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Rookie level

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by kein, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. kein
    Joined: Oct 28, 2007
    Posts: 199


    I am about to start my first real "hands-on" build and was wondering how many people here have recently done first builds. But also, what type of experience first builders have at this. I have some decent wrench skills from years of messing with cars and even though I have owned quite a few old cars I have never been able to do most of the work myself. This first build is my plunge into really working on my own project except for things that I will totally screw up like putting on new quarters for instance. But I will do most of the work myself and if I screw some of it up I will certainly be asking for advise. I have always greatly appreciated all the skills and advise posted by people here and I admire their ability but always wonder about the newbies like me and how they take the plunge. In the end I know it is just a matter of jumping in and doing it but if any of you first timers would like to chime in I'd love to hear the story or see the project photos.
  2. Are you going to be building a custom or just a restoration?
  3. JimV57
    Joined: Feb 15, 2011
    Posts: 230

    from California

    I'm on my first build too. I have been dreaming about building a car since I can remember. For me, it's a dream coming true!
  4. kein
    Joined: Oct 28, 2007
    Posts: 199


    Building a bit of a screamer really. 65 Marauder that I want to build to tear the streets up. I know it is not really a HAMB car but I figured I would start with this one to teach myself as much as I can and in the process, keep my eyes open for a HAMB project that I can handle and AFFORD in the near future. I would hate to screw up my ultimate goal of owning a traditional rod so I figure I will take the plunge with the Merc for now.

  5. JimV57
    Joined: Feb 15, 2011
    Posts: 230

    from California

    My truck should have enough get up and go...with all the numbers I've run I should be getting about 425 HP out of the 430 MEL motor. I'm going to be running 3:73 gears in the back with a detroit locker diff, cam is 220/230 @.050", 276/290 advertised, 495" lift 112 lobe sep, 850 Edelbrock carb and 1 7/8" headers with flowmaster 50 series, c6 rebuilt tranny...should be lots of fun
  6. johnybsic
    Joined: Oct 8, 2009
    Posts: 612

    from las vegas

    Im going thru my first "Build". Ive always done muscle car stuff & off road. luckly i have a friend who does alot of this stuff as well so he's helped me outt those "Ohhhhhh F*ck what did i do" situations. My advise is get to it, and dont listen to too many people...Unless they know what they are talkin about (Most DONT, they just regergitate magazine articles). Dont be too scared of messin shit up, YOU CANT FIX WHAT YOU CAN'T SCREW UP. only one way to learn man.

    I bought my 55 chevy as a basket case, solid...But a complete mess. Start simple and keep at it. I went out and bought a 90lb sandblaster, DA-sander (both are good harbor freight finds, you DONT need to good $$$ stuff), Weld-pak 100 (Practice the welding first). You'll be amazed at how excited you become, and how much others people opinons of your project start changing once you knock to crud and ugly off the car:)

    Just remember everyone on earth will tell you "What you should do", but most of them wont do it. its up to you.
    Good luck man, its scary at first but you'll work into it. Alot of great info here on the HAMB. Search-search-search.
  7. Dzuari
    Joined: Jan 28, 2011
    Posts: 250

    from Muncie, IN

    Im about to start my first project too, just need to find a trailer to pick up a 50's F1 cab from a scrap yard for $100.
  8. Flat-Foot
    Joined: Jul 1, 2010
    Posts: 1,709

    from Locust NC

    This is my first "build". I bought a car that was decent so I can learn on it without getting in over my head. I am taking auto body at night at a local community college and about to start a weekend fabrication class. I am learning a good bit and it forces me to work on the car at least 12 hours a week.

    Good luck
  9. deVco
    Joined: Mar 22, 2010
    Posts: 24


    It looks like you've gottin some good advice so far. My advice to you is, stick with it. The hardest thing to do is restart. Dont be affraid to stick your hands right in there. You will learn from your mistakes, we all have

  10. clockwork31
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 439


    I'm at my first too, I was dreaming about that for a while, I read a lot on the H.A.M.B and ask many questions to the hot rod gurus in my area. Still a LOT to learn but that is one hell of a fun experience! I have a great time doing this! Good luck with your project and my advices, take your time for every steps. Welding, steering and brakes 3 most important things on a hot rod, if you are not sure, don't mess up pretending it's ok, get some help from an experienced person. Better be safe than sorry. I did all the weldings of the frame with my friend, he's a professionnal welder and I've learned a lot.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011
  11. Well its been a long time but I still remember my first time, we picked up this hippy chick hitch hiking. . . Oh this is about cars isn't it? :eek:

    Well that's been a long time also, but let me give you some advise. It is nothing like a TV show and it is going to take you awhile to do almost everything. Take your time, if you get stressed walk away from it and remember its just nuts and bolts you can figure it out if you think about it for bit.

