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Working as a vehicle restorer


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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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An interesting topic, and worth a bit of thought.

 

The straight answer to the question is yes, there is demand for folk who can do stuff with and to old vehicles. The classic vehicle business is worth over £4bn per annum to the UK economy, and there are well over 2000 specialist companies providing everything from fastenings to steam engine boilers. Classic vehicle ownership has never been more popular, and regardless of what old beggars like me say there is a very strong following from younger generations (if in doubt have a look at VW camper prices). Given the right attitude approach and a bit of research/training there will be a niche in that very wide industry that will suit you and your abilities.

 

Whilst there are some apprenticeships and courses out there for the newbie, they are fewer than they should be and may well involve considerable expense. This is a shame because without expertise coming in at the bottom things will get tough in the future.

 

My advice for what it is worth (not much) is to keep your sights set as broad as possible and try not to restrict yourself to any particular vehicle genre - when last I looked they all involved some configuration of nuts bolts wood rubber and steel (and maybe even some plastic). If, over time, you feel that you want to specialise in any particular area, then by all means do so. And good luck!

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I have two questions. What is your degree in, and do you have any mechanical aptitude? These questions need to be answered before any realistic advice can be given.

 

I had considered asking the same but decided not to, B.Sc. or B.A. it matters little , mechanical aptitude is not so important , what is important is that he has shown a interest in vehicle restoration as a career. His age & quals. - game of snakes & ladders.

 

I started a 6 year craft apprenticeship in 1965 , the first year under Engineering Industry Training Board (EITB) , after 50 years it seems to have evolved into SEMTA

 

http://www.semta.org.uk/careers

 

They do cover the motor industry , probably just new manufacture. He would have to read up about the Resto. Industry - probably they don't cater - other than the MV courses that is garage servicing / diagnostics , panel beating / spray painting.

 

There are still Modern Apprenticeships around and SEMTA have introduced a Higher Apprenticeship for 18 year olds with at least 2 A levels (that he must have) , probably he should consult with SEMTA and see if he can be fitted into a scheme (where he waould also be paid ££ whilst under training).

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Another option , join the Army (REME) they train you as a mechanic , you can branch out and learn extra stuff after you finish your apprenticeship . you get free food and board , ammo and a uniform . will meet a great bunch of guys . you will end up with plenty of skills (and good stories)

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An interesting topic, and worth a bit of thought.

 

The straight answer to the question is yes, there is demand for folk who can do stuff with and to old vehicles. The classic vehicle business is worth over £4bn per annum to the UK economy, and there are well over 2000 specialist companies providing everything from fastenings to steam engine boilers. Classic vehicle ownership has never been more popular, and regardless of what old beggars like me say there is a very strong following from younger generations (if in doubt have a look at VW camper prices). Given the right attitude approach and a bit of research/training there will be a niche in that very wide industry that will suit you and your abilities.

 

Whilst there are some apprenticeships and courses out there for the newbie, they are fewer than they should be and may well involve considerable expense. This is a shame because without expertise coming in at the bottom things will get tough in the future.

 

My advice for what it is worth (not much) is to keep your sights set as broad as possible and try not to restrict yourself to any particular vehicle genre - when last I looked they all involved some configuration of nuts bolts wood rubber and steel (and maybe even some plastic). If, over time, you feel that you want to specialise in any particular area, then by all means do so. And good luck!

 

Thanks, I appreciate the words!

 

 

I have two questions. What is your degree in, and do you have any mechanical aptitude? These questions need to be answered before any realistic advice can be given.

 

Well my degree is a BA in international relations and I think I'd do OK at something mechanical; I have no formal qualifications, but I'm always tinkering and fixing things around the house. Different scale, but same principle.

 

I had considered asking the same but decided not to, B.Sc. or B.A. it matters little , mechanical aptitude is not so important , what is important is that he has shown a interest in vehicle restoration as a career. His age & quals. - game of snakes & ladders.

