How do you plan & execute restoration / modification of your Opel projects?
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Thread: How do you plan & execute restoration / modification of your Opel projects?

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    Opeler Jetmugg's Avatar
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    How do you plan & execute restoration / modification of your Opel projects?

    This is mostly a point of curiosity...

    I have a new Manta project that I just can't stop thinking about. I'm sure most of you are familiar with that feeling. I lay awake at night, thinking about the project, helping form my vision of what I want to do with the car.

    There are certainly some professionals on this board, but it seems that most of us are more in the "Hobbyist" category.

    What level of system do you guys use for managing your projects? Do you keep it in your head, and work on the things that you want to work on? Do you go to the next level and have a written plan? Maybe illustrations or visual aids of how you want your project to turn out? Do you keep a budget, or is it better not to know?

    I know it's all personal preference, but I'd like to hear about how others manage these things. If anyone is interested, I will be more than happy to share the action plan format I have used for previous projects.

    I haven't made a written plan for the Manta yet - but it's been on my mind a lot.

    Steve.
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    I'm not a professional, but I am on my third car project, and this is the approach I take, similar to house projects I have done.

    First, I survey the vehicle, breaking it down by major system, to determine what needs to be done and listing parts that can be restored and parts that will require replacement. It is never a complete list, but gets added to an modified over time.

    I then make decisions as to what work I can and want to do myself, compared to the work I want to farm out. My body work skills are lacking, so this uniformly is assigned to be farmed. I also do not have machinist equipment or skills, to these items too are assigned.

    I then find vendors and tradespeople that are available to do the work, meeting with them to schedule these items. Sometimes, the lead time required is extensive, such as body restorations and it is wise to get with those people early (I met with a restoration specialist a year ago who was able to schedule me for this summer!). I also track down the vendors for the parts I will need to purchase.

    I then schedule the work that has to be done, putting cost estimates next to them -- effectively a budget.

    And everything gets written down. I keep a logbook in the garage describing everything done to the car, including drawings, and I transcribe this into a more formal document that includes photographs, diagrams and drawings where useful. I also keep a spreadsheet that, in fifteen words or less, describes the tasks performed and keeps a running tally of time utilized and money spent. My spreadsheet will also break down the costs between parts purchased, outside services utilized, tools purchased, and supplies utilized. My girlfriend tells me I am truly anal about this.
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    I should mention as well that it all goes into a loose-leaf binder, including all receipts and correspondence.
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    Senior Contributor markandson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jetmugg View Post
    This is mostly a point of curiosity...

    I have a new Manta project that I just can't stop thinking about. I'm sure most of you are familiar with that feeling. I lay awake at night, thinking about the project, helping form my vision of what I want to do with the car.

    There are certainly some professionals on this board, but it seems that most of us are more in the "Hobbyist" category.

    What level of system do you guys use for managing your projects? Do you keep it in your head, and work on the things that you want to work on? Do you go to the next level and have a written plan? Maybe illustrations or visual aids of how you want your project to turn out? Do you keep a budget, or is it better not to know?

    I know it's all personal preference, but I'd like to hear about how others manage these things. If anyone is interested, I will be more than happy to share the action plan format I have used for previous projects.

    I haven't made a written plan for the Manta yet - but it's been on my mind a lot.

    Steve.
    Three things control: Safety, Reliability, and Money

    Start out with Safety - Brakes, Suspension, Seat Belts, Tires, Wipers, Lights and Electrical and anything else I forgot safety wise. There is no money constraint here, if you can't afford it don't drive the car.

    Reliability is a matter of how much risk you can handle with respect to getting stranded.

    After these you can go after cosmetic stuff.

    Make a list and cross things off as you get them completed.

    In my case the full restoration just meant that I had to work through every single part of the car but the basics still applied. The first thing done were the front and rear suspension and brakes, then the drive train and then the engine and engine management system, etc., etc. I had lists of stuff to do on each assembly right down to the items that needed to be purchased and the vendors and part numbers so I could control cash flow on the project. If I had several things I could do I would choose based on how much I wanted to spend at the time. The stuff I am doing now is re-doing things that have been visited before just to upgrade what I have. It never ends.
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    Jeff

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    Opeler Jetmugg's Avatar
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    That sounds like a very thorough approach.

    My thoughts usually run towards the "systems" of a project (drivetrain, electrical, body work, etc), and I try to create a basic outline that can be added to as more detailed info is developed.

    I'm definitely not as good as what you describe in terms of keeping receipts, photos, etc. I do have a big binder for each project, and usually more than 1 small notepad (like one at work, one at home, etc). I try to keep an online photo album for all pics.

