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19 Tradelink Road
Hillcrest, QLD, 4118
Australia

+61 7 3800 9127

At Ol' School Garage, we not only understand your passion for custom and classic cars, we share it. Rest assured, entrusting Ol' School Garage to undertake your custom build or restoration you are in good hands.

Leon's Blog

Filtering by Category: Engine Build

Full, bare-metal restorations…

Leon Betts

In my last post, I explained that Ol’ School Garage would now be focusing on full, bare-metal restorations. So, what is a full, bare-metal restoration?

I should begin by saying that I use the word ‘restoration’ rather loosely. Our restorations often involve considerable fabrication work to accommodate an upgraded drivetrain, larger diameter wheels, a lower stance, etc. At the very least, our customer’s want more power from the original engine and upgraded suspension and brakes for a better driving experience. The term ‘resto-mod’ has been coined to describe this process (i.e. a restoration incorporating modifications).

To qualify as a ‘bare-metal’ restoration, we believe the restoration process must start with the car being completely disassembled. Once stripped, a specialist automotive media blaster removes all old paint and surface rust from the body, panels and parts. Removing all old paint product and surface rust is the only way to guarantee the integrity of the new paint. In addition, it is only when the car is in bare metal that all accident and rust damage be identified.

We consider a ‘full’ restoration as one where all parts and systems are reconditioned or replaced. This includes accident and rust repairs, new paint, rebuilding or replacing the engine, transmission and balance of drivetrain, rewiring the car, reconditioning or replacing brakes, suspension and steering components, re-trimming the interior, reconditioning, re-chroming or replacing stainless trim and bumpers, etc, etc.

The objective of a full, bare-metal restoration is to restore and modify the car so that it looks like new and performs and functions better than it did when it first left the factory.

I have included some photos of some typical tasks we would undertake as part of a full, bare metal restoration.

Cheers Leon

 The first thing we do is fully disassemble the car ready for sand-blasting. The subframe, diff and suspension components are yet to be removed.

The first thing we do is fully disassemble the car ready for sand-blasting. The subframe, diff and suspension components are yet to be removed.

 Just back from the sand blaster. The blasting process doesn't remove the 'bog' in the old repairs and will be ground out be hand. Rust and accident damage is now clearly visible.

Just back from the sand blaster. The blasting process doesn't remove the 'bog' in the old repairs and will be ground out be hand. Rust and accident damage is now clearly visible.

 Just back from the sand blaster. The blasting process doesn't remove the 'bog' in the old repairs and will be ground out be hand. Rust and accident damage is now clearly visible.

Just back from the sand blaster. The blasting process doesn't remove the 'bog' in the old repairs and will be ground out be hand. Rust and accident damage is now clearly visible.

 Once the accident and rust repair is complete, Roland works his way around the car fine tuning panels and adjusting panel gaps. We pride ourselves on being great metal workers. This is important, as work done here limits the amount of filler required in the paint shop.

Once the accident and rust repair is complete, Roland works his way around the car fine tuning panels and adjusting panel gaps. We pride ourselves on being great metal workers. This is important, as work done here limits the amount of filler required in the paint shop.

 Here the reconditioned subframe and suspension and steering parts are re-assembled. The brakes are reconditioned using new or reconditioned parts. New brake and fuel lines are also fabricated and run at this stage.

Here the reconditioned subframe and suspension and steering parts are re-assembled. The brakes are reconditioned using new or reconditioned parts. New brake and fuel lines are also fabricated and run at this stage.

 The re-built engine and gearbox waiting to be installed.

The re-built engine and gearbox waiting to be installed.

 Body work complete, the car is given its new paint livery. The preparation and painting process involves a number of stages and is often the single most labour intensive process in a restoration.

Body work complete, the car is given its new paint livery. The preparation and painting process involves a number of stages and is often the single most labour intensive process in a restoration.

 After the painted car is assembled, it will go through significant testing to make sure everything functions as it should and iron out any bugs found.

After the painted car is assembled, it will go through significant testing to make sure everything functions as it should and iron out any bugs found.

We're changing the way we do business...

Leon Betts

Back in 2011, I purchased a small classic car restoration business. I renamed it Ol’ school Garage and quickly added mechanical upgrades and classic car sales to its service offering. Before I knew it, the business had 12 full-time staff and was spread over three separate building.

Over time, however, I realised that the more we grew, the less time we spent doing what I love. My passion has always been restoring cars from the ground-up. This is why I purchased the business in the first place! And I'm not alone - this passion is shared by the entire Ol’ School Garage team.

So, we've made a New Years resolution - to follow our dream! And that requires a few changes to the way we do business.

For those visiting our workshop, the most obvious change is that we now operate out of a single location – 18 Tradelink Road, Hillcrest (previously our paint shop). But the biggest change will be our service offering. In 2018, Ol’ School Garage will focus on bare-metal restorations. That is, all jobs will start with us completely disassembling a car before removing all existing paint.

We realise that this style of restoration is not for everyone, but there are two primary reasons behind this change. I touched on the first already. Simply, we like building and restoring cars from the ground up. We find the process challenging, satisfying and rewarding. So, that’s what we’re going to do…because work should be fun!

