This is the first part of a restoration series that appeared in the NASOC News. Since in the News there is not enough space for each article they are reprinted and greatly expanded here on the web site. They are MY ideas on restoration and not necessarily the clubs. Things and more importantly Products mentioned are not endorsed by NASOC, just by me (Mike Rambour, NASOC President).
One thing that I have noticed as I restore my Le Mans is the lack of information on what I call the "basics" of restoration. There are many things that are taken for granted when doing a frame up restoration and if you have not done one before, you have to rely on your friends for all that knowledge. Thank goodness for this club who has helped me in more ways than I can count with nitty-gritty detailed information. Specifically, but not excluding others, Phillip who was there with minute details that saved me huge numbers of hours. I won't mention my phone bills in the early days of working on my car when I would call Canada far more often than Phillip would have liked. There are also quite a few people in the e-mail world who helped me, like Peter In Canada the 2 Kevin's in the UK Gary in NZ, Trevor in Australia and of course Dave and Trevor in the UK. I can say without a doubt the car will someday be finished because I have now have the confidence to do it. These people are all far away from me in S. Calif. but their knowldege is what brings me to the first point of what will be a regular columm for a while.
The basic "How To" restoration of a Singer !
Item 1. Choosing the right car and the team to restore it
Item 3. Dismantling and Documenting
Item 4. Prep Work(scraping, sanding, rebuilding, painting, oh my !)
Item 5. Reassembly
Don''t hold me to the above list ! as I write the articles I will break up items into multiple sub-items and may add or remove items but that is the basic process that I think I will follow. For those of you with web access these articles will be on the website with extra details and pictures that we don't have the space for here, if you want the details but don't have web access let me know.
This columm could easily be stretched into 2 or 3 years of NASOC News if Phillip will allow it. These articles will follow the restoration of my 34 Le Mans but I will make sure that it remains generic so that the 4Ax people have plenty to read about. Ok, enough blabbing and lets get with it.
Lets start with my qualifications and beliefs on this subject. I have restored and owned my 4AD since 1974 during that time I have worked on many 4AD's as a result of this experience, when I purchased my 34 Le Mans I had no doubts about restoring it. I was FOOLISH ! When you go out to look at your potential restoration project, you should have a firm idea of what you want. Do you want to fully restore it "as new" or just throw some paint on it and drive it ? Decide that first, then go on to questions like "How complete is it ?" If the car is incomplete it will cost more to restore and take more time hunting the parts down, if the price is right and you have extensive knowledge of the particular model then this is sometimes a good way to go. If you don't have intimate knowledge of the car, SKIP IT and find a complete example. Yes a complete car will cost more to purchase but you will be happier. I learned this one the hard way with my Le Mans, the price was right but the car was really a candidate for the scrap yard not for someone like me. I foolishly believed that because of my 4AD experience I would have no trouble. Next think about what you want the car for ? About a month ago, I started corresponding with someone who was looking at a 4A, after several weeks and e-mails he was ready to buy and happened to mention he was looking forward to driving it to work everyday. I thought cool another Singer on the road, until I found out that work was 23 miles away on the freeway. I had to inform him that the little 4A motor might not like cruising at 65MPH for 46 miles on the freeway 5 days a week, 4 or 5 months of the year. It had never occured to him that the 4A might be the wrong car for that. So think about what you want with the car, these may have been at one time daily drivers but they are old now and yes I do drive my 4AD a lot, I do have a backup car. Also where you are can make a difference, the UK has wonderful country lane roads just designed for these cars and so does the East coast of the U.S. but not S. Calif (the land of the V8 and freeways). Is the car assembled or dissassembled ? if it is still assembled, it sure makes life easy during the reassembly since YOU took it apart. Has the car been "updated" with non-original equipment that may or may not work correctly. And if it does work, do you care ? Do you have the room to work on it ? (more on that next issue) Do you have the time ? do you have the skills and if you don't do you have the money to pay someone for things like woodwork or motor work ?
Ok, you have the car now make friends with lots of people who know all about that specific year of Singer, this will be your "team" to help you figure out what goes where, and how. This is the easy part of the restoraion, join NASOC and you will have an instant "team"
I don't have space here to go into a "buyers checklist" and "common problems" to various Singer models but time allowing I can squeeze something like that in a future article with help from the "team" since I don't know it all I found out. I used to know it all but I am no longer a teenager.