When undertaking a project of this magnitude, hopefully, you learn a few things. Here are a few things I've learned so far...
- The best way to remove dings and scratches is NOT TO PUT THEM IN! Sounds logical, but a few mintues spent putting tape on things before wrestling them around will save hours of polishing and sanding later. I guess it depends on how picky you are too.
- When using the prepainted aluminum for body panels, always use a dark color... like BLACK. You will probably paint it anyway, and dents and small dings really standout with a dark color. If you get it looking good while it's black, it will look good in any color...you'll see every sin before you shoot it, no surprises. If I had used black, I wouldn't even paint the inside of the body panels, I would have just left them black.
- Watch out for shipping costs! All mailorder parts houses are not created equal. Places like Jegs charge a premium price based on what you order. In most cases, Summit will ship you the whole damned store for $8. If you see something you like in Jegs or any other catalog, call Summit, choose "sales help" on the phone tree and tell them the manufacturers part number. They'll have it! I was amazed that Summit had nearly everthing I needed even though it wasn't in their catalog. I tried to order off the web from HelmetCity and for every item I added (Gloves, head sock, etc.) they tacked on $6.95 to the shipping. By the time I had all I needed, the shipping alone was over $30!
- Unless you are putting together a bone-stock granny motor, ALWAYS degree the cam and then check piston to valve clearance. Had I run 2 degrees advanced as planned, I would have wasted major dollars on the first pass. In my case, even retarding 2 degrees would have reduced exhaust valve clearance by more than a comfortable amount. The investment in a degree wheel is worth it. Since I used to be a toolmaker, I had all the indicators, magbases etc. You can get a cheapo indicator that will work fine for $15...you don't have to have a $150 Starret piece.
- If you need parts that are critical to the advancement of the project, call places like Summit and check availablility well in advance. You'll get spoiled ordering parts and having them on your doorstep the next day. Two days before you need that precious part is no time to find out that it is SPECIAL ORDER and takes 4 weeks to get. It costs nothing to bug them and see if they have it in stock...heck, even the call is free. Planning planning planning.
- If you suspect that some parts you need may have to be tweaked or are very particular about fit or finish, then buy it locally if you can. You'll pay a few bucks more, but if things aren't right they'll fix it for you. It's hard to get satisfaction from a mailorder house in this regard, especially if you are in a hurry. Tell your local guy that you'll pay him more than Summit wants for it, but you expect him to rework things for nothing if they aren't the way you want them. If he won't stand behind his stuff, then you didn't want it from him anyway. If he'll help you out when you need it, tell all your friends. He deserves your business. You may even be able to go through his stock on the shelf and pick out the finest pieces. Try THAT with Summit!
- If you are going to paint any panels or parts with real paint (you aren't using rattlecans are you?) then buy a respirator. You can get a 3M brand unit for $20 that will last for years if you keep it in the ziplock bag it comes in. I thought they were hundreds of dollars and tried getting away without one. DON'T. The fumes will kill you or cause you to grow another appendage or make you dream of giant insects eating you in your sleep. It's nasty shit. The $20 deal above removes ALL fumes. They really are great and may also come in handy for those times when the dog has gas.
- While working on a project like this, you will find that everyone knows whats best for you. Talk is cheap. The trouble is, you can't know everything, and you will need advice. Listen to what everyone has to say, but then make up your own mind. Get advice on paint from your paint buddy, but when he tells you what cam you should be using...well, listen and thank him and then go ask your engine builder friend also. You'll make mistakes, and eventually someone is going to say "told you so" no matter what you do. Keep an open mind, but stay away from those people who treat you like an idiot because you didn't do exactly what they suggested. They think there is only one way to do it, and if you keep going back for more, they will eventually brainwash you into doing something you didn't really want to do.