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Zero Experience! Where to Start?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by nibbtastic, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. nibbtastic
    Joined: Jun 26, 2013
    Posts: 6

    from Chicago

    Hello all!

    I'm new to the board, but no stranger to a love of custom body work on older vehicles. The problem is that this appreciation, while it's supplied me with several very fleshed out concepts, hasn't yet translated into any actual skills :eek:. I'm posting here in an effort to change that.

    I realize that I'm needing to set up a plan for a custom car bootcamp of sorts; a sort of training regimen that will get me some real experience in an orderly and timely fashion. For this I'd be open to suggestion on what skills are most important, and where to start as far as in what order to acquire said skills. I recognize welding and metal shaping/finishing as key areas, but don't know much about either of them.

    I don't mind self teaching when I can, but I'm sure there will be times I'll need instruction. That being the case, I'd also be grateful to anyone who might be able to point me towards a place that can help me learn in exchange for possible weekend work or cash, in Chicago and surrounding neighborhoods.

    Thanks in advance to all you guys willing to help a novice foster his newfound passion! :)

    P.S. I should mention that I have no real interest in learning to paint... ;)
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013
  2. clockwork31
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 439


    First find a car, find a plan for your project, if you don't know shit about mechanic find someone who's willing to help and teach you, buy tools, welder, compressor, cutting tools, a pile a scrap metal to practice. Open books and check car forums especially the hamb, the best source for traditional hot rods and customs, there's a big bunch of guys who really know what they're doing also a really good source for ideas. Ask questions and do not neglect any steps in the process of making a car. Your life depends on the reliability of what you build.
  3. A good place to start is your local vocation school and take a welding course,,there is also the thought of finding a local car club and joining.

    A lot of car clubs,at least in my area help each other with their projects by swapping sweat equity for actual work you can't do. HRP
  4. Just hard to find guys that TRULY get that. I spent COUNTLESS HOURS helping guys, and when I bought a metal shop that needed help with putting up, almost EVERY ONE of them said "you know I'll be there with all youve done helping me/us". Set the date 3 weeks in advance, heard "Ill be there", even reminded guys,,,,,,, not a single one showed. But bet your ass when it was up and running again, they all begged for help :cool:

  5. raidmagic
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,438


    That is the story of my life. I can't find anyone around when I need a hand but I am the first on they call...
  6. It works for us. HRP
  7. Im glad it does, Im just letting the OP know to make sure he doesnt put a lot of sweat equity into something he will never see a return of.

    The idea if it works well, just needs to find the right guys to "barter" with. I have a few guys now I do that with, and it works well, but I have many more stories of it being REALLY one sided.
  8. christopher 78
    Joined: Jun 24, 2012
    Posts: 136

    christopher 78

    That's the truth!!! I just stopped helping! They will go roach someone else!!!!
  9. RatPin
    Joined: Feb 12, 2009
    Posts: 574


    I wish I could find a good local group of guys to club up with. I have facilities to help others too. People these days are just so flakey I no longer put stock in others.
  10. oldsman41
    Joined: Jun 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,371


    around chitown there should be vocational schools. start there take classes in what you are lacking.try to find a car club with the kind of cars you have an interest in. yes you may give alot more than you recieve but in your case you will learn alot. lol
  11. SMOG_GUY
    Joined: Jun 28, 2011
    Posts: 388

    from Dinuba

    You gotta have mentor(s). High School, Junior College, Adult Schools are good places to find them. Realize they have blank spots in their experiences and fill those with more mentors!
    For example--most super fabricators couldn't tell you the difference between a magnetic pm type sensor and a hall-effect sensor despite the fact these are two very widespread automotive sensors.
    My two cents.
  12. nibbtastic
    Joined: Jun 26, 2013
    Posts: 6

    from Chicago

    Thanks for the speedy replies. I do have some wrench time on several classic BMW's for what its worth, and am occasionally helping out under a classic european car experts shop when i have the time.

    Full time vocational school is unfortunately out of the question due to the fact that I work full time during class hours of most place, but I'll see if I can't squeeze in a class or two in the mean while. As for finding guys in a club, I'll also look to get on that. My current membership in the BMWCCA likely won't help me find the right kind of body mod buddies, but who knows ;)

    Thanks again for the help and I look forward to any further advice that may come.
  13. EnragedHawk
    Joined: Jun 17, 2009
    Posts: 1,083

    from Waco, TX

    My method is opposite of most for learning. I dove into my first (and current) project 4 years ago. I ripped it completely apart without a clue about what I was doing. I learned to weld, measure, cut (not necessarily in that order). And you know what? I screwed up a lot. In turn, I learned a lot. I am starting to rebuild all the things I have done before because now my welding has improved, and I now have a better idea of what I'm doing. I know how to make a plan now.

