Restoration Process

Customers ask us regularly for a step-by-step description on how we perform a restoration.

All cars we work on go through our restoration process, which means that customers can follow every stage of the process and be as involved as they like. We work closely together with our customers to ensure that their classic car is restored to their exact specifications. This can mean that we restore the car to its original factory standard or we upgrade the vehicle to meet the requirements of modern roads.

Strip Down

#1

When your vehicle first enters our workshop we take a little time to assess the vehicle and the condition it is in. Once we have done this we can start a full strip down of the vehicle. This is not a simple case of ripping apart the shell but actually a very delicate and time consuming process. We take our time to remove every part as carefully as possible without damaging clips, screws or trims. Every single part is carefully packaged and catalogued so if we need the part at any point throughout the restoration it is easily located. Not only that, we take notes of any parts that require refurbishment or replacement so this does not hold us up during the rebuild stage. Finally, we take pictures of any complex mechanisms or wiring loom routing to ensure every last piece goes back as the factory intended.

#2

Once every last nut and bolt has been stripped from the body shell we carefully assess the extent of the rust.  At this stage, if there is considerable rust, we sometimes chose to weld in braces to stiffen the shell before it goes off to the blasters to stop the body twisting out of shape. Prior to blasting we also remove any rusty body panes so inner panel work can be blasted and cleaned. Finally, once all checks have been made, we remove all seam sealed and under seal so the media blaster can made sure that all areas are taken right back to bare metal

#3

We will cover the next process under the bare-metalling part but once the above processes have been completed the vehicle is loaded up for transport to our media blaster who has years of experience in blasting all kinds of materials, from delicate glass to million pound classic cars

#4

This stage is one of the most important stages of any quality restoration. Far too often we see people spend thousands of pounds on having their pride and joy re painted, only for it to start bubbling and rusting within twelve months. This is because the fresh paint has been applied over the old paintwork, meaning any rust or rogue repairs are still under the shiny new paint. This is why it is essential to have the vehicle stripped back to bare metal, to ensure you have a sound base which will last many years without causing blemishes to the new paint work. We will now discuss the methods we chose and why.

Media Blasting

This is the primary method we use for our full restorations and we prefer this over acid dipping. We have seen a variety of vehicles that have been acid dipped now (not by us) that have soon rusted between panel joints and seams. There are several theories behind this but once it has happened, the rectification work is extremely involved and costly. Media blasting too has its pitfalls, for example warping panels. This happens due to heat build-up, but if you use a blaster who is experienced in blasting delicate materials you should not have this problem. Our blaster uses a variety of media to blast vehicles depending on what he is trying to achieve. To remove paint on delicate panels a mixture of glass bead and walnut shell is used to remove the paint but without being too abrasive and etching the metal. For chassis that are heavily rusted a coarser materiel called slag will be used followed by olivine, which is a much less coarse media used for a finer finish.

Manual Stripping

On vehicles that do not require a full restoration but require an external repaint, we strip the old paint of manually. We do this using a mixture of chemical strippers, mechanical tools and by hand. This is a much more time consuming method but the only viable method if the vehicle is not being completely stripped down.

Sealing - epoxy primer

#5

Once all old paint, primer, filler and rust is removed we are left with a perfectly clean bare metal finish. This is the perfect base to start the metalwork, however the metal will immediately start to oxidise. The last thing we want is for the metal to start oxidising (rusting) so the entire shell is coated in epoxy primer which has fantastic adhesive qualities as well as water/moisture resistance, completely sealing the metalwork from the elements. It is important to remember that there is moisture in the air around us so if the shell is going to be unpainted for more than a few days an etch primer is not good enough to stop the moisture in the air initiating oxidisation of the metalwork. The other benefit to the epoxy primers we use is that they can be tinted to the colour the vehicle will finally be painted in.

Metalwork

#6

Once the vehicle is in epoxy primer we can spend some time looking over the vehicle assessing the extent of the rust and damage. At this stage, we produce a list of all panels required and estimated repair times. Owing to the fact that we can now see the majority of repair work required we can provide a much more detailed and accurate estimate.

Welding

We use MIG welding most of the time during our restorations. Our aim is to always repair areas to a factory standard; so where we let in repairs that should not be seen we butt weld and where panels are meant to be overlapped we use the spot welder replicating factory welds. Where it is not possible to use a spot welder we plug welds, again replicating the spot welds. If possible we also like to use TIG welding as this is much better for sheet metal work than MIG welding but isn’t always suitable for certain repairs.

