Paint Job On The Cheap
Paint Job On The Cheap
There's no such thing as a good low-buck scuff and shoot paint job. There are passable budget paint jobs that look good for now. However, they will never last. Chris Burns of Santa Barbara Musclecars lays it all out for us, "Go with a scuff and shoot paint job and you are asking for serious problems down the road. That's just throwing away whatever you've just spent." Good body prep and the best materials are everything to a quality paint job that will last.
When it comes to restoration projects, we can tell you we've been there in this magazine's 31-year history. And we've worked closely with others who have also been there. The neat thing about this job is what we learn doing it. In those three decades, we've made more than our share of mistakes-some really stupid, some we'd never admit to even our closest friends, and some that were embarrassingly exposed right here in these pages. Our goal here is to help you avoid mistakes with true confessions from those who've made them, including us.
If you are new to the restoration game, expect to make mistakes-lots of them-before getting comfortable with your abilities. It's okay to make mistakes. Just don't keep making the same ones again and again. Some situations require common sense where you really shouldn't make a mistake in the first place if you give it enough thought going in. Good practice is to take your time and not be in a hurry. Be methodical in your execution, taking phases one step at a time on the road to completion. Don't be discouraged when things go wrong. The main things to avoid are those mistakes that can cost time and money.
Here's what those in the know feel the worst restoration blunders are.
Failure To Realistically Plan
One of the best project planners we've ever seen is Marvin McAfee of MCE Engines in Los Angeles. Marvin will tell you that car projects crash and burn mostly due to a failure to plan realistically. Each project must have a plan, beginning with bodywork and paint, to have a foundation on which to build. You must be a good multi-tasker who can manage different phases of a project at the same time. For example, managing engine and transmission rebuilds while working with the body shop. And if you're not good at that, take it one phase at a time and don't get ahead of yourself. Don't kid yourself. You must be prepared to make allowances for just about anything you can think of or suffer consequences when things go wrong and you're unprepared. And face it, there are things you will never be prepared for and you may have to cut bait on a project. Have logical, realistic Plans B and C waiting in the wings just in case Plan A tanks. And, know when to quit and cut your losses when it becomes impractical to continue a car project.
What could possibly go wrong?
• Job Loss
• Career move/job transfer
• Death in the family
• Natural disaster
• Credit problems from overextension and running out of money
• Taking out a second mortgage to build your Mustang and winding up "upside down" (they call also it "underwater" these days)
• Moving to smaller quarters and losing your garage
• Losing good talent helping you with your project
• Losing a good source for technical support, such as your body shop, engine builder, fabrication specialist, etc.
• Body/restoration shop goes out of business and your Mustang winds up impounded by those to whom the shop was financially or legally obligated
Not Knowing Who You're Doing Business With
In three decades of magazine publishing, we've heard a lot of horror stories. Mustang owners have been conned and duped by unscrupulous businesses, ranging from full-on restoration shops to engine builders, body shops, and everything in between. Remember, any hayseed can hang up a sign and call themselves a restoration shop.
Buying The Same Parts Twice...
Buying The Same Parts Twice
Laurie Slawson is a Mustang Club of America Gold Card judge and restorer who owns two '68 Mustangs. She stresses strict organization in any restoration project. Catalog your restoration parts and have them organized so you can take inventory periodically and know what you have before ordering more parts. Few things are as wasteful in a restoration than buying parts you don't need-especially expensive ones. All parts should be wrapped and protected in storage. Resist the urge to open a box until it's time for installation. The only reason you should open a parts box is to inspect the part and return if necessary. Otherwise, parts should remain packaged until ready for detailing and installation.
Never More Than One Project...
Never More Than One Project At A Time
Never perform two or more restorations in the same garage at any one time, especially the same generation or model year because there are too many chances for parts mix-up. At Mustang Monthly, we've had more than our share of "same time" restoration projects where too much confusion abounds between two projects, or parts get borrowed from one to complete the other. If you're in the middle of a restoration project, finish it completely before beginning the next. Jumping back and forth between two projects leads to two things-burnout and incompletion. Ask us how we know.
Failure To Understand What...
Failure To Understand What A Restoration Costs
Chris Burns of Santa Barbara Musclecars in California tells us one of the first mistakes people make is not understanding the true cost of a restoration. This isn't about price gouging or restoration shops getting rich at your expense. It is about how much time is involved restoring a classic Mustang properly. Restoration cost is all about time and materials-and contracting with a qualified shop you can trust. How long does each step take at an hourly rate of $60 to $120 an hour? The best restoration shops are even higher because this is professional business.
If you have a Mustang project with a lot of rust, body damage, and the need for sheet metal repair, it can get very expensive. Bodywork and engine rebuilding are the most expensive aspects of a restoration. Make changes along the way and it gets even more expensive. Do as much as you can yourself and save accordingly.
Not Soaking Rusty Fasteners...
Not Soaking Rusty Fasteners With Penetrating Oil
Jeff Lilly and his son, Shannon, of Jeff Lilly Restorations understand what happens when you start knocking a Mustang down and forget to bathe rusty fasteners with good penetrating oil first. Rusty fasteners need lots of help before you put a wrench on them, Jeff tells us. It can take days for the stuff to work. When you don't soak rusty fasteners first, risk of failure is high.
Beginning A Restoration Without...
Beginning A Restoration Without Reference Materials
Jeff Lilly strongly encourages you to purchase all available reference materials before beginning a restoration. Have a complete set of Mustang Assembly Manuals from Jim Osborn Reproductions. A Ford Shop Manual should be on your workbench. Buy a set of subassembly manuals, such as vacuum and electrical schematics. Keep back issues of Mustang Monthly on hand because we do a lot of restoration editorial for this purpose - to help our readers. Without these important reference sources, you're flying without a flight plan.
Never Media Blast Alloy Metal...
Never Media Blast Alloy Metal Parts
John Murphy has spent the last 30 years dabbling in classic Mustangs. He's an amateur restorer who is home garage trained at the University of Hard Knocks. Yet he will tell you he's had a ball along the way. He speaks from experience when he says, "Never sandblast or even glass-bead an alloy part that had a smooth finish to begin with. This includes fuel pumps, Thermactor smog pumps, carburetors, distributors, cast aluminum power steering pump brackets-any part that was cast with a smooth surface." John tells us that although the part will be clean, you will never have the correct factory surface again. Use a vibratory cleaner, John adds, or a parts tumbler to massage cast parts to like-new condition.