The proper disassembly of...
The proper disassembly of your GTO may well be a precursor to your success with the entire project. If you do it the right way from the start, it will save you a lot of time and frustration down the road. Take lots of photos, tag and bag parts, keep a journal, and make short videos to show how things go together. It may take longer to do all of this in the beginning, but following these simple rules will help ensure a successful outcome. Fooling yourself into thinking you will remember where every part goes is asking for trouble.
Editor’s Note: Longtime HPP contributor
, Smoke Signals Editor-in-Chief, Pontiac historian, and all-around good guy Don Keefe has written this in-depth restoration book. Its 176 pages are crammed with info and 398 color photos to help you breathe new life into your old Goat, and the section on electrolytic rust removal alone may be worth the cover price to you. The soft-bound book is published by CarTech, and signed and numbered copies can be purchased through Don’s website (www.gtorestobook.com) for $24.95 with free domestic shipping. Here is a sample chapter to give you an idea of what’s inside.
When evaluating your particular car for restoration, be sure you have a realistic expectation of the project, your skill level, and your intended use. This assumes that your car will be restored as a weekend driver/cruise night car and not necessarily for concours competition. Hence, you need to define the level of restoration you’re willing to take on. This decision also dictates just how far down you intend to take the car when disassembling.
Planning, Tracking, and Budgeting
Use a ledger or spreadsheet to organize, review, and track the progress of your project. Track the parts you need to buy and the procedures to perform, and you can have the entire project broken down into stages. It helps you complete a component-group restoration, reminds you of all the important steps, and guides you through the entire process.
You need a full set of high-quality...
You need a full set of high-quality hand tools, including a full socket set with 1⁄4-, 3⁄8-, and 1⁄2-inch-drive ratchets. You also need a full set of screwdrivers, prybars, hammers, and a variety of specialty tools that can be rented or borrowed. In addition, use Craftsman, Husky, Rigid, or a similar brand that has a lifetime warranty and a reputation for high quality. You don’t need professional tools, but if you can afford them, why not? Remember, you’re going to be challenged through the entire restoration process, and cheap tools often don’t fit the fasteners, ultimately rounding off nuts, stripping off bolt heads, and making a mess off a job that otherwise could have been accomplished in far less time. A trim removal tool allows you to safely remove windshield moldings without breaking off the delicate retention tabs. A screwdriver used in this operation pretty much guarantees a damaged part.
For a spreadsheet, assign columns to priority, procedure, parts, projected cost, actual cost, projected hours, and actual hours. In the priority column, assign a level of importance to each procedure in the restoration. In many cases, a restorer cannot restore every component or area of a car at once, so assign a level of importance to each task. Therefore, if you cannot afford paint right now, but can sometime in the future, you should assign painting a 4. However, say you want a strong daily driver, but the engine is blowing and leaking oil. You did a compression test and most cylinders are way down on compression. As a result, your engine needs to be rebuilt and that is a top priority, so you assign a number 1 to that project.
In the procedure, you need to define what you’re restoring on the car, for example, patch quarter-panel, install new seat covers, rebuild rear differential, and so on. Next, define the parts for the part job, such as seat covers, quarter-panel, or ring and pinion and carrier parts.
Once that is accomplished, determine a realistic budget for the parts and the procedures. If you are performing the work yourself, budget in the amount of time it will take and you can choose not to pay yourself. If you have someone else subcontracted to perform a procedure, such as priming and painting, then you need to allocate a realistic budgeted cost—use a body shop estimate. Finally, fill out the actual cost and hours of a particular procedure once it’s been completed.
A welder is an essential tool...
A welder is an essential tool for completing serious bodywork projects. The most popular is a MIG welder for ease of use. MIG welding is commonly used for thin-steel body panels because the heat can be effectively controlled to prevent warping the panels. In addition, MIGs can weld aluminum and provide high-strength welds for frames, suspension, steering, and other parts. A welder is a handy item to have in your home shop, but make sure you have the proper safety equipment and know how to operate it. It is very easy to burn through sheetmetal with one. Operating a welder is a science and an art, and not something you proficiently learn in one day. So you may need instruction to learn how to effectively complete projects with it. If you need to learn how to weld, look for continuing education classes in your local school district or at a nearby community college. A perfectly formed bead is a wonderful thing and a skill well worth learning.
In reality, you will find that the planned
budget and schedule are often very different than the actual
budget and schedule. You may have what you consider a realistic budget and time schedule for completing the work, but then the build is 15 to 20 percent more time and allocated budget. Why? Because even with the best-laid plans, there’s unforeseen work and circumstances that arise during a complex project.
When the time comes to disassemble your GTO project car, a few basic things must be taken care of before any wrenches turn and any mistakes are made. Plan ahead and make sure that parts coming off the car are not lost, damaged, or otherwise taken out of service. If they are broken or worn, that is one thing. If they are lost or broken because you didn’t properly manage them, it costs you additional time, money, and hassle. The idea of restoring a car should be fun, so make sure you are helping that idea along, not hurting it.