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Old 02-26-2008, 03:02 PM   #21
Greg Wapling
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

Ah, grasshopper,

Lesson #1
It will take twice as long to finish as you think it will.

Lesson #2
It will be three times more expensive than your budget.

Lesson #3
Don't listen to what anyone else says, do it because YOU want to.

Make sure your house and contents insurance is paid up. Read carefully the sections entitled damage by fire and flying objects. Oh and while your at it make sure you have ambulance cover and extras hospital cover. Get the name of a good micro-surgeon.

Enjoy the ride.
Yours in Rodding
Greg Wapling
Hot Rods Down Under
Let's Go Cruisin'
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Old 02-26-2008, 04:38 PM   #22
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

Hearing about others screw ups is soothing. Seeing all of other peoples screw up on cars I have owned has made me pretty nervous to screw up something. I think the worst screw up of mine is cutting the hole in the pan tunnel of my VW with a big dull drill bit surprise it was super ugly and too big and having to weld in patches so the mangled up part I cut out would fit in again.
And cutting the old rusty floors out of my Olds bigger than the replacement pans. These are all things that aren't visible and can be fixed just like before But man I need to learn to measure twice and cut once!

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Old 02-26-2008, 04:45 PM   #23
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

Geez Ryan, that really hits home. When I think back to when I first drug the 51 home, I had zero experience with a full build. Sure I owned a few cars over the year that aside from screwing on a new doo dad or just keeping it running, I didn't do much. Who the hell did I think I was thinking I was going to actually build a car? I remember shuttering when some of my more car savvy friends suggested a full frame off build; how overwhelming. If I was to tackle a similar project, I wouldn't do it any other way.

Some of the folks around here have amazing talent, unfortunately for me I have to rely on sheer determination. It might take me awhile, more money than the next guy might spend, and several attempts to get it right, but I'm too stubborn to give up now (not to mention, cheaper to finish than to sell an unfinished project).
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Old 02-26-2008, 04:53 PM   #24
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

I bought my 53 bel air and realized after i had it torn apart ripped all the wiring out started the nova stub that really i should have turned it into a driver to start with now i have a car in a million peices that will likely be sold because it needs so much rust repair. only time will tell at this point what i will do with the car. I can find something that is a driver for 2000 is it cheaper then starting with a rotten body?
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:08 PM   #25
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

My tub started as a tudor with a small chop, then a big chop, then I didn't fit anymore. Figured it was easier to take it all the way than try to weld some back in. This one is still teaching me and probably will be for a few more years....
Model A RPU with a banger - Wanna buy it?
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:16 PM   #26
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

best compliment I ever recieved was from one of my buddies. "Much as you fuck up, you were bound to get it right sometime." I'm still at it, and still fucking up.
If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:36 PM   #27
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

I see a few of my mistakes here. I'm sure they aren't unique by any means.
The first car I ever did my own work on was my 64 T-bird. I bought it almost 15 years ago for 1350.00. I could've gotten a convertible in the same shape for only a little more back then. After all the effort and money that went into it over the last decade or so, an extra couple thousand bucks for the drop top would seem like a drop in the bucket, and the car would be worth twice what I have in it instead of half.
The worse part was that I didn't learn shit. Putting together an old Thunderbird is like building a model. There's a slew of new parts, tons of used parts, clubs, lots of guys who know the cars inside and out, and many original owners and service techs are still around. There's also loads of them still on the road, in all conditions. Any mod you can think of has been tried, and there's a healthy aftermarket for performance and safety equipment for these cars. And here's the big one: Thunderbirds are all the same. There are virtually no meaningful variations in a given year, so everything fits.
So I wrapped up that experience with a greatly over-inflated sense of accomplishment, and went straight into my next project (a 1960 Merc Commuter Amblewagon mild custom). It wasn't until after I had the whole car apart and painted that I realized there was practically no support network for what I was working on. It's been over nine years since I bought it, and it should be on the road in a month or two.
Here's the worst of it. After wrapping up this project, I once again feel like I've met the challenges successfully. No doubt I'll take that to the next project.
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:02 PM   #28
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

Thats what I love about this place , we all have the same thing wrong with us!

I bought an overpriced 49 f1 when I was 16, It had been a hot rod for a long time, lots of people had molested it, but I loved it!

I worked on it all the time but I didnt really make it better, just messed it up my own way.

