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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 18th, 05, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Some of you by now may already be sick of these bodywork questions, but I'm asking anyway.

My car was driven straight to the bodyshop the day I bought it. The bodyman said he would get to it as soon as he could. Two weeks ago, he said, "it is going in Monday." The following Monday, he said "it is going in Tuesday." Today (Friday) he says, it is going in Monday...He promises. He is going to replace rockers (I supplied them, they came with car), fix hole in B-Pillar. Fix hole in front fender, fix hole and damage in rear quarter, line up body panels, and primer.

The price for all of this is 1400.00 For that money, I know the work is coming cheap, if it turns out as good as he claims it will.

When I bought the car, I had just found this site, and had no idea that so much of this stuff (bodywork) could be done by a guy with some patience and the willingness to ask a few questions.

Now, my thoughts are that I could do more permanent fixes if I replaced many of the parts instead of fixing them, but I would have huge investment in time, which is no biggie considering the car is a project anyway.

In the engine, brakes and suspension area, I am fearless. I have swapped engines (355 and 383 stroker into a Jeep Wrangler) transmission, axles, braking systems and done custom roll cages. The one thing I have never done is bodywork. I have had an irrational fear of it, and don't know if it something I should learn on this car or not.

So, should I get a die grinder, spot weld cutter, some goggles and get busy? Or should I let a pro do the body, and focus on what I know? I love to learn new stuff, but I'd like to hear from guys that have always done it, and guys that just began, and are glad they did.

There is 1400.00 in the balance here. Should I pay labor, or buy parts.

Craig


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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 18th, 05, 05:41 PM
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First of all let me stress that I’m a big advocate of doing as much on your car as possible. One, because it will save you money, and two, it will help you appreciate the finished product. With that said I’ll give mine $0.02.

Bodywork is not hard to do, but it does require some knowledge. Most of what you need to know can be found. (A lot of it right here). I would recommend you read everything you can before you pick up any tools. New things can be very exciting, and it can be too easy to start what you may not be able to finish. Also, be prepared to redo everything. You may get it right the first time, but if not be ready to ask how to fix it. I laugh when I think back to all the things I screwed up on my first attempt at bodywork, a 1967 VW. (What a car!)

Don’t consider my opinion as anything more than what it is. All body men had to have a first project, this may be yours. If this is truly a project, I say go get it. Try you hand at it, if you have a knack for it great, if not bring it back to your body man and pay him to fix it. I suspect that with enough time and help from these forums you’ll be riding around with a big smile on your face from behind the wheel of a car that you can proudly say "I it did myself." [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 18th, 05, 06:47 PM
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I've been strugling with the same thing. I just have a quarter to replace. I seems very hard to find shops that do restoration work. Most of them anymore only do collision work. The shop I've been trying to get into has put me off twice since he had collsion work to do. Can get a bit frustating.

He only is charging $300.00 for the quarter. It would be hard to go all the tools I need for that. We'll see.


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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 20th, 05, 04:14 PM
 
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Being as I work at a collosion shop,I think I can shed some light on this. All collision shops owners(in my area)will not turn away work. Work, no matter what it is, is money to them even if his techs tell him differently. There is NO money in restorations for the collision shop. Now, just because he takes your car doesn't make your car first on the list. We have insurance work that cannot be put off and non-restore customers that have schedule their cars for repairs. If you just took your car there and dropped it off(this is what I assumed) you, my friend, have just made a "deadbeat" out of your dream car. Deadbeat is the term we use to describe a car that the owner is "not in a hurry for"! I assume you are not in a hurry because the bodyman said he would get to it in a couple of weeks and you left it. He suckered you in! I am NOT questioning this mans ability to do good work. He could be the Chip Foose of your area! Were he got you is where he said a couple of weeks. Sorry man, that's the collision shop life!!

Here is how I can MAYBE help you. When you take a car like that to a collision shop make an appointment. The shop I used to work at did that and it worked good for us and the customer. They can schedule you in and the time would be made for the tech to do your car. Now this is ONLY for some bodywork to be done and NOT a complete restore!!!!