    I've attached an example of a spreadsheet / action plan that I've used for one of my other car/truck projects....
    Attached Files Attached Files
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    Resident Curmudgeon My location Opelmel's Avatar
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    All good and helpful info so far, but everyone seems to be leaving out the first two steps:

    1. Go to bank and apply for line of credit. Amount needed will equal budgeted amount times 2.

    2. Find a hidden lockable place to hide bills and receipts from spouse/significant other.

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    1000 Post Club kwschumm's Avatar
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    I take a systems approach to the tear down and rebuild, one system at a time. Suspension, brakes, body, etc.

    There is a big whiteboard on the wall to use as a scratchpad where I can quickly mark things down I don't want to forget, todo lists, parts and supplies needed, and the occasional drawing. Lots of pictures are taken (of the whiteboard too) and regularly uploaded to organized folders, like body, suspension, brakes, etc. Inside each folder is a text file with notes of what was done in that area.

    Receipts are kept but only to use if they are needed for warranty or returns, I don't want to know how much it is costing me!
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    Opeler JudokaJohn's Avatar
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    What Michael Smith said. I made a binder with all the subsystems: Body, Electrical. Engine, Interior, Suspension, Brakes. I have a Word document that I write down what I do, and when. This logs info i will need when I have to reassemble.

    I am still in the middle of my teardown, but I have a plan. Unfortunately, when i started in 2014, I expected to be done by 2016. I was sidelined by sciatica, which required back surgery in February. I should be able to continue starting in April.
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    Just Some Dude in Jersey My location The Scifi Guy's Avatar
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    The Body First and Foremost.

    Nothing else matters until you get the rust, dents, putty, and paint done. Parts are the easy part. You can put a Hemi on a pig, but it's still a pig with a Hemi. But put a Hemi in a Ferrari and now you've got somethin'!

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    Opeler JudokaJohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Scifi Guy View Post
    The Body First and Foremost.

    Nothing else matters until you get the rust, dents, putty, and paint done. Parts are the easy part. You can put a Hemi on a pig, but it's still a pig with a Hemi. But put a Hemi in a Ferrari and now you've got somethin'!

    so very true! I have almost everything apart to do the bodywork, then prime, and sand, then paint, then reassembly.
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    Opel Key Master My location opelspyder's Avatar
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    I have to disagree with Mel on this one. Never take out a bank loan or line of credit to restore a car. If it is not an investment that you will be flipping once done, that is bad advise. If you cannot afford to buy the parts needed and put the time in, I would not start the project.

    Does the car run and drive? Will it stop? Is this your first Opel? If Yes is the answer to all of these questions, I would suggest drive it for some time and see if you actually enjoy having the car. Maybe get a feel for what needs to be repaired. I would even break down in it if I had the chance just to see how bad it can be...lol. I have broken down in many old cars, and it actually helps you in diagnosing issues, because you are willing to do anything not to be seen on the side of the road. Ha Ha

    If everything about it comes up as being a winner, then I would start by deciding how far you are willing to go. Like for instance, do you have the equipment and skills to pull the engine and suspension out of the car? Do you have bodywork and rust repair experience? If not and you are hoping your buddies are going to help you, think again...they have their own projects and family time to deal with. Do you hire a shop to build the car, that is the easy way, but cost a lot of money. Do you leave the suspension and just paint the car? What about underneath, battery tray, all that stuff?

    I love new projects just like anyone, but once they are blown apart, you must keep up the motivation to complete the job or they are worthless. So yes, mini-jobs are the key to success. Maybe you have enough money to work as you go kind of budget...that works, just takes a bit longer to do the project, and motivation is the most important. I'm in the midst of a personal project that is going to be a tough long drawn out restoration. It is an 1938 Opel Super 6 cabrolet. It is missing a lot of stuff, it is been Jimmy'd on, and things modified. Parts are expensive and very few out there to help. A dash light is 100 Eur, a tire cover came in and is incorrect. There have been several items I found that are perfect and good luck finding another. I'm not rushing towards the finish line, I'll break it down into several mini projects, and while I am doing that. I research and find parts. It doesn't take effort to buy parts, just time and persistence. I'll start with having several pieces of wood frame made, and at the same time I'll get the frame striped down and cleaned up. When you finish a part, or send it out to be restored like brake parts and such, put them up so they are ready when reassembly takes place.

    The body is the number one part, Manta stuff is a little more difficult to get, but things are being produced more and more. You just might have to go through a few different channels to get them. Also take advantage of parts buying now that the Euro and the US Dollar are close. A lot more companies are accepting Paypal and will ship to the States.

