Bub2000
Bub2000
4/3/17 7:43 p.m.

I'm restoring my grandfather's 1951 Buick Special, and it's my first time working on an older car. I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice as to how to go about it.

Agent98
Agent98 New Reader
4/3/17 8:02 p.m.

make a list of what it needs to be "restored" in your eyes.

(frame off complete restos can be ~ 1000 hrs of work at shop rates $60-75/hr, PLUS parts cost. If you can even find some parts for an uncommon older car like a '51. So, that's a lot of time/money.)

find an old car forum like jalopyjournal (H.A.M.B) or a buick webpage. There's a lot of make/model specific info at those sites.

get a repair manual if you can find one, tells you how to fix things, what torque reading for bolts etc..

Skervey
Skervey HalfDork
4/3/17 8:33 p.m.

As said above another forum would help with an older car a bit better. Also if you need to order parts try to call and order them over the phone, you might get lucky and find someone who really knows there stuff. Plus iv gotten free shipping and some other perks from the salesmen if you are nice to them and they are cool.

Good luck on the build!

Crackers
Crackers Reader
4/3/17 8:48 p.m.
Skervey wrote: As said above another forum would help with an older car a bit better. Also if you need to order parts try to call and order them over the phone, you might get lucky and find someone who really knows there stuff. Plus iv gotten free shipping and some other perks from the salesmen if you are nice to them and they are cool. Good luck on the build!

^This.

Talking to the right sales rep makes all the difference in classic car restorations. I got real spoiled living in So Cal, plus our stock car team was sponsored by a junkyard that specialized in pre-75 cars only. So the guys were probably a lot more helpful for us than I probably should have gotten accustomed to.

Secondly...

Thirdly...

What kind of restoration are you wanting to do?

Are you aiming at doing just enough to make it a driver/weekend car? Show car? Concour$e $how car?

Full frame off restorations are usually 10X as expensive as you think they will be, or more. Depending on where you live and condition of the car, it may be the only prudent manner to go about it assuming you don't want to tear it apart again every 5-10 years. (Been there done that.)

Resto-Mods for something of this vintage are almost always cheaper if you're building it yourself, especially if you do a full chassis/drivetrain swap with a solid complete running donor.

NOHOME
NOHOME PowerDork
4/4/17 9:09 a.m.
Bub2000 wrote: I'm restoring my grandfather's 1951 Buick Special, and it's my first time working on an older car. I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice as to how to go about it.

Certainly, that is what we do around here.

Start with a bit of context.

What are your current mechanical skills? Rotate Tires or Rebuild engines?

Do you have tools? Welders Grinders sheet-metal equipment? Do you know how or are you willing to learn how to use the stuff?

Do you have any kind of a car centric peer group or are you going on your own?

Where do you have to work on the car? Shop or Apartment parking spot?

Time? A "Restoration" eats up about 1000 hours. That is like six months of full time work. So, decide how much time you can/want to spend each week for an idea of how long this will take. Then double it.

Budget. Is this going to fight the family for resources? Car projects are not so fun when you need the $$$ to deal with day-to-day expenses. Not having the surplus funds also drags out the project to the point where is seems like nothing is happening and you lose interest. Accept up front that what you end-up with will not be worth the money you put into it.

And lastly, pictures of the car. Show us all the bad stuff and what you want to do with the car when it is done.

Quick glance at the particular model tells me that if you are going for a full resto, there is about $5k worth of Chrome to be redone.Can you live with the chrome "as is"

If you are not already a skilled mechanic, that is the least of your worries. That stuff comes along the way; its WHY you do this stuff.

Looking forward to those pictures

Bub2000
Bub2000 New Reader
4/13/17 8:33 a.m.

I appreciate all of the help. I can't figure out the picture thing, but the exterior is in decent shape. The fenders need realigning, the electrical system needs to be rewired, and it also needs a new interior.

NOHOME
NOHOME PowerDork
4/13/17 10:40 a.m.
Bub2000 said: The fenders need realigning...

That there just set off all of my alarms. WHY do they need to be re-aligned?

Pictures are easy once you realize you need to first save them to an on-line host like IGUR Once you save them to the host site.

From there, just copy the 4th link ( using IMGUR as example) and paste it directly into the text of your message. No need to use the camera icon on this site if you do it this way.

Bub2000
Bub2000 New Reader
4/17/17 6:30 p.m.

http://imgur.com/a/sPQsH

http://imgur.com/a/5SlAg

These are the links to the car. When I said the fenders need realigning, i meant a couple of things. 1) the clamps that hold the pins on the hood broke and 2) they just need minor tweaking

mazdeuce
mazdeuce UltimaDork
4/17/17 7:14 p.m.

