Frame-Off Restorations Process (Part 5 – Reassembly)

Okay guys I am sorry that I did not get any blogs out for November, but between the holiday, the COVID, and family member passing away that made last month crazy for me. I will be only post one this month and that was made possibly by our newest employee Bella Zacchia for helping out with this blog.

Last but not least in the restoration process, we reach the reassembly of the vehicle. The reassembly process takes a significant amount of time due to the preciseness necessary in assembling a perfectly functioning vehicle. Putting a vehicle back together at Graveyard Run Restorations follows the assembly line process in factories throughout history.

            The first step in the reassembly process begins with putting the frame and suspension back together. We start by installing the rear end and suspension on the frame. This includes the rebuilt rear differential (if the vehicle is rear wheel drive), axles, bump stops, and any springs supporting the back of the car. At this point, we will also sort out the front end. Depending on the style of the front suspension, we will install the control arms and ball joints or kingpins, the springs, and the spindles. Any steering components mounted to the frame are installed at this point. Any other part that allows for us to get “wheels on the ground” will also receive the necessary attention. During any point in this process, the brakes and brake lines are built and created respectively. Additionally, we will mount up the master cylinder if it is located under the body or along the frame. If not, the brakes will remain unfinished until the body is mounted. Once the brake lines are installed, the fuel system is assembled on the frame before the body is set down. This includes the tank, fuel sending unit, and lines if none of the system is housed in the body.

            With the suspension installed on the frame, we begin the second step of mechanical and electrical assembly before the body ever comes near the completed chassis. First, we install the drivetrain. The rebuilt engine-either as a short block or long block-and transmission are mounted to the frame. If the car is rear wheel drive, we will install the rebuilt driveshaft, connecting the engine and transmission to the rear differential which finally powers the vehicle into motion. Once this is complete, the frame bushings are installed and then the body is lowered on the frame for mock-up. At this point, we begin the next stage in assembly.

            As we lower the body onto the chassis, we begin the third step-assembling the body. When the body is first installed on the frame, it is simply mocked up. This means that nothing is tightened, and no doors are mounted. As such, the first thing we do is ensure that all our measurements are correct, squared, and in position on the frame. Then we tighten the body down to its final position. With that step checked off we begin mounting the doors, and trunk to the body; all of which are loosely bolted up and then adjusted into their final position in order to achieve the perfect body and door gaps. Finally, if it benefits the completion of the restoration, we will install the fenders. However, for most pre-1950’s cars the fenders will be one of the last pieces installed due to their shape. The team will install and adjust the hood once the engine is finalized to reduce any chance of damage to the piece while the engine is still receiving work.

            At this point final assembly begins, which includes everything to truly finalize a vehicle. The technicians finish step two-assembling the engine. The starter, carburetor, fuel pump, pulley system, alternator, AC compressor, and power steering pump will all mount to the engine if applicable to the vehicle. The radiator and radiator hoses are installed, as well as the heater hoses and A/C components, if the car is so equipped. Mechanical systems such as the brakes and steering linkages undergo final assembly and then are finalized.

            With the mechanical assembly nearing completion, we begin our fourth step-the process of electrical wiring. We run a ground wire from the respective terminal on the battery to the engine block, from the block to the firewall, and from the block to the frame, depending on whether the vehicle is positive or negative ground. This begins our electrical ground system. Constant power-either 6 volts or 12 volts, will be run to the starter, the ignition switch, and fuse panel. Key-on power from the ignition switch will be run to all other components. This includes: the charging system (either an alternator or generator), the fuel system (sending unit, electric fuel pump, and the electric choke on the carburetor (if applicable)), AC and heat, the dash, and all other powered components. After bench-testing each component, we roughly begin running wires to anything already mounted to the frame. This means that we will run power and ground wires along the frame to the fuel pump, headlights, and taillights. This will all be left unfinished until the electrical system is working perfectly. Then, it will be loomed and tied down.

            As we finish mechanical and electrical assembly, the final body assembly begins. We install the hood, fenders, body chrome, and trim. Mirrors and bumpers are double checked and finalized. Here, we shift into assembling the interior. Window regulators, glass, door latches and handles are all installed into the doors. The headliner or convertible top is installed. In the body, sound deadening, jute carpet padding, and the carpet are all installed. The dash and doors undergo final assembling and checks, and once finalized we can install the package tray, seats, and door panels. The trunk will be fitted with the correct liner, jack, and spare tire as well.

 With assembly completed, we begin the extensive process of testing and finalizing the vehicle. We go through each aspect of the car to double and triple check for concours-level quality, top notch drivability and mechanical function, and anything you may have specifically requested. By the time we finish, the vehicle will be better than you could have ever imagined. This process is how we achieve our nationally acclaimed restorations. We hope to see you and your vehicle in our shop soon.

– Hope Everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! –

Rachel Richardson and the GYR gang