Restoration Detail Oversights?

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Michael O’Harran

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Looking from input from experience, when doing your restorations, what are some of the small details that you overlooked that you regretted or had to go back and address?

I keep thinking I have all the detail planned and needed items purchased and on stand by waiting for the point of progress to install, but I keep finishing I’m having to order odds and ends for something I thought was all handled or was, but it was a lack luster end state that looked disappointing next to everything else looking new and sharp. I’m interested in what others found for themselves as these frustrating issues. Thanks
 

Michael O’Harran

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Let me just say my build has gone on way to long. I should have done a better parts inventory list. I have bought things twice not remembering that I all ready had the part stored away.
Oh ya, I’ve done that too. I’ve spent the last few days creating a spreadsheet from all my receipts to identify how much I’m spending at each company as well as identifying duplicate purchases for returns and total costs. I wish I started this earlier. Yes. Good point. Thanks.
 
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1971 Mustang Mach 1 M code 351 4 speed
The worst thing that has happened to me when doing restorations is to do work on a car, then leave it sitting for years as I start on another project, to then when I decide to return to the original project have to do the work all over again. This has happened to me with brakes, carburetors, and thing like that, that when you leave them sitting for years, they end up going bad again... That is why I know try to always keep the car in running condition, so that it never sits for years on end.
 

Vinnie

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I'm ordering parts as I go. The only big items I bought so far are sheet metal and front and rear disc brakes from Wilwood coz they take ages to get here. I do not have the illusion I can restore my car like they do on the tellie and have a 10 year global planning basically cut up like this:

phase 1 (3 years): Lots of welding (and learning to weld) and replacing big sheet (also removing parts as I go)
phase 2 (1/2 year): Remove engine and send to engine shop
phase 3 (1/2 year): Remove everything else and send body to dipper
phase 4: (1/2 year): Rebuild rear axle with upgrades
phase 5: (1 1/2 year): prep body for paint and get it painted
phase 6: (? years): Put car back together, this is where I'll probably start buying more parts
 

Michael O’Harran

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The worst thing that has happened to me when doing restorations is to do work on a car, then leave it sitting for years as I start on another project, to then when I decide to return to the original project have to do the work all over again. This has happened to me with brakes, carburetors, and thing like that, that when you leave them sitting for years, they end up going bad again... That is why I know try to always keep the car in running condition, so that it never sits for years on end.
I cautionary tale I have heard before. It is noted. I’m in a state of momentum with it right now that I don’t plan on backing off, life changes it’s plan for us all the time so who knows. I do have other projects but not with cars so hopefully I’ll be safe from that. Thanks.
 

Michael O’Harran

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Currently Under Restoration
I'm ordering parts as I go. The only big items I bought so far are sheet metal and front and rear disc brakes from Wilwood coz they take ages to get here. I do not have the illusion I can restore my car like they do on the tellie and have a 10 year global planning basically cut up like this:

phase 1 (3 years): Lots of welding (and learning to weld) and replacing big sheet (also removing parts as I go)
phase 2 (1/2 year): Remove engine and send to engine shop
phase 3 (1/2 year): Remove everything else and send body to dipper
phase 4: (1/2 year): Rebuild rear axle with upgrades
phase 5: (1 1/2 year): prep body for paint and get it painted
phase 6: (? years): Put car back together, this is where I'll probably start buying more parts
A multiple phased plan, I like the breakdown. Plans don’t always work as thought but to have a plan clears a direction forward and sometimes that’s enough to figure the rest out as we go as long as we are moving forward. For me internal engine pieces, I think it was the crank, upholstery and interior trim panels seemed to be my longest delays. Thanks.
 
