Restoration project management - anyone have a excel or PM tool to share?

Member's Projects & Restorations

  1. tallhair

    tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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    Well I've been busy following Budnicks advice and filling my (virtual) library and am ready to start my project management portion of the resto. I've been reading others restoration posts, researching and saving how to info, reference lists etc. I figure it's best to do this now so i'll have an idea of costs and who/what to use before i get started.

    Wondering if some other anal retentive folks out there have already created/used an Excel spreadsheet or other Project management tool for their own project.

    I would appreciate it if you could share said tool and or advice on the the following:

    1. Planning the phases of the build

    2. Keeping track of hours invested

    3. Time phases of build

    4. Keeping track of suppliers, vendors, local/internet vendors you have/are buying from

    5. Part numbers

    6. Cost paid for parts

    7. Shipping costs, and other fees for dealing with particular vendors, and perhaps comments on how they met/did not meet expectations/things to watch out for etc.

    8. Sequence of build

    Appreciate any information and advice


    I'm planning a 70 Roadrunner 383 (now 440) 4 speed Hardtop Restification. I've owned the car since 1981 / age 16. I'll only be using parts / options available in 70 RRs for interior and body (that are visible) but intend on stiffening chassis / suspension, suspension mods esp to front end with rear sway bar and pinion snubber being probably as far as that will go on the back end, braking mods (probably 4 wheel disc, but definitely front disc) etc. But the focus of this thread is on project management ideas and I would love to have someones PM tools and advice on that portion of this project and learn from their specific resto and what dealers are the best work with. I'll start another thread when I start or getting ready to start turning wrenches :) .
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
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    • Dako

      Dako Well-Known Member

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      This is a good way to get a game plan started and stay focused so you are not...as my Dad used to say, "Jumping around like a fart in a lantern." and ending up with a project finished 'half-assed'. It also can help you decide when to spend money...no sense in buying wheels and tires now if it will be 3 years before it is on the road...or recovering seats, only to have to worry about damaging/ stepping around them for another 6 months to a year because the car is not ready for interior.

      While I did keep an excel file on my project, I did not go as far into details you mention.

      I 1st segmented mine by sheets: Interior; Exterior; Suspension; Underhood; Fuel system, etc.

      2nd, I populated a collumn on each appropriate sheet with every part (named) as to what I knew that I would either be rebuilding or replacing.

      I looked up costs on parts to be replaced/ rebuilt where possible, and 'guestimated' what I thought things might be (i.e. chrome; engine/ trans. work, etc.) and populated that in the collumn next to the parts name.

      I made a 3rd collumn that I entered the 'actual' cost of said items once purchased...adding in shipping/ labor/ materials if needed (paints, sealants, cleaners, etc.)

      I totaled each of these by sheet, then linked the totals to a 'Main sheet' to get a 'total-of-totals'. This way, when I came across additional items needed (there will be LOTS!) I simply inserted an additional line (above the 'total' line) on the appropriate sheet, and everything else updated itself.

      I did not break out shipping or labor, but bundled it into the price of the item. I just made notes in the cells next to them. Same thing as for vendors used.

      Tips for buying parts:
      Just like Frank on 'American Pickers'...BUNDLE. Places like Dante's, Classic Industries, etc. will give discounts based on total dollars spent and shipping is generally cheaper too. Combine that with sales that they have and you can knock substantial dollars off your build costs. I also competitively shopped items such as my TTi exhaust system, engine parts, and interior parts through multiple vendors to get even lower prices than what was on their sites.

      If you put a dollar amount on your labor, you will find you could have bought a finished car for (A LOT) less. But more than the money, this is about the journey...locating the hard to find stuff, meeting people with the same interests (some giving you great deals simply because they have been in your shoes). You will question what you got yourself into 2 or 3 times before you are done, maybe even contemplate tossing a towel. But don't. Just come onto FBBO and these guys/ gals will 'talk you off the ledge', help you get through the rut, and back on track...I've seen it more than once.

      Be for-warned your 'projected costs' will scare you...the 'actual costs' will give cause to wish you had taken up a cheaper hobby. Ha-ha!
       
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      • HawkRod

        HawkRod Formerly hsorman FBBO Gold Member

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        This is a great idea for a thread - I'm hoping to learn some good tricks.

