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Working as a vehicle restorer


Buck Rogers
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Now, I'm fairly sure I know the answer to this one, but here goes!

 

Is it possible to make a living working as a vehicle restorer? Or working for someone who restores historic military vehicles, to be more precise. I have no experience in mechanics, but it's something I've long had an interest in, especially military mechanics and restoration.

 

As I said, I'm fairly sure I'll be told "it's a hobby, and a damned expensive one at that" :D but I thought here'd be the best place to ask regardless.

 

Brian

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Some colleges in the UK offer courses on basic restoration topics, it may help to do something like that, as has already been said above it will be difficult finding someone to take on an absolute novice. It is certainly possible to make a living at restoration but standards expected now days are far higher than years ago when "total restoration" meant a quick tart up and two tubs of body filler :D Good Luck.

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Some colleges in the UK offer courses on basic restoration topics, it may help to do something like that, as has already been said above it will be difficult finding someone to take on an absolute novice. It is certainly possible to make a living at restoration but standards expected now days are far higher than years ago when "total restoration" meant a quick tart up and two tubs of body filler :D Good Luck.

 

Thanks for the tips. I imagine the "market" for it is a lot bigger in the UK alright. I suppose you don't know anyone in Germany? :D

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Was there not something from the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs recently that said they had some funding or backing to allow a few firms to take on apprentices for the very reason that (dare I say it) many of the experienced restorers are getting old. I've read on several occasions that MV owners have taken something along to guys in their 80's who are still expert at sheet metal work and fabricating parts.

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I'd guess failing finding a specialist 'restoration' kind of apprenticeship (which I'm nor sure actually exists ?) ... a good old proper 'sheet metal / body workers/ panel beaters apprenticeship would be a very good starting point? ..(that's if they still exist too of course ?)

and failing that.....

a metal workers / sheet metal fabrication apprenticeship would be another good starting point because you'd get to learn how to cut / fold /fabricate/ form and then weld and rivet (in the various different ways ) that you'd find very handy if you ever started working on restorations ...

or..........

you could maybe do a straight forward vehicle maintenance apprenticeship for all the engine /gearbox / brakes etc bits that you'd need to learn about?...... ( though I guess that may veer too much towards modern vehicles / systems these days????? )

then you could also add a vehicular paint sprayers apprenticeship to the list ???

failing all of that ?....start begging for a job at a restoration workshop that does any kind of restorations work

(not necessarily military vehicles) sweeping up and making the tea and answering the phone and work your way up from there :)

.and failing ALL of that ? just get a job doing the same in any local garage that works on older vehicles and start accumulating experience whilst you hunt for your dream job :)

PS: I am assuming you're a young un? ....cos this could all take some time :)

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I'd guess failing finding a specialist 'restoration' kind of apprenticeship (which I'm nor sure actually exists ?) ... a good old proper 'sheet metal / body workers/ panel beaters apprenticeship would be a very good starting point? ..(that's if they still exist too of course ?)

and failing that.....

a metal workers / sheet metal fabrication apprenticeship would be another good starting point because you'd get to learn how to cut / fold /fabricate/ form and then weld and rivet (in the various different ways ) that you'd find very handy if you ever started working on restorations ...

or..........

you could maybe do a straight forward vehicle maintenance apprenticeship for all the engine /gearbox / brakes etc bits that you'd need to learn about?...... ( though I guess that may veer too much towards modern vehicles / systems these days????? )

then you could also add a vehicular paint sprayers apprenticeship to the list ???

failing all of that ?....start begging for a job at a restoration workshop that does any kind of restorations work

(not necessarily military vehicles) sweeping up and making the tea and answering the phone and work your way up from there :)

.and failing ALL of that ? just get a job doing the same in any local garage that works on older vehicles and start accumulating experience whilst you hunt for your dream job :)

PS: I am assuming you're a young un? ....cos this could all take some time :)

 

:D Yeah, still 24 so time enough yet (though I really should have started sooner!!)