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1971 Mustang Mach 1 351c FMX trans and 9 inch rear end
I have also purchased the same parts twice on previous restorations. I now make inventory lists of parts that need restoring, painting or detailing and are going to be reused and a list of parts that need to be replaced. I also make an inventory list of each as I purchase it and what bin I placed it in so I don't repurchase another one and I can find it when it is needed. This helps me keep the build organized. This my fourth build in the last 9-10 years so I am trying to learn from previous mistakes and form a process to make it go as smoothly as possible. All this said I know I will still run into things that were not expected, but that keeps it interesting.
 

Michael O’Harran

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I have also purchased the same parts twice on previous restorations. I now make inventory lists of parts that need restoring, painting or detailing and are going to be reused and a list of parts that need to be replaced. I also make an inventory list of each as I purchase it and what bin I placed it in so I don't repurchase another one and I can find it when it is needed. This helps me keep the build organized. This my fourth build in the last 9-10 years so I am trying to learn from previous mistakes and form a process to make it go as smoothly as possible. All this said I know I will still run into things that were not expected, but that keeps it interesting.
4th build! That’s impressive. What are some of the small finish details you’ve seen get overlooked, missed, forgotten or regretted not doing more with?
 
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The one big thing that you should always be questioning is if I have to do it over again how hard will it be to get to. Make sure that those types of areas are done right the first time. Nothing worse than having to pull the dash or worse because you decided to take a short cut or skimped on something.
As far as small stuff getting a complete interior fastener kit will make life a lot easier. Also new bolts and clips for those areas that are visible will make a big different in the finish details.
 

Michael O’Harran

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The one big thing that you should always be questioning is if I have to do it over again how hard will it be to get to. Make sure that those types of areas are done right the first time. Nothing worse than having to pull the dash or worse because you decided to take a short cut or skimped on something.
As far as small stuff getting a complete interior fastener kit will make life a lot easier. Also new bolts and clips for those areas that are visible will make a big different in the finish details.
Oh the bolt and clip sets are a good little finished look and yes how hard is it to get to again. Good points. Thanks.
 

Mister 4x4

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Pictures. Take tons of pictures... more than you think you need. They are extremely valuable when you're pulling something apart to see how it goes back together again.

Bag & tag. Parts that you're keeping, and even if you're going to get replacements, organize them, and keep everything together. I currently own 3 wiper motors (the original, the new one on the car, and the new one I lost along the way, but found after I'd bought and installed the new one on the car). Which brings me to:

A tracking device (spreadsheet, database, white board, et al). Whatever you need to keep things straight - use it! I have a spreadsheet I used for parts, including P/Ns, dates ordered, received, cost, quantity needed, and it all totals up on the bottom. The only things I didn't track were tax and shipping costs, which I'm sure would paint a somewhat different picture. I'm doing the same thing with my Jeep (literally, I forgot to track the tax and shipping, but it's too late to start doing that now... I'm almost done buying things).

You can also use your tracker to check-off (or add) tasks to whatever level of detail you need to get them done. Get a task done, check it off, and move onto the next one. Eventually, you'll finish. Don't do that, and you'll waste time going back to see if you did or didn't do something you think you forgot to do. You can also put your tasks in order, to ensure you don't wind up having to go back and undo something in order to do something else. I'm doing that on my Jeep as well, for instance: I'm changing over to H4 headlights and adding A/C, so I need to do those things before I install the new radiator, otherwise I'll need to pull it back out to get to those things.

Ask questions. That's what this site is for. I know I couldn't have done everything I did to mine without everybody's experience, explanations, pictures, advice, and even 'cheerleading' in many cases.

My main portion of the build spanned 4 years, and I'm still not 100% finished 8 years later. I still have some nit-noid things to do - I had hit the 'good enough' point and haven't made time to finish things up. In all fairness, I was under a time-crunch after I got it back from the painter (LONG story), but I made my deadline right as I hit the 'good enough' point. Now, I need to go back and do a few things that involve pulling part of the interior back out, along with a few things that I should've finished up along the way. But, I'm busy with my Jeep right now, so the good thing is that it'll be waiting for me when I can get to it.