        One of the things I have planned to do on my Road Runner restoration is do a better job of marking and cataloging parts. (on my other restorations I have always kicked myself for not being detailed enough). Some new plans:
        1) As has been discussed MANY times, take lots of pictures & notes as parts come off of the car. I won't belabor that again here...
        2) On this restoration, I am in the process of getting business cards made from different color stock paper. I am using a different color for Interior, Body, Engine/Trans, Suspension, Under Hood. In my case, I am going to use light green for the body (my car is Limelight), White for interior (black interior), Red for engine/trans, etc. Use whatever colors you like. On each card, I plan to have pre-printed areas for information: Car, Part Name, Description, check boxes for pictures taken, part condition, etc. I haven't made up the cards yet, but you get the idea.
        3) For every part either taken off the car or purchased, I will include a card and make sure it is easily visible. I will try to organize them on shelves according to the type of part, but you know how stuff gets mixed up over time. The colored card will hopefully make it easy to identify the type of part. Hopefully this will ease my pain in searching for my parts!

        Just some random thoughts...
         
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        • tallhair

          tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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          Excellent feedback Dako and the type of thing i was looking for! I'll PM you tonight re: the spreadsheet you used. Thanks for the respone! TT

          this is a good way to get a game plan started and stay focused so you are not...as my Dad used to say, "Jumping around like a fart in a lantern." and ending up with a project finished 'half-assed'. It also can help you decide when to spend money...no sense in buying wheels and tires now if it will be 3 years before it is on the road...or recovering seats, only to have to worry about damaging/ stepping around them for another 6 months to a year because the car is not ready for interior.

          what I want avoid :)

          While I did keep an excel file on my project, I did not go as far into details you mention.

          those were just some random examples of what I'll probably include and were listed for memory joggers for those who may have suggestions ... he said hopefully :)

          I 1st segmented mine by sheets: Interior; Exterior; Suspension; Underhood; Fuel system, etc.

          sounds awesome! I'm pretty good at excel but not as good as you i'm guessing and sounds like exactly what i was hoping for and didn't want to recreate something i figured was already accomplished :)

          2nd, I populated a collumn on each appropriate sheet with every part (named) as to what I knew that I would either be rebuilding or replacing.

          would love this to help with not reinventing / searching as I expect most B-body cars need many similar or same parts

          I looked up costs on parts to be replaced/ rebuilt where possible, and 'guestimated' what I thought things might be (i.e. chrome; engine/ trans. work, etc.) and populated that in the collumn next to the parts name.

          Exactly. And i'll be doing some guesstimating my self but hope to learn in advance from others experience ... Mom always said to learn from others mistakes / experience :)

          I made a 3rd collumn that I entered the 'actual' cost of said items once purchased...adding in shipping/ labor/ materials if needed (paints, sealants, cleaners, etc.)

          MASSIVE HELP HERE!

          I totaled each of these by sheet, then linked the totals to a 'Main sheet' to get a 'total-of-totals'. This way, when I came across additional items needed (there will be LOTS!) I simply inserted an additional line (above the 'total' line) on the appropriate sheet, and everything else updated itself.

          OTHERS HELP IN RESTORING THESE CARS WILL BE A BIG HELP ALSO ie lessons learned :)

          I did not break out shipping or labor, but bundled it into the price of the item. I just made notes in the cells next to them. Same thing as for vendors used.

          Not a big deal but was thinking that keeping track of this will help in seeing trends in who has the biggest handling fees or what parts drive what costs for shipping

          Tips for buying parts:
          Just like Frank on 'American Pickers'...BUNDLE. Places like Dante's, Classic Industries, etc. will give discounts based on total dollars spent and shipping is generally cheaper too. Combine that with sales that they have and you can knock substantial dollars off your build costs. I also competitively shopped items such as my TTi exhaust system, engine parts, and interior parts through multiple vendors to get even lower prices than what was on their sites.

          I've always believed in bundling and love that show. Matter of fact I'm not sure i ever bought a car that didn't wind up having some parts thrown in .. I still have a vacuum cleaner that was in the trunk of one, and have had a brand new/never had tire put on one set of magnum 500s, set of 15x10 cragers w/new tires, AG breather, etc. etc thrown in the trunk

          If you put a dollar amount on your labor, you will find you could have bought a finished car for (A LOT) less. But more than the money, this is about the journey...locating the hard to find stuff, meeting people with the same interests (some giving you great deals simply because they have been in your shoes). You will question what you got yourself into 2 or 3 times before you are done, maybe even contemplate tossing a towel. But don't. Just come onto FBBO and these guys/ gals will 'talk you off the ledge', help you get through the rut, and back on track...I've seen it more than once.