 

That seems like the best route (the taking courses one) so I think that'll have to be it. Unless I can hook up with the military vehicle group back in Ireland!

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As typically the biggest concern is rust and associated big holes created by rust, a course in GMAW (Mig) or GTAW (Tig) welder would earn you a lot of mates. Welding thin material is a lesson in patience.

 

On the topic of patience, a lot of the resto work is actually easy if not mundane and I think you can just about do anything mechanically if you can read a manual or get advice from fellow enthusiasts. When I was younger I had no patience, try once, try 10 times then smash it with a big hammer from frustration. Now I can try 15 times :D

Edited by fesm_ndt
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As typically the biggest concern is rust and associated big holes created by rust, a course in GMAW (Mig) or GTAW (Tig) welder would earn you a lot of mates. Welding thin material is a lesson in patience.

 

On the topic of patience, a lot of the resto work is actually easy if not mundane and I think you can just about do anything mechanically if you can read a manual or get advice from fellow enthusiasts. When I was younger I had no patience, try once, try 10 times then smash it with a big hammer from frustration. Now I can try 15 times :D

 

Mike

 

Whilst I pretty much agree with you about hitting it with a big hammer, I think that is the whole point of paying someone to do it for me, coz I would expect something a bit more sophisitcated than just increasing the hammer size - I can do that myself!

 

Whilst as a restorer/ mechanic I pretty much muddle through at best, I think I would probably make the worlds worst customer if I paid a 3rd party to restore a vehicle for me....

 

Tim

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Mike, Whilst I pretty much agree with you about hitting it with a big hammer, I think that is the whole point of paying someone to do it for me, coz I would expect something a bit more sophisitcated than just increasing the hammer size - I can do that myself!

 

Ah, but it takes a professional to know just what size hammer to go up to! :wow:

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I was once sent a wonderful birthday card with a cracking picture......

.....there was an obviously tired and very p***** off and oil smothered fella sat dejectedly on the floor of his garage in front of a big rusty axle and wheel attached to an equally rusty old Landrover .....and there was a massive lump hammer lying on the floor next to him ...the fella was saying to the wheel ........

" I, am a resourceful and highly trained mechanic of many, MANY years experience!!!....and you are just a rusty lump of iron !.........SO !! are you coming off or am I going to have to take the big hammer to you ?!?!?!?!?!?"

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I suppose the point I was making is patience is fairly important as most mechanical work is a matter of following a manual eg I rebuilt a Pinz auto box a few years ago and never thought I would dabble with the internals of one of those. But had a good ZF manual and website info.

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I suppose the point I was making is patience is fairly important as most mechanical work is a matter of following a manual eg I rebuilt a Pinz auto box a few years ago and never thought I would dabble with the internals of one of those. But had a good ZF manual and website info.

 

Very true Mike very true - I've now changed 3 CVRT engines under my own steam, not a difficult task some might say but I'm an accountant fer chris sake! Oh, and no it wasn't the same vehicle...!

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I don't know where you are in Germany or if speak german but there are courses to learn Vehicle restorations in Germany

http://www.oldtimer-seminare.de.

motorfahrer

 

Thanks! I'll have a look at that now.

 

Your always welcome to come and gain some work experience with me.

I run a restoration business in leeds.

Pm me for a chat

 

PM sent mate.

 

As typically the biggest concern is rust and associated big holes created by rust, a course in GMAW (Mig) or GTAW (Tig) welder would earn you a lot of mates. Welding thin material is a lesson in patience.

 

On the topic of patience, a lot of the resto work is actually easy if not mundane and I think you can just about do anything mechanically if you can read a manual or get advice from fellow enthusiasts. When I was younger I had no patience, try once, try 10 times then smash it with a big hammer from frustration. Now I can try 15 times :D

 

Sound, at least that's something to aim for! Thanks :)

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Now, I'm fairly sure I know the answer to this one, but here goes!

