The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
|Best guy to run into
Larry Cerny. Autobody and custom paint runs deep with him. He learned the trade from his father. Honest and he knows what he's doing. He restored my faith in the custom car scene. I am very happy that he's finally going to put away the tools and retire, but sad that he will no longer be a resource.
Tom and Steve at AutoTek in Orange provide an incredible resource for custom car builders. If you have something you can't handle, take it to them. Honest people that do the job right.
1670 N Glassell St Orange, CA 92867
Trust yourself. I let Spanky and the gang convince me that I had done everything wrong. It turns out they took my good work and turned it bad. Do the work yourself. If you have doubts about the safety, have Tom or Steve at AutoTek take a look at it.
|The Bad and the Ugly
Before the initial sandblasting of the body I contacted Glen Karden at Bodycraft. Glen had rescued my '34 Ford Coupe from a bad paint job. I had found him very reliable and honest. We had developed a great working relationship. Sometimes I'd front him a little cash before the work was done. But in the end, he charged what he said he would on the '34. I asked him to primer the Woodie after sandblasting. He was reluctant to take on a car job (he had switched to motorcycles) but ultimately called me back to offer to not only primer the car, but repair the body. The short story is I got what I thought was about $3000-$4000 worth of work but had given him $11,000. I had to rent a trailer and bring someone along and pull everything out of his shop.
|Chris and Sasha Marks
Next up was Resurrection Hotrod. They advertised in Woodie Times and I checked them out. I started by giving them the liftgate and had them repair the cancer. While they were doing that I used my spidey skills to discover that owners Chris and Sasha Marks ran adult spanking websites (their legitimate businesses were hosted on the same server). Still, the work was good and I decided to go with them. I couldn't get to their website from work because their server was blocked by my employer for being porn. That got resolved. They started me out at about $45 an hour. Next thing I know Jason Andrews is doing the work and Spanky and the gang are charging me $80/hour. Where do I start? He removed a rear brace I had put in and welded in his own... which kept the tailgate from lowering. When I pointed that out he said what do you care, you'll never have the tailgate down. He re-did my entire front suspension without, apparently, understanding anything about geometry and suspension. When the car was returned it had about 1 inch of camber and not enough adjustment to take it out. I also couldn't get enough caster. We decided to move the radiator mounting tabs so he took the radiator down to Continental Radiator. Between his $80/hour (he waited for the work to be done) rate and what Continental charged (not much), I paid more to move the tabs than had I bought a whole new radiator from Griffin and had the tabs moved by them (over $400). I repeatedly told them they couldn't drive the car because the AOD trans hadn't been set up. Later, Jason was congratulating me on how quick the car was. It cost me $900 to fix the trans after they returned the car. I had the car on my lift and couldn't figure out why the car tilted to one side. Finally, I found about a 2 inch spacer under one air bag and 1/4" on the other side. Removing them set the car straight. When I asked Jason why the spacers were there he said it was the only way he could get the frame level. Maybe he should have checked the shop floor. Early on, Jason insisted I had not given them the tailgate hinge. I was emphatic that I had. He reluctantly found another one. Several months later he admitted they found mine on a shelf about 15 feet up. Probably the most ridiculous charge was for coming up with a console design. I have kept every drawing. They look like something a 5th grader would do. When I asked Jason why they were so clunky he told me to remember he was a metal man and that he would be using 1" square tubing. The interior guy did a great job in wood. I remember walking into the shop area and seeing that the roof of my car was wet. The building leaked when it rained. The area that was wet was exactly where the rust formed a year or so later after the first paint job. Almost everything Resurrection did has been re-done. The front suspension has been removed and a new one put in... the engine mounts Jason put in have been removed and replaced. Jason even mucked up the rear airbags and those have been replaced. Jason could weld, but not much else. Resurrection kept pictures and invoices on their website (unsecure, by the way... I could look at everyone else's). I have a complete image of my account along with other pictures and documentation. Do not, do not ever even think about doing business with Chris and Sasha Marks, unless you're into adult spanking. Beware, Chris assumes different identities on eBay and in businesses. I see they have a business now called Us Girls Autobody in Orange. I would stay away from Jason and Spin as well. I understand several woodie owners sued them. I chose not to.
Like I said, I had to have the brand new TCI transmission repaired after Jason got done with it. I was surprised at the worn parts TCI used (the drum was in sad shape), but that's another story. After Tustin Transmission basically did a rebuild, I worked with one of the owners to get the shift points correct. I kept telling him we shouldn't be using the TV adjustment for that. He did. It took 6000 miles for me to lose overdrive on my first trip to Visalia. And that's why I have a 4R70W and a computer. The shift points are where I program them to be. The trans is the same price as an AOD. But then you spend a grand on the computer.
I used an unknown wood guy. Wood is all he does. Upon delivery, it looked awesome. The problem arose when the varnish was applied. He didn't use enough screws so the wood had dips between the screws. He didn't like the sapele panels I had because of a knot in the veneer. Fine. The panels are about $200 each and I needed 3. Go ahead and buy 3 more panels. What I didn't realize is he bought the veneer and glued it down to the backside of my existing panels. Those were $200 panels that he used instead of a $20 piece of wood. Second, he used clamps to hold the veneer down. Once varnish was applied you could see every location he had a clamp. It makes me sick when I take a door panel off and see my $200 a sheet sapele staring back from the INSIDE. It cost a lot of money to have someone apply varnish and epoxy fillers to smooth out the panels. Do yourself a favor. Go with the known names for wood. Yes it will take a long time in the queue. Do it and be happy. You will be WAY ahead.
|The First Paint Job
The guy I used was enthusiastic. He did a credible job on the varnish, But the paint wound up a disaster. The only paint on the car that is his is the spare tire ring, the lift gate and the sunvisor. Everything else was sandblasted away because he felt bad I had spent so much money fixing previous problems he decided to save me money and time and not remove the primer laid down by Spanky and the gang. He was sure the problem was caused by bad advice. In the end, the paint manufacturer had to show him the rust under the paint. I keep his text to me that day on my phone even now. He was "devastated". Imagine me... I'm out 8 grand and a year to fix it. Some people ask why I didn't have him make good on the paint. The guy had no money. He would have had to pick up other work to pay for materials and it would have taken years to finish while he did that work and my car.
I took the car to Big-O in Tustin. Not only did the guy assure me that they did custom cars all the time, he encouraged me to have my friends bring their cars to him. The car was always twitchy on the road. I did a lot of things to fix that but the biggest was I looked at the alignment sheet a year later and realized that the caster numbers were in red. I had 3 degrees of negative caster instead of 3 degrees of positive! Lesson: Stay with the hotrod shops.