Booster Masthead

Restoration Blvd.
October 2001

Columnist — Allen Wright

Parts, Piercings and Lessons Learned in Restorations

I am happy to report that Roadstar Towing of Anaheim brought the Plymouth back from the body shop. The 1963 Belvedere Super Stock looks great and now it starts to go together.

I attended the Belmont Shores annual auto show this weekend. There are some truly beautiful cars that people have restored. My favorite was a ’65 Pontiac GTO 4-barrel, 4-speed green two-door hardtop. It was simple, but you knew it kicked ass.

There were also about a dozen Mini Coopers, all customized. One was a Surfer Mini Cooper; another was a Le Mans style.

Speaking of style, I could not help but notice how many younger people had parts of their body pierced. There were lower lip, nose, eyebrow, tongue, ear, and navel piercings. It was hard to miss the chest piercings in a see-through top. What will be the next phase? When I was in my 20’s, the only way anyone got pierced was if they tangled with a porcupine.

I was back home with my mother to visit for a few days last month and we discussed the old cars that I had owned. My mother’s memory is sharp as a tack and she corrected a representation that I would now like to clarify for the record. I did not buy my first car, the 1928 Model A Ford. My Mom and Dad financed the whole deal. To be fair, they also financed a Model A for my brother when he was 15. The idea was that car repairs and maintenance were a good thing for boys to be doing. It worked for me but my brother never got interested.

One of the things I found out right away when I was starting to work on my cars was that if you took your car apart, you had to mark your parts for reassembly. It also helped if you used notes, drawings, and separate cups for different bolts of different components.

The first disaster was the transmission. I bet I can still remove and install a Model A transmission by hand faster than anyone. This is because it took me four or five times in and out on the Model A before I got the transmission in with all the parts.

There are very few things that are as upsetting as extra parts that you can’t account for when a project is through. The solution of where the parts go always comes to you when you’re far away from home: was that extra bracket for the alternator?

Restorations of anything are fun but can turn to calamity quickly. Here are some suggestions if you’re restoring a car, fixing a VCR or attempting to resurrect your sweetie’s hair dryer.

Give yourself plenty of time. If you are under the gun to get the project complete, the fun factor decreases. Mistakes can also happen when you hurry. It’s cheaper to buy a new hair dryer than to deal with the aftermath of electrocuting your loved ones.

Don’t make your project a crusade. Do other things. Enjoy your family. Do things with friends. If you’re restoring a chair and shutting out everyone during your restoration, you may be sitting alone.

Be organized when you start a project. You have probably heard this before, but here we go again. Choose a clean, uncluttered place to work. Mark pieces as you remove them for reassembly. Drawings are extremely helpful. Ziploc bags hold parts and can be marked and sequenced. Take pictures of how things were before you messed with them.

On the Plymouth project, I had separate Ziploc bags for everything. I also sequenced them as I took things apart, reversing the sequence to put the thing back together. If you’re taking apart a kitchen blender, sequencing can really help. Especially if your project is interrupted.

Let’s talk about project interruptus that frequently happens. If the interruption is short, you can usually leave the project on the work bench. If there is a longer interruption — like a vacation, business trip or jail time — the project needs to be consolidated in a box. You will be happy that you haven’t lost the ejector spring on your AK-47 when you return.

Back to automobiles. I have found when you strip the car down to the bone you deal in sequencing areas like the front end, engine compartment, dash, doors, trunk lid, etc. If, for example, the first thing you remove from the door area is the handles with clips, that is door area #1. If the next thing is arm rests, that is door area #2, and so on. Then you box up the areas and you’re ready to put it back together quickly and efficiently without having to use the phrase "rat bastard."

In six days, God created heaven and earth. Sometime in the 1970s, the Ziploc bag was created. No more parts cans. No more cans tipped over and parts falling out. No more glass jars to break. Ziploc bags are the best. Because I’m a thrifty sort, I recycle food bags from the kitchen into the garage. I really don’t care that they prevent freezer burn or keep things fresher. They are a godsend for project parts.

I wish you smooth sailing on your home projects, automotive or non-automotive. Keep organized and everything will be cool.

I wonder if the people who have pierced body parts have their own system for reinstallation. Can you switch the pierced stuff around on your body or put it in the wrong place? Marked Ziploc bags might be important and could be sequenced to put the right jewelry back on in the right place.

The porcupine and I will never be close.

Originally published in the October 2001 Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright October 2001 by KAL Publications Inc.

Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.