Many car enthusiasts find joy in restoring old junkers. The process of restoring it can be exhausting, time-consuming, and expensive, but seeing an old car restored to a handsome classic makes all the efforts worth it. To make the process easier, you can use some helpful tips towards restoring an old junker.
Restoring an old junker means that you have to do all the work needed from bumper to bumper. This includes refinishing, replacing, and repainting every part of it. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about its needed parts since you can always find replacements or salvage some parts from old car junk shops that are needed for the restoration.
While some can actually do it, finish what they started and enjoy the fruits of their labor, some are not so lucky. There are instances where they discover some hidden problems as they start dismantling the old junker. Finding out later on that it will be impossible to get the job done or that it would require a huge amount of money. Some would choose to continue the restoration while some choose to abandon it completely since the problems it has aren’t worth fixing.
To ensure your success and help you with your endeavor, you need to be prepared before you start restoring an old car. Here are some helpful tips for restoring an old junker.
Start With a Plan
You need to have a plan first before starting to do anything that requires time, patience, hard work, and a lot of money. Creating a plan makes you understand how the entire process works. You need to know how much it will cost you, how long it will take to get it done, and how you are planning to achieve it.
- Find a car. If you do not own an old junker yet, you need to start looking for one. You need to do some research and pick the right old junker that appeals to you. Do not pick a rare car since the rarer the car the more expensive it gets to complete it. It will need expensive parts that are hard to find. Some helpful tips towards restoring an old junker will be more difficult due to the price.
- Plan the budget. You also need to plan how much you are willing to spend on the restoration. Plan the budget as a whole but break it down into segments for each section of the car. How much will you be spending on each section? Will you focus more on its performance or its looks? You also need to allocate a little extra for the unforeseen problems that may happen along the way.
- Plan the location. Since restoring an old junker may take a while to finish, you need to plan and figure out where you should store it. You have to place it where it is easy to access. It would be better if you will set up two areas for it, one for mechanical and the body and the other one for the electrical and upholstery. If you don’t have access to that, at least make sure that you will be working in a large space. You have to be always motivated to finish your project. You would not want to dig up your car in the garage every time you work on it or clatter your elbows and knees. You have to be on top of things. An organized and clean place should also be considered a priority.
- Tools. If you are planning to do all the work yourself, you need to get the right tools. Plan ahead and research what tools, equipment, or materials you will be needing. Plan if you can buy them or if you can afford them. You can also explore other options like borrowing from a friend or renting. Here some examples of the tools and equipment that you might need.
- Engine crane and engine stand
- Electric tools such as a voltage checker and air compressor
- Wire brushes
- Floor jack
- Drill and drill bits
- Sheet metal scissors
- Screwdrivers, pliers, sockets and wrench
- Plan to document. Documenting everything is very important when it comes to restoring old junkers. You need to take pictures or videos before you start to strip the old junker and during the stripping. This is done because it would be impossible to remember everything. Which part goes to where, what cable connects to what, and how everything came apart. You also need to buy organizers for the screws and bolts, tags and labels. It will be helpful if you label everything as it will save you a lot of time later on.
- Set a realistic timeframe. This list of some helpful tips towards restoring an old junker. is made much more powerful by setting a timeframe. It will be helpful if you set a timeline of how long the project is going to take and how much time you will commit. Plan how to divide the tasks to make the process easier and smoother.
- Ask for help. If you have never done restorations before, you need to be prepared for everything. No matter how willing you are to learn and do everything yourself, you can still mess up. You can prepare by asking some professionals. Ask the experts first before starting to rip the old junker apart. You can also make a list of people you can contact when something goes wrong and a list of the shops you’ll order the parts from.
- Visualize the final product. You need to visualize the final product of your project. You can gather ideas online or from magazines. Envisioning what your car will look like after the restoration can really help you with the planning. Knowing the design and features of your car can also help you avoid last-minute decisions that you might regret later.
The Restoration Process
With the planning and assessment done, it is now time to put those hands to work. Here some helpful tips that might come in handy as you work on the restoration of your old junker.
- Stripping and removing. You will have to strip the old junker’s interior first. Make sure that you store it in a safe and clean place. Do not throw any defective parts since you might need them to compare when buying replacements. Remove all the wirings but remember to label each one and make sure to replace the defective ones.
When taking out the engine gearbox and transmission, remember to drain all the fluids out first. Document every step and label the wires. Using an engine crane can help you finish this task easier.