I eventually sold it for next to nothing , That truck taught me alot, I hope its still out there, every time I start a new project I think of that truck, My plans for it, and my skills at the time.
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:29 PM   #29
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

I think I'm about too make that very same mistake with my very first shoebox. Never chopped a top before but what the hell, looks easy enough, right???
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:39 PM   #30
Pro Stock John
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

Hmmm bought a '64 GTO in 1986 for $1450 and had $50 left over to fix all the things wrong with it. Car sat a lot.
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:59 PM   #31
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

About 25 years ago, I had a '66 Mustang coupe. I bought it off a guy that restored Mustangs and it was in pretty good shape. The hot rodding bug bit me and not having any real knowledge, the only things I could do was bolt on type stuff. (Like a freakin' ricer!)

One day, while in the auto parts store, a set of hood pins caught my eyes and I got 'em. Took 'em home and cut 2 holes in my hood where I THOUGHT the pins would be able to bolt to the core support. Yup, missed by a mile. The sad part is, I drilled TWO MORE holes before I figured I should get out a tape measure! Geeeeez. Back then, I was dumb as the day is long.
My avatar is Candy Barr.
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Old 02-26-2008, 09:21 PM   #32
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

ive learned that buying a "modern car" is just like throwing you money in the trash
I think I breathed too much rust...
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Old 02-26-2008, 09:47 PM   #33
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

I think all on here can relate to Ryans experience. Back in the day cars were plentiful and cheap, although dollars weren't dollars compared to todays money. I can remember customizing and modifying cars, and the results were very substandard as compared to todays cars, but back then it was cool, because it was different. We all learn from our mistakes and patience comes with age, Thank god we did not get discouraged and accept what Detroit offered.
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:14 PM   #34
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

I just turned 17 and bought my first car in January of 1986,a 68 Buick GS California.I graduated high school and immediately got a job working in a body shop.They were nice enough to give me a corner of the shop to fix up my car.I tore into that car like there was no tomorrow.I was sitting there one day looking at the body hanging from the ceiling and the frame on the other side of the shop,stripped down to nothing.All I remember thinking was"Holly shit,what the hell have I done".I didn't have a clue how to put this thing back together.
I did end up getting it back on the road,but never did like the way it turned out.I just couldn't figure out how to build what I had pictured in my head.I ended up doing that car 3 times over the next several years before I finally got it right.I still have that car today.It's a good reminder for me to do it right the first time.
They say you learn from your mistakes.I learn something every day.
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:45 AM   #35
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

This is really good stuff you guys, thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:52 AM   #36
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

My bud Dennis had a bad 56 chevy,283 tri power, 30 30 duntov, 4 speed. after a year it wasn't good enough for him. He builds up a really hot 370 pontiac, huge cam, 2 afbs, ported, really hot stuff for 1966. Sense he is now my hero, we talk my dad into letting us use the barn to exchange engines. We got the Hurst engine swap kit, only problem, engine is bigger. We get out the torch and start heating and beating in the firewall so the right head will clear. (you have to remember , we've never seen a die grinder) 2 am, my dad comes out in his underpants (not a pretty site)wondering W T F, he could smell the burning undercoating in the house!!!!
Wait there is more!!!!
2 days, almost done, tie rod hits the pan, no problem, I got a torch and I got a forney welder. I cut the tie rod about 6 in. from both rod ends, make some nice 4"x4"x 1/4" plowsteel brackets to lower the center portion of the rod, welded it up with some good ol 6013, (used that cuz it's prettyer that 6011) clears pan, let's go!!
We head out laughing and screaming, can't belive the torque, the acceleration. Remember this "farm boy meets the real world" after about maybe 3 hours we decide to go show our auto shop teacher, Mr. Willems the car. As we start to turn into the school the car shudders to a stop. W T F. We get out, left tires turning left right tires turning right!!! My welds broke!!!! This, mind you, after 3 hours of pegging the speedo and doing 1/4 milers down these narrow country roads, with big thick orange trees on one side and irrigation canals on the other. Dennis and Mr. willems will never let me forget. Heck I didn't even know about Tigs and Migs and what's that, ah, Joint preperation.
Sorry for being so long winded. OLY

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Old 02-27-2008, 07:48 AM   #37
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

what a nice little neighborhood... i wish we still had you around to paint outdoors on a windy norman day.
have a kick ass summer, don't ever change.
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:01 AM   #38
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