          Concur here: not doing it for valued added for car but just for my own personal info AND I had been thinking of selling both and plucking someone else's bird but after reading a lot of the resto threads here and knowing how long I've dreamed of having my 70 RR the way i want it, i'm sure i wouldn't be happy with someone else's vision, but would be better off financially and that was my plan before this site re-addicted me LOL :)

          Be for-warned your 'projected costs' will scare you...the 'actual costs' will give cause to wish you had taken up a cheaper hobby. Ha-ha!

          I'm sure the costs will be beyond what I can fathom and that's why I'm asking the question. I REALLY appreciate your responding and hope for more responses since I know there are some really high level restos here and that has given me cause to rethink my plan of selling out and just buying someone else's finished project for cheaper than I could do it my self. Before getting re-enthused about my own projects i didn't think i could do this but have since read everything I could / can find or is linked and am thinking "hey I can do that with the right tools!". I may be kidding myself and am afraid I may give up but am seriously re-addicted and am really looking to stripping down my pigs and getting started
           
        • roadrunnerman

          roadrunnerman Well-Known Member

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          This is an excellent idea. I wish I would've started one, but I think I can as I have all the receipts and money orders for parts that I have bought. I can guesstamate my time(hrs) that I have worked on my project. The wife will have to help me get it started. She's the one with the brains and beauty in this household. Thanks for bringing this idea forward.
           
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          • Propwash

            Propwash Well-Known Member

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            Good Topic for a thread Tallhair! One huge part of a resto is keeping the budget, equipment, parts and workload in check. Doing so will definitely streamline the process. Not doing so seems to be the major factor that dooms a lot of resto's.

            For what it's worth....The route I go:

            Data....Besides having the factory service manual, parts manual and vehicle specifications data, I save a lot of information online and then on an excel spreadsheet. Under favorites I have folders for parts, articles, tools & equipment, vendors & services. Each one of them is broken down with subfolders for easier navigation. For instance, under parts I have: Engine, Electrical, Interior, Wheels & Tires...Ect...ect.. Every so often I copy and paste each link to an excel spread sheet for back up.

            Budget and parts/tools/equip needed-bought I track on a excel spreadsheet. I do this for parts, tools-equip and services. I prioritize parts by changing the color of the font. Red would be critical, blue least critical. One the line for each part, I'll paste the link for where I can get the part. Sometimes I'll have multiple places to get the part so if I place a large order I can consolidate buying from one place if possible to save on shipping and keep it less complicated. I'll annotate in red if I have no leads on parts. Those usually end up in the "wanted" section here or a craigslist hunt. In another column I also have a price column. I use the auto sum feature to auto calculate a total running cost.

            Further to the right on that sheet, I'll have on each line item when/if it was bought. I'll also have the total price with at least one item on an order carrying the shipping/tax cost. I use auto sum on that to run an actual total running cost. Be it either parts, tools or services, I use the "Good, Bad, Neutral" feature on excel to highlight where the part/tool/service was bought from as basically a means of rating that experience. Using that feature will highlight the entire box with a color, thus a quick reference how I rated my experience for down the road. On the non electronic side of things I save all recipes in a master folder for the car as well as a screen shot from all parts ordered on line. That master folder is broken down into subfolders as well.

            I also have a dry erase workboard out in the garage. Being it's size, it's more of a short term means of tracking work to be done and immediate needs for parts-tools-hardware-services, but serves as a quick reference. Being the cars I build are not built for a means of sustainable revenue, I do not track my hours work. Honestly I probably wouldn't even want to know...lol But, I can imagine tracking wouldn't be too hard to do on a quicken or another excel format.

            All parts being OEM or new parts ordered are primarily kept in my basement. All original parts are bagged and tagged. New parts are inspected upon receiving and then kept in their original packaging with directions (if supplied). Parts are segregated on a series of large 5 shelf units for easy locating. Tools, equipment, hardware and consumables are also separated for organization in the garage.

            Another big measure of tracking the resto, is obviously pictures. Another is a restoration thread on here. By far having a thread on here is an outstanding way find ideas, suggestions and motivation, as well as making a lot of friends and resources down the road.

            As far as planning, well that's pretty fluid. I mean there is main goals like hanging quarters, painting or engine work, but those priorities are continuously changing with all the situations along the way. I thinks it's important to have set waypoints along the way, but all the variables like funds, parts/tools/services availability, unforeseen issues/work and day to day life will be the main factors in deciding that workflow. The important part is being prepared as possible as well as being able to adapt to an ever-changing schedule.