There is also nothing wrong with you doing this yourself. Put this site on your favorites and use it alot, there are many good people on here with good advice! Good Luck!
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 20th, 05, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by kbugjrabbit:
Being as I work at a collosion shop,I think I can shed some light on this. All collision shops owners(in my area)will not turn away work. Work, no matter what it is, is money to them even if his techs tell him differently. There is NO money in restorations for the collision shop. Now, just because he takes your car doesn't make your car first on the list. We have insurance work that cannot be put off and non-restore customers that have schedule their cars for repairs. If you just took your car there and dropped it off(this is what I assumed) you, my friend, have just made a "deadbeat" out of your dream car. Deadbeat is the term we use to describe a car that the owner is "not in a hurry for"! I assume you are not in a hurry because the bodyman said he would get to it in a couple of weeks and you left it. He suckered you in! I am NOT questioning this mans ability to do good work. He could be the Chip Foose of your area! Were he got you is where he said a couple of weeks. Sorry man, that's the collision shop life!!

Here is how I can MAYBE help you. When you take a car like that to a collision shop make an appointment. The shop I used to work at did that and it worked good for us and the customer. They can schedule you in and the time would be made for the tech to do your car. Now this is ONLY for some bodywork to be done and NOT a complete restore!!!!

There is also nothing wrong with you doing this yourself. Put this site on your favorites and use it alot, there are many good people on here with good advice! Good Luck!
I went out Saturday, and he had begun work on the car. He is a one man operation, and I knew that going in. My real complaint was the fact that no attempt was made to call me about it, when he said he would. I have owned my own business now for 16+ years, and as a business owner, I KNOW that communication with the customer is job one.

I get it that he is busy, but a phone call takes 2 minutes, and less if he gets my machine.

I would like to have done this work, but seeing how far he had gotten in just a few hours, I am glad he is doing it.

I love this site, and check in about three times a day (morning, lunch and at night) to see what is going on. I hope that in time, I can offer some new guy some advice on something, and save him some time, money or headaches. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Craig


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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 01:52 AM
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Restoration shops are few and far between. We only have multiple collision shops to one resto shop.

As said, communication is the key. Also, commitment from both parties is the key.

One reason collision shops are alittle slow(?) with resto's, is lack of money. Majority of the time, its coming from the owner's pocket, not from an insurance company. Unfortunately, for the car owner, emergencies come up and have to be dealt with, money gets dealt elsewhere.

But still, a commitiment, read contract, needs to be drawn up in agreement by both parties. I have found, in being friends with the owners of two shops, a contract allowing progressive payment is a benefit. The shop gets paid for its work as the work progresses. There may be a down payment of 20%, a payment after hanging new sheet metal, and final payment after painting. This reduces the monetary liability on the shop owner as he doesn't have to cover the whole project.

I guess this kind of gotten away from the question of doing it yourself or farm it out. I've done mine twice, and, I'll suggest this tidbit; If you believe can do it, do it. You can always realign, repaint, or whatever needs to be done to correct it before final paint goes on.

As another thread here in this topic, I do wish body work was as easy as mechanical work.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 10:00 AM
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Here is my experience,MY first was I bought a Jeep from US Forest Service Ugly green color I sanded it down and primered it (no body work) took it to Earl Scheib let them paint it.10 years later I'm still happy. 2nd experience was a black S10 same story, I did a small amount of body work this time, repaired some rust holes.Holy Moly,I've got dings, dents, and scratches that I could not see or feel untill it was painted.The Lesson is stay away from shiny black the first time.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 11:22 AM
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I suggest if at all possible, know your bodyman well before taking your car to him, check out some work that he has done on other cars, and unless you do know him very well DO NOT pay ahead of time!! If you do can you say "body shop prison"?? You either will wait forever for him to finish, or you will be picking your car up in pieces. Just my 2 cents.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 12:27 PM
 