    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
  14. Saxon
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,157

    from MN

    Buy the best/cleanest car you can afford.
  15. I took a welding class at the local community collage. They were night classes
  16. You know the basic stuff to learn, welding etc, but what i think to be most important, is STANCE. All the skills wont mean shit if you dont have an eye for how the car should sit. Wheel and tire combo are a big part of getting it right. To learn good hot rod stance, i guess you could study all the top built cars? Im not sure, (anyone?) i just know it from 30 years of having the hot rod sickness. Lol.
  17. clockwork31 is right buy good quality tools fisher price doesn't cut it, we don't have a club but we help each other trade off different things, i can't see well enough to weld some things so a friend welded and i wired his truck. depending on what you plan to build buy the cleanest car you can afford it's cheaper in the long run. and be careful of abandoned projects some time it costly to repair someone else screw-ups.
  18. 55willys
    Joined: Dec 7, 2012
    Posts: 1,661


    Night classes for welding a good place to start. I did that even though I knew how to weld and I work in a hot rod shop. Read everything you can. Take all of your preveious skills doing whatever and see what you have already then build on that. Learn from reading, doing, and watching others even if they do it wrong so you can learn how not to make there same mistakes. Jim (55willys)
  19. Ognib
    Joined: Mar 15, 2013
    Posts: 113

    from Mo

    Screw me once, shame on you...screw me twice, shame on me.
  20. I would think that you could find a vocation school that offers evening classes. HRP
  21. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,955

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    I guess I was lucky! All the guys I let hang out at the shop and/or fixed cars for, ALL came by to help when I moved my shop from Linden, down to Howell, about 65 miles. Only took one day, with all that help. Guess I've got really good friends! (NAH...didn't have to "guess")
    OH...the way I learned was to "volunteer" to help out at the best custom bodyshop in my area, when I was in school. I also hung aroud with the local 55-7 Chevy car club guys, again. volunteering, and ehlping them with their cars, and they, in turn, helped keep mine running, while instructing me the entire time.
    If you can find a "serious" hobbyist, You might find a mentor there, too. I have taken on helping guys learn, while either paying them a bit, or exchanging my help on their car, and teaching them, for hours they put in helping me. Usually worked out, but sometimes, not.
    Hang out at local cruise nights, car show, etc, and make friends.
  22. fleet-master
    Joined: Sep 29, 2010
    Posts: 1,774


    Not just stance Jeff...aesthetics in general. Have you seen some of the monstrocities that end up on Trademe??? :D:D:D

  23. 40Standard
    Joined: Jul 30, 2005
    Posts: 5,857

    from Indy

    X's 2
  24. nibbtastic
    Joined: Jun 26, 2013
    Posts: 6

    from Chicago

    Great advice all around! I'll definitely be looking at night classes I can fit into my schedule, as well as trying to find a local club that deals in this fine faction of automobile culture.

    Additionally I may have made a breakthrough of sorts. Should any future novice be in my shoes and stumble upon this thread, I suggest heeding the aforementioned advice, as well as seeking out a local creative/engineering collective (often called a Hackerspace). I just made first contact with a group in my neighborhood of Chicago that has a plethora of equipment, from a CNC machine :)eek:) and metal lathes, to laser cutters and 3D printer, and a whole lot more. There's a membership fee, of course, but I feel like it's gonna be great for later on in the build, when the smaller details really set off the build. Can you tell that I'm excited??!:D
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2013
  25. oldsman41
    Joined: Jun 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,371


    ok when your ready to get a car dont forget a build thread. ask questions if your having a problem. these guys on here can help. have fun.
  26. KrisKustomPaint
    Joined: Apr 20, 2007
    Posts: 1,107


    every time you turn a wrench or hammer out a dent can be a learning experience, or it can be a waste of time. just depends on how your looking at. if you want to learn custom body work, don't learn on your car. go to a body shop and get a screwed up door or fender, they'll probably give it to you. practice on junk and you wont feel bad when you turn it into Fubar. You'll cry when you try and weld up a trim hole on a 50 ford and blow it open to the size of a doggy door.

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