It is an honor to have such a rare classic car, such as this 1967 Dodge Charger in our shop. Only about 15,000 Chargers were made in ’67 and not near that amount has survived. We are glad that we have the opportunity to bring this classic back to life. When our client brought us this vehicle it was a shell of a car and about 15 boxes of parts. Initally the client had tried to keep the cost of this restoration down by going with several smaller shops that would work on seperate areas of the vehicle. What this resulted in was a 5 year build, with little progress and lots of lost parts. Over the last 6 months we have tracked down all the missing pieces of this vehicle, repainted it, polished all the trim and restored the interior.
The vehicle is now really coming together and we are down to a few of the final items such as custom floor mats that have the Charger logo embroidered on them. We expect this vehicle to be back on the road within the next month.
Click below to see the past updates:
We’re starting working on this big old Cadillac Deville. The Caddy will get the works from a full paint job, to full mechanical restoration and interior restoration. The owner is looking for a vehicle that is going to last a long time in order to hand it down to his children and what better way that to restore this thing from top to bottom.
This 67 Cadillac has had the engine and transmission pulled to send it to the machine shop. The old Caddy’s engine compartment is full of wires and vacuum hose along with a ton of miscellaneous brackets and clips. Before we started we took loads of pictures to give ourselves a nice visual reference for re assembly.
The interior has for the most part been gutted. Pulling the carpet and insulation revealed some rust on the floor pans that was not visible from the underside. This is something that will eventually be addressed after we have stripped the rest of the body.
As of now the body is on its way down to nothing. We’re removing all of the trim and the body panels will eventually go. We will eventually pull the body from the frame to thoroughly clean blast and undercoat the bottom side. At this time we will also be painting the frame before it goes back together.
This is major project with many different aspects and will be an awesome car to drive as it floats down the freeway. The Cadilliac restoration will be one to note a prime example of “they don’t make ‘em like the used to”.
A high quality paint jobs is nothing without the tedious task of sanding and buffing the clear coat. A highly skilled painter can make a paint job look good without sanding and buffing, but those extra steps are what can take good to great. Sanding and buffing is vital to any high quality paint job and these some of the steps we take to meet and exceed our standards.
It all starts with the paint job. Minimal dirt, no runs, and an even texture make sanding the clear coat that much easier. You must start with a clean surface. The number one thing that will cause problems with buffing is dirt in your sand paper. The foreign dirt and debris can get caught between the paper and clear coat and will cause a scratch that will not buff out. Blowing off the surface with compressed air and cleaning with a damp towel will remove the chance for contamination.
Different people have different ways of sanding and buffing a car. People have differing opinions on what grit paper to use, how many steps to take, and to dry sand or wet sand. We use a combination of different grit papers and wet and dry sanding to obtain the level we are looking for.
The first stage starts with 1000 grit paper. The paper made by 3M is often referred to as a film. This film is attached to a finishing dual action sander (called a D/A). It is important at this stage to not sand too much. As finishing sand papers go, 1000 grit is pretty course, so off of sharp body lines and edges is essential to keep from sanding through the clear coat. The 3M film is designed to use dry, so using compressed air will help the surface clean. Blowing off the paint surface and sand paper is important to saying free of dirt build up.
The D/A is used to “knock down” the dirt nibs in the paint, and even out the texture on the larger surfaces. Replacing paper often is important to keep the cutting surface fresh and consistent. Sanding needs to take place in steps working from 1000 and moving to a finer grit like 1500 and then on to 2000 grit. Use these finer grit papers in the same manner as the first and with each step sanding closer and closer to the edges. The finer grit papers help smooth the scratches from the courser grits which will in turn make buffing easier.
The proper use of the D/A is also very important. Using the correct interface pads, proper air pressure, and keeping the moisture out of the system will help keep the dust from collecting and balling up on the paper. The sander should always stay moving and off of sharp lines and edges. Paper should be free of rips and tears. Anything other that paper to paint has the potential to create an un buffable scratch.
Before buffing, a final sand using a 3000 grit paper that is attached to a foam back up pad is used. The 3000 grit paper can be used wet. It’s best to used water from a squirt bottle. The water helps keep the surface lubricated and clean. The 3000 grit pad has very little cutting ability. It acts as almost a pre-buff, leveling out the sanded surfaces from the courser grit papers. After sanded all surfaces should be cleaned and wiped down with a soft wet cloth then dried. This will help make sure all dirt nibs have been sanded smooth and all surfaces have been sanded evenly.
Buffing also involves lots of practice and skill, but starting slow will help you get a feel for the tool and the paint. Using a variable speed 8” buffer with a wool pad start slow and spread the compound over a smaller area. Keep the compound from slinging across the room. Not only does it make a mess, but will stain walls and paint if left unclean.