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A lot of the restoration work difficulty depends on your ability to use basic tools and the information on this site.
I just about completed a 69 SS Chevelle which was a body off restoration. I bought a welder, some body tools, a better compressor, nice paint gun, etc. Replaced quarters, trunk, floor pans and completed my first bc/cc paint job.
I've been a builder (Home) for over 20 years now so working with any hand tools takes very little time for me to get pretty good with. The problem I see with most people attempting to do this work is they don't have the patience to complete the task. The information is here on this web site, if you take your time and listen to what the majority of the people say, you'll do fine. Slapping something up, or taking short cuts will always come back to haunt you.
Yes, you will lay in bed at night scared to death about welding that trunk pan in the next morning, but after you do it, the great feeling of accomplishment kicks in. A much better feeling then the frustration of having your car stuck somewhere else.

I took my time and followed advice from many sources, and even went out on a limb and painted it black with "gun metal" racing stripes. I gotta tell you, the feeling you get when someone sees it for the first time and tells you how good it looks is worth it!

Try it, then you to can post about padding yourself on the back! [img]graemlins/beers.gif[/img]
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 12:53 PM
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Are there any good videos on quarter panel replacements and body work in general? I like to have visuals of things. Helps me understand them better than books since it takes a while to understand what some of the items look like and such.


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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 02:33 PM
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I love seeing a guy get out there in the garage and do this stuff. I have really enjoyed doing it for 30 years as a hobby and for a living.

However, not everyone is going to be able to do it, we are all different. The learning curve is kinda steep. You have to give it a good go, it may not come very fast.

Restoration shops are VERY few and far between around here. I would say MANY hundreds of collison shops to every one restoration shop.

Read all the "Basics of Basics" at the top of this forum, that will give you a good start. Print them out, and read them over a few times.

One of them is the following on picking a shop if you do choose to have it done.

Confessions of a body shop owner.
By Brian Martin

“Anybody know of a good body shop in (enter your city name here)?”, “How do I get my body shop to work on my car?”, “My car is being held for ransom!”, or just simply “Body shop Blues”. I’m sure you have all seen topics similar to these posted. Gentlemen, my name is MARTINSR and I was one of those dirty rotten bastards that would keep your car ten times longer than I promised.

For the guy not doing his own body work or at least not all of it, he is at the mercy of the body shop. It is not a nice position to be in. In fact, it can go down as one of the low points in your life. I have seen horror stories that would make your hair stand on end. A long time customer of mine (he owned about 60 cars and usually had a few in shops around the area at all times) had a car that was held as evidence in a murder. Yep, it had blood splattered on it when one of the shops owners killed the other with a baseball bat!

The following is my generalization of restoration shops that I have owned, seen or worked at. There are exceptions to the rule. Please don’t beat me up if I have rolled your shop into the mix when you are an exception. But, if you do see yourself, I suggest you get down to your neighborhood junior college and take a course or two in business. One of the great myths is that we each think our business is so unique, we can’t learn from a “regular” business class. Well after much instruction and exposure to the business side of things I can tell you, business is BUSINESS. Whether you are running a liquor store, a cat house, or a body shop, they are all exactly the same. Sales are SALES, period.

So, we can agree a body shop is a business, being a good body man does not make you a good businessman. Restoration shops are usually owned by good body men, not good businessmen. It is very hard to make money doing restoration work, it is very easy to make money doing regular collision work. The business man makes his money doing collision work and tells all the customers with restoration work to go to Joe’s Body shop down the street, he does the restorations. Joe loves doing what he is doing, but seldom makes much money. He is an artist, a true master at his craft. Joe sees things as what they can “become”, not what they “are”. When Joe sees a car he doesn’t see the time it will take to make it the show winner he knows it will be, he only sees it as the show winner. I really don’t believe he means to lie to you when he says it will be done in a month, he is looking through rose colored glasses, his vision is altered. Like a woman forgets the pain of giving birth, so does Joe when he gazes upon the beautiful car he has carried for nine months (or longer). And when the next rust bucket rolls in, he has forgotten about the hundreds of hours needed, he only sees a luscious rose garden.