            You mentioned this model as being an "anal retentive" approach and i'm sure there are some here that would agree, but IMO taking the time to organize the entire resto logistically is critical. It does take quite a bit of time to organize all of this, but in the end you will end up with a successful resto that was more time/money efficent as well as a lot less "shoulda, woulda, coulda's" in the end. I take my whole approach from my experience working at an autobody/repair business, current job, US Military and how I was raised. I still learn everyday how to tweak my approach from threads and websites like this and feel lucky to be able to reach out and listen to all the folks out there with their own methods and experiences.

            Sorry to ramble on, a guy could literally write a book on this subject. I hope yourself, folks on this site and those visiting can gain some ideas from this whole thread, and use it to successfully compile their own battle plan for bringing another classic back to the road. All of that is what truly makes this site great.
             
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            • tallhair

              tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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              Thanks thanks and thanks Wil! I was hoping you would chime in! Thanks for the time, thoughts, and advice.

              I've been doing some of things you mentioned and plan to do the others. I do plan to organize the parts and store them safely and out of the way. Plan to use bags, well marked and keep screws, bolts etc with the items i take off also. I appreciate all of your suggestions and will definitely use a spreadsheet with estimates based on researching parts prices and shipping costs and actual cost with some auto-formatting to keep track of running costs - projected/actual build costs, suppliers, part numbers, my experience with them etc.

              Some examples of how i've been organizing the virtual library:

              I've been bookmarking all the great ideas I've come across on the interwebs...many of them from your project RR :)

              Mopar bookmarks.JPG

              and storing pictures organized by subject like cool ideas and ref pics of cars by year and model with sub-folders for Engine compartment, Interior, body, underside, etc

              Mopar folders.jpg

              subscribing to your and many others restoration threads

              I have some ref books like Mopar Chassis and Engine manuals and some original Mopar shop lit:

              Shop manuals (1).jpg Shop manuals (3).jpg Shop manuals (2).jpg
               
            • Donny

              Donny Well-Known Member

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              Tallhair, sounds like a good 'meaty' thread. What I don't see is what kind of car you're working on, and, what your skill sets are -- meaning what you want to do, and what you're going to farm out. AND...I see no talk about the most important step you MUST take at the beginning; Media Blasting! I'm doing a Mustang for an older dude right now; all his car show buddies told him this and that; meaning his floor pans "look good", etc...Well, he finally got smart and did his research, and ended up securing the best place in town he could for media blasting; me. I blasted his car, and, the floors are not 'looking good', in fact, if he (owner) didn't watch too many TV shows he would not have put his car in his rotisserie, then cut the qtrs off, and then cut all 4 sections of floor pan out! (This is a huge and costly mistake) He needs new complete left and right hand floor pans now. My point is that you must get your car blasted right away; all other steps are naught if the car base is compromised and not worth throwing money at it...and, this leads back to the question of how much are you going to do yourself? I would say find your lane, your 'core' and do that well. Others out there have their lane and core and it would be wise to hire them for your tasks. Another point to remember, the bozo that used to be next door to me was entertaining hiring a guy to press new bushings in his upper control arms when the car body was sitting there with no qtrs! There's steps for everything, and, don't get sidetracked on the small stuff till you need to do the small stuff; get the big stuff done first; strip the car to nothing, send the body out to your blaster, get it back, put some self etch and then epoxy primer on it, assess your metal needs at that point, and assess if you're capable of welding sheetmetal that can't be fooked up. Once the body is good to go, do the fenders and doors, then the drive train, then the suspension, then go back to the body for paint, then put the suspension back on, then go to engine, install engine, then do wiring, then do interior. Remember, Upholstery is usually the last thing done, and the first thing people see, but, the thing you'll be intimately involved in each day; so, usually when you're at the interior stage, your money may be dry, and if you chose something like Legendary you will have fit/finish areas that are not 100%.

              Just my observations over a few yrs experience! Good luck!
               
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              • Duda

                Duda Well-Known Member

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                I tried this and I keep coming back to rule one, need more money.
                 
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                • 2059

                  2059 Well-Known Member

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                  As a general statement; I think it's important to fit the "type" or "level" of organizational system to the individual. As said earlier, the lack of a plan, stratagy, data and accounting will doom the project. Different folks are comfortable with different levels of organization, for example; if someone out there is looking at the level which is being discussed, they might freak out or dismiss the importantce of this part of the project. the "bookkeeping" portion IS part of the process and needs to be part of the daily/weekly/monthly work. Maybe it's not the most fun part, but it's still necessary. The best advise I can give is, use the system with which you are most comfortable. whether it's a "Dave Ramsey" envelope style of budgeting and keeping receipts or what is being talked about here. For me, I'm old schoolin' it. Everything goes in a binder and budget $$ are pulled from a seperate checking account and spent only when it can be covered. (and no, that's not a way to keep it from the wife on how much this thing is costing.... sort of..) don't get me wrong this level of detail is great and necessary, my advise for anyone listening is fit the process to the person. it makes the job easier.
                   