If it were me, I'd do a rolling restoration as much as possible. First fix the small things. Anything that doesn't currently work. Align the fenders. Take care of electrical problems. Then hit bigger things one at a time. Restoring the interior is a huge job. Fixing the door upholstery and chrome is manageable, get what you need and do one door at a time. Then pull the seats and put down new carpet and deal with whatever you find underneath. Maybe recover the seats while they're out?
Rebuild any mechanical bits that need it. Replace shocks, bushings, whatever made the moving things move. Try to keep it driving more that sitting.
If you get to the point where it runs like a top, everything is mechanically tip top, and the inside is a nice place to be, you will have enough knowledge about the car to easily take it down to the frame for a full restoration if you desire. The upside is that all of the parts that will go back on already work, the inside just needs to be reassembled, and you got to drive it while acquiring these skills rather than having it sit in a shop for a decade.

JoeTR6
JoeTR6 HalfDork
4/17/17 7:42 p.m.

As I was reading down this thread, I was composing a response in my mind. When I got to the bottom, Mazdeuce pretty much covered what I was going to say. If it's your grandfather's car and you want it for sentimental reasons (the best kind for me), you want to avoid "George Washington's axe". That's where you proudly display what is George Washington's axe. You had to replace the handle, and then the blade, but doesn't it look nice.

I have my dad's 1968 Triumph T100C motorcycle. When I first got it, I had plans to tear it apart and make it perfect. But the more I thought about it, the condition it was in was part of the charm. I remember my dad stripping it down and painting the frame in our basement. And the gas tank. And replacing the piston rings. So my plan now is to do a mechanical restoration to fix the things that are needed to make it ridable (like the low oil pressure), then enjoy it whenever I can by using it. Leaving it in a garage because I'm afraid of getting it dirty should not be the goal.

The car looks to be in pretty good shape and should be a nice starting point. Make it safe with tires and brakes first. You don't want a failure that could total the car or a person.

yupididit
yupididit Dork
4/17/17 9:24 p.m.

NOHOME
NOHOME PowerDork
4/18/17 4:53 a.m.
Bub2000 wrote: http://imgur.com/a/sPQsH http://imgur.com/a/5SlAg These are the links to the car. When I said the fenders need realigning, i meant a couple of things. 1) the clamps that hold the pins on the hood broke and 2) they just need minor tweaking

Gonna guess green is a preferred color with you?

I agree that you should do a running restoration. That car looks like it has a lot of history written within.

Bub2000
Bub2000 New Reader
4/18/17 9:31 a.m.

Again, I appreciate all of the suggestions. I also have another question, what do you think of touching up the paint? Just curious, really.

Tk8398
Tk8398 New Reader
4/18/17 10:19 a.m.
Bub2000 wrote: Again, I appreciate all of the suggestions. I also have another question, what do you think of touching up the paint? Just curious, really.

Unless it's getting rusty leave it as it is.

NOHOME
NOHOME PowerDork
4/18/17 10:39 a.m.

If you want some shine, you would be surprise what a good detailer can do to bring back what you have.

Crackers
Crackers Reader
4/18/17 11:43 a.m.

IMO, there are too many insults to be able to touch up. I'd either do a full respray or leave it alone. I think buffing/polishing it would probably end up highlighting the scrapes.

If you do decide to buff it, be careful not to get the paint hot with a power buffer. Old lacquer paint isn't very durable and will crack if you upset it too much.

Personally, I'd want to strip it and put some modern coatings on it for the sake of preservation. I know a lot of purists that would argue with the modern coatings, but it's not like they would know unless you told them.

NOHOME
NOHOME PowerDork
4/19/17 9:10 a.m.

Knowing what I know now, I would get the car running and see if you bond with it. Old cars are not always a pleasure to drive, and if after the first sense of adventure wears off, you may find that it is getting left in the garage a lot. At that point, best not to have spent a ton of $$$ on the old girl.

You don't have to drive old cars to appreciate them, if it is a cherished heirloom, cover it up in the garage and keep it for the next generation; someone has to build the "Barn-finds" for the next generation.

Tommy
Tommy New Reader
4/19/17 12:59 p.m.

Are you restoring it FOR your grandfather or was it his and now it's yours? I ask because it could influence how much time you have. We always talked abbot building a trike so my grandma could ride with me grandpa since she had polio and couldn't manage a 2 Wheeler. We took too long and he ended up dying and we never got to it.

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