Like I said, few make a living at restoration or hot rod work. The biggies that you have heard of like Roy Brizio or Boyd Coddington all make money with other ventures, not the rod shop. The first time I visited Brizios shop this was very apparent. The rod shop is about 5000 square feet sitting in the middle of a 50,000 square foot building. The rest of the building is Brizios manufacturing business. It is all non auto related by the way. The rod shop is a hobby, I don’t doubt for a second he makes money, but it is a hobby none the less.

So when you go looking for a shop to do your car you have to remember this, you are most likely going to be dealing with an artist. If you think the business end of it is going to go smooth, think again. If you build yourself up and believe everything, you are in for a BIG let down. If you set yourself up for less than that you will be much better off. I suggest getting ready for MUCH, MUCH less and then you will be happy when it only takes five months instead of the ten you got ready for. If he said one month and that is what you are planning, by the time five months rolls around you are ready to kill someone.

These are HUGE generalizations but I have found a few signs that may help you in picking out a shop. If nothing else they will help you understand who you are dealing with.

1. If there is more than one car sitting in the shop covered with dust, this may be a bad sign. If you have been around body shops much you know that dust build up is like the rings in a tree, you can tell by the layers and colors how many YEARS it has been sitting. If there is a car that is being used for storage of misc. boxes and things, bad sign. My brother used to joke that I should bolt a vise on the fender of the car, at least I could get some use out of it! Coyly ask “Cool car, is that yours?” if he says “Naw, it’s a customers”, BAD SIGN. If there are ten stalls in the shop and six have dust covered cars in them, RUN. I shouldn’t have to tell you this one, but if there are guys hanging around with beers in their hands, RUN.


2. How many stalls does he have? I have found that the real restoration/rod shops seem to have only room to have three or four cars at a time. If you only had room to work on three cars, you are going to be damn certain they get out so you can have room for the next. One of the most successful custom shops I have ever seen was a little four stall shop in Pittsburgh California. It is the famous (well at least on the west coast) DeRosa and son Customs. Frank has been around since the fifties making show winning cars. He and his son Frank Jr. do the same today and do it FAST. They run a neat, little and clean shop. If you have seen the 2001 DuPont calendar they did the “Cadster”. It was only in the shop for a few weeks. By the way, it doesn’t have DuPont primers on it like the calendar says, Martin Senour primer was used.

3. Does he look at your car like they do at the McPaint shops, you know, all jobs all colors the same price? If he doesn’t take a good long look at the car taking notes, he has no clue what he is doing. He is looking at the car with those rose colored glasses. Every single panel should be examined and noted for the amount of hours needed. If he just looks over the car without doing this he is surely going to be WAY off. If he is way off on how much he is charging you, what incentive does he have to work on it?


So let’s say you have a shop you would like to bring it to, you really need to case the joint. Turn into a stalker and keep an eye on the shop. You know for months that you are going to need a body shop. Watch the shops for months. Drive by during business hours and see if they are actually open. Many of these guys (remember they are not good businessmen) take their open sign as sort of a guide line. If it says 8:00 to 5:00 it is more like 9:15 to 2:00 then 4:25 to 7:00, they can’t get your car done like that. See if any cars leave. If you go by there and see the same cars sitting there and many little jobs going in and out, BAD SIGN. I have to tell you, those little money making collision jobs are dang hard to turn away. If I had a million hour job sitting there and it was the 28th of the month I am going to set it aside for the $800.00 job I can do in two days to pay the rent.

If they don’t allow you to walk around and check the place out, be wary. Look at the paint dept, does he have a booth? Is there junk and open cans all over? Is there many different brands of paint? This is usually not a good sign, he buys anything he can get his hands on. This is many times the sign of a “junior chemist”, they guy that mixes products and doesn’t follow tech sheets.

If you have decided that this is the shop you want to go to, help the poor guy. You “suggest” to him how you want to go about the money part. This is the ONLY way you should do it believe me. Don’t EVER give him a deposit and leave the car (at least not more than a tiny amount of the estimate, say 5%). This is darn near a guarantee that your car will be sitting for weeks or MONTHS while he uses that money to buy parts for a high profit collision job or simply pay a long standing bill. Which then leaves your car sitting there with no incentive to work on it.