Lead Loading

Lead loading is a technique used years ago before modern plastic fillers became widely available. We feel that it is important to keep this dying art alive because it is far superior to modern fillers for certain repairs. Many car companies, for example Jaguar, used lead loading in a wide range of areas which have lasted in areas where filler may have sagged or cracked over time.

Fabrication

Sometimes quality repair panels are not available or not economical to purchase so we spend time carefully fabricating replacements.

Dry build

#7

Throughout the metal work process and particularly once the metalwork is complete, it is essential to spend some time checking and setting all panel gaps along with dry building items such as bumpers and light fittings. This saves time in the long run – the last thing we want to be doing is tweaking a painted shell to get the gaps spot on.

Paint and Preparation

Once the metal work is complete the vehicle is ready for prep and paint. We believe that filler should be used to refine a vehicle rather than try and hide nasty areas, but it is important to use high quality products. Once the vehicle has been prepped and primed, seam sealer is applied. The underside is stone chipped if required and then paint applied—again high quality products used. Once baked, the vehicle is flat and polished to get rid of any imperfections and get that perfect finish.

#8

This stage is the first step to getting the panels the perfect shape. A thin skim of filler is applied where necessary and shaped up. Once the area is the correct shape the filler, stopper is applied which is then finished with 180 grit and the entire shell given 2 coats of high build 2 pack primer and baked at 65 C for 40 minutes. The shell is then left for 5 days; this allows the primer to sink back. The shell is then re-blocked with 180 and then 320 grit and re-primed with high build primer and again baked at 65 C for 40 minutes. This stage is not often carried out by body-shops and can lead to sinkage and production marks in the paint work over time. On average this stage adds a week to the process but worth every extra minute in the longevity and quality of finish. Once the second stage of primer has been allowed to sit it is once again blocked with 320 grit and wet flatted with 800 grit. Once this is complete all seams are sealed. Finally the underside is coated with a rubberized stone chip if required which can be painted body colour.

#9

This stage is probably the most exciting stage – paint. Once the shell has been degreased and masked up, base coat is applied followed by 2 coats of high quality lacquer and baked at 65 C for 40 minutes. If a show finish is required, once the shell is baked it is flatted with 1500 grit and the entire shell flow coated and baked again. This gives a super-smooth finish and makes the polishing process much easier to get that deep, glossy, glass like shine

#10

This stage is colour sanding and polishing. We use the 3M Trizact system which comprises of the following.

Colour sanding with 2000, 3000 and 6000 grit DA discs. Machine polishing with 3 stages of compound and mop head.
This process eliminates any blemishes in the fresh paint work and all orange peel, providing a silky smooth glass like finish.

Finally a good coat of high quality wax is applied protecting the glass like finish.

Reassembly

#11

Once we have an ‘as new’ shell painted in the colour of choice, it is time to consider the spec of the rebuild stage. At this stage we discus with clients how far they would like to go with refurbishment and replacement which often comes down to budget. We ALWAYS recommend replacing rubber seals, 40+ year old wiring looms and brake systems. After investing so much into restoring the shell back to its former glory, it makes little sense to refit old brake systems and wiring looms due to the risk of brake failure and/or electrical faults. Cosmetic items such as body chrome/trim and bumpers can also be stripped, re-chromed and rebuilt at this stage. We ALWAYS clean and re lubricate door mechanisms and latches so they shut with that satisfying ‘click’.

Engine and Gearbox

Whilst it is not always necessary, at this point it is a good opportunity to have the engine and gearbox rebuilt. We work closely with very experienced engine and gearbox specialists to provide reliable rebuilds with a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty. It is also a good opportunity to upgrade items for extra power and improved cruising speeds.

Suspension

With the suspension stripped off of the shell, we can split it down to component form and refurbish all the individual items. In the image above, we have had the suspension arms and brake backing plates media blasted and powder coated. We have then replace all wheel bearings and bushes meaning the suspension arms are now as good as when they left the factory. Not only will the underside of the vehicle look as good as the outside, it will drive like a brand new car too.

Upgrades

At EGC, we like to drive our classics as much as possible, but understand 50 year old technology can be a big change from driving your everyday car. That’s why we believe that if you can improve upon an old design and make your classic car more enjoyable, you should!

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