Don't get discouraged. Depending on how big your project is, time will wear on you if you don't feel like you're making good enough progress. Take your time and do things right, don't rush, and don't look at someone else's project and think you should be going faster than you are. It's not a race, after all.

Mine was [literally] a pile of rust in the shape of a Mustang, with a seized engine, flogged transmission 'Fred Flintstone'd' floors, frozen brakes, broken steering column, no keys, no title, and no hope in too many peoples' eyes. One of the only positive things going for it was the fact that the tires held air. Yeah... it was THAT bad (my avatar pic is from the Craigslist ad I found - my signature pic below is how it came out). But, I had a vision, knew what I wanted, and all of the nay-sayers just made me even more determined to make them eat their words... and they did, along with a tall frosty mug of STFU. The Best In Class award at its first car show - the reason for the deadline - was WELL worth it. Also getting 'People's Choice' awarded by Ryan and Horny Mike was the best ever. Yeah, nothing motivates like a little bit of playground drama... LOL!


Hope this helps!
 

Michael O’Harran

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Pictures. Take tons of pictures... more than you think you need. They are extremely valuable when you're pulling something apart to see how it goes back together again.

Bag & tag. Parts that you're keeping, and even if you're going to get replacements, organize them, and keep everything together. I currently own 3 wiper motors (the original, the new one on the car, and the new one I lost along the way, but found after I'd bought and installed the new one on the car). Which brings me to:

A tracking device (spreadsheet, database, white board, et al). Whatever you need to keep things straight - use it! I have a spreadsheet I used for parts, including P/Ns, dates ordered, received, cost, quantity needed, and it all totals up on the bottom. The only things I didn't track were tax and shipping costs, which I'm sure would paint a somewhat different picture. I'm doing the same thing with my Jeep (literally, I forgot to track the tax and shipping, but it's too late to start doing that now... I'm almost done buying things).

You can also use your tracker to check-off (or add) tasks to whatever level of detail you need to get them done. Get a task done, check it off, and move onto the next one. Eventually, you'll finish. Don't do that, and you'll waste time going back to see if you did or didn't do something you think you forgot to do. You can also put your tasks in order, to ensure you don't wind up having to go back and undo something in order to do something else. I'm doing that on my Jeep as well, for instance: I'm changing over to H4 headlights and adding A/C, so I need to do those things before I install the new radiator, otherwise I'll need to pull it back out to get to those things.

Ask questions. That's what this site is for. I know I couldn't have done everything I did to mine without everybody's experience, explanations, pictures, advice, and even 'cheerleading' in many cases.

My main portion of the build spanned 4 years, and I'm still not 100% finished 8 years later. I still have some nit-noid things to do - I had hit the 'good enough' point and haven't made time to finish things up. In all fairness, I was under a time-crunch after I got it back from the painter (LONG story), but I made my deadline right as I hit the 'good enough' point. Now, I need to go back and do a few things that involve pulling part of the interior back out, along with a few things that I should've finished up along the way. But, I'm busy with my Jeep right now, so the good thing is that it'll be waiting for me when I can get to it.

Don't get discouraged. Depending on how big your project is, time will wear on you if you don't feel like you're making good enough progress. Take your time and do things right, don't rush, and don't look at someone else's project and think you should be going faster than you are. It's not a race, after all.

Mine was [literally] a pile of rust in the shape of a Mustang, with a seized engine, flogged transmission 'Fred Flintstone'd' floors, frozen brakes, broken steering column, no keys, no title, and no hope in too many peoples' eyes. One of the only positive things going for it was the fact that the tires held air. Yeah... it was THAT bad (my avatar pic is from the Craigslist ad I found - my signature pic below is how it came out). But, I had a vision, knew what I wanted, and all of the nay-sayers just made me even more determined to make them eat their words... and they did, along with a tall frosty mug of STFU. The Best In Class award at its first car show - the reason for the deadline - was WELL worth it. Also getting 'People's Choice' awarded by Ryan and Horny Mike was the best ever. Yeah, nothing motivates like a little bit of playground drama... LOL!


