Learn The Many Advantages of Auto Restoration Laser Stripping

Aug 13, 2018

Car restoration is an art and a science. Whether you’re rebuilding a muscle car from a scattered collection of old parts or you’re restoring an antique car that has all of its original parts but has been sitting and collecting dust for decades, it’s important to keep the spirit of the car in mind. When car restoration is your business, it’s just as important to make restoration choices that appeal to audiences and potential buyers. That’s why using auto restoration laser stripping is all about preserving and protecting.

Auto Restoration Laser Stripping

Preserve as much of the original material as you can.

The most important rule of restoring antique and exotic cars is to keep as much of the original as you can. Finding a car with all the original parts, and in pristine condition is nearly impossible. Even if you track one down, it will carry a hefty price tag. But if you’re in the market of restoring old cars, you don’t want well-preserved models in factory condition. You want the ones that can only be saved by an expert. Laser cleaning can help.

Pierce through the layers of newer paint applications.

If you find a car with panels that have new paint applied over the original, then sand-blasting and chemical washes put that paint at risk. That forces you to make a hard decision: do you risk sacrificing part of the original color to fully remove the new layers, or do you leave it as it is? But with laser cleaning, you can get the surface cleared away layer by layer. We can remove that newer paint without touching the original material. Laser cleaning can be adjusted to remove minuscule layers of material at a time, so a first pass removes the bulk of the unwanted paint, a second time focuses on scanning and spot removing, and following passes ensure complete removal.

Remove the rust that has been corroding the vehicle.

Laser cleaning doesn’t just remove paint layer by layer. It can also scan for and destroy layers of corrosion. The machine can be set to leave the underlying material completely untouched. This means rust that is covering the entirety of a panel can be removed without putting the substrate at risk, even around folds and seams. For body panels and car parts with extensive rust damage that has even eaten away large sections of the metal, laser cleaning can preserve what remains of the part.

Keep the detailing on the surface level.

The sign of a well-preserved car isn’t just that it has as many of the original parts as possible and that there isn’t any filler, putty, or modern additions. All of the original parts need to retain the detailing and small complex patterns with little to no wear. This includes the bonnet ornaments, like the 1913 Boyce MotoMeter’s radiator cap with small font and its intricate border or the 1967’s AMC Marlin ornament with a central marlin held in place with thin metal circles. The more fragile and striking the hood ornament is, the more critical it is to find an original and use processes that keep it in the best possible condition.

Laser cleaning doesn’t just keep one hundred percent of the remaining material in decorative elements. It also helps with number-matching. Expert car enthusiasts often look for number matching before investing in a car. Even if a car is beautifully restored on the outside, they still want the engine, transmission, and axle to match the vehicle identification number (VIN). That helps buyers trust in the authenticity of the car. But raised or engraved digits and small type are particularly susceptible to wear and tear. Sand-blasting and grinding put the small lines at too much risk and, once they’re gone, the vehicle is less attractive to any collectors who are looking for as much verification as possible.

Find authentic replacement parts when you can.

You won’t always find cars in complete condition, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Difficult restorations keep the market in the hands of experts. The more you can locate, store, and make use of different car parts. So keep your eye out even for rusted and slightly damaged parts that are no longer available.

Clean the parts and tires before you install them.

Laser clean and preserve your new parts as soon as you get them. Whether you focus on the Long Island area or you search nation-wide for the parts you need, you don’t want to carry environmental degradation factors into your warehouse. Rust can spread from part to part if they’re stored next to each other, and even parts that have been stored in a dry barn from the Midwest could have traces of corrosive elements. Our laser cleaner can be set to preserve the original material and spot check for rust that isn’t immediately visible to the naked eye.

It also helps reveal what’s underneath layers of grease, paint, and corrosion so you know precisely what you bought. Some restorations need 100% authentic and undamaged parts while others can make do with a part that needed a little bit of modern replacement. Stripping back the years also lets you preserve as much as the part numbers (including those vital VINs) as possible, even if the seller thought the details were long gone.

Share your restoration process to help get the parts.

People grow attached to their cars and car parts. Even if they don’t use them or the parts are sitting half-forgotten in storage, some collectors won’t sell antique parts unless they know the parts are going to be taken care of. If they’ve seen antique car parts improperly ground or sand blasted before, then they might decide they’d rather the parts rust away to nothing than be destroyed.

But laser cleaning changes the argument. It strips away rust and grime with laser focus and doesn’t damage the underlying metal. Tell reluctant sellers what you have in mind and how you are going to treat the parts. Because laser cleaning is still a relatively new technology, they might not even know it’s possible to restore the parts in the first place. If you can establish that you have good procedures in place and that anything from old wheels to pistons will be part of a fully restored, drivable car, they will be far more likely to let go of well-loved car parts.

Protect your restoration from future damage.

Once your investment is stripped down to the original material, it’s time to build it back up. But the Long Island environment can be hard on cars. Not only are there are a lot of contaminants in the air, the salty humidity from the ocean makes corrosion strike faster. Don’t rebuild antique cars just to let them rust away. Instead, make sure the car is protected from the elements by storing them in dry, controlled environments. You can also take more proactive measures.

Laser cleaning removes all chemicals, not just visible damage.

If you found a high-value vehicle with all of its original parts and in great condition, then you made a one in a million find. Great cars without corrosion are hard to get, especially as they get older. But that means it’s time to ensure it stays in mint condition. If you plan on holding onto the car for a long time to take it to car shows, use it as a central display in your garage or exhibit, or it’s going to a museum, then trace elements of corrosion can grow unnoticed. Get them stripped away while the car is still easily accessible.

Laser cleaning doesn’t strip parts down to their base metal or rubber. It can remove paint layer by layer and remove spotty contaminants without impacting the top seal at all. There’s no abrasion or water, and, because oxide layers absorb laser light, they can be specifically targeted with the right plasma settings.

Use powder coating to seal the parts and body.

Unfortunately, deeply corroded bodies and car parts have lost their paint. While it’s sometimes possible to find supplies of antique paints for the specific make and model, they aren’t always available and you have to get the bare metal sealed before more corrosion sets in. When using the original paint is impossible, powder coating is the best way to protect paneling.

Powder coating is a dry application. Instead of liquid paint, fine particles bind to the surface of the metal for a tight waterproof seal. Because of the application process, you can get the original patterns and stripes replicated down to the last micrometer. More importantly, powder coating protects the part far better than paint does. It’s resistant to chemical spills and it last longer; because it’s applied layer by layer, chips and physical impact won’t expose large areas of the surface like you might see with chipped or worn paint. The color is more resistant to fading, too, which is perfect for cars that are going to displayed outside or that you plan on taking to several shows.

Restoring an antique car to its original condition is hard work, and you have to rebuild the car layer by layer. That’s why we focus on providing laser cleaning services that keep those layers safe. If you have a collection of car parts that need to be preserved for future use or an antique car with a lot of rust, we can help. Contact TLC Metal to see how laser cleaning can make rusty and dirty parts gleam. We also have the powder coating options you need to keep them rust-free for years.