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Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ka-zoo, Sep 18, 2015.

  1. ka-zoo
    Joined: Oct 20, 2004
    Posts: 509

    ka-zoo
    Member

    Hi guys, I’ve been a member here for over a decade with varying involvement and one thing I’ve learned is that the hamb is one of the best resources for insight and opinion for just about anything.
    I’m 39 and at a crossroads in my life and looking for my direction. I want to right my life’s greatest regret- I didn’t try to go to Voc Ed to learn bodywork when I was still in high school. I’ve always wanted customize and paint cars.
    Once I sort out a couple things in my life, I want to do just that. But, how? How does a 39 year old start down that sort of a path to follow his life’s dream? I’m selling my house, getting a divorce and hate my factory job and have pretty much no commitments once my house is gone. I’ve tinkered on cars, but never really done anything “great” due to various circumstances. Its time to change all of that, and I see my current situation as an opportunity.

    Thoughts? Advice? Encouragement?
    Thanks in advance
     
  2. Find a Vocational school in your area or find a body shop and ask them if they need a guy that want's to learn at a reduced salary,heck offer to sweep floors,if this is waht you want to do you can make it happen. HRP
     
  3. pwschuh
    Joined: Oct 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,294

    pwschuh
    Member

    Sorry to hear about your divorce.

    First thing you should do is make a budget. Don't quit your factory job, no matter how much you hate it, until you have a plan in place to survive. Where are you going to live? How much will it cost? How will you pay for it?

    Find a local technical school that offers paint and body instruction and sign-up. Go to school while you are still working your other job if at all possible. When you have some education under your belt and are ready to work in the car business, then think about quitting your factory job.
     
  4. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,552

    patmanta
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Woburn, MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

    Oof, tough spot. My advice is get a lot of BOOKS and read them. Then, try to find some metalshaping and/or bodyworking courses, the ones that are a couple days, not like going back to school. A lot of what they'll be teaching at a Voc will probably be on how the business works now (replacing panels instead of fixing them and using big machines to straighten things) and you may have trouble budgeting the time.
     
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  5. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 4,935

    pitman

    The West Coast show of Overhaulin' has some fine artisans on it. I would watch Foose as he details the changes he uses to clean up the 'presentation' visuals of a car. The bumpers get 'frenched' in, the paint has special (and carefully selected) effects. Usually the wheels and tires are overstated, Baroque Auto excess, but the show does a good job in capturing his intent and methods. Paint and customizing are an art-form. You get good at it, before long people start to knock at your door!
    Watch Dennis Ricklifs on the same show, he's the best known striper. Get to know the water-based matls.
    And in general; Wear A Mask. And protect your ears.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  6. ka-zoo
    Joined: Oct 20, 2004
    Posts: 509

    ka-zoo
    Member

    Ive been reading that sort of material for 20+ years, anything I can get my hands on. Books on painting, little pages on leading, anything and everything!
     
    volvobrynk and patmanta like this.
  7. Sorry about your divorce.

    If you want paint and body experience, I would work in a collision shop first and learn the basics of the trade. Such as taking cars apart and putting them together, adjusting doors, replacing panels etc. As for painting, thats what everyone says they want to do. As soon as they have to start matching colors that all changes. Lmao. You will learn so much in this trade, its not easy but is rewarding.
    Then go onto working on classic cars. You will make mistakes on cars but better to make mistake on a civic than a 60,000 hotrod.
    Autobody offers alot of avenues you can go down also. Like appraiser, customizer, public transportation etc.
    Overall im glad i got into this trade.
    :).
     
    volvobrynk and ka-zoo like this.
  8. All the above is great info.Do Not quit your day job,you need income and foundation.Head up plow ahead.
     
    volvobrynk likes this.
  9. 39 is young, I went back to school to finish a design degree @ 50. If you can get along with younger people and not get hauled back into the foolishness of being a young person why not.

    You may even find what you are looking for at the local community college.
     
  10. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,834

    Mike51Merc
    Member

    I don't want to be a downer, but I feel body work is an art, an art that I--- despite many attempts--- cannot seem to get the hang of and nobody has been able to teach me. I think I can troubleshoot and wrench as well as anybody, but bodywork has escaped me. Heck, I can't even spackle a wall very well. For me the problem is that I cannot gauge when something is done well enough or not. With mechanical stuff when it's done it's done. With body work, there's always room for improvement until perfection and then everybody's definition of perfection is different. An insurance repair job is very different from a custom refinish job, etc., etc.

    The reason I say this is because I think bodywork takes a talent that some are born with that cannot be learned. Make sure you have the seeds of that talent before you dive in.
     