Here is what you need to do. Tell him that you want to do only ONE of the things on your car, at a time. You want to get a price for all of them maybe so you know what it is headed, but do only one at a time. You will pay him for one step at a time. Not because you don’t trust him, but because YOU are bad with money and that YOU don’t want to leave him hanging after the car is done with no money to pick it up.

This way it is more like he is in control and made the decision. Then you negotiate the time it will take for each step. Let’s say you have patch panels to do on the front fenders. You agree that he will have them done at the end of the week, and that they will cost $200.00. He has something to work for, he knows he will get the money and he actually does it. You go see him on Friday see the work done and give him the $200.00. Then you pick another thing to do. Just as if you were doing these things at home, break them down into bite sized pieces so he can swallow them. If you go in there and find that he hasn’t done it or he has done poor work, you can then say “I am sorry to yank your chain, I don’t have any more money, I just lost my job” and take the car, no body owes a thing. If he does not want to do this, you really need to start rethinking your choice of a shop. Either this or variation of this should be fine with him. If it is not, something is wrong.

If he really wanted to make money he would be doing this. The first restoration job I ever did where I really felt I made money was done just this way. It was a little ’58 Bug eye Sprite. I had decided that something had to be done or I would fall into the same trap as before with a car sitting forever. One of the first shops I ever worked at was a full on restoration shop. It broke the rule and was pretty big, with four full time employees. Every car had a time card assigned to it. When you worked on the car, you punched in. Then each month (these were HUGE frame off restorations on 30’s and 40’s vintage Fords) the owner would receive a bill with the times worked. If they couldn’t pay, the car left, period. The guy made money and I finally got smart (after about 12 years in business) and followed his lead. I put a sign on this Bug Eye and would post the hours I spent on it. I told the guy to come by each week. Now, when the guy came in and saw only two hours were spent, he was not very happy. That was a heck of an incentive for me right there I will tell you that! It worked great, I actually got paid for every minute I worked, unlike most restoration projects. And he actually got the car back in close to what I said. It was still late, but not ten times as late as I had done before.

Another thing I highly recommend is to take plenty of photos of the car, really detailed photos. When you drop the car off leave him a copy of them. Letting him know you have a copy. Not threatening like “I am doing this so I can prove you lied to me” more like “I can’t wait to see how different it is and you can have these before shots to show future customers”. Which is true, it is just not the only reason you are doing it. If he is doing a full on restoration for you, I HIGHLY recommend parts like chrome and interior be taken home after he removes them so they don’t get stolen or damaged. You need to have a very close relationship with the shop, if these visits make the guy edgy, you really need to find another shop.

If you have the attitude that you are genuinely interested in how this work is done, not how he will do YOUR car, but just in general. You will find that he will be much more likely to “show off” his talents than if you go in there like an untrusting customer.

Along with these photos you want a VERY detailed work order. Run like the wind if he has no work order. Still run if he has a work order that says “fix dents and rust” as the repairs being done. RUN, I say. You need to have a fully detailed work order, not for legal reasons (wink, wink) but for your own records to show the wife where all the money went. The “wife” is a great way to get things done. You need to come look to see what is done because the wife wants to see. Bring her in there, she has an excuse, she knows nothing right? So you bring her in to see what magic this guy is doing to your car so she can understand why it costs so much. Bring a friend when you drop the car off, be sure he hears everything that is said. Let him or her help you make the decision on leaving it there. Sometimes YOU too can be looking through rose colored glasses. If someone else says they have a bad feeling, LISTEN to them.

There are few things that can compare with returning to a shop to find the place is locked tight and the mail is piling up on the floor where the carrier has dropped it through the slot. I have seen it, it really happens. The good news is it is rare, just take your time and find a shop where you feel comfortable.

