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this is going to be my first restoration. i have a 55 belair 4 door. its all org. and need alot of work. nothing major i dont think. well as far as i can tell. i know next to nothing about paint, body, sheet metal and so forth. just powder puff stuff. brakes, oil changes, spark plugs well you guys get the idea. what i would like to know is where do i start. i would like to take off frame and do from ground up. i have some guys that do body work and paint & sheet medal. as far as i can tell, the front fenders need little patch panels, around head lites and of course the bottom by door, the hood is good. the 4 doors are solid. all will need bottom panels and the rust form inside taken off. both d/s& p/s front floor pans need it bad. the rear floor is good exept 2 holes by the bottom corners of the seat. rear fenders good , maybe some sheet medal on bottom. the trunk is good except the rear that runs from right to left side. and the wheel wells are fair. and the roof is good. of course the there is rust all over but not to bad. ive had it for 5yrs and did nothing and now is time. i bought it for only 1000.00. i think that was a good price. it runs but blows a ton of blue and white smoke and the tranny works but no brakes. but anyway just wanted to explain what i have. i want to do what i can so where do i start, and will take any advice. thanks tracy:confused:
 

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1957 Bel Air sport sedan
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Well, since you said that you want a frame up resto, this will give more of a choice of where you want to start. Let me make a list (Since I haven't done a 55-57 yet, but have done '60's Chevys this will still apply) See if the guys that are doing your bodywork will pull the body off of the frame for you and let you have the frame back. This will let you do a multitude of things.

1. You want to start on the drivetrain. If the engine still runs, you are farther ahead than most of us who start on a project car. Pull the motor and take it to a reputable machine shop that will do a good job. Is the motor original? If so, make sure the engine shop does not grind off any numbers on the block. I have a buddy that had the numbers ground off of his block from his numbers-matching 1965 Corvette. :mad: There is no substitute for a well machined block and heads. Also, take in the transmission to get overhauled. If it is a manual transmission, this should be pretty cheap and many not need to be done yet. Automatic, it will need to be done as they are pretty finicky (except for the ol' Powerglide, you can't kill them)

2. While the block/heads are out getting machined you can get to work on the brakes (As I see it, this is the single most important item on a car.) Do you plan to go all original? If so, pick up a rebuild kit for the front/rear and start in. Take the drums in and have Midas, NAPA, or whoever does it in your area turn the drums. Personally, I would buy new drums simply because great brakes are the cheapest life insurance we can buy. Replace the rubber hoses! (This is what bit me) If not original, I would go for one of the refit kits for disc brakes. I think you can get a complete kit for the front for less than $400.

3. While the motor/transmission are out and the brakes are stripped, get a wire wheel and a heavy duty drill and start stripping the frame. Get it all nice and clean and make sure it is straight. It is no use to put it all back together if the frame is all caddywumpus. There are many ways to do this, but a bodyshop with a laser system would be the best. You can do it youself with a set of jackstands and a measuring tape though. You can paint it with a bunch of different types of products, but POR15 will probably be the toughest coating (and most expensive). There are plenty of gloss black rust inhibitive paints out there though.

This should keep you busy for a year of Sundays. ;)

I can't overemphasize the importance of brakes though. I speak from experience. I put my restored 1964 Impala through a wooden fence because a brake hose in front burst from age (brakes was the last thing I did and the old one "looked" fine) :eek:

I hope this helps and I hope others chime in to give specific details regarding the 55-57 cars, since I don't have one yet and am by no means an expert on them. Others may have a different order of doing things that may be more helpful for 55-57, but it is my $0.02 worth.
Eldon
 

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1957 Bel Air sport sedan
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No prob. I hope it helps some. I am by no means an expert with only 3 restos under my belt, but hopefully I can help. Many of the lessons I learned were were learned the expensive and painful way.
Eldon
 

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And if you are pulliing the body off the frame don`t forget that on the tri-fives the steering column doesn`t come apart from the steering box. You will have to take the steering column apart and remove the steering tube off the steering rod. Then you will need to unbolt the steering box from the frame and remove it before removing the body. Just one more tip of many which you can ask about as you go along.
Terry
 

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There's a book called "how to restore your 57 chevy" or something like that. It goes through a step-by-step restoration. You might find that it applies to your 55 as well. Just a thought.
 
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