Speed Read: How To Restore Automotive Trim and Hardware

How to restore automotive trim reviewEver gotten in over your head? Started a project that you thought you could handle, but realized that doing it right was way beyond what you had skill, tools, money or time for? How To Restore Automotive Trim and Hardware by John Gunnell may well save you from such an experience when it comes to restoring brightwork on classic cars. If you think you want to get into restoring automotive trim, it’s got just enough info to to point you in the right direction, which may well be to your nearest professional. shiny chrome partsYou see, not unlike a typical gearhead who heads into a mechanical engineering program hoping to become the next Goran Malmberg, I looked out at the pitted and dented chrome bumpers on my ’67 Ford Country Sedan and jumped when Motorbooks gave me the opportunity to review How to Restore Automotive Trim and Hardware. In classic Clarksonian fashion I thought how hard could it be? HTRATaH has chapters for each type of automotive trim and how to restore them. It covers a broad range of what to do with your trim: various types of metal, trim pieces, rust removal, hammering, filing, sanding and polishing. There’s even a bit on what to do with plastic (hint: give up an buy a repro part). I’ve done most of my learning via text books, and with that background, I was initially disappointed with the lack of detail in HTRATaH. The information is presented mostly as descriptions of how various pros like to do the work, rather than a set of specific instructions to do it yourself. A more accurate title might’ve been How Automotive Trim Is Restored.

This was going on District Attorney Harvey Dent's car
As I read on, my frustration with the lack of in-depth information faded to appreciation. HTRATaH opened my eyes to just how much goes into restoring automotive trim. I no longer wonder how a restoration can cost $80,000 and take two years. The time-drain of DIY work like this is well known, but the cost of the tools to do it properly and the space to keep them make the whole effort a non-starter for me. Besides, (as the book points out) trim restoration is literally learned by feel and by eye-balling things to your satisfaction. This is artisan craftsmanship, which can’t be accomplished by just following step-by-step instructions.
Are you ready to dedicate a whole drawer to dollies?
If you’re got ambition, patience and a desire to look over the gleaming chrome on your classic with a sense of satisfaction, HTRATaH is a great starting guide that’ll point you to what suppliers and techniques you’ll need to be familiar with. Think of it as Trim Restoration 101, after which you’ll know where to go for whatever your specific needs are. If you think you want to get into restoring the trim on your classic, the $24.99 you’ll spend on HTRATaH is nothing compared to what you’ll spend on supplies. Images and book provided courtesy of Motorbooks, publisher of How To Restore Automotive Trim and Hardware by John Gunnell

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