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Would love to fix up a car...no experience though

Would love to fix up a car...no experience though



Original Poster:

566 posts

63 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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Basically i've been a long time lurker on these boards, and since i've seen so many great builds i've always thought how fun it'd be. I've got the space to do it, but I have no experience with any sort of mechanical work etc, is there anyone else on here who is self-taught? I know what car i'd like to start with and what i'd like to aim to achieve with it...


851 posts

130 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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I rebuilt my Land Rover, with no knowledge other than a Haynes and some tools I bought at Halfords. I learnt along the way.

It depends upon what you're going to tackle.

Care to pass on any other information.


7,334 posts

64 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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I got some knowledge by having a mate around and trying to sort the many millions of problems with my Mini (That's old cars for you) and just watching what he does while he explains it. Then un doing it, and trying it my self.

Seems like a long process, but I have learnt quite a bit.


6,175 posts

88 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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There is also evening courses at colege you could do to gain practice with working on cars before you start on stripping down a car.


380 posts

69 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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Digital camera!
Take pics of everything before you pull it apart and every stage as you dismantle it. That way if you strip it one week, you have a record of exactly how it came apart and can always put it back by following the pics.

Also, when things are apart, keep all the bits in zip lock bags, biscuit tins etc, all properly labeled with what it is etc, its easy to forget what every thing is when its all in bits for weeks/months at a time and if each piece is in a separate bag its a hell of a lot harder to mix parts up, use the wrong bolts for the wrong part etc.

Other than that, just get stuck in.


83 posts

94 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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cheers for posting op, thread bookmarked.


18,803 posts

183 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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PaulV on here is selling a Mini project that would be a perfect starting point.



24,484 posts

172 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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Agree with photos. I use old marge tubs / vitamin bottles for keeping screws &c in.

Best thing though is having local car savvy mates who can help you. Sadly this is where I fall down frown


6,751 posts

79 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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I want to do something like this fairly soon - will probably buy a knackered old E36 / E34, the relevant Haynes manual, and whatever tools I need along the way.

I can do basic things like servicing, and I have changed a couple of wheel bearings with help, but thats really it unfortunately.


2,980 posts

164 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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There are two ways to start doing this....

1. Get a car thats working but tatty and just tackle small jobs and build up confidence and experience.
2. Buy a complete dog - then start attacking that from ground up.

Doing it all by yourself can be daunting and overwhelming. I do a small amount of work on my cars and then decided to tackle a major project (Triumph Spitfire) and I failed miserably. I just didnt realise the time it would take to complete a full restoration and eventually lost heart.

Once you have selected a marque or model, contacting the local owners club can be a great way forward as other within the club will be able to assist and enthuse.

So I would start with option 1, as I find it quite satisfying solving issues and servicing my cars, but not too overwhelming. I have learnt my limits!


The Black Flash

8,473 posts

119 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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Only way to learn, is to do. Get a shed, pull it apart, put it back together again.


195 posts

65 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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im not quite doing a project, but im at a similar point to the OP, no real experience of working on cars other than odds and sods. but im currently in the process of removing a gearbox from my 306 to change the clutch, with a haynes manual and much googling to help.
i personally am enjoying the learning as i go along style, and i am taking a stack of takeaway boxes with me to keep all the nuts and bolts in. im sure it would be possible to do it much faster and much more efficiently, but im taking my time, and im going to order the replacement bits as i go along, so i get the right ones as the car is off the road anyway so time is less of an issue.

my advice would be, go for it, pick a car your really passionate about so all the swearing cuts and bruises are worth it, and just get stuck in.


5,558 posts

95 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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maybe post up what town you live in

i have the ability and tools but struggle to find anywhere to tinker , maybe someone like me would help you out in exchange for somewhere to work on thier own car ?


250 posts

83 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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I'm in a similar situation at the moment. An old friend has given me his 106 Quiksilver as he fell out with it when some thieves nicked the arches one night. It has been sat on his car park for months looking sorry for itself.