Hope this helps!
That is a great and helpful post. Me piecing my spreadsheet together is me wondering what am I missing. And then it on time and feeling I should be done is where I’m at now. Thanks.
 

Odysseus1968

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+2 on pictures. Lots of pictures, and take them at various angles. "How do the fasteners go together? Which ones go where? What the heck did this part go to?" Etc. Store the pictures in dedicated picture files: "Carburetor restoration", "Wiper Motor Rebuild", and so on. Use a "Temp Download" folder or something to dump everything into, then move the pictures. It's a chore, no doubt, but a year or two later? Worth it.

+3 on the bag-and-tag. Keep everything like a hoarder too! (At least until the project is done.) Lot's of stuff is un-restorable but a used fastener or bracket or whatever can more often than not serves as a guide for paint marks, part numbers, plating, finish, configuration, and more. You just never know until the reassembly and/or restoration-of-parts phase. When it comes time to store all the bits and pieces, buy a number of inexpensive storage containers; you know, those big ones that are black with the yellow lid for garage storage and such. Makes everything easier to store, segregate, and label.
 

Mister 4x4

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The only thing I could add to "Keep everything like a hoarder too! (At least until the project is done)" is to actually get rid of it when it's done. I've got boxes and totes full of old rusty Mustang parts taking up space in my garage right now that I'm sure I could've tossed away by now (for instance, a scrap of rusty sheet metal from a section of the rear quarter panel I replaced with new sheet metal that's been painted over and finished can either go on the wall or in the trash). Then again, I've got boxes and totes full of other stuff from other cars and old projects that I need to get rid of.

The term "Hoarder." Be careful how you use it, and what you wish for. :cool::eek::ROFLMAO:
 
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71 Mach 1 429CJ
My 2 cents would be to never look at the todo with time in mind.
Do 1 part/thing or similar group of parts at a time and stick to it/them before touch anything else.
Try restore vs assume a part is junk and order a new one. You'd be amazed how many parts looking real crap can be brought back to life looking better than new with some elbow oil, not to mention that "new" aka "repop" is certainly not the same as buying NOS or OEM.
Do not assume you can't do something, even if true today (you think), you do not know if still true in a couple of years.
We learn a lot while doing stuffs ourselves, meet people, ask/read doc and one thing leads to another. In the end you end up doing things you never thought you would when you started.... good luck!
 

1973grandeklar

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1972 Mustang 'Q' code Mach 1
The only thing I could add to "Keep everything like a hoarder too! (At least until the project is done)" is to actually get rid of it when it's done. I've got boxes and totes full of old rusty Mustang parts taking up space in my garage right now that I'm sure I could've tossed away by now (for instance, a scrap of rusty sheet metal from a section of the rear quarter panel I replaced with new sheet metal that's been painted over and finished can either go on the wall or in the trash). Then again, I've got boxes and totes full of other stuff from other cars and old projects that I need to get rid of.

The term "Hoarder." Be careful how you use it, and what you wish for. :cool::eek::ROFLMAO:
Keep everything! I even kept the rust out barely there floor pans after replacing them. Then I got to the e-brake install and realized there is a tab welded to the bottom of the floor pan. Dug it out of my save pile and found the tab!
Another example, went back to the rusted out cowl and found some more tabs for the A/C system behind the dash! Another example, replaced the rear bottom quarter panel sections. The replacement panels do not have the marker light cutout (only the indentation stamped), used the cutoff portion to correctly trace the cutout outline.
Many more instances that going back to the original pieces really helped identify how the part was originally installed. Lots of manuals helps in this area as well! Get the body specific manuals and then I recommend the Mustang restoration guide that has the 1971-1973 updates.
 
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