Full Restoration Processes & Procedures - Vintage Mustang Forums
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:39 AM Thread Starter
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Full Restoration Processes & Procedures

I am just starting to tear everything down and can already see things turning to chaos. I am wording how others have approached a full restoration. I have taken to heart the idea of not throwing ANYTHING out until the project is complete. As I am taking things apart, I have been taking a ton of pictures and bagging/tagging everything.

As I take off old rusty parts, I will be trying to restore some of them. For others, I will try to find good used or NOS parts. And ultimately, I will be purchasing aftermarket when the necessity or economics dictate.

I can already see problems arising as the pile of parts coming off is starting to grow and I have started accumulating parts that I figure I am going to eventually be needing. Without a doubt, I will likely end up purchasing somethings twice because I forgot...I have already done this. So, here are some questions...

At what point do you restore/rebuild parts? Meaning, do I just take everything off, bag and tag, and put it away; leaving the rebuild until I am ready to assemble? Or, do you rebuild items as they come off and then store them until reassembly?

I guess the same type of question applies to purchasing parts that can't be restored. Is it better to acquire the replacement parts as they are coming off the car? Or is it better to wait until they are going to be installed?

I am sure all of this probably falls into the "It depends" category, but the experience of others is welcomed. Then the real question is, how do you track all of this? I have started a spreadsheet that includes P/N, casting number, other notes...what else should I include? Since I am just starting my first project, I would be interested to hear what others do through the disassembly stage and welcome any tracking, bookkeeping and spreadsheets suggestions.

Right now my project is marinating in ATF/Acetone, so I have time to start planning things out. Eventually I will move on to Evaporust and the whole project may magically disappear

67 390 Coupe C6, PS, PB, AC (SJ built 1/4/1967)
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:10 PM
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Knapper - It will be interesting to follow (and steal ideas from ;-)) this thread as I am starting the long process of a restomod of my 66.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:18 PM
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Parts that you can buy all day everyday from the usual Mustang parts houses should be purchased just before assembly.
I have seen many posts from people who say something along the lines of " I just opened a box of XXX that I purchased three years ago. The parts are either damaged or wrong in some way and of course the supplier is in no mood to make it right today"

Sub assemblies like the heater box can be restored over long winter evenings and bagged and stored.
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Old 07-12-2019, 12:22 PM
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For myself, I tear everything off and tag/bag it and then as it goes back together I look at a given component and ask myself if it salvageable...if its not, I replace it...since for my build since I am not worried about numbers matching or concours its usually with an aftermarket part...I make it a point to not purchase everything I need at one time, but only as I need it...that way I avoid double purchasing...I simply forecast out the next task about 2 weeks ahead so I have enough time to get the part I need in without it slowing down my build. As for the times the build is slowed inevitably...I swap to a different task...preferably one that doesn't require parts. I save those parts-free tasks to cover the few times I am waiting for something. I minimize my "vanity item"(wheels, steering wheels, gauges, misc other pretty pieces that can be installed after the car is complete) purchases that I buy ahead of time to only those things that are good deals that I am saving 40%+ by buying ahead of time(as an example...found the wheels I want...05 v6 16" wheels for $100...so def purchasing them beforehand even though they are virtually the last thing going on the car)

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Old 07-12-2019, 12:31 PM
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I won't guarantee any thing I say is best as I am only part way through my first resto but here goes....

I bought some disposable plastic food containers, baggies and black markers and started putting back seat screws in marked baggies, small parts in marked containers etc. I have used them several times just to reference and also for temp use. In spite of my efforts, there were many screws and bolts that got sidetracked, dropped etc during disassembly. I bought one of those master screw kits with all the bolts etc labeled and it has been very useful to look at the new hardware tag, check out the contents and then go through the loose stuff and pick out the correct screws etc for temp use to keep over spray off the new stuff.
I have been hesitant to buy stuff until I need it, I have trouble keeping track of it all and occasionally have bought the same thing twice.
Also, don't know what I need until I get to that point. For instance, I started rebuilding door hinges, ordered the kits in. In the process of trying to remove hinge pin in one, the hinge cracked. Ordered new hinge so have mix of rebuilt and new.
I have a spreadsheet that I need to bring up to date, where I have entered every single part I have ordered and the cost, just so I can keep track of actual expense. Also have a column for money that has come in from sale of old stuff. Got nice $$ for old transmission, rear end and front spindles, subtract from the build costs.
At each stage I make a little list of items to buy, jobs to be done and use it as a check list. Even though I rarely follow it exactly, I do try and set priorities and occasionally the list reminds me of a step I am about to forget and keeps me from having to back track....sometimes.

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Old 07-12-2019, 12:38 PM
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If it were me, I would keep the car together and rebuild assemblies, one at a time.

I see way to many disassembled projects for sale.