Buffing creates heat. This heat can burn the paint if you’re not careful. Using too little compound won’t bring the paint to a shine and run the risk of burning the paint. Too much compound can etch into the paint and create a build up that can be hard to buff off. A good rule can be about a 4” bead of compound to one square foot of buffing surface. The biggest thing to know is to keep moving. Staying in place will only cause the paint to heat up and burn.
After you have made it through with the heavy cut compound and a wool pad, there can be a series of steps that can be taken to remove swirl marks and the finer scratches left from the wool pad. A once over with a foam pad and compound, then a softer foam pad and polish, followed by a hand polish will make your fresh paint shine like no other. When finished, clean all compound out of the jambs, clean up any sludge from sanding, and make sure all excess compound is cleaned from any cracks and crevasses.
Sanding and buffing is a skill that takes time to learn. It’s not for the faint of heart. When done correctly it will take a mediocre paint job to the next level with a little bit of time and elbow grease.
1968 Camaro Muscle Car - Driver Restoration
This ’68 Camaro is on the books for a paint job and interior restoration. This muscle car is having the paint stripped and interior gutted for now. Even though the paint looked pretty good we still wanted to discover what was underneath.
Overall the Camaro is pretty solid. It had quite a bit of unnecessary body filler and a few older rust patches. I have said it over and over, but this is the number one reason to strip a car. It is important to find the problem areas before they blow up on you down the road.
As of right now we have tore down the body, removed the interior, stripped the paint, acid etched primed, and sealed the body.
We will reevaluate the body work and start making the proper repairs before we send this Camaro back to the paint department.
This T-top '87 Buick Grand National came in for a face lift. The vehicle had been the unfortunate victim of a key job. Luckily the car was in such nice shape to begin with, a paint job is all that was in order for this classic 80’s muscle car.
This paint job was about as simple as they come when it comes to paint. The first step involved fixing the key scratches. Most of the small key scratches came out with just a heavy sanding. The remaining scratches were repaired with just a skim coat of filler. The Grand Nationals paint was in such nice shape it wasn’t even necessary to strip.
We almost completely dismantled the body to avoid any paint lifting or peeling issues down the road. We also repaired just a few dents and dings this thing received throughout its life. After a few good coats of primer it was ready to sand and paint.
Back to black was the plan. Having all the little bumper pieces, mirrors, and fillers painted give the face lift it deserved. After the clear coat, and a run through the bake cycle, sanding and buffing was next on the list. No paint job is complete without being slicked down with a good sanding and buffing.
We’ll put the Grand National back together except for the emblems. After a final buff and polish we’ll stick these emblems back on and send it down the road.
After a long search for a useable body we were able to come up with formidable candidate for the 1971 Ford Torino convertible, frame off restoration. The parts car is a hardtop shell that will give us many of the parts that are not available on the aftermarket. This shell will give us the small pieces that will reduce the amount fabrication substantially.
Before any of the rebuilding work can be done we must first take the car down to almost the smallest piece. The rocker panels on the Torino are made into three pieces, an outer panel, inner panel, and a third brace that is only used on convertibles.
We will essentially be making the hard top into a convertible. This involves using the entire extra bracing the convertible uses. Cutting the car apart into each individual piece helps with the fabrication of miscellaneous bracing and pieces.
1990 Chevy Camaro Convertible
The Camaro came in with some tired paint, tired seats, and not quite running the way it should. We turned this thing around with a new paint job, new leather seats, and a tune up with valve adjustments, The Camaro also received a tunable Borla exhaust system, and Kicker audio system.The only thing left is to get into some convertible weather to put the top down and cruise.
The Camaro was stripped to bare metal, before the fresh black was applied. Sanding and buffing makes the black look endlessly deep.
Leather seats give the interior the extra touch of class and comfort.
The tunable Borla exhaust made the car sound just as good as it looks.
The Camaro was also equipped with a Viper alarm system that will keep it secure. With GPS tracking and the ability to start right from an iPhone, this '90 Camaro has features many brand new vehicles are lacking.
The deep black paint job and the new leather covers have this ready for the road and turning heads.
Prepare your car for the winter.
Winter time is just about here and for some the driving season is almost over. Many cars are parked and never touched until the spring. These are just a few tips for winterizing you classic car and storing you car for an extended period of time. To ensure you will be ready for the road next spring.
One of the first things to go during an extended storage is the fuel. The properties of gasoline can break down within six months. Gasoline that has gone bad can cause a multitude of problems from poor performance, to clogged fuel filters, and even causing internal problems within a carburetor. The life of the fuel can be extended buy using a fuel stabilizer such as Sta-bil. When used correctly the life of the fuel can be extended for up to two years.
Add the fuel stabilizer to your fuel before filling up. This will help to ensure it is mixed in thoroughly. It seems strange to add fuel just before storing, but an empty tank will allow air and moisture to exposed metal surfaces causing possible corrosion and rust. Just before storing add your full stabilizer and fill your tank. After you have filled your tank, it is a good idea to put on a few miles to allow the treated fuel to circulate through the system.