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  11. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 4,935

    pitman

    "We ain't buidin' a cathedral..." Tough call, this one. Perfection is for the retentive among us.
    Most times a repair & paint job come out acceptable. Then there's Riddler stuff!
    If your work looks good; in pics, in a rainstorm, after dark, or best, in the light of day, you are getting there!
    Seldom is it completely bug-free. Skills, care in prep, attention to detail come in time.
    Probably better to begin assuming you're building saw horses, then move toward fine furniture.
     
  12. ka-zoo
    Joined: Oct 20, 2004
    Posts: 509

    ka-zoo
    Member

    Not a downer at all, I forgot to mention. Ive beena visual arts guy my whole life... Painting, Sculpting, Graphic design... i'm a very esthetic, hands on person. This is one of the reasons I think I have a shot at this weird not-so- little dream of mine
     
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  13. Special Ed
    Joined: Nov 1, 2007
    Posts: 6,017

    Special Ed
    Member

    As Beaner said, your local community college should be the first thing to check out.
     
  14. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,552

    patmanta
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Woburn, MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

    Me too, great, do what I said ;)

    Seriously though, knowing that, I'd say a Voc is going to bore you. Go for classes and seminars instead. You'll pick up what you need to know fast. You will forget some of it too if you don't keep at it immediately afterwards though (like I have).

    You can set yourself up with some good basics on the cheap. Used tools off CL/ePay/Yard Sales/Swap Meets will get you started. It all depends what kind of stuff you want to do and how you want to go about doing it. You can do A LOT with a cheap 30" bending brake and a Shrinker Stretcher. Those are the only standing tools I'd say would be good to have to start with (I'm assuming you'll have gotten hammers, mallets, dollies and a shot bag). I have a cheapo planishing hammer, which I actually like, but it hasn't seen much action and takes up a good bit of room in my little shop.

    The allmetalshaping.com forum looks to have a strong presence in MI, maybe check that out.

    You're also in luck as far as classes go, because Ron Fournier is in MI and teaches classes. http://www.fournierenterprises.com/14.html
     
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  15. 3wLarry
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 12,804

    3wLarry
    Member Emeritus
    from Owasso, Ok

    you'll need a shop cat with thumbs
     
  16. patmanta
    Joined: May 10, 2011
    Posts: 3,552

    patmanta
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Woburn, MA
    1. MASSACHUSETTS HAMB

    FONZ CAT APPROVES


    [​IMG]
     
  17. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 25,095

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    no easy answers - as stated, have to see what you end up with after divorce stuff is settled - protect your base with a job, place to live with a garage to work in, etc. vocational schools can be great but, full time and expensive. practice, practice is a good motto - even the guys with talent and tools learn something new all of the time. maybe find a low buck stalled project that you can do body mods too - nothing too radical. go to local car shows, etc. get involved with a car club. check out local college night classes. most shops aren't likely to invite a stranger with no real world car repair/building backround in and take the time to help them out. like often stated, it takes having a job to get a job - but, how to get that first job is the big question. a lot of stuff is just being in the right place at the right time. but, if you hang in there you can make it happen - 39 is not that old. ever tried to pin stripe anything? maybe your artistic skills could help get you foot in the door.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  18. Congratulations on your divorce!
    The beginning of a new and glorious future. Now you can follow that dream!

    "There are two classes of truly happy people in this world, married women and single men."
    -H.L. Mencken
     
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  19. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,783

    49ratfink
    Member
    from California

    I have no faith in any type of vocational school. they don't care if you learn anything because you have to pay anyways.

    a shop next to me had two young guys from vocational school putting bondo on cars then sanding it down. total shit for brains these two guys were. they bonded up a 32 Ford truck cab, some dents they missed completely, they bonded dents that could have easily been worked out without even one tap of a hammer. then it was all sanded unevenly. I guess the school only taught them how to use bondo. you can learn that for free by just reading the can.

    if you want to do it for a living then start doing it on your own. a piece of paper from a school means nothing.
     
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  20. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    I faced a similar decision in my mid thirties (jobs in my industry were drying up around here) I chose to go into an industry that was stable and paid well, that I had ZERO passion for. I regretted it.
    But be aware, unless you are lucky enough to get into a hot rod/restoration oriented body shop, your day-job will primarily consist of unbolting and replacing panels, and slinging mud.
     
    patmanta likes this.
  21. I think that he wants to do it for himself for starters or out of his own place. Who really wants a square job anyway, right?

    You only get out of education what you put into it. If you go to school looking to learn you will leave school with an education and not just a sheep skin. At least he is looking for some sort of direction way better then those asses who lost their job answering the phone on the tech support line and decided that it was a sign that they should open their own shop.
     
