which will make a good job even better.

Even if you had the enthusiasm there are some jobs that you’ll never be able to tackle at home, such as engine machining work like cylinder head skimming, white metalling, metal spraying, pressing, and so on. It’s here that you need a proper engineering shop as many garages won’t have the skills or equipment either.

As a rough guide, a typical cylinder head skim costs £55, converting to unleaded £450 (that’s machining work including valve inserts costing £15 each) and a crankshaft regrind at £150-£200. On a vintage engine, such as an Austin 7 unit, specialist refurb work like such as White Metalling a crankshaft or con rod to ‘reclaim’ them (perhaps because that part is obsolete) can become pricey; £200 per con rod and perhaps over £600 per crankshaft journal if you want it done properly using top quality metals.

Transmissions, hydraulics and steering assemblies are other components that may demand professional attention, especially if a professional press is required to remove and refit bearings, or a specific-re-load tension is demanded upon reassembly. That said, it’s surprising what you can also make do and mend in your lock up using a simple lathe or milling machine – both which can be bought fairly inexpensively.

A large, heavy duty vice on a similar stout workbench is what we consider essential tools no matter how involved you intend to become in your project.

How do you find a good reconditioner? Word of mouth or via owners’ clubs is the starting point followed by how long the company has been around – and how busy it is…

Better than NEW

There’s no better time to think abut some modifications than when your classic is in bits. It’s also the most costeffective time to include any mods too, especially if certain components, such as suspension springs, dampers and brakes, were due to be replaced.

Let’s start with suspension bushes, which are best swapped for modern poly types which last longer and provide a better feel. However, you can over do it here unintentionally, so speak to a marque specialist first concerning the best types and where to fit them.

You can’t have brakes that are too good! Some experts swear by new-oldstock asbestos linings for their period feel; we’d certainly go for quality brake pads and shoes and perhaps fit EBC Green Stuff pads as they provide a better feel and overall performance. More involved mods can mean better discs and callipers, which can come from a sportier or larger-engined version of your classic – ditto a conversion to disc brakes is a popular ploy. Like disc brake conversions, there’s an accepted trend – both by owners and owners’ clubs – to install five-speed transmissions to make higher speeds more relaxing. Finding a suitable gearbox isn’t much of a problem but, ideally, you need an engine yielding around 80bhp otherwise the car won’t ‘pull’ the higher ratio effectively. Some experts advocate fitting larger tyres or a higher axle ratio as an alternative.

Talking of which, nothing improves a car’s overall feel on the road quite like a brand new set of tyres of the same make and size. For most classics, such as Morris Minors, Midgets etc, high street competition makes them highly affordable. Period classic tyres may be better for some classics such as E-types, Rollers, etc where the chassis has been specifically designed to run on a certain type of tyre – S1 E-types running on radials designed for the S3 V12 model is a case in point. Consult a tyre expert on this before wasting your hard-earned!

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