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Old 07-12-2019, 12:43 PM
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Sounds like you're pretty well organized to me.

As for when you restore/refurbish parts you plan to reuse, that's up to your discretion. I did nearly all of mine as I went along, but sometimes in batches. I would update the tags/bags with the date and the word "READY" when done. I filled boxes with ready parts and wrote on the boxes what they contained. Some parts I hung on nails around the garage, tags attached.

Buying new parts was a mixed bag for me timing-wise. Some I bought way in advance hoping they would work and be correct because I wouldn't be able to return them if I goofed or changed my mind later. So that was a bit of a crap shoot. I tried to take advantage of vendor sales promotions when possible.

A spreadsheet is a great way to track things. I was old school about that and kept a hand written "master parts needed" list. At one time it ran over a dozen pages. As I made purchases I wrote them down in the far right column. Five or so times I rewrote the list brand new but always saved the old lists to avoid ordering duplicate parts. Eventually that list got shorter instead of continually getting longer. I was thrilled when it was down to a single page.

I also saved every single receipt, some handwritten for things bought at swap meets etc. I also kept track of parts I sold and for how much. They are all in sequential order in a three inch thick folder right next to me on a shelf. I am truly afraid to total it all up, may never do it.

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Old 07-12-2019, 12:57 PM
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You are on the right track and lots of good info so far. I will add...Document the order in which you disassemble the car (and photo and bag/tag everything in detail as you WILL forget what this screw goes to in 6 months), assembly will be the reverse order. Once everything is apart, review what can be rebuilt/repaired/ bought new/ etc. Then rebuild/buy in the order of assembly. Bodywork/paint is usually first. Consider keeping each project small and separate, but also factor in what can be done simultaneously (presuming you contract out certain things such as engine rebuild and body/paint). There may be lulls at times in which you can work on different components individually like rebuild steering column, reupholster seats, etc, then set these aside ready for install when the time comes. Good luck and let us know how it goes...

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Old 07-12-2019, 01:01 PM
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I have a number of items I ended up buying twice because I bought it long before I needed and either misplaced or forgot i had purchased it.
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Old 07-12-2019, 01:17 PM
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I have forgotten and bought a few items twice. It has mostly been rubber hole plugs and bump stop things.

Yeah it is a depends situation. If you have the warehouse room it is kind of nice to bust everything off and hang all the parts up on walls or racks. I wouldn't just pile stuff up on the shop floor though. That is not going to turn out well generally.

In my case I have some of the car off and some things I'm holding off until I'm ready to renew them like the doors for example. I'm currently finishing the restore of my deck lid and hinges including paint and those will be "stored" back on the car. I plan to do the fenders, hood, grille/headlight assemblies, valances that way. I am cleaning up, fixing/patching/replacing metal as I go and getting the car into epoxy primer in sections. The engine bay inside and out and all the bottom floor pans are done. Inside the trunk is done. Done means restored, primed and painted. I couldn't knock the whole car down to the chassis, have it blasted and re-sprayed all at one time so I have sectioned out the whole car into sub-projects.

It has required some creative problem solving like in the photo but it is working.

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Old 07-12-2019, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the input, experience and suggest. I will keep you posted on the progress. I plan to eventually start a build thread, but want to get past the point where everyone tells me to run away😉. I am well aware this will be a 10 year project, but am looking forward to the challenge and learning experiences.
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Old 07-12-2019, 02:08 PM
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The proper way is to tear it all apart put pieces in piles all over your shop and garage then dig through it as you need parts....

I like to tear it down mark what you can and then try to be organized. Get the body work going and then if you are in a spot waiting for parts you can rebuild/paint some subassemblies IF you have somewhere to store it that is safe from damage.

When it comes to parts order what you need as you go and try to stay slightly ahead of what you need so you can keep the progress going. If you find a really good deal on parts you know you will need then its Ok to get them. I have a google docs list of parts I know i need along with the best price supplier of that item. It's a throw back to my old swapmeet lists.
I have found a few things on craigslist for a decent price like springs but they were the soft ones and just be cause it's a good price for them don't buy them as you won't be happy with the parts when they are on the car. Don't settle for a workable part, get the one you want.

I have been out of cars for quite a while and since starting the Mustang I am really enjoying it more now than I did in the past. This is my first mustang to own and rebuild for myself(have worked on others cars) and I am probably enjoying it more because the Mustang is the most affordable car to restore out there and parts are everywhere. I am used to mainly GM products where sheet metal is 2-3x the price. I am already thinking of the next build maybe if i can find a really cheap convertible shell.
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Old 07-12-2019, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by elcam84 View Post
The proper way is to tear it all apart put pieces in piles all over your shop and garage then dig through it as you need parts....
I was beginning to wonder if anyone was going to finally explain to @Knapper how it usually works out...