Regular maintenance is never a bad idea before storage. Changing you oil, oil filter, transmission fluid, and axel lubricants will help keep any dirt and debris out of the system, some of which can break down the viscosity and lubricating properties of the oil.
If your engine is completely sealed before you store your vehicle, don’t be too surprised to see a few drips of oil the next spring after you drive is a few time. Some seals can dry out over an extended period of sitting, causing minor leaks as they expand and seal after a few times of being oil soaked and heated.
In colder temperatures it is very important to make sure your cooling system is filled with good antifreeze. It’s a good idea to have you coolant good for up to at least -20*. This will help any freezing over the cold winter months and protect the radiator hoses and engine block form cracking or popping a freeze plug.
During periods of long storage, its recommend that you remove the battery cables from the battery. Clocks and other items will eventually cause the battery to drain and electrolysis will cause the terminals to corrode. With the battery unhooked a battery tender is a good way to keep you battery in top shape.
If possible it’s a good idea to put your car on jack stands. After extended periods of sitting, tires can form flat spots. These flat spots can ruin a set of tires, by throwing them out of balance and keeping the tires from holding the weight of the car will help prevent these flat spots.
The best way to protect you interior over the winter months is to give it a thorough cleaning. Critters and mice like to find their way into the interior of cars, and cleaning up a food source like small crumbs underneath a seat will reduce the chances of a live in guest.
Leather seats should be conditioned. Vinyl dashes, seats, and door panels, should also be wiped down thoroughly with a vinyl and plastic protectant. This will help preserve these pieces as best as possible.
I have never been a fan of car covers. Far too often I’ve seen scratched cars because of covers, but during long storage a cover is not a bad idea. When used carefully car coves will help tremendously to protect the paint, but when the proper steps are not taken a car cover can do more harm than good.
The first step is to clean your car thoroughly. Remove any tar or bug guts from rocker panels and grills. These things will stain paint and chrome so make sure you have taken your time when cleaning. After your car has cleaned and free from foreign objects, apply a good wax. This wax will help the paint when in contact with a car cover.
A water proof cover with a soft underside is the best option. Make sure you examine the cover for dirt and debris. When a vehicle is stored indoors is not as critical to fully secure a cover, but in outdoor situations it’s vital. Make sure the cover snug and free from loose fitting material. In windy situations the extra mater can blow and flap in the wind. This movement between the body and cover will eventually cause scratches and possibly wear through the paint.
Exhausted from bad exhaust? – Good materials make good exhaust
The sound and looks of an exhaust system are just as important as any other system on a vehicle. Having the sound you want can give your car a whole new personality, and add to the character of your ride. Avoiding leaks, rattles, and vibrations are essential to hearing the full effects of your exhaust system rather than hearing the noise it creates.
An exhaust system starts at the manifolds and headers. Quality parts are just the beginning. The first step is to ensure you have a clean and true sealing surface from the head to the manifold. This involves an inspection of the parts being installed. Big grooves, cracks, and uneven sealing surface will be sure to cause a leak, so taking the proper precautions to seal and ensure bolts are tight will help keep away those annoying header and manifold leaks.
Headers are notorious for leaking caused bolts backing off. That’s why it’s a good idea to use locking systems like Stage 8 Locking Fasteners manufactures. These are designed to prevent backing off and will help seal thing for the long term.
The type of material used is also crucial to keeping an exhaust system working well long term. Aluminized and stainless tubing are the best routes to go. Aluminized pipe is very common and is the lesser expensive option. Stainless is an even better way to go, but the down fall is cost. Stainless exhaust can be polished to a shine so this is a great option to add to the underside of your show car. Not every shop will bend and weld stainless exhaust systems as it uses special benders and highly trained welders.
The premade exhaust system is something that can be very enticing. The pre-bent system comes with its down falls. In many cases these systems are poor fitting and require additional bending and welding. True “bolt on” systems are hard to come by and don’t compare to a system that is made right there at the car. For the “do it yourselfer” a pre-bent exhaust system can come in handy, but you should always proceed with caution when purchasing and installing these systems.
A quality exhaust system is also properly secured. In a factory restoration, original style hangers and brackets are used. In a custom application, the system needs to be secured with plenty of clearance from floors, cross members, fluid lines, and axels. As the engine torques and vibrates, or axels move, clearances change which can easily cause annoying rattles and vibration. All hangers and bracket need to be rubber insulated with enough play and movement to clear any solid surfaces.
Whether you want you ride quite or loud, in order to enjoy the sound of that engine, you will need to make your exhaust system free of leaks and rattles. This is easily done by inspecting part, securing mufflers and pipes, and making sure you have plenty of clearance. When broken down its pretty simple stuff, but having an exhaust system custom made is always a better choice over your pre-fabricated, pre-made, off the shelf exhaust in a box.