Oh man, great thread Ryan. I started working on my first project in 1988 when I was 14 - a '53 Chevy 210 four door. My old man picked it up as a father/son project - he traded it for payment on a job he did when the customer didn't have the cash. At the time it ran and he drove it home, but he never had time to work on it and it sat in the weeds in our backyard for a couple of years before he let me loose on it all by myself. I had no tools and no experience, just a load of enthusiasm. The top ten lessons I learned:

1. with some practice I could do decent basic bodywork.
2. the right tools make all the difference.
3. the right tools are expensive.
4. if you bridge a battery's terminals with a wrench they will weld themselves together.
5. a hand-me-down timing light with cracked and missing wiring insulation WILL shock the shit out of you when the cylinder fires.
6. most neighbors don't appreciate a 35 year old car painted six different colors of primer parked outside their window.
7. check underneath the car before you pour a year of time after school and ALL of your paper route money into the project (those years in the damp weeds rotted the frame damn near clear in half).
8. a paper route budget will NOT pay to repair or replace a broken frame.
9. a half finished project is worth more in parts.
10. there are a LOT of shady mother fuckers out there willing to lie to and screw a kid over for cheap parts.

Some hard lessons learned on that car, but I'm still dreaming and wrenching twenty years later. Good times.

Last edited by octane; 02-27-2008 at 08:06 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:08 AM   #39
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

Ahh, I am not alone !
What joy to read that most of you gearheads come from the school of hard knocks too.
Here is my confession;
When I was barely 14 in'74, I took my hard earned paperroute money and proceeded to the nearest Army dump to buy a real motorcycle.
The guy sold me a tired old ex-army Harley WLA 45 for something like $750, it ran but it wouldn't idle, it smoked like you wouldn't believe and it had sand in the olive-drab "paintjob", but I was a happy man.
Next day I tore it apart, and I mean all the way including the engine and gearbox.
You see, I was going to build me a WR racer and I was not going to cut corners.....
And I was doing it in the driveway, it was summer and I figured it would give me the added and dearly needed exposure to establish myself as the neighborhood hardcore biker gearhead !
At the end of the day the driveway was strewn with bikeparts.
The next day I put the heads in the vise, breaking some fins but what the heck, and started filing away to get some more compression, I was absolutely confident I could file them flat with a foot long course file I found in the garage.
Day three was "lightening day" with drill in hand I drilled holes in anything that had the width of the drillbit with a couple milimeters to spare, next came the hacksaw, I took off every piece of metal that I did not need or did not remember or grasp the use of.
At the end of day three my dad ordered me to get my shit out of the drive so he could park his car again.
I threw everything in some boxes and carried it inside to the workbench in the garage and after dinner I went to bed tired but satisfied at what I had "accomplished" that day.
early tomorrow morning I would start the reassembly of my old WLA and it would miraculously emerge from its ashes as a real racer !
Morning came and when I came in the garage and saw all my boxes with parts, I panicked !
I had trown all nuts, bolts and washers in an old coffeetin, I put valvetrain and gearboxparts together in one box but didn't remember which was which, I had taken the crankshaft apart and didn't know the left from the right flywheel,
I had read a ton of bike magazines but i did not have a HD manual...
I was staring in the deep "Abyss of thy own Knowledge",
I was in way over my head and knew it !
Two weeks later I traded the heap of parts for a very very tired Matchless G3 which was not a Harley obviously, but it ran good and it was complete and I was a lucky man again.
It was more than a year later when I decided the G3 was not powerfull enough and I made the trip to the Army dump again to get me a decent Harley 45 and a manual !
I took that second Harley apart very carefully, manual in hand, part bu part, labeled every item with tape and marker and it took me most part of a year to rebuild it in my spare time, but ididit !

Boy was that a steep learning curve !!!!
"You told everybody that I couldn't drive" -Kash Buk and the Klowns-
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:57 AM   #40
Mac the Yankee
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Default Re: Rough Drafts & Lessons Learned

My dad had a buddy back in the Fifties that used to race an early Lasalle sedan with and Olds engine.

Lots of great stories about that car, but the best was that when Fred would shift under heavy acceleration, the entire car would lean heavy to one side. Years later, my dad asked him why the car would do this... "Well, I never finished the engine swap, so I just put a block of wood between the oil pan and the front crossmember"!!!
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