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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 03:37 PM
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I have to agree with Brian. I happen to be blessed with the ability to do body work. I picked it up fast and it was fairly natural. I learned in a high school occupational class (about 20 years ago). I have never done it as a full time job. I have done a few friends cars (I really try to avoid that) and I do all my own work.

I know guys that have been at it for years and they still can't spray or fix a ding. I think it is more of an art form. You either have it or you don't. Sure you can "learn" how to do it, but some people just don't have the touch/feel for it.

Since your car is already in the shop and being worked on, my input is a little late.

What I always tell a first timer is, if you want it perfect the first time pay someone to do it. If you want to learn and try your hand at it and not building a show car, then go for it. Chances are your first attempt will not be perfect. In most cases even after fixing mistakes and re-doing a few areas, you are still ahead of the body shop (time wise).

I feel for the guys that have to depend on a shop for the whole process, I have heard and seen some horror stories (paint prison). While body and paint is labor intensive, it truly does not take months to do a complete paint job. A one man shop can pull off a complete strip and re-paint in a couple weeks. I never understood how a shop with a full staff can take 3-9 months (sometimes more) to paint one car.

I forwarded the advice Brian gave in one of his "confessions" to a friend of mine that was putting his car in for a complete paint job. I told him to set up a "pay as you go" program with the shop. They agreed and said it would take 3 months. The car was done in less than a month from start to finish. Your cash is just as good as the insurance companies cash.

Royce (NO XQSSS) Bradley

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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 03:57 PM
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Royce, I like to add a something to a couple of your comments.
You said:
"What I always tell a first timer is, if you want it perfect the first time pay someone to do it. If you want to learn and try your hand at it and not building a show car, then go for it. Chances are your first attempt will not be perfect. In most cases even after fixing mistakes and re-doing a few areas, you are still ahead of the body shop (time wise)."

I know you said "chances are" and I agree. But I have to tell you, I don't hold the typical "restoration shop" on the high pedestal they usually hold them self on. [img]smile.gif[/img]

I have seen over and over a first timer taking his time do a BETTER job than the "pro". I mean a REALLY nice show car.

However, this usually takes many, many more hours than a "pro" would do it and the time has to be respected.

An average "restoration" at a shop will easily take three to six hundred hours. Just a paint job "cosmetic" resoration will take two hundred.

TRIPLE the time for a newbe, or MORE. So just looking at triple the time, a thousand hours is not out of line. Let's just say you spend a few hours a night three days a week and 10 hours on the weekend. That would be about 15 months to do the job.

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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 05:59 PM
 
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MARTINSR, I LOVE reading your replies! Your input to peoples questions is direct and very informative. I see you at other forums and if nobody has yet, THANK YOU for advice! I have been in this business for many years and not many people can offer their opinion laced with facts and empty on attitude. Good Work!!!!

Derek/kbugjrabbit
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old Feb 21st, 05, 06:01 PM Thread Starter
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Craig
 
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Even though my car is in the shop, I still want to hear what guys have to say on the subject. After all, he is only doing the very basic work, and I still am going to do the trunk myself, as well as some of the other things I notice after I get it back from him.

I am sure that with the help of this board, the task would have been easier because I would have access to guys that have done it, or are doing it, and misery loves company. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Part (a big part I'm sure) of the reason I am having the body done is because I am truly in a time crunch. I am a full time graduate student, and I work two jobs. I did not want to pass up on the car, and I didn't want it to sit in my garage for the next 18 months while I am busy doing homework until 2:00am, then back to work at 7:30 am.

My rationale for having the body done was that it would prevent further rust, and I would have a solid platform to work from during those brief periods where I have only one job to do. (summer breaks from substitute teaching allows me to work only one job) Once I am done with school, I'll be back to one job, and a fairly normal life.

So, with that being said, I am hoping that the bodyman (not a restoration, but merely some basic body work) gets it done soon so I can begin the long process of making it mine. (and my families)

Thank you guys for the great advice. I do believe bodywork is an art form, and I'd prefer not to have my signature all over the body of my 67. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Craig


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