Exterior Restoration

In a complete restoration, the repair and refinishing of the car's body and frame must again go through the careful inspection and subsequent repair,and recoating as necessary to bring the car to as first sold condition.220px-Apperson Chummy Restored By Louie Floyd Apperson

 

As part of the automotive restoration process, repair of the car's frame is important since in serves as the foundation for the entire car. The frame should be inspected for straightness, twisting, alignment, rust damage, and condition of the mounting points for the body, suspension, and other components. Any problems must be repaired, which can be a costly process. For many popular cars, replacement frames can be purchased from parts suppliers specializing in that make of vehicle. This is often a better option than investing money into a severely damaged frame. Depending on the frame construction, mud and water can make their way inside the frame and cause rusting from the inside out, so it can be seriously weakened with little or no external sign. This, and the fact that many replacement chassis/frames are galvanised, provides sound additional reasons to consider a replacement frame.

 

If rust is present on a body panel, the panel was damaged by a collision, or other damage is present, there are several options for repair: fix the damaged panel (minor damage), replacement (excessively damaged panels), or cutting out and replacing a portion of the panel (moderate damage - for many makes of vintage car, small partial patch panels are available and designed to be welded into place after the damaged portions are cut out). Although, this may seem simple in principle, in practice it is highly skilled work. One of the highest skills in restoration is the use of the English Wheel or Wheeling Machine to fabricate complete compound curvature panels from scratch. Many panels, (especially if from different sources), may be a problem to fit together and need reshaping to fit together properly. Variation in panel size and shape and 'fettling' by skilled metalworkers on the factory production line to make panels fit well, used to be common practice, especially with British and Italian sports cars. Even genuine New Old Stock factory panels may require panel beating skills to fit.

 

The re-installation of the repaired or renewed panels requires that the panels be trial fitted and aligned, to check their fit, that their shape 'flows' and the gaps between panels are correct. Consistent gaps are very important to a quality finish. Gapping gauges are available for this. The doors, hood, and trunk should open and close properly, and there should be no interference or rubbing. Steel or aluminium door skins and wing/fender edges can generally be adjusted with a hammer and dolly, in extreme cases a pulsed MIG weld bead on a panel edge, that is shaped with a grinder and file, can be good solution. At one time it was common practice to use lead loading to achieve tight panel gaps, especially in the coachbuilding business, but also on the production line. Lead loading is highly skilled, and requires safety precautions because ingested lead or fumes are toxic. The panels have to 'look right' together. This is a process of repeated adjustment, because the adjustment of one panel often affects the apparent fit of another. If there are multiple styling lines on the side of a car, it is generally best to align doors on the most prominent one. When you are satisfied with the panels on the car, they should be primed and painted a correct historical color for the vehicle (although this is debatable - the owner might want to have the car painted to look like a particular specialty vehicle such as a police car, or a delivery van painted to look like it would have in grandfather's company colors, etc.) Individual painting of the panels is generally the correct approach, as this will result in all parts of the panel being painted as opposed to partially re-assembling and then painting, leaving parts of the assembly that are touching or "blind" unpainted. It is useful to mark in some way, if possible, where the panels fit before removal for painting, to aid re-fitting. The separate painting approach should also result in no overspray on other parts of the since they will not be on the car at that point. It is important when re-assembling painted panels, to be aware that the paint is at its thinnest, and most easily damaged, on corners, edges, and raised styling lines, and to take extra care with them, such as temporarily taping with masking tape. This is also important when using ultra fine wet flatting paper before polishing, (or when using an electric polishing mop) for the best mirror like finish.

 

Colors and treatments applied to the panels, from the factory should be considered. A car's owner may wish to have a panel or portion of the car entirely painted when in fact it may have come from the factory with undercoating or other coating applied to one side, which may be less attractive than a smoothly finished and painted panel. In other cases, the owner might paint or plate a collection of small parts to look similar for a better appearance, when the factory might have installed these as many different colors since the factory's prime concern was function and not appearance. This makes the car a "Restomod", and not a restoration.

 

Info from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_restoration