Monday, 28 September 2009

Keep off the bare metal!

When restoring classic vehicle bodywork, it is important to avoid any contact between bare metal and new paint.

Today, with modern materials and processes, car manufacturers can offer many years warranty against rust appearing By contrast, the sheet metal of older vehicles was less refined when new and will have been around the block many times, therefore it will suffer from any moisture. So when it comes to refinishing a classic car, sustainable corrosion protection plays an important role.

It is important to counter the risk of corrosion at the time of preparing the substrate and once surface tension of the steel is broken, the clock is ticking. So having meticulously prepared and cleaned exposed metal, professional restorers quickly move to applying a protective coat which remains until it’s time to prep the car for painting.

Next step is removing the protective coat, re-attending to the metal and applying a thin insulation layer between the bare metal and the primer coat. Without this, the next coat of paint acts like a dry sponge that absorbs moisture, passes it on to the metal and holds it there.

So a two-coat build-up consisting of an acid primer and a 2K filler primer is used.

Coat one - The acid primer has a corrosion-inhibiting effect it also provides excellent etch adhesion to the metallic substrate on the one hand and to the upper coats on the other hand.

Coat two - The 2K filler isolates any defects and pores and helps to even out the surface. It becomes the perfected base for the topcoat.

Modern coating technology alone cannot guarantee the long life of a prestige or classic car. It is important to carry out all steps of the refinishing process with utmost care. This also means that the application of acid primer must be repeated as soon any body part is sanded back through to bare metal – even if this happens only in tiny areas.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Goodwood revival 2009

With huge gratitude to friends that snagged us complimentary passes for the Sunday of the 2009 Goodwood Classic Revival, we were anticipating a great event. The excitment grew when we discovered that my sons official best friend in the whole wide world and his family were joining us for the day trip.

At £48.00 per entry pass and £5.00 for a thimble full of Pims (a Spritzer with vegetables in it), the Revival is not exactly the most economical family day out but you sure do get a lot for your large pile of money.

Obviously, visitors are fully entitled to expect some of the finest racing cars from the best era of motor racing but how many events impart the feeling that you would be welcome to stroll the pits and approach any car owner, technician or driver you wish and bother them with your petty questions.

Setting the scene for an authentic period feel is an obvious bolt on to any historic event but if not done well, or particularly if over engineered, it’s just not going to look or seem right.

I bet there are few classic car owners that would decline a chance to park their precious jewel amidst the many walkways and display areas around the historic circuit but just one of the many extras was the vast car park outside the event full of some fine classics that would constitute a marvellous car show itself on any other day.

Wheel to wheel racing, tractor rides, Hot rods, minis. Laurel and hardy, Buzz Aldren, Sir Stirling Moss, Mr Bean. Static aircraft, flying displays, podium dancers, singing nurses. Rank and file dressed as toffs, toffs dressed as toffs, mods, rockers, rockabilles, hippies. There’s just so much to see and do that one mere day will never be remotely enough. Yes, we got a glimpse of most things but we would have needed the full three days to fully savour them.

And then there was the appearance of the Vulcan bomber. When you have a gathering of something like ninety thousand engineering enthusiasts and this thing roars overhead, the crowds just have to grind to a halt so that everybody can gaze skyward.

The cameras are pointed momentarily away from the circuit and people find themselves compelled to applaud. Mind you, any machine that’s capable of drowning out the sound of twenty unsilenced classic racing cars, to the point where it shudders the ground beneath your feet is going to get some attention.

It’s a huge event, so of course there’s going to be plenty of tented shops, concessions and fairground rides. The thing that doesn’t strike you until you reflect on the day is just how well oiled the Revival machine is but the fact that you don’t notice the perfection, proves how well run the weekend really is.

I kind of wish we hadn’t been our usual reserved selves and perhaps made an effort to dress in period attire, but I suppose that gives something more to do next year. Oh yes, we’re definitely going, no matter what the cost.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

In the workshop

Sterling Automotive now have a separate workshop blog page. The blog has been established to enable customers and followers to see some of the more extensive projects being attended to and:

Link to the photographic build histories of cars that we have carried out significant restorations on.

Link to the progress photographs of projects that we are currently working on.

To view this seperate blog page. Either follow the "view my complete profile" link or Visit but don't forget to come back to our main blog page.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Vanfest 2009

Summers over, the nights are closing in, it’s getting colder and the show season’s coming to an end. There’s nothing wrong with saving the best until last though and this years Vanfest at the three County’s showground in Malvern, surely must be the best yet. Beautiful weather all weekend, a massive turnout and loads of fabulous VW campers on show.

Attendance by Sterling Automotive was a last minute decision as I only realised a week before that I could find the time to go. Following a quick phone call to the show organisers to book a pitch and another call to the owners of the Bay window that we’d part restored, to ask if we could borrow it (again), it was just a matter of designing a multi award winning exhibition stand.
Of course there’s the usual options to choose from. I could have half a dozen scantily clad models and a dance troupe. Maybe build a two story stand in the shape of a ufo. Chrome, mirrors and bright floodlighting? Perhaps a themed stand, laid out like a workshop with barriers, ropes and security guards, of course.

Six and a half days later and my brain is still a blank canvas. So the executive decision was taken to not bother with any of that high quality nonsense and just to drop the camper off, put up some flags and leave a pile of leaflets in a dispenser.

It turns out that this was exactly the right way to go and the crowds flocked around the van for the whole of both days.

The moral of this story.... It's nice to see showy shiny stuff but when all is said and done, what the enthusiasts really want is to be allowed to have a real close look in detail at a part completed project.

Nobody wants salesmen lurking behind them while they're poking around at the nooks and crannies, so I kept a low profile but I know that it was rare that there was less than a dozen people taking an interest in the build quality and, more importantly, taking Sterling Automotive leaflets home with them.

The only downside… I’ve gotta get a load more leaflets printed off!

Caroline and Benjamin relax in the van at the end of the show.