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Frame Off Restoration - Step 1 - Dealing with Externals and Accessories

Before we dive too far into this, here's the reality check: Frame-Off restorations take a while. And while it seems silly to be worrying about the last things you would normally think about in terms of a restoration, you'll find, in the long run, that this method simplifies things as much as possible, and front loads the the restoration specifics so that once you've got your body finished and painted the final reassembly will go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

When it comes to accessories and externals on the vehicle, this can be either extremely simple, or a long term search period. More often than not, you'll find you have exactly 1/3 to 1/2 of the original accessories and items that came with the vehicle. Finding that last 2/3 or 1/2 may take months, even years after the major restoration is complete.

Now, every car was different, and depending on how much you know about your vehicle you may find that what arrived with your car can vary wildly to what someone else with the same one originally recieved. At a minimum most cars arrived with a roadside kit and an owners manual. In some cases, like a MG TD the roadside kit was not just a jack, but a set of wrenches and a hammer. In other cases, like my Porsche 944 it came with a case to cover the removable top when stored. Getting in touch with other collectors of your vehicle can help immensely in finding these items and identifying other possible items that might have gone with your car. What can really make one restoration stand out from the next (especially concours type restorations) is the volume and quality of the accessories with the car. Some vehicles even came with custom luggage that was designed to fit in the vehicle!

So, aggregate what you have, clean it thoroughly, and assess the condition. At the same time create a list of the complete accessory package, and determine what's missing. This will be your first items for your parts list. Now, I don't recommend immediately running out and spending huge sums on rare accessories, but certainly have the list in mind when checking Ebay, local swap meets, flea markets and antique stores. I've found things like owner's manuals in really odd places like thrift stores over the years. (Also, if you find other items that are super cheap in wierd places, pick them up, they will be great for bartering later, even if they're not specific to your vehicle).

Now some of your items, like the jack, may be in rough shape. These are great items to start testing your sanding, sandblasting, priming, and painting skills. Just remember, if you're going for a nut and bolt type restoration you need to prepare them exactly the way they came from the factory (or if you modify them, don't allow the modifications to be obvious).

Once you've got all these items prepped and restored, you need to protect them until the restoration is complete. For paper products, put them in sealable bags, or better yet, in a file in the filing cabinet within the house (the further the paper is from the ravages of the garage the better). This also goes for fabrics, vinyls, etc.

Any other items I generally put into a 12 gallon tote. I also like to put the bits into shopping bags or wrap them with saran wrap to protect them while in the box. Remember, and ounce of prevention and all that. The box then gets labeled and I like to add a clear sheet protector to the outside. Then, I put a sheet of paper in the protector that cleanly and legibly lists the contents of the tote.

On to Step 2: Surface Electrics

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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

All references to They Might Be Giants are fan references only. John & John I hope you don't mind! And if you're ever in Phoenix stop by for a visit!

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