    You'll be fine.

  12. Damelot85
    Joined: Aug 29, 2009
    Posts: 65


    I am also on my first build. I have basically no money, so I am doing everything on my own. I have built a few stock cars, but that doesn't really prepare you, as I learned. The best advice I have come across so far, for me at least, if your not sure how to do something, sit back and make yourself a plan.

    Maybe, practice whatever kind of metalwork or welding will be neccesary before cutting the whole drivers floorpan out (oops), and not being able to figure out how to make some of the compound curves.

    And I know for me, picking one thing i.e floors, fenders, doors, etc. and just finishing that before moving on to the next seems to help me feel a little better about my progress, as opposed to jumping all over the place and never seeming to actually finish anything.
  13. Ole don
    Joined: Dec 16, 2005
    Posts: 2,915

    Ole don

    My first build seems like yesterday. I did the math, it was a mere 54 years ago. Three things to remember, think it through, go slow, and never give up.
  14. I'm in final assembly on my first ground up build. Going on 6 years and maybe 1500-2000 hours into it. A big plus for me was having a good friend who is a professional restorer to come over periodically and critique my work. When I really got stumped he'd give me just enough instruction to get me moving forward again. Other than welding the front end in and actually spraying the base clear (I can't within my city limits) I've done all the work myself. One of the best pieces of advice he gave me was to go get a scrap fender and practice on it. Practice taking dents out, practice welding, practice priming, high build, etc. Like Ole don says, go slow and don't give up. If you can afford it, by the best tools your pocketbook allows. Cheap tools will not always give you the best results for your efforts. Invest in good body tools. Invest in a good HVLP system if you are painting. Companies like Eastwood sell good quality beginner sytems at reasonable prices. Ask questions here. I invested in several good paperbacks over the last few years. The little red book on Metal Bumping that Eastwood sells was written about 60 years ago but it still explains moving metal as well as anything I've ever read. The monthly mags can be of help too. There is a good article in Hot Rod about perfect paint. It came out just as I started to cut and buff. There are about 3 paragraphs about that aspect but they were quite informative. The Marauder might be a little too new to not get roasted here. Just ask the questions and don't say what it is. Good luck.
  15. Cat-bird
    Joined: Feb 4, 2009
    Posts: 17

    from NWPa.

    Im 66 years old and building my first hot rod. It's a model A pickup with a 258 cu. in. built flathead,S-10 5 speed,46-running gear and bigs and littles. Sorry I can't do pictures. I would suggest having a good title before building your project. Also don't be afraid to ask questions and enlist experianced help. Keep it safe and good luck.
  16. JimV57
    Joined: Feb 15, 2011
    Posts: 230

    from California

    I wish I could work on my truck more than I do. Heck if I could, I'd be over at my friend's garage, where I work on it, every day! So far, I have done everything myself. Other than having my cam reground by a machine shop and getting my engine bored and cleaned, its been all by my hand, which is so cool to me.

    I am learning a lot. I am getting a grade A education seemingly about every aspect of an automobile. I am also getting more experience with welding, which I did a lot of in school. I am learning body work and have done a number of mods to my truck already and they have turned out nice, if I say so myself ;)

    I have also got some good experience in preping, primering and painting so far. It all takes practice and I'm getting a lot of that! I am inspired by others' projects I am seeing here as well as getting a lot of good information and ideas.