    Special Ed likes this.
  22. jack_pine
    Joined: Jan 20, 2007
    Posts: 348

    jack_pine
    Member
    from Motor City

    I ran a community college auto program and the "adult learners" were usually the best students. Sometimes there's money (grants and stuff) intended for people wanting to move into a skilled trade. Community college counselors are a wealth of information. The one's I worked with would give prospective students like you lots of time and attention.

    In the end, you may find that the business is controlled by insurance companies. Having a day job means you can build your skills as a hobbyist and later on take on some paying gigs
     
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  23. I can't speak for everywhere but here the local community college looks for people who have industry experience in the trades and technical fields. Add to that accreditation and it is head and shoulders above your average trade school. You pay for credits but you don't buy credits if you don't do the work you don't pass, the school cannot maintain its accreditation if they pass students who haven't passed the courses.
     
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  24. thirtytwo
    Joined: Dec 19, 2003
    Posts: 2,629

    thirtytwo
    Member

    While I agree with this on places like wyo-tech that charge 50 k or something for the same basic shit as a votech...,

    Vo-tech classes are good to get your feet wet , they will get you the basics and give you a pretty good crash course, but their only as good as the instructor , and you are only going to learn as much from a good instructor as you want to.....and you are only going to be as good as you want to be or your natural talent allows... No magic wand comes with that diploma

    That being said .... There is a lot of us stumbled into the car world that really wish we had a factory job , things like 401k, health insurance , vacation time, healthy work environment , good pay, and raises do not come our way very often .... I wish I had a good factory job again , maybe I would work on my own cars again...

    Take vo-tech classes , keep it as an enjoyable hobby
     
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  25. what ever you do , in the future stay away from women
     
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  26. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    ROFLMAO!!!
     
  27. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    r
    Yea, hell they only make up 52% of the population...:D:rolleyes: Heres a somewhat more practical suggestion, it worked for me. Get selective. I didn't get married for the first time till I was 45. Theres a reason for that, and it aint my ugly mug (although I would fully understand anyone assuming that:eek::p). I am semi-retired at 55, and financially secure, and one very big reason for that is when I met my wife to be, I let her take over managing the finances. I made some smart investments as well, but if my wife hadn't taught me to save money, I wouldn't have had ready cash available to take advantage of those opportunities as they came up. Doesn't hurt to marry a former CPA either.
    Lesson is, don't marry a dingbat just because she has nice tits. Take your time, and find a smart, self-diciplined lady with nice tits...This may seem off-topic, but you will find it pretty tough to build hot rods if your significant other runs the family credit up in excess of the national debt. Building hot rods means living a lifestyle different from the fiscally moronic norm in this day and age.
    I really like what benno said about education too. Sound advice there, teachers generally WANT to teach, but they have to find a receptive audience first. Be that audience, and my bet is, you will get a lot more out of your vocational training.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
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  28. jetnow1
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,550

    jetnow1
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from CT
    1. A-D Truckers

    Just remember that time takes a physical toll on all of us, and more quickly than you would believe. If you
    change careers have a plan to transition to less physical work as your body ages, perhaps as an insurance
    adjuster or sales for supplies etc. Good luck with your decision, I have been there, made the change and
    found that while I love what I do I am getting to the point where I can no longer do some things I used to
    do.
     
  29. 40fordtudor
    Joined: Jan 3, 2010
    Posts: 2,503

    40fordtudor
    Member

    I have a friend that managed a collision shop for a GM dealer and did custom work out of a 4-bay home garage at nite. He allowed me to prep a car (mine) for paint, under his direction and then I spent lots of nites with him cutting in quarters, other patch panels and slinging filler and prepping for paint. It was well worth the effort and time. In '06 I found my '40 and did a lot of the body prep myself. Look around---you may have such an opportunity near you. Best of luck. Marty
     
  30. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 6,866

    19Fordy
    Member

    According to YELP, here are the top body shops in Kalamazoo.
    http://www.yelp.com/search?cflt=bodyshops&find_loc=Kalamazoo,+MI
    Before you quit your current job make an appointment to talk with the manager of a few of these shops about what you are thinking of doing at your age. Meet with them outside of their work day so they have time for you. Sanding bondo, sweeping floors and starting at the bottom with low pay gets "old" pretty fast - especially when you're starting over. Right now you're thinking of what you should have done at 18, BUT, sadly your body is 39. You'll be competing with "kids" half your age and will start out at a minimal wage doing menial work. You didn't say what your current job is, but perhaps you can transfer the skills you have already learned to a new job that can better utilize what you already know. Take time and think through what you re contemplating and the impact it will have on your future, your lifestyle, your
    health, your financial needs and your retirement. Working in a body shop is not like "as seen on TV" and time really does fly as you get older.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
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