 

I started a 6 year craft apprenticeship in 1965 , the first year under Engineering Industry Training Board (EITB) , after 50 years it seems to have evolved into SEMTA

 

http://www.semta.org.uk/careers

 

They do cover the motor industry , probably just new manufacture. He would have to read up about the Resto. Industry - probably they don't cater - other than the MV courses that is garage servicing / diagnostics , panel beating / spray painting.

 

There are still Modern Apprenticeships around and SEMTA have introduced a Higher Apprenticeship for 18 year olds with at least 2 A levels (that he must have) , probably he should consult with SEMTA and see if he can be fitted into a scheme (where he waould also be paid ££ whilst under training).

 

Thanks for the links and info!

 

Another option , join the Army (REME) they train you as a mechanic , you can branch out and learn extra stuff after you finish your apprenticeship . you get free food and board , ammo and a uniform . will meet a great bunch of guys . you will end up with plenty of skills (and good stories)

 

Being Irish I could, but where I live in Ireland would mean that that's quite a politically sensitive decision...I'm not so worried about myself, but my family at home would cop some stick and worse.

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Hi Brian.

There has been a bit of a push recently by TIGOSE The International Guild Of Specialist Engineers to establish an apprenticeship scheme within the classic car industry as they are worried these skills are dying out! Also Leeds college is setting up a full time course in vehicle restoration with Fuzz Townsend as their figure head!!! It would be worth looking into these.

It is possible to make a living in restoration as I do myself!!! I must admit though we do cars not military vehicles and specialise even more now in just mainly aluminium coachwork. I would love to restore military vehicles too!!!

Personally if I was entering the industry again now I would still approach it from the car side as this gives you a wider choice of potential employers and customers and then specialise later. I was lucky enough to get a place on the 2 year full time restoration course at Colchester Institute many years ago which unfortunately is no longer run, but it gave me a good grounding in all aspects of restoration and then I could choose which aspects I wanted to do. You have to be passionate about it though!!!!

I absolutely love my job and have no regrets whatsoever. Sitting here now I can't wait to go to work tomorrow as it is still my hobby as well as my career even after 24 years doing it professionally.

Go for it!!!!!

Regards

Daren

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Join the Irish army then!

 

I wish I could. Very very difficult to get in at the moment sadly. I'm in the Reserve at home, but not engineers, infantry.

 

Hi Brian.

There has been a bit of a push recently by TIGOSE The International Guild Of Specialist Engineers to establish an apprenticeship scheme within the classic car industry as they are worried these skills are dying out! Also Leeds college is setting up a full time course in vehicle restoration with Fuzz Townsend as their figure head!!! It would be worth looking into these.

It is possible to make a living in restoration as I do myself!!! I must admit though we do cars not military vehicles and specialise even more now in just mainly aluminium coachwork. I would love to restore military vehicles too!!!

Personally if I was entering the industry again now I would still approach it from the car side as this gives you a wider choice of potential employers and customers and then specialise later. I was lucky enough to get a place on the 2 year full time restoration course at Colchester Institute many years ago which unfortunately is no longer run, but it gave me a good grounding in all aspects of restoration and then I could choose which aspects I wanted to do. You have to be passionate about it though!!!!

I absolutely love my job and have no regrets whatsoever. Sitting here now I can't wait to go to work tomorrow as it is still my hobby as well as my career even after 24 years doing it professionally.

Go for it!!!!!

Regards

Daren

 

Thanks very much Daren, those are great words of encouragement and a damn fine testament to the job itself. I think it's something I could definitely enjoy and get up every day for, knowing that there'll be something different almost every day!

 

Having worked with the Irish I can say that they have lots of vehicles and damm fine ones too!

 

You're dead right there. The Mowags have seen some serious action in Syria and have more than held their own. The RG's...well, the less said about them the better from what I hear. We could definitely do with an upgrade on the Scorpions though and we use a civvy jeep (Pajero) for day-to-day stuff. Some good some bad overall!

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