Restoration Tips

Last modified 6 August 2001

This section is a bit of an experiment. I am starting with a rather complicated process that not many restorerers get into...the replication of sheetmetal parts. However, don't despair. Now that I am thinking about it, I hope I can provide little photo essays of the more common problems as I begin to piece together (or take apart) various Bantams or Austins. Let me know if there are problems you would like to see covered.

1. Creation of top hood pieces. The supply of really good Austin and Bantam sheetmetal is dwindling rapidly. If you don't have it for your car, you have two choices 1) do some rudimentry hammer and dolly work on the old stuff and then slather on the bondo, 2) build a new part in whole or in part out of fresh steel.

The hood pieces one is likely to find are often the best of the lot. I thought the ones I had were okay, but by the time we tried to fit them up and cover all the whoopees with mud we realized it would actually just as fast to build a new pair...and sure a lot more pleasant than sanding away at bondo and breathing the particulate matter all week. Also the difference between the new ones and the bondoed ones is really amazing. For one thing they weigh about half as much, also there is no oil canning, they fit perfectly with straight seams and the underside looks as good as the top.

The top hood pieces have two major complexities...a fancy molding at the bottom that carries on from the body tub, and a hard to duplicate hinge. No way our skills or equipment were up to recreating those! However, there's always a silver lining. On a car that's been out in the weather for decades, the top of the hood looks like someone peppered it with birdshot given all the rust pin holes. But usually the molding, having been vertical to the rain, is in pretty good shape. So, we decided to keep the molding and the hinge and replace the broad expanse of the hood. Here's what we did.


2. NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY. Like the molding on the hood sides above, even parts of parts are useful. Maybe you have $1000+ to spend on a NOS set of headlight nacelles...or maybe you ahve alittle time...Here's a little experiment that I think will turn out...Saving Bantam headlight nacelles. PART be continued. More sheet metal work. Check it out!

3. Nacelles PART TWO. I steal the new piece into the old nacelle.

The items that follow are particular questions and answers that we have fielded or puzzled over during the years this page has been up and which we think might be of general interest to restorers. Some are sort of inconclusive or fragmentary, but, with your knowledge might add up to an answer. LET US KNOW! I say "we" here in the broadest sense but I am MUCH IN DEBT here to Norm Booth of the Pacific Bantam Austin Club. Norm has been tireless in his efforts to answer questions for serious restorerers new and old alike. The answers are often edited amalgams of various answers I have gotten from PBAC members who have been willing to take the time to share their knowledge. Special thanks then to Lynn James, Bob Brandon, Elmer Chancellor, and Dick Beagle for their help. Norm and the others stand as a perfect example of why you should become a member of one or both of these Clubs if you are restoring or maintaining a car. Most Austin and Bantam owners are members of both clubs. All of these questions and answers are between members, many of whom have had a great deal of experience and accumulated knowledge. If you show your support by paying the modest 25 dollar dues you are much more likely to get a complete answer or find that elusive part you need. Punch the link to the PBAC above and download an application form and send it in, either for yourself or someone you know who has an interest in the cars.

That being said, there is much that is not known about how these cars were manufactured and these submissions sometimes are incomplete or possibly even incorrect. If you have information, experience or opinions or especially access to an ORIGINAL UNMOLESTED CAR which could further refine the answers here, please do not hesitate to let me know and I will correct what we have or add to it.