The second reason is all about business. Concentrating on bare-metal restorations allows us to work on less cars at any one time. These are big jobs with many tasks that are completed over a long period. Fewer jobs simplifies our business model. We need fewer staff and less space as we are able to focus our efforts on a smaller number of jobs. This is not only good for us, it is also good for our customers.

I must confess that there is some self-interest involved. It's coming up thirty years since I started my first business. So, these changes are also designed to help me to spend a little more time away from the business. Luckily, Tim is a great workshop manager and he is supported by a great team - so our customers remain in good hands. Truth be told, other than some bookkeeping, I haven't done anything useful in years!

Want to know more about the bare-metal restoration process? I will explain the process further in an upcoming post.

Cheers Leon

Fuel injected '55 Chev...

Leon Betts

A few weeks back I posted some photos of a new FiTech 600 HP EFI system Tim installed on a big block in a customer's '60 El Camino. Well, it was so good that I've purchased the exact same system for my '55 Chev 2-door Hardtop build. The '55 build is progressing to plan and I hope to be cruising around by Christmas.

Cheers Leon

A little bling...

Leon Betts

Tim and Mark installed the Billet Specialties TruTrac serpentine system on the the 350 small block in my '55 Chev 2-door Hardtop project. I'll be very happy if it goes as good as it looks! You may remember it was my New Year's resolution to finish the '55 Chev by the end of the year...we had better get a wriggle on.

Cheers Leon

El Camino upgrade...

Leon Betts

You may recognise this magnificent '60 El Camino built by Ol' School Garage a few years back. It's back in the workshop for some 'creature comfort' upgrades. Tim has installed a FiTech 600 HP EFI system. This self-tuning system helps tame the 454 big block delivering easy starting and great throttle response while maintaining the old school look. The original gauge set has also been replaced with a very flash Dakota digital gauge set. We are now waiting on delivery of a new air conditioning system to complete the transformation.

Cheers Leon

Mr Organised...

Leon Betts

Yesterday Tim made a start on the assembly of a 318 Poly for a client's car. As you can see, Tim is a little obsessive about order and cleanliness. Now I'm not complaining, as these are exactly the traits you want in an engine builder. I will share some photos of the build next week.

Cheers Leon

 Tim records all clearances as he goes.

Tim records all clearances as he goes.

 Clearances are measured in thousandths of an inch, and fractions thereof!

Clearances are measured in thousandths of an inch, and fractions thereof!

 The block has been honed to the size of the new forged pistons.

The block has been honed to the size of the new forged pistons.

'66 Mustang Convertible update...

Leon Betts

Our Mustang convertible is sitting back on its own wheels. The accident and rust repairs are well behind us and the engine bay and underside have been painted. Earlier this week the freshly rebuilt engine, diff, brakes and suspension were installed. Roland is now hanging all the panels so the car to go back to the paint shop for body work.

Cheers Leon

This morning the car was lowered onto its wheels for a first time in a while.

The 347 Craig built now sits in the engine bay and looks pretty slick in its black livery.

Time installed the rebuilt diff, suspension and brakes.

Roland is now hanging all the panels so the car to go back to the paint shop for body work.

Busy, busy, busy...

Leon Betts

I'm looking forward to an uninterrupted week. Public holidays,as welcome as they may be, play havoc with our restoration schedules. So it's 'head down, bum up' for the Ol' School Garage team this week...just like every other week! Here are just some of the jobs we are working on this week.

Cheers Leon

Roland and Tim continue on the EH assembly.

Jamie is planning to finish the first round of the body work on the XY.

Tim is fitting the engine, trans and the rest of the driveline on the '66 Mustang Convertible ready for body work to commence.

Ben is working on the Mk II Jag body work.

Roland draw the short straw and got the job of burning/scraping the old tar-based body deadener out of the HQ ready for sand blasting.

Craig mounted this A-body Hemi bonnet scoop on our customer's Plymouth. It's now in the paint shop to get some matching pearl white paint.

Mark has been under the pump prepping and painting parts in satin black as they are required in the assembly process.

Shop truck project...

Leon Betts

The '59 Chev Panel Truck I purchased before Christmas arrived today. As you will see, the engine bay is empty...a blank canvas! Our current thinking is to transplant a late model Commodore LS drivetrain with a Mustang II front end. I've asked Craig to build me something reasonably sensible build...a reliable, practical daily driver with some nice acoustics. Let's see what Craig and the team come up with...but based on previous requests, I think Craig and I have a different view on what constitutes 'sensible'.

Cheers Leon

We're back...

Leon Betts

Craig and Tim are back on the assembly of the EH.

Jamie was sanding panels before Christmas...and nothing's changed!

Ben is still tweaking panels and doing body work.

And of course, Roland is still making sparks.

Well Christmas and New Year has been and gone and the Ol' School Garage team were back at work today. After doing my usual afternoon walk around the fab shop and paint shop, I must say 2017 looks a lot like 2016! But why change a winning formula?

I hope your Christmas and the New Year were everything you had hoped for and 2017 treats you well. I look forward to catching up with you all during the year...whether in person or via Facebook.

Cheers Leon