Setting up your garage

Before you restore, you better have the proper place to do it.

Restoring a car, especially for the novice, should not be made any harder than it has to. The stories we hear of people who restore car on the curb of a street while living in apartment are simply to much to endure for any of us. I think that it is very important to set up a garage properly to ensure the best possible results from my efforts and the least amount of wasted time.

I am lucky in that our garage could fit two and two thirds cars. Put in a 2/3s car like my MGB and there plenty of room for workspace. Having had some terrible garages, I set this one right straight away. I have tons of tools, so I needed tons on shelving. I keep everything out in the open, practically nothing is hidden away in tool chests where I can't find it. The counters are the preformed things you get at Home Depot. I got the largest I could possible fit in. They are held up by screwing a 2x4 into the back wall, then timber is cut to make legs that end at the same height, and finally lengths of wood are put on the outside and everything is screwed together. Basically I made box structures that were capable of standing on thier own without the counter top attached. One the counter was put on, they became immensely strong. Note: I made them as big as possible.

Above, I put the obligatory peg boards. I don't actually like peg boards that much. At only 5'10" I can't reach stuff much higher than a few feet because of how wide the workbench is. The little brackets are very expensive too. In any event the bench and all cost about $150. The metal shelving is a K-Mart special. They are cheap shit, and one collapsed on me once and nearly pinned me to the floor. They hold light stuff but don't overload them.

You garage need plenty of electicity and water. This garage had power, but I needed to string hose in there to make sure I had water. I put up lights so I can see better, but these cheap florescents stink! I am going to replace them with some really neat halogen lamps that actually turn on in the cold weather and don't flicker.

Speaking of cold weather, all restoration stops around here because of the cold. Reddy-Heaters are very expensive and perhaps a bit dangerous around the gasoline and kerosene. I prefer to just work on this web site when it gets too cold. If you decide to heat your garage, make sure you heat it safely. And don't expect one of those little electric heaters to do a damn bit of good.

Make sure you keep your garage neat and tidy. I can't but I can ask you to. I have seen some places, they paint the shape on the tool into its location so they can tell what is missing. I wish I had the patience. I reccomend hiring a garage maid to... never mind we're doing this all on-the-cheap. I have no giant roll-away chests. I wish I did, with all those little organizers and everything. It would have been great.

Your garage also needs some way of washing parts down in solvent. Some people have set up old sinks with a recirculating pump in a drum of kerosene. I settled for a plaster bucket full of kerosene, but will be shortly getting a parts washer.

Reccomendation: Do not store your parts in your work area. Your work area is going to become a messy messy place. It makes things too easy to lose, and your work area is already cluttered up with tools. Do not store anything but parts in your parts area. Be certain that only ONE CAR worth of parts is but in that area. Last thing you want to do is mix up the parts of the various cars you may have laying around. I KNOW I'm not the only one who has various cars laying around. The shelving you set up for your car parts should not also become home to old fish tanks and shoe polish. JUST PARTS. Really, this is important.

Your garage needs an old vaccumm or a shop vac. I have both because the shop vac smells bad when you turn it on!

FIND A SAFE PLACE FOR ANYTHING FLAMMABLE! You can store the gasoline next to the welder, but you sure as hell wouldnt' want to be welding anywhere near GASOLINE, KEROSINE, ANY VARIETY OF AREOSOL SPRAY BOTTLE, WOODEN PARTS OF YOUR HOUSE! For more garage safety tips take a look at: LINK TO SOME OTHER SITES SAFETY TIPS (got a suggestion which? Tell me)

And finally your garage needs some really great MG posters, memorbilia, out dated calendars, and assorted junk tacked to the walls. This is really important too! I also put in a radio and have cable TV out there, so I can watch Shadetree Mechanic show how easy it is with thier incredibly expensive tools and listen to the NY Yankees kick the Red Sox asses.

Pictures of my garage: Coming after Christmas 1999

This page, like all pages, are copyright John Elwood. All Rights Reserved.