I’m a very organized person and I know some great techniques for managing a restoration. I learned them all the hard way, by not following common-sense procedures and doing all of the stupid things that people often do. My biggest lesson learned? Never rely solely on your memory! Here are four tips that will keep you out of trouble:

1. Photograph every part as you remove it.

2. Tag or catalog each part.

3. Do not mix components from one system with another.

4. Organize and bag smaller system components and fasteners.

From this list, you probably have a pretty good idea of the focus of this chapter. The last thing you need is a bunch of mystery bolts or small pieces rolling around on the garage floor to be lost or damaged. The old joke about fixing a car and having extra pieces left over is no joke when it happens to you and you have no idea where those things should go. The goal of this chapter is to help you prevent these kinds of problems.

Workspace and Tools

The location for your restoration project should be a clean, secure area that does not get high foot traffic or unwanted attention. Ideally, it should be no smaller than a two-car garage. You need one bay for the car itself and the other for space to organize the removed parts and to do the actual work. The work area should have a bench and/or a sturdy work table that safely holds heavy parts.

While it is true that people have successfully restored vehicles in smaller spaces, and even outdoors, the chances of pieces being lost, damaged, or stolen go up dramatically. It is also beneficial to have a storage area for pieces not being worked on. A remote rented storage area can be helpful for storing larger components, though transportation and cost can become a factor.

The depth and detail of your project dictate tool purchases. Will you be doing your own bodywork and paint? If not, you can skip the body hammers and spray gun, and put those resources toward items you will be using. You do need a quality socket set; screwdrivers; a torque wrench; various hammers and mallets for “massaging” jammed or sticking parts; metal or approved plastic containers for gasoline, oil, anti-freeze and other liquids; and draining pans.

For power tools, a compressor is a wonderful and invaluable tool that saves an immense amount of time with most operations. Pneumatic lines, an air-impact wrench, sockets, and grinding wheels ease the burden of disassembly and help speed up assembly procedures. Your shop needs 220-volt electrical service, which may involve some upgrades to your wiring.

Other tools that make life easier include transmission jacks, an engine hoist, an arc welder, and hub pullers of various sizes. These are items that you can purchase, rent, or even borrow from friends, relatives, or co-workers) as you need them.

Some specialized tools are fairly inexpensive, but can greatly assist in your restoration project. A small assortment of trim-removal tools goes a long way to helping preserve the delicate stainless moldings, as they are often quite fragile and easily break if the clips aren’t properly releasing the parts. The fact that they are expensive and usually hard to find makes purchasing the right tool for the job a high priority.

If your project becomes a body-off affair, a rotisserie is a good investment. Having the ability to take a bare body and flip it upside-down for repair and body-panel replacement is a benefit that is well worth the added expense. If you are especially handy and know how to weld, you can build one yourself. There are plans and kits available on the Internet, and if you don’t want to spend $1,500-$2,000 for one, this is a very viable alternative. Just put the phrase “auto rotisserie kits and plans” in your favorite search engine and find what is best for your project and budget.