Points to observe when planning a full restoration of your dream Aston

System Installation

It pays to do this carefully and in the correct order. One of the key indicators of a good restoration is how the brake and clutch hydraulic pipes are laid out. The more care that is taken to ensure a perfect alignment and fit so the more professional the end product will appear. We at Aston Workshop take pride in the care we take to get all of the important minor details correct as they set the overall tone of the restoration.

Another indicator of the quality of the restoration is the fit and finish of the selection and use of high grade components, plated nuts, bolts and washers, polished aluminium panels and correct fit of all grommets, P-clips etc. When an Aston has been the subject of a full restoration it is also imperative to fit a new bespoke wiring harness as this adds to the overall sense of quality as well as being a major safety factor.

We will always fit new, where available, or fully refurbished components, whenever we undertake a suspension and steering rebuild, the component costs being relatively small compared to the time and hence the cost to dismantle and refit.

Much the same considerations apply to the fitment of new brake components. For example we would never refit used brake discs even if they were in essentially unmarked and unworn condition and we would never refit brake calipers without refinishing and reassembling with new pistons and seals throughout.

All Aston Martins up to the start of the V8 era were fitted with wire spoked wheels with quick release racing style single knock off retaining nuts. The key concern with regard to hubs and wheels  concerns the condition of the splines. The principal indicator of wear is when the splines look pitted and have sharp ridges, in such cases it is the safe option to renew the parts. The alternative of building up the splines with weld and then machining would be prohibitive, proving more expensive than replacement.

Safety considerations; here there are a number of key components, which if they were to fail could lead to a serious accident and potential loss of life. Such components include front stub axles and king-pins, wishbones, steering arms, swivel joints, wheels, hubs, and brakes. Most of these experience significant mechanical stress and all require the most careful checking and examining for distortion, cracks and other signs of deterioration. For safety reasons there are a number of must do’s. Never assume it is safe to replace any safety critical item unless it has been dismantled and checked, always if dismantled replace with new components to bring to as-new standard.
Finally, a specific point with the DB2/4 and DB Mk3 is a known mechanical weakness of the front hubs, stub axles and front spring housings.  Also a known problem with regard to the upper and lower rear axle trailing arm aluminium castings fitted to the rear suspension, which are known to crack and break up with potentially life threatening consequences. For these reasons, they should be replaced or safety tested.

The pluses and minuses of negative and positive earth; why is it a good idea to convert to negative earth ? The fitment of any modern electronics requires a negative earth system, to that end it makes sense to convert and this can be quite straightforward. The only instruments that need to be modified are the DB5, DB6 rev counter, clock and radio although the DB4 only requires the clock and radio, the heart of the upgrade is the installation of the new high output alternator.

Wiring integrity, no option just renew it ! It should be remembered that most car fires and electrical failures start from poor electrical connections, Astons are no different, failed insulation and short circuits, chafing occurs and connections become tenuous, it always makes sense to replace the original loom to match any additional upgrades planned. Here at the Aston Workshop the new looms are tailor-made to match the requirements of each individual restoration specification thus avoiding add-on wiring and connections.

Heat and Noise Insulation has become a major requisite for the modