This is the second 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).
It has been requested that I go into more detail on part 1 of my last article, choosing the right car. As I stated last month, I don't have the space to go into a buyer's checklist for each model but bear with me and I will do some checklists in the future. So to paraphrase a tremendous TV show of extreme high quality lets open up this article "Space, the final frontier" How much space does one need to restore a Singer. I have read articles that claim you can't restore a car unless you have at least 3 times the space the car takes, I believe that is extravagant but really nice. I restored my 4AD living in my moms house and having no garage, I converted a part of one room to a garage barely big enough to store the car. I hoisted the body up off the car and stored it that way above the frame and would move the motor out or the frame out to work on them. This worked, the car is done but was a major pain when it rained and I could not work. Now I have a 3-car garage and it's wonderful to have space to work on things and not scratch/damage other parts. I would say that you need at least twice the space for doing a frame off restoration, once the body is back on you can tighten up that space and move the wife's car back into the garage. Before you consider restoring your Singer, you need to consider where the parts will go and how will you work on them, it is no fun to have to move something out of the way to work on something else. It is no fun to trip over things because of no space. It is no fun to damage something you have finished while working on something else because of lack of space, so clean up the 2 car garage, take out the wife's car and get to work. You will be much happier with that much space between all the components. By the way there are other means of making space, early this year I bought a 4post lift to store 2 cars in the space of one and also work on them, it's a tremendous back saver to be able to lift the frame or body to a reasonable height and work on it. Extravagant? Yes, but look around your car repair shops and find a used lift cheap and you will love it. Get good strong shelving also and lots of them, remember it may be a year or more before you start re-assembly, you need good shelves. I have read that the person who started it never finishes the majority of restorations; think about that before you start. It's easy to get discouraged if you have to move things around just to work for a few minutes after dinner. Of course, you can't afford a new house and you don't have the space, you can do it like I did but its harder.
Now, I had planned to talk about tools here also but I think tools will be an ongoing discussion, so lets talk basics only at this point. The obvious, sockets/wrenches metrics and BSF of course. I believe BSF taps/dies are essential but at the very least a BSF thread restorer file is needed. Don't try restoring or doing any work on the car without BSF wrenches, at best you will strip the heads and skin your knuckles. How much work will YOU do? Dismantle and take into a professional? Ok you need some type of jack and jack stands and a way to hoist the body or motor off; a simple rope/pulley off the ceiling joists works well. An electric drill mounted wire brush and a cheap gear puller/slide hammer and a solid bench and vise. You want to do more work? Now we are getting expensive but it is worth every penny. I believe the starting point is the above basics and a air compressor, depending on how much work you will do, a small one will work but this is a case where bigger is better. An air impact AND GET A GOOD ONE! Buy the cheapest air tools you can find but buy the best air impact. An oxygen/acetylene welding torch, you will soon call it the "blue wrench" and use it to remove stubborn bolts and weld with it. I personally only weld with MIG nowadays but I would never consider not having my blue wrench, so the MIG is optional. I think a hydraulic press is good to have, beats messing up bearings in the vise. I built mine with my "blue wrench" from plans and it was extremely cheap that way. I also built my engine stand from plans so a welding outfit is a good idea. There will be things to weld on the Singer and sometimes it's really hard to get that frame to the metal shop. A grinder/buffer and drill press are wonderful to have, yes you can do without but the job is so much easier with them. As long as you have the air compressor, a cheap paint gun for throwing on primer and painting non-cosmetically-critical things like the frame, suspension, etc. If you skip the press and MIG and I think most people will, you can start restoring fairly inexpensively, of course as time goes you will spend a fortune on tools and in my shop the above tools are only a tiny portion of what I have built up over the last 2 1/2 decades. I would suggest that you start with the basics and buy what you need as you need it and also consider renting the tools you rarely use or might only need once during the restoration. My list of tools is what I use the most, many people build show winning cars without them but it's a lot easier with them.