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Discussion Starter #1
I am a Chevy Muscle Car fanatic, but I lack the skills/knowledge 2 do my own repairs. I am just an average joe who works in an office. I am investigating various options 2 learn auto repair in my spare time. DOes anyone have any suggestions? A couple of the options I am looking N2 are some community college classes or a school I saw in Super Chevy mag called ICS (anybody have any experience with them?) I live in the Washington DC metro area and although we have Lincoln Tech Automotive school, it is not convenient 2 me. Please help. I love my Chevelle and part of the fun of a restoration is the blood, sweat, and tears, not me paying someone else 2 do it!
 

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Well, I assume that your chevelle is not your primary transportation, so the best way to learn is to do it! Just do some reading in Car Craft and magazines of that type, Hayes makes some good books on body work and painting for beginners etc. I would not spend money on classes unless you are not very mechanical by nature.

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Chris Dagenais
CST Kelsey
'71 Malibu soon to be 454!
http://member.xoom.com/Gandalf80/Chris'sPage
 

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Just hang out wit-da-good-ole-boys down at the local "Hot Rod" hang out, subscribe to a few Chevy Mags, BS wit-da guys at the "Team Chevelle" garage and befor you know it you to will be giving advice to others in need.
 

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I was 16 when I started on my 70 Malibu Convertible. I knew next to nothing about cars but I wanted to, so I just started turning a wrench. (I still cringe at some of my own repair jobs from 18 years ago).

- 3 days to change a steering gear. "What pickle fork?" Almost as long to get the air out of the pump.

- Did I mention the front wheel bearings. Did I over tighten what? There was a cotter pin where?

- I needed that wire?

- Don't even ask about the new heater core.

- speaker wire powering more than one
accessory. Tell me you did'nt do this :)

Like most people on this site I learned by jumping in and making my own mistakes. I did'nt know how to weld but I wanted to so I bought a welder. Never did any body work until I got the new quarters and floor pans. I enjoy the build up as much as anything. That's the best part of having my Chevelles there is always somthing more to do.

Best advice I can give is read the magazines and manuals and give it a shot. No doubt the schools that you mention would be a great fast track into the hobby if you have the time.


Oh and driving them once in awhile is pretty alright too...MK
 

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One other place to check are your local high schools. When I was in high school, every school had its own auto shop. Now many districts have consolidated these into specialized Vocational-Technical schools. Many of these offer night courses for adults. Check your local high school district and/or community colleges for night classes offered for adults.

Also, like Gandalf suggests, just start by doing small things like changing oil, spark plugs, etc. Get a factory service manual and/or an aftermarket repair manual for your car. I would also bet there is a "Car Repair for Dummies" book out there that would probably be good. I know the "for Dummies" series books are usually very good.

Take your time, don't rush yourself and use the proper tools for the job. Then, as you gain experience, you can tackle larger jobs. Also, don't hesitate to ask your friends to help you do something so you can see first hand how it is done.
 

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71boo,
I'd go the community college route. I think you will get the best value for the $. No profit motive there.

JUST DO IT has its limitations. Cost of mistakes can be very high. Many of us who started this way have not-so-fond memories of big $ projects where a small mistake turned an otherwise killer project into junk.

This site is the best I know of with many very knowledgeable participants. However, there is also much bad or incomplete information from participants who should be talking less and listening more. IMHO.

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Fred Aldrich
Web Site: www.GeoCities.com/~69_chevelle
 

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First go out and rap your knuckles on a fan blade (removing plenty of hide), this will teach you about useing the right tool for the job and will start toughing them up.
Next pull the distrubter and drop a 3/8-16 nut down the hole. This will teach you engine disassembly AND assembly. Then take about 500 dollars and throw in down the toilet and flush (you need to do this for the first 5-6 years) this will teach you to learn everything you can first then buy the parts. You'll need to change all carpeting and upholstry in the house to earth tones or black.Be prepaired to buy your wife everything she wants for as long as you have the Hot Rod ( this I do without question as I cannot work on the car with knots on my head or a high whine comming from the house )
One more thing as you take things apart throw at least one bolt from each assembly as far as you can. this is a you can do it now and start looking ahead of time or wait till later when you are anxious to get it back together. Enough for this lesson get back when the knuckles have healed some.
Harley
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Although it has been suggested, I hesitate 2 just "dive right in", because, as mentioned, it can lead 2 COSTLY mistakes and even my safety as a driver if the vehicle has improper repairs. I am leaning more towards some courses. I wanna learn stuff like how to rebuild my engine and all that it entails. I mean, I don't know the first thing about "dialing" in a cam, even though I am relatively mechanically inclined. I still need the KNOWLEDGE.
 