 

Is it possible to make a living working as a vehicle restorer? Or working for someone who restores historic military vehicles, to be more precise. I have no experience in mechanics, but it's something I've long had an interest in, especially military mechanics and restoration.

 

As I said, I'm fairly sure I'll be told "it's a hobby, and a damned expensive one at that" but I thought here'd be the best place to ask regardless.

 

 

====================

 

If I were to part transpose :-

 

-----

 

Now, I'm fairly sure I know the answer to this one, but here goes!

 

Is it possible to make a living working as a builder? Or working for someone who restores historic buildings, to be more precise. I have no experience in bricklaying , but it's something I've long had an interest in, especially dry stone walling and masonry.

 

As I said, I'm fairly sure I'll be told "it's a hobby, and a damned expensive one at that" but I thought here'd be the best place to ask regardless.

 

Vehicle Restorer , the term is a bit like builder , he could be a DIY turned cowboy with van or a brickie who has adapted to ganger of his own small business with little demarcation between trades.

 

I suppose a Master Vehicle Restorer , would be able to cover the individual trades other than trimmer , a bit like a master butcher - top lad who owns the premises & business (or as my mate did served his apprenticeship with Dewhursts and married the butchers daughter along the High Street , thirty years later he gets his name & title above the shop).

 

Although I am mechanically inclined and too highly qualified for vehicle resto , possibly the better initial specialized training of value for making money - become a stitcher LoL

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When you put it like that, there's a bit more hope for me I suppose!

 

What is the market size for military vehicles and restoration of same in the UK? I imagine it's quite small in Ireland - there's one show over there that I know of.

 

Small in Eire / NI , UK hard to answer.

 

A vintage car is a vintage car , oldish , it may be big or small , it will have a body , may have chassis or monocoque , mass produced a or hand coachbuilt. So many variations - even mass market , but still follow the same basic plan. However probably more difficult to answer outside of museums. I only know of one top car shop , I asked the prop. a few years ago - who sends their cars here. Answer , they are all company owned , majority Hong Kong registered ..

 

I suppose it is mostly a DIY hobby where basic raw material is now scarce & gets bid up higher than what it is worth due to demand , increased by forums & mags. People tend to buy twice the spare bits they need & shelve some to gather dust , probably they think they will do a follow up project and next time do it better ? keep on buying all sorts of tools they can't cram in their cantilever toolbox. I suppose most originate from one of the basic trade skills , so it is easy to gravitate to another. Sometimes a project gets trailered around specialists , at the end most cars seem to be well over the top on £££ and they still need to go to the "trimmer" to get maximum added value , however the trimmer makes lots of £££ , work it out . Nice & clean workshop smell of Connolly hide , no Swarfega needed or problems if you are on Warfarin , Master that make loads of money - then learn Tig & gas welding , make loads more money , then learn "re-finish" make loads more money (unless on MV's) , avoid spanner & socket work because you may be used for dismantling rather than boxing up LoL

Edited by ruxy
spelin
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Ok. This may be off tangent but it's advice and training that I have given to many people looking for the next step in life. I mention it as most people don't even know it exists.

 

I would still suggest you do the welding courses as relevant to almost every restoration. After that I would suggest you do some NDT courses and get into that career scheme, as NDT is also important in vehicle restorations albeit not done all the time. I suggest NDT as it is a career in itself that can pay for more training. If you are not scared of heights then an IRATA course with NDT makes good cash.

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Ok. This may be off tangent but it's advice and training that I have given to many people looking for the next step in life. I mention it as most people don't even know it exists.

 

I would still suggest you do the welding courses as relevant to almost every restoration. After that I would suggest you do some NDT courses and get into that career scheme, as NDT is also important in vehicle restorations albeit not done all the time. I suggest NDT as it is a career in itself that can pay for more training. If you are not scared of heights then an IRATA course with NDT makes good cash.

 

Thanks! There's only one way to see if I'm afraid of heights I suppose! :D

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