I enquired about renting a garage that is situated about 100 yards behind my house. The cost is £9.00 a week, which sounds reasonable to me. The problem is I have to wait for one to become vacant, but the guy assures me that people cancel them all the time. Apparently, he has bumped me to the top of the list due to my proximity to the garages.

I just need to start building a collection of tools, get the garage, then start tinkering. Can't wait! smile


12,764 posts

81 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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I got a Caterham. It's like a slightly oversized mechano set... even came with instructions! It goes wrong all the time too so I get to fix it frequently.


1,875 posts

182 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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I'm self taught. At seventeen, I couldn't change a set of spark plugs. Fifteen years later I've done all mechanical stuff including engine builds, gearbox strip/rebuild, engine transplants from modern cars into retro ones, installing and mapping ECU's, suspension rebush and full alignment. Just finishing up my first major bodywork project, making panels from scratch, welding and prepping for paint. The only thing I can't do is spraying but that's due to the cost of equipment for working with 2K.

It can be done, most important thing is a positive state of mind - it's all just nuts and bolts, and any that snap off can be chopped, drilled and tapped. Stick to older cars to make your life easier, at least to start with.

alfa pint

3,856 posts

132 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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I'm self taught, but I'm not an expert - can manage most things on my MG B and do brakes and odds and sods on the Alfa.

Started at 16 years old on old minis and went from there. The problem you'll have now is finding a car with minimum electronics so that you can learn the basics properly that's not deemed to be a classic. So find a restoration project of some description, or have a look through the classifieds and see if you can find yourself an 80s survivor - Mk2 cavalier, sierra, golf, etc that you can faff around with.

aw51 121565

4,762 posts

154 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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I'm self-taught too; patience is a virtue, and taking plenty of tea breaks to keep your concentration going and your head together is a good plan smile .

I'll do anything mechanically - but, as others have said, take plenty of photos and keep all the nuts and bolts in order so it is obvious where they came from (eg a small number of bolts with different lengths and threads --> hassle if you don't know exactly which hole they came from) then keep the seperate 'bits of the job' (eg when taking the cylinder head off an engine, there will possibly be some sort of cover to remove then the head itself, plus the manifold bolts, so that's possibly 3 containers of fixings) in seperate containers as well... It takes a lot of placcy bags and containers, plus photos to look at if needed, but when you can get the thing back together in good tiime then it's all worthwhile!

Some items - pushrods on an old OHV engine being an example - must go back into the hole they came from... Stick them through a piece of cardboard (corrugated is best) marked to show where they came from in the engine. You can (maybe should) do this for some bolts and nuts & bolts (such as those holding the cylinder head on) as well, if there are different kindsof bolts involved... But some more-modern engines use 'stretch bolts' (for things like securing the cylinder head) that can't be re-used (this is where reading the Haynes Book O'Lies comes in) so it's not black'n'white.

ALso, if a bolt or nut won't move, use something like PlusGas - but heat is better, if you have it and use it carefully) - and then apply even force to move it rather than shocking it and shearing it off wink .

Fair play for looking to fix up a car, it's very satisfying once it's done smile .

And as others have also said, try to get something older with the minimal essential electrics and no fancy tricks like a catalytic converter and the attached electronic gubbins. Mechanical bits are good fun, bolt-on body panels are equally satisfying to fit but poor running on modern stuff will potentially cost you serious money which takes the edge off the hobby wink .


1,621 posts

90 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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I fould love to 'fix up' an old car but, also, I have no skills & no space.

Richie Howard

253 posts

89 months

Wednesday 13th June 2012
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Get yourself an mgb (or another Lego-based car) and experience the joys of discovering how easy it is to sort a car yourself.

There are books, websites and car shows full of people who are thrilled to see young people proud of their cars and more than willing to share their lifetimes knowledge.