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Professional Help

Professional Help Published: 26th Apr 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Professional Help
Professional Help
Professional Help
Professional Help
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By all means, do as much as you can to your project – but there will come point when you’re out of your depth and will need professional help

Bodywork rectification is the most obvious no-go area for many as are involved chassis repair work where skilled, highly accurate welding is demanded for safety’s sake as much as anything else.

One specialist we contacted typically charges £5000 to fully refurbish a chassis frame to better-than-new standards that should, if regularly cared for, last the life of the classic. Trim is another skilled art and craft that looks easier than it really is and can make-or-break a top restoration so if you want that concours look then some level of professional help may be needed.

Speak to the experts who do if for a living and they’ll usually say that while home restorers can be a very good job indeed, you can normally tell a pro job. You could argue “well, they would say that”, but while we’re all for having a go, it’s also best to know your limitations and swallow your pride and seek expert help in the areas you’re not comfortable with.

Most home restorers gladly tackle the oily bits with relish, if for no other reason that on the majority of pre-1980 classics they are of pretty simple design. That said, even then a good marque specialist may know some wrinkles and ‘tricks of the trade’ that have been picked up over the years which will make a good job even better.

Even if you had the enthusiasm for it, there are some jobs that you’ll never be able to tackle at home, such as intricate engine machining work like cylinder head skimming, white metalling, metal spraying, pressing, and such like. And it’s here that you will need a proper engineering shop as many garages won’t have the skills or equipment to carry out this work either. Sadly, these skills are in decline and you may need to search long and hard to find these services.

As a rough guide, a typical cylinder head skim costs in the region of £60, converting the valve seats to unleaded £450 (that’s the machining work including valve inserts costing £15 each) and a crankshaft regrind is typically in the £150-£200 region, depending upon engine and the state of wear. Where it can become pricey is on vintage engines on even such as a simple Austin 7 unit, where a full reconditioning, employing special skills, can cost as much as the car.

For instance, White Metalling a crankshaft or piston connecting rod to ‘reclaim’ them (perhaps because that part is now obsolete) can become pricey; Expect £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 a professional touch, especially if a hydraulic press is required to remove and refit bearings, or a specific-re-load tension is demanded upon reassembly.

For all that, it’s surprising what you can make do and mend in your lock up using a simple second-hand lathe or milling machine – both which can be bought fairly inexpensively. A large, heavy-duty vice on a similar stout workbench are essential tools no matter how involved you intend to become in your project.

The question is how do you find a good reconditioner? Word of mouth or via owners’ clubs is a starting point followed by how long the company has been around.

Where a professional can help

A case of heads you win

It’s always advisable to have a cylinder head skimmed to remove rust and any distortion, especially if you buy one second-hand. A raised compression ratio equals more power and worth having as is polishing an gas-flowing work

Saving what you have

Specialist overhauling of components may be needed if off-the-shelf replacement parts are obsolete; many companies will rebuild the likes of steering and suspension systems with modern materials to make it perform better and last longer

Old school skills

For instance, if new suspension springs (coils and leaf) are not available, as in the case of many vintage classics, the originals, if repairable, can be retempered. Similarly, certain engine parts may also have to be remade and reused

Five top tips

Cast expert eyes

Enlisting the help of a professional at certain stages o f the rebuld can actually save you money in the long run because their expertise wil come to the fore. Even if you have carried out the work yourself, having an expert check your handiwork may save you a lot of wasted time, effort and expense – perhaps a fellow enthusiast or owners’ club member who has carried out such work is a great substtiute, for example?

Bin it or fix it?

Replace or repair? That’s a problem you will face at some point and apart from weighing up the relative costs, there’s the vehicle’s originality to consider. However, by and large it’s more cost effective to purchase an overhauled assembly as opposed to piecemeal get-you-going repairs which may need doing all over againat a later stage. However, the quality o f reconditioned parts greatly varies (such as lever arm dampers) so you’re back to square one!

Is it old gold?

Used parts may not perform without specialist assistance first. For example, a crankshaft will probably require the block to be ‘line bored’ to accept the new component properly; speak to an engineering shop first on what needs doing

Mobile matters

If you can’t get your project calssic to a garage, or specialist remember that there’s plenty of mobile mechanics around to help you; many are older one-man bands and know classics quite well

Get self help

Why not check out your local colleges to see if they have special tutorials which may be of benefit to you?



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