    If you just want to send it to a shop and tell them how to do it, how you envision it to be done and want. Your color combos, interior and all that... then give me a shout! Its what we do.
    Keith
    New Vintage Automotive| Automotive Restorations Opel Specialists
    Check out our Opel restorations at
    www.newvintageauto.com

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    Just Some Dude in Jersey My location The Scifi Guy's Avatar
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    Keith's work is superlative.

    Highly recommended!

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    Opeler Jetmugg's Avatar
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    For me, a lot of the enjoyment comes from working on the project during my "free time" in evenings or on weekends.

    Working in the garage is a way to focus on something enjoyable while letting go of the stresses associated with my day job, managing adult priorities of money, home, family, etc.

    When I'm working on a garage project, that's generally all I'm thinking about. Having an organized plan to complete the work helps keep me remain focused on the task at hand. I only need to look at the Action Plan to see what is the next step. It's a hobby for me, as I'm sure it is for a lot of us. As anyone who has restored an older car knows, if we are in it for the money, we are probably kidding ourselves. Ours is a labor of love.

    For those folks who are professional restorers, fabricators, etc - it's entirely likely that the priorities are different. In those cases, it's a business, not a hobby. Making mortgage payments, keeping the kids in school, etc depends on the success of a project for a professional.

    Great ideas flowing, guys.

    Steve.
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    Member Red0ktober's Avatar
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    Roadkill style checklist

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    Resident Curmudgeon My location Opelmel's Avatar
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    Keith, my tongue was firmly planted in cheek on my suggestions. Obviously if you can't afford to pay for it up front, you shouldn't be doing it. This is a hobby, not a necessity.
    Last edited by Opelmel; 4 Weeks Ago at 10:29 PM.
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    Opelitis afflicted My location charlie1966's Avatar
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    I have to compliment the OP as this has the potential to be one of the most important reads for anyone thinking of restoring a car of any description, vintage or condition. I don't have anything useful to add other than what can stop a project from proceeding. In my case a lack of vision for the completed project and being overwhelmed by the amount of work required. My running GT1 only required little projects which have a clear beginning and end. My GT2 requires a lot of work and has stalled due to the above. It has been stripped down and everything was comprehensively labeled but that's where it stands for now. I will get to it when I have that clear vision of the end game. My GT3 I decided to take a different approach. It will not be striped down but each small job will be started and completed before I go to the next job. For now I am assessing the condition, sourcing parts and taking all the good advice from this thread. I also use forum project threads to help keep me motivated and get advice which I need in bucket loads.
    "You can't fix stupid, but stupid eventually fixes itself." -Issac T.

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    Member My location Gordy's Avatar
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    I'm on my third restoration and have had real good luck.

    First step is knowing what you are getting or getting into when first buying the car. Make sure it's in line with what you want to do and can afford to do and on what time table. Is the car a driver for a future restore? Is the car even worth restoring? Decide what you want the car to be once it is finished so you can keep your eye on the prize. As others have said know what portions you will be doing and what you will need to have done at a shop. Get estimates on body work and or engine work. Find a reliable interior shop.

    When I do one I always get all new suspension and steering, brake and brake lines ordered and lined up in advance. Look for good deals, watch for sales etc. If you know, such as on my GT which I'm currently doing, that all rubber, carpet, headliner, light housing and lenses with NOS etc is going to be replaced, get it ordered and paid for. I've had the GT for 20 years so earlier I had the entire front suspension and sway bars done, bigger front brakes, engine redone to a 2.0 with big valves, Getrag 5 speed, seats redone etc. So this has been an ongoing project for the last 5 years or so but I had a respectable looking car thru it all. Also when I tore the car apart a year and a half ago I sent a dash off to Just Dashes so it is ready to go, Also decided early on that the fuse block and wiring should all be replaced with aluminum block so it's been in my basement for 2 years. I'd rather spend a couple of years getting ready for the job then starting it and having to wait 2 years to get the parts together or having huge bills all at once as you have to buy everything at once. Then when the car is done at the body shop hopefully next week I will have the remaining $1,100 to pay it off (I've paid $3,900 as we have gone along- total was $5,000 at shop) I'll get the car home to do the wiring and get the dash in and then take it to the upholstery shop for the headliner and carpet install. Haven't got an estimate yet but they did my Manta and Kadett and do good work at a fair price. Then I'll get it back home and get the rest of it back together.

    So I guess it still goes back to when you initially buy the car to know what you're getting into and what you want it to be when you're done and on what time table. For example when I had bought my Kadett Rallye a few years back I began to tear into it from day one and it took about a year and it was completed. Never drove the car till it was done. My Manta and GT I made upgrades to as I went and the body/ paint were the last steps but they were nice cars to begin with and body work was just the icing on the cake. I had driven the cars for years before I got to the final steps.