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Old 07-12-2019, 02:31 PM
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Here are my suggestions:

- Buy some nice, steel shelves from Costco. Those are durable and hold a lot of weight. Any other store bought shelves will buckle and eventually fail. Yeah, you can build shelves from 2x4s and plywood, but considering the price for 2x4s and plywood, you might be ahead with the steel shelves.

- Buy a lot of small, plastic bins with lids. You can find them at Walmart and, again, sometimes Costco. Don't buy large bins. It's hard to dig through parts in large bins and they get heavy and hard to move around. Don't use cardboard boxes. Boxes disintegrate and pests LOVE to move inside.

- Try to categorize parts as best you can. Sure, it's great to bag and tag everything. But when you've got 18 bins of parts, in which bin is which part? Sure, it would be optimal to document every part in every bin using a spreadsheet. But man, that's a LOT of work. Label each bin with its category using masking tape. Don't write directly on the bin. Likely you'll use it for something else or change the label. Tape is easy to change. Permanent marker is not easy to change.

- Order the AMK fastener kits and use those them wherever possible; engine, body, interior. Trying to restore fasteners is difficult and extremely time-consuming. Likely, many of your original fasteners are missing and have been replaced with whatever previous owners had lying around. Other fasteners will be rusted, stripped, rounded over or just plain look lousy. It is SO nice to install spiffy, new fasteners! Buying the AMK kits was one of the best things I did during my restoration.

- If you don't have a blasting cabinet, get one. I used that tool more than any other during my restoration. Every part I didn't replace was covered is grime, rust and few mysterious compounds. It was SO nice to blast those parts down to bare metal, clean them, prime them and paint them to look really spiffy.

- For metal parts which were not originally painted, I would recommend getting a few different paints to coat them. I like the Cast Blast and Stainless rattle can paint. I like to use more than one so it doesn't look like everything matches which doesn't look right on a classic car.

- Technically, you don't need to prime before painting parts, but I like to do so. I find it turns out better and lasts longer if I prime first. I like the Duplacolor high-temp primer. You don't need the high-temp feature, even for engine parts, but it's good stuff. If you have spray equipment, use epoxy primer. That stuff is amazing. I like the SPI epoxy. Just be aware you must top coat it within a week or you'll have to scuff it before it you paint it.

- Also, when painting parts, don't put on too many coats. If you get too much paint buildup, it might look nice at first, but it will chip very easily.

- When ordering parts, stick with a few, reliable vendors. After 8 years of ordering parts, my go-to vendors are NPD and Summit Racing. Try to order in large batches to save on shipping. Order online. That way you can look at your account and see everything you ordered and when you ordered it. If you call, you won't have a record unless you save all your receipts and that get complicated. (If you need to call a vendor for information, get the rep's name and you can include it with your online order so he or she will get credit for the order.)

- Other vendors: For brakes and steering, I like Chockostang. For suspension parts and shocks, I like Shaun at Street or track. I ordered my wheels from Summit and got the tires from my local Discount Tire. That turned out really well. No messing with trying to find someone to mount and balance mail-order tires and I got the Discount Tire warranty is REALLY good.

- Don't rebuild the engine until you're ready to drop it in. I got so bloody tired to doing sheet metal work I decided to rebuild my engine. It sat on a stand for years before I actually installed and started it. I ended up wiping a lobe on the cam. Was it because the engine sat so long? Maybe.

- If you don't know how to do paint and body work, learn how. It's getting downright impossible to find a good, reliable body shop who will do quality "custom work" at affordable rates in a timely manner. Oh, good golly, the Internet is chock-O-block with body shop horror stories! I used the Kevin Tetz "Paintucation" video series and taught myself paint and body work. I had never done it before and it all came out pretty well. No, it's not Chip Foos quality, but I've certainly seen many "professional" paint jobs that don't look nearly as good as my Mustang.

* Don't forget to have fun! If you find yourself stressed, pissed-off and cranky, walk away. Regroup. Take a major time-out. If you persist while pissed-off, things just get worse. Ask me how I know.
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Last edited by Klutch; 07-12-2019 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 07-12-2019, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all! It sounds like Im on the right path.

Already have the blast cabinet - actually I have converted it to a vapor blaster and am probably going to get another for dry blasting.

I went and purchased all of the AMK master kits the second after I got it on my lift and knew what I had front of me.

Kluth, I love the shelf and bin idea. I have a bunch of boxes right now, but smaller bins sounds like the way to go.

I have a coupe that I have been putzing with and learned quickly that Chock, NPD, Midlife, Shaun, and a couple others are my go-tos. For original parts, I have used West Coast Cougars mainly. I do look at All Classic Mustangs, but prices seem a bit higher. I try to avoid eBay, mainly cause I question the accuracy of descriptions and condition.

Im continuing to allow the ATF/acetone bath to do its work while I await my new induction heater...should be here today.

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