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Different strokes for different folks. I think you have the right idea about classes. You seem to feel comfortable with them and are willing to invest the time. As Fred said , i would look into community college classes. Remember though they will probably be geared toward the 97 Malibu rather than the 71.
One additional thought. How about joining the local chevelle club. I know there is one in Maryland (I don't think thats too far). You can probably get hands on experience helping one of the experienced members with HIS ride. None of this stuff is rocket science (well maybe degreeing a cam/ or rebuilding a tranny) and seeing someone actually doing it will go a long way to giving you confidence.

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Rick Schaefer
72 El Camino
TPI 350/700r4
Aces #00140
TEAM CHEVELLE #00038
NCOA #16197
 

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The suggestions about the "trade schools" is a good one for several reasons. Not only is the instructor there to answer questions, but there are also the tools that you may need. (tools are something that you have to buy over time, as you need them)

As for "just jump in", there is some validity to this. You HAVE to have the moxie to do it, but you have to also face the reality of your limits. ALWAYS experiment on something you don't care about. As an example, if you want to build an engine, pick one up out of a junk yard that you can dissasemble and put back together. The hundred bucks for a throw-away core could be worth the learning! Want to learn how to weld in patch panels, get a junk fender to cut apart and weld back together.

I guess that I've been lucky, but I can normally manage to do what I set out to do. That's NOT to say that it's correct the first time, just that I'm willing to spend the time to redo it if needed.

Get Greasy!! It washes off!

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Wes. Vann
Technical Reference & Wagons sections
Gold Member #5
 

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Hey 71, I've been thinking about taking classes on auto mechanic's too.
Although I'm pretty good with the Chevelle, newer car's are getting very complicated and require special knowledge and special tool's to repair properly.
I've been searching around the web for online course's, there's some stuff out there but in order to learn it correctly, I think you need to get your hand's dirty.
So, I think the local voc tech college is probably the way I'm gonna go.
I've also thought about volunteering to work for some local shop for free if they would teach me what they know, just my thought's on the subject.
By the way, a career in auto mecanic's seem's to be something that could turn out to be quite lucrative, judging by the want ad's Ive been reading. Plus it beat's delivering [email protected]#$ing mail everyday, which is what I do now.


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Nick P.
Team Chevelle Gold #36
 

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Here in SoCal, we have adult night classes at my high school & at the community colleges. Auto shop teacher also lets me tinker around with Pro Street Hemi Cuda! I am only 16, but have learned a lot off this site & getting into the car & seeing what does what & what makes something run. I saw it above about Haynes, they makes a 68-72 Chevelle book that has step by step direction & illustrations. Best thing I had when I had my 72. Where's Hot Rod U? I've heard about it, but never really liked Hot Rod(sorry Hot Rod guys). I'm more into Car Craft & I learned by making my own mistakes. Most for the better. For example, when you spill trans fluid all over the driveway, use Cat LITTER not Cat food as I did! Aaaaahhhhh!!!! I got the cat litter 10 minutes later though. Feel free to make jokes below.

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Jay W.
In-the-works 67 Malibu
http://genxrodsandcustoms.8m.com
http://surferwagons.8m.com
http://www.angelfire.com/ca4/67malibu
 

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In addition to the above, one simple thing which I would suggest is to get an old auto repair manual from the late 60s - early 70s. I picked up "Peterson's 5th Basic Auto Repair Manual" at at used bookstore for a few bucks. It's written for the average joe, and I think it's great. Theve factory service manuals are useeful for specifics, but they don't tell you anything about troubleshooting or things to look out for, and they assume that you have a vast array of esoteric tools at your disposal. --- Carl
 

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ALL of the above advice is very good. And along with that, try real hard to find a friend who is a knowledgeable and helpful person with mechanics, especially Chevelles. Maybe there is a local club in your area, join it. Ask questions and ask for help. Start out with simple tasks first. If someone comes to me and wants me to build or repair something, I charge $25.hr + parts. But if they come and ask me to show or help them with something, the help is free, as long as they pitch in and bust knuckles with me. There are friends out there who will help you if you ask. One thing for sure, if you are going to do it yourself, you will be buying tools from time to time. If you are married, you better find out right now if this is going to be an acceptable hobby. Because if it is not, you're in for a lot of grief. Working on these old cars can create a lot of frustration at times and you don't need the added frustration of a family that disapproves of your hobby. Of course, the ideal situation, is to have a wife who will come and help or just keep you company.
I was lucky, I have an uncle who was a factory trained Chev mechanic and he taught me everything about Chevys that he could.