After taking out the engine, you can proceed to remove the external panels and the window glass. Make sure that you don’t break anything from the panel since some of the parts are hard to replace. You can also check your headlights. If you are still going to use it, make sure that it is protected and covered.
Removing the parts underneath an old junker can be a little tricky. In order to do it easily, you need to place it onto a rotisserie. If you don’t have access to one, you can try to remove the rear axle and place the body on top of a couple of jack stands. When you remove the parts underneath like the front and rear suspensions, steering rack, and brakes, make sure that you take note of the parts that need replacing and repairing.
For any metal parts that are easily removed and are not corroded, you can apply powder coats on them for a finer finish.
- The exterior. Working on the exterior requires a lot of work that involves stripping and sanding. When handling the exterior, you also need to be very careful or meticulous since the exterior is the very first thing people will see and notice.
The first thing you can do is to strip off all the paint. You can use a wire brush on an electric grinder for this or you sand all the paint off. Next task is removing rusts and dents. If you have an allocated budget for this, you can just replace the rusted parts and replace them with new welded steel. You also have to check and seal what’s underneath your car. You need to underseal it to protect it from corrosion, scratches, chips, and abrasion.
- Painting and bodywork. Most old junkers have damaged paints and bodyworks. In order for you to get satisfying results, you need to make great efforts in this process. There should be no shortcuts especially if you are working on dents and body panels. Hammering out dents and rebuilding body panels will require a lot of patience and practice.
First thing you need to do before painting is to fill in any gaps by applying an etch primer to seal the metal. Remember to wipe the panels every time to achieve a smooth professional finish. Once you’re done, make sure to spray the shell using a primer. It is important to prime all bare metals before applying the paint. Allow the primer to dry before you start painting.
After painting the vehicle, check and assess your work and correct any imperfections. You can remove paint runs or dust particles by using a 2000 grit sandpaper and apply paint again. Make sure to not overdo it. You can then proceed to polish your car.
- Interior and upholstery. The interior including the upholstery is something most people forget since it isn’t really needed in the operation of the vehicle. You need to check and inspect the vehicle’s floor. Remove the mats and inspect under each seat for any possible problem. If there is a hole, you need to have it fixed by welding a patch, priming, and painting. Make sure to also check and clean the dash, and assess the upholstery.
- The engine. Working on the engine can be quite intimidating but it is not as hard as you think. In fact, it is one of the easiest parts to fix. You just have to know how to follow instructions and use the tools.
Below are some helpful tips towards restoring an old junker in regards to the engine. But before anything else, you need to decide whether you’ll use the old junker’s engine or opt for an upgrade. If you’ll use the old one, you need to check for any parts that need replacements. You might want to replace the seals and gaskets to prevent future problems. You also might want to check and replace its timing belts and water pumps.
When you take apart the engine, make sure to have the parts chemically cleaned. Engine shops can do this for you since they have proper chemical cleaners.
If things start to become confusing, you can always check online and get information on engine diagrams and the how-to guides or tutorials.
If everything is all good and the engine is ready – with all its parts that need replacing have already been replaced – you can then mount it back. Hook the wirings up. With each wire labeled it should be easy to do. Try to start the engine and see if it works.
- Reassemble. When everything else is ready and the engine is already working, then it’s time for you to reassemble the vehicle back together. You can start reassembling the mechanical parts first and you can work your way from there.
Reassemble your brakes first, then refit your fuel system and your front and rear suspension. Install back the wirings and test their voltage. Install the engine and gearbox and then the cooling system. Rubbers are next as well as the windscreens and windows. Then the exhaust system, head and tail lights, door glass and handles, other exterior trims, doors and boot lid. And lastly, the interior trims like the carpet, seats, headliner and accent pieces.
- Test drive. After all the intense planning, hard work, expenses, and time spent, we finally made it to this phase. As you test drive, make sure that all are working fine such as the air conditioner, radio, brakes, windows, lights, and dashboard.
Conclusion on Some Helpful Tips Towards Restoring an Old Junker
Restoring an old junker requires hard work and patience. Not all people succeeded in doing it. You must have the dedication and commit yourself and your time to it. Making a profit should not be the reason why you want to restore an old junker. The chances of making a profit out of it are minimal unless you’ve found an extremely rare model. It is still better to do this if you enjoy the process and experience. Just make sure that you are fully prepared and have a plan so you would know what to do if problems occur along the way.