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                  • tallhair

                    tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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                    my responses in bold and big thanks for all the advice Donny!

                    - - - Updated - - -

                    I hear you Duda one of many reasons i want to get the Proj Mgmt going early on to keep myself real about what this is going to cost

                    - - - Updated - - -

                    thanks for the comments and couldn't agree more ... if ya don't have a plan then you are planning to fail :)
                     
                  • Donny

                    Donny Well-Known Member

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                    My comments on Legendary is from what I see and hear from the Upholstery shop next door. They have to re-fit their stuff sometimes to make them fit better. That's all regarding Legendary. Cheers!
                     
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                    • tallhair

                      tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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                      Thanks Donny. I planning on taking my seat frames down to the actual frame, cleaning and painting them, and then installing new foam and seat covers.
                       
                    • Propwash

                      Propwash Well-Known Member

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                      I've had really good luck with Legendary...My roadrunner's the 5th car I installed their covers on. Really impressed with a houndstooth cloth and vinyl set I bought for a Dart I parted with....Spot on stuff for me anyways. Pricey, but sure beats the heck out of sitting on springs or tacky looking Autozone seat covers.
                       
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                      • tallhair

                        tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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                        thanks for closing the loop on that one Wil!
                         
                      • tallhair

                        tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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                        appreciate all the support out there so far ... any more project management ideas guys?
                         
                      • HawkRod

                        HawkRod Formerly hsorman FBBO Gold Member

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                        A spreadsheet keeps track of electronic records, well organized shelves keep track of physical parts, PC directories keep track of pictures, URLs, etc.

                        I also make a separate folder for packing slips and vendor documentation I get with parts I have purchased. I guess you could go crazy and make separate ones for interior, body, engine, etc., but I just have one that I throw them all in to. Often parts are purchased well in advance of when you use them. If you have a problem later, most reputable vendors are OK with returns, even a while after they were purchased... but it sure helps to have the original paperwork.

                        I do make separate files for information that is in paper form. If I read an article in a car magazine that i applicable, I tear it out and put it in the "body" or "interior", etc. folder. These are then handy to reference later for information.
                         
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                        • tallhair

                          tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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                          thanks for the tips hsorman
                           
                        • tallhair

                          tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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                          I've been working on the spreadsheet Dako sent to make sure I come in on target or close to it on what I've been doing and am getting ready to spend. I've modified it slightly but same layout and plan.

                          Here's a sample of the efforts. I think I've got a pretty go WAG on it but it still needs work. It's not complete by any means but I am getting past getting started or to put it another way this is the end of the beginning.

                          The only thing I'm looking to do at present is the "get it to daily driver" status but did the whole thing for fun and future use. Since getting it on the road includes the susp and brakes and since I have the engine out that's what I'm focusing on getting ready to buy next.

                          This experience and spreadsheet will also help planning the 70 RR build I hope to do once this car is able to get me to work and back and I can have fun with it.

                          Summary page is automatically fed by each sub assy tab across the bottom.

                          resto spreadsheet summary page.jpg

                          This is part of the front susp and brakes tab .. not final but I've identified stuff I am definitely going to buy to make sure I stay at least somewhat on budget for now anyway.

                          brakes and front susp tab.jpg

                          I hope this doesn't come out in too small to make out the detail but hopefully it gives someone some ideas. I'd be happy for anyone else's input on what I may be missing or how the tool could be better designed. I do still have some fine tuning to the actual parts and prices.
                           
                        • 747mopar

                          747mopar FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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                          I wish I could help you here but the truth is I'm the exact opposite "pay as I go and plan on the fly". I would rather shoot myself then spend hours writing or typing all of the info down and would rather not add up everything for fear that my wife might find it haha. I have all weak at work to plan the weekend of wrenching ahead of time and spend my breaks reading Mopar magazines and looking through catalogs so I guess I do my homework at work (on breaks of coarse). I look at it in simple steps, tear down, clean (blast), replace all bad metal, bodywork, build motor, tranny, etc, rewire, etc, etc, Reassemble "that's my plan, simple as that". I put quite a bit of research into my motors and tranny's but do most of the rest of it on the fly and do everything myself for the most part. So if I were to show you my plans or my paperwork it would be a drawing of the car and a stack of receipts. Me thinks your nuts "sounds like torcher to me". Good luck, that in all honesty is a good thing to do and I'm sure will help you out. "Have fun"
                           
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