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Well my best advise is to just take your time and do it.

The best learning will be by you doing it yourself. Pick up as much info you can through books, magazines etc. Try to watch some of the Back Yard Mechanic shows on your local cable co.

I rememeber my first engine bulding exp. I just picked up my L78 from the machine shop and I needed to assemble it. My freind whom was supposed to put it together for me kept putting it off. I could't wait any longer. In the meantime one of the magizines at the time was doing a series on assembling a fresh big block. With that and some other manuals, I purchesed all the tools and gauges I needed. I took my time and put it together one step at a time. I loved every minute of it and the results were excellent. I can't tell you what a great feeling it was the day I put the engine back in the car and got it running. After that I was on a roll. I began assembling engines for everyone in my area.

This is pretty much how I learned on all aspects of auto mechanics. I used whatever info I can find. I even spent hours at other peoples garages just watching them work.

I am a strong believer - you can do anythng you want to do all you have to do is want to do it.

Rich
 

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71boo, when I was 15 or so I read everything I could get my hands on. Shop manuals, HotRod, " how to hot rod your BBC/SBC". By the time it came around to maybe fit auto shop into my schedule I had already rebuilt 2 engines, a rear end , and a t400 ( unsuccessfully I may add). But I was working part time in a machine shop/full time during summers. Between the self study and working with excellent machinists that were all mega gear heads ( mostly Lotuses and other exotics), I really ramped up that learning curve fast. And I'm not a Mensa candidate. So that's was the "secret" for me. Read everything you can and get ahold of some experienced brains to pick. You'll have bloddy knuckles in no time!!
 

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Maybe I was just lucky growing up around cars. It was kinda hard NOT to learn how to rebuild engines and tune a Holley with my Dad around. I still call him for advice at least once or twice a week. Just take your time and learn all there is to know about YOUR car. You learn about what you have first, and everything else is easy. The classes are up to you. I agree with just diving in, as long as you have some good advice or someone there to help you. Just pulling your engine and trying to put a new crank, cam, and intake on it without knowing what you're doing would be just plain stupid. Tinker at first (change your water pump or something), then graduate to bigger and better things later. Patience is key when you're dealing with cars (this is something I have to remind myself of all the time!). Don't worry; you'll learn. Just don't try to learn everything at once or you won't retain any knowledge and info. If you need any help at all, I'm sure everyone will agree, this is the place for it! Hope it helps! Good luck.

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Jeremy J. Bennett
72 Chevelle
Team Chevelle #298
 

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70 boo
read read read,research rules.at 13 had a moterhead brother,that got me into it,16 had a car and the garage worked on it,after gettin robbed over and over(this guy was a shmuck!)I started to tear into it myself.scary at first but I did alright.school would be good as al said,they have it all,every thing is there to program your mind and skill.for me costly mistakes were the best lessons.but I was always broke.pack your mind with every thing you can,day or night.I think this site is a good auto-shop course,If you have a problem,ask,and you will be answered.oh yea,I think the day when I started doing my work myself was the day I was riding my bike to see if my 68 gto was done,and my car passed me doing at least 95 mph,who other than the garage owner behind the wheel!67rat member #199
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks 4 all the informative replies folks. The knowledge I have gained from this site alone has been more invaluable than any school. My compliments 2 the creators.
 

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never did any body work myself but tackled a total resturation, believe me till it was all said and done, i learned alot and my be the next project won't take as long, found myself doing alot two or more times over till i was satisfied, all i did was read alot and ask buddies who had experience, car is not going to win any first places, but i did 98% of it my self, getting a scanner soon will post pictures, a pro would of finished the car in .1 of the time it took me, but i didn't have to pay any one, and the reward was great!
 
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