Tips for beginers


Old 07-19-03, 04:47 PM
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Question Tips for beginers

I am just a regular guy who is interested in Auto repair and restoration as a hobby. My Wife recomended I get a hobby and this is it. I have no real knowledge about auto motive repairs so I have been to the library and got a few books. here is my question. should I buy an old car (I want a 1983-85 olds cutlass, or chevy monte) and running or not just take the whole thing apart and put it back together with some new parts, or is there another way to start. I have a pretty good tool set that I have aquired over the years, and three cars that I own already but Im afraid to screw them up. one is an 85 corvette, the other is my daily driver a 90 honda accord and the last is the new family conversion van. other than routine stuff i take them to the shop. I dont really want to tear into any of those but I just started on an old lawn mower to see if I can get that running and I enjoy it. is this realistic to think I can build a hot car out of an old piece of crap or should I find another hobby. any encouragement and beginner stories would be appreciated. also any recomendations on good books on repairs, restoration and bodywork. thanks
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Old 07-19-03, 06:55 PM
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If you have the space and the inclination, getting an old beater to practice on would certainly be good hands-on experience. The newer stuff has so much c.r.a.p. on them that they would be somewhat more dificult to tinker with. Joe Cool should be along with some good suggestions for cars as candidates [they will likely be GM rear wheel drive models]. Unless the car is actually worth making runable, you may want to start out with just taking apart and reassembling the various components for familiarization before graduating to more extensive repairs/restorations.

My first tinkering was on a 1966 Yamaha 80cc motorcycle that was handed down from my brother when I was 15; I moved up to car fixing on a 1966 Austin-Healey Sprite that I paid $550 for in 1971 when I was 17.

Good luck and welcome to d-i-y.

P.S. the_tow_guy was born in Milwaukee, still have lots of relatives there.
Old 07-19-03, 08:26 PM
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I have a lot of good information in my "The Basics" post for starters

You'll need a good supply of tools and some book to educate yourself. That's how I learned. Old GM rear drivers are about as simple as it gets.

Don't plan on making any money on this endeavor, it will end up flat on its face. Do it for the satisfaction of doing it yourself .

(That's why we are all here).

Remember that buying someone else's troubles is what you are doing. With that in mind, learn away .
Old 07-19-03, 09:37 PM
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sounds like you're about to dive in head first, the only problem is you are considering TWO things at once, repairs and body work. books are the first thing, read as much as you can get your hands on at the library. then take the tools to the lawnmower, it's 1/8th the monte carlo your considering(in horsepower too!) however much more reliable, but the theory is the same of the internals. the first 'gas powered' thing i took apart was my father's 'old' lawnmower, took it apart to the bare case, i had no idea what anything was or did, just layed it out in order, cleaned everything with a rag, looked closely at each piece, then put it back together, he was as shocked as i was when it worked. he wasn't so happy when i took the new 'honda' mower apart that winter, that thing still works today(smokes a bit though).

body restoration is a form of artwork, one that i haven't tried yet, and completely different from mechanical repairs, like not even in the same category. it takes many many years of practice to get decent results. for example--have you ever done plastering/spackling on sheetrock, i have, and i know exactly where the not so perfect areas are, my eyes are attracted to that spot everytime and since learning that 'trade' i look at every wall i see differently, what i never saw before is standing right out. (now that i've completely ended up in left field with this topic, how do i get back) maybe the comparison i was trying to make was that you'll have to practice and practice a very long time at this one until you get smooth bondo and clear paint.

i know where i live the local high school and vocational-technical schools have automotive night classes, usually taught by a technician in his free time, this is a very good and cheap source to get your hands on someone elses car, before you start breaking your own stuff.

don't get discouraged in the first month or even year, murphy's law was invented for working on cars, things always go wrong! keep reading and experimenting, it will eventually get to be fun(that's what i keep saying even today) after the lawnmower works reliably, then move up to something simple like that carbureted monte.

will you ever get rich from this, probably not. will you help pay the bills and have fun and have a second source of income--absolutely, by fixing your's, the neighbor's, and relatives cars and trucks, and more importantly---not having to pay someone to do it. (some very few people do get rich doing this)
Old 07-19-03, 09:42 PM
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Thumbs up thank you

I really apreciate your replies. my wife gave me the ok to look for a car to tinker with and I will be back with many questions, it is good to know I have somewhere to turn for information and support in my new endevor.

P.s. to tow guy, just got back from ST. Rita's festival, Milwaukee is a really nice place if you remember. a great place for kids. lots of festivals and nice people. glad to meet you via this forum and I will be asking some stupid questions just remember i am totaly new at this.

Old 07-20-03, 07:02 AM
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Actually there are very few stupid questions asked, but here's an old post with some related less-than-rocket-science q's:

Was last in the beer capitol in 2000 for a big family reunion; my blood's way too thin to live that far north anymore.
Old 07-20-03, 07:48 AM
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A good place to find good quality tools without breaking the bank would be Sears. Craftsman tools are warrantied for life and offer acceptable quality for the DIY guy/gal.

What I usually do is find them new or used at the swapmeets for 1/3 of the price new and in case of anything, I STILL have the warranty. . I usually find the older stuff at the meets and it's made better too.

Purchase the shop manual from the OEM for whatever vehicle you get. New probably $100, on Ebay you can find them for about half of that used. The shop manual will blow you away with all the detail and good information you'll find there. As noted, read, read, read.

Also, don't depend on this vehicle. Nothing is more frustrating that trying to rush to get something done because you depend on a vehicle.

Bottom line: If your project vehicle is also your every day vehicle, you in theory cannot afford to own that project vehicle. You always need a backup car (I have 2. LOL).

Post back with more specifics when you have them. Mike gave you some excellent ideas.
Old 07-20-03, 09:59 AM
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I agree with all... Find something that (car wise) that you like the looks of, that you can afford to let set in 1 place for months, and decide what the final results is supposed to be...Do you want it back to origanal, max performance ect..And plan from there..
Personally, I have the space, VERY little time, and am looking for a 86-88 Monte Carlo SS to play with..Full frame, rear wheel drive, V-8 (and can hold just about any chev v-8...)
The main problem at the moment is the wife says I have too much junk already.. LOL! Guess I need a garbage, errr garage sale...
Old 07-20-03, 10:36 AM
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My 2 cents

Sounds like a fun thing to do.I would just make sure you pick a car that parts are easy and cheap to get.Like a rear wheel drive GM car.I had a 79 Chevy Nova that was like that.

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