    I love working on my truck and one day it will be as I have envisioned it to of a kind!
  17. kein, be a sponge....gather as much info on your build as you can. Weigh your knowlege, your money, your collection of tools, your time and most important a place to do you (dirty) work to determine where your project is going to end up. Find some local help to move things and do general work. Clean up every night and put your tools where you can find them.
    Make a plan / list each day, after a few days you will find you are trying to get too much done, back off and regroup, don't try to rush it because you did not finish it that day. I write a list on 5x7 cards of everything I plan to do. Then I take each section of the car i.e: wiring, engine, frame, body. and write a list for each one. Then I break down each one and make two lists, one for parts the other for what has to be done in order so I don't have to back track. But most of all, have fun......
  18. kein
    Joined: Oct 28, 2007
    Posts: 199


    Thanks for all the imput. I know the Merc isn't a true HAMB car but I figured if I make a major mistake on this I won't shoot myself. Just want to get my skill level up a bit so I will be more confident with my dream trad rod....whatever that will be in the future. I have nobody here to "assist" me with work so I will be asking a lot of questions on the forum and doing a lot of reading of other posts as I go. I have a fellow Hamber that might do the body work for me but then I will do the sanding and maybe even lay primer on it myself but we will see. Thanks again
  19. Aussie osborne
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 50

    Aussie osborne

    Into my first hotrod build. Boy have i taken the hard way! You would think a newbie would go buy say, a model A frame, body and all matching bits wouldn't you? Not this mule! mine is a real bitsa.

    background is in cars though. "did up' plenty in my youth, restored a 63 galaxie fastback and a 64 caddy before moving on to a custom hearse (64 galaxie).

    i am self employed repairing smashed broken corvettes mainly plus one camaro. Also heavily involved in what will be this countries most radical split window vette, (mates, not mine) My background however is not hotrods so while i think i am smart enough, i likely will prove i am not!

    There is nothing like doing what we do to showcase our stuffups and demonstarte our learning curves i reckon. So have fun with your car and enjoy learning!

  20. I'm on my first build and it's the most frustrating fun that I've had. I love when the car is running great, and when I get a chance to work on it and change things up the way I want. Then there are the times like now when its take months just to get the car back on the road that make it frustrating. The good thing is that while I'm frustrated that it's taking so long, I'm happy that I'm able to learn and do things myself. I didn't know anything about cars before I started this but I figured get a car is the only way to get in there and learn.
  21. Smoking
    Joined: Mar 4, 2011
    Posts: 32

    from Florida

    My first build as well. I've been around it helping other to build their street rods, and have pretty good idea of whats needed. However, measurements and that kinda thing is what I need, for a model a build.
  22. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 30,877


    I have to agree with the keep it simple theory and don't try to over do things.
    That project sounds pretty straight forward as you won't be making changes to the body but trying to bring them back to the way they should be and then you will have a plan to follow.

    If you need to weld on it and your welding skills are a bit weak, do as a couple of the guys said and scrounge up some scrap pieces and weld away until you can do a decent or better than decent job. I always suggest building things for the shop or around the house for welding practice. That plant stand you build your wife, girlfriend or mom will be highly appreciated but they may never know that it is welding and fabricating practice for you. There is one in my yard that was some high school kid's first real welding project at Toppenish High school 25 years ago. I think I paid him 20 bucks for it at the time.
    When you get to the engine find the books on that model of engine and study them. Do a bit of homework and find out who the gurus for that model of engine are and read what they have to say. Take magazine articles with a grain of salt. A lot o them are more aimed at pushing certain parts for their advertisers than giving the absolute best tech info.

    Know you limits. When you get to something that you know is way over your head skill wise have the experts do that step. Before I could weld very good I used to tack pieces together with my little buzz box welder and then haul the piece down the street to a friends garage where I had him weld it up right. I did the fabricating and he did the real welding. It cost me a few cases of Bud but over a couple of years we built a T bucket between us.

    And don't get caught up in the "it has to be done by xx=xx-xxxx" syndrome. All most all of us on here who have worked on cars for a number of years have been in that boat and it usually means that something has to be done over to get it right.
  23. CustomDave
    Joined: Mar 13, 2011
    Posts: 33


    I am 32 and looking for my first project too. My skill level is what most would consider somewhat low. I have always fixed my own cars with the aid of the internet and a manual, but the biggest project that I have done to date was rebuilding the top end on the 305 in my old Blazer. But, my theory is there isn't anything I can screw up so bad that I can't fix it. That being said I don't plan on trying to chop a top or anything along those lines yet.
  24. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    Member Emeritus

    Reread, every post so far(and all that will follow). There are some real gems of wisdom posted that can save you days/months/years on the learning curve. I guess the best thing I can tell you is don't be afraid to jump in try something especially if you have a mentor to guide you. Remember EVERYONE started somewhere/sometime and only got to whatever level of competence they are at by learning the basics and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!


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