    So every case is different but plan your work then work your plan.
    Last edited by kwilford; 4 Weeks Ago at 05:47 PM.

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    Detritus Maximus opelbits's Avatar
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    A couple of thoughts on 'The Plan'...

    Don't tie yourself to impossible or frantic deadlines. The fastest way to kill your enthusiasm and hate working on something is to feel like you 'have to work on it'. If an evening of work is going well, I work longer, get more done and I'm in a better mood. If it's not going well fighting thru it just frustrates you. Quit and go do something else, weave some baskets, update your Pinterest page, post a spleen venting in a Yahoo news comments section or work on something with no deadlines whatsoever...like a land speed car....
    Impatience is a killer. Doing a task half-assed so that you are neither satisfied or confident is better left to our bosses.

    I never figure on the most optimistic course of events. I'm just going to bleed these brakes that have not been used in 20 years and it will pass inspection, be as safe as new and then I'm done. Not hardly. I look at systems when reviving an old car. New calipers, hoses and pads with old thin rotors? New fuel pump, lines, filter with a gas tank that had gas in it for 10 years? New power steering pump, tie rods and drag link with an original worn out Ford steering box? A lot of work and money to still have nothing.

    Decide what kind of life you want to have with the car and let that decide the extent, the budget and the timeframe for the project. Everyone has a different idea of what a 'decent driver' is and the more you learn how to do things the more your idea of a decent car expands....to more work, more time and more money.

    I have a feeling you already know this stuff.
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    I am going to disagree with earlier statements that it is important to get the bodywork done first. Dumas said that "All generalizations are dangerous, even this one" and much depends on the condition of the car when purchased. If the car comes in having been in storage for the past umpteen years and we don't know if the car will run or how well, it seems incumbent that we first understand if indeed it does run. After all, we do not want to make the body all pretty only to learn later that the engine and driveline have to come out for deep repair work. And even if under-hood work required is fairly minor, why would we ant to be leaning over fresh new paint to do it?

    My Triumph restoration was a basket case -- I found it in a pasture with a small tree growing up through the floorboards. I took it down to the last bolt. My current Opel GT came to me quite solid, although there are two small patches riveted in on the rear wheel wells, just ahead of the wheels, that will want to have taken care of when the car goes out for body work. The car also fails the magnet test in a few areas where rust is known to occur with these cars, but digging through the Bondo has revealed clean metal but some accident damage that will need to be sorted out. Given that two wheels were locked tight and that the car had not moved for 20 years, I addressed the suspension bushings, steering and brakes first, both front and rear. Admittedly, this was a bit dangerous because I did not know the condition of axle and differential bearings. I also removed the fuel tank and radiator and sent them both out to a local radiator shop to be cleaned and pressure tested, and when they returned they were re-installed with all new fittings, lines and hoses.

    Headlights are an issue with these cars, as we all know, and I spent quite a bit of time running wires and making other repairs to ensure they operate properly. Who wants to R&R headlight buckets on a freshly painted GT? Everybody raise your hands...

    With all of that done, I purchased a battery and hooked it up to verify that basic electrics work, then set about getting the engine started. It starts and runs and it yard-drives well, with no visible smoke, which is a big relief, as I was concerned that, minimally, the engine might have to come out. I still have some issues, as the NOS rebuilt Solex that I installed does not seem to want to idle the car when hot -- acts like a vacuum leak, but that will get sorted soon enough. In the meantime, the interior has been stripped out (except for the dash that is in good shape with all gauges and lights working (hooray!) and I am beginning to gather trim parts now in order to prevent the blockbuster AmEx bill after I have paid the restoration shop to do its magic with the body, which is scheduled for this summer.

    So, summing up: suspension, steering and brakes; engine and driveline; body; interior.

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    Just Some Dude in Jersey My location The Scifi Guy's Avatar
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    Hmmm....so fix the rust bucket body AFTER you've put all new parts on it?

    In my opinion, that's what kids do. Slap on some paint and Bondo to their still assembled car and drive it until the floor boards fall out. Maybe we're not on the same page when I say "body first". When I say body first, I mean take ALL the parts off the body. Headlight mechanisms, wiring, windows, dash, interior, engine stuff......every single thing that can be removed. If it needs to roll in order to get it to a paint shop or move it around your shop, then just leave the front and rear suspension on, you can remove them later to paint or rebuild them. With everything off the car you can fix up all the parts on your workbench rather than on the car, then it's just a matter of reassembly. The factory painted the body first, then put the parts on later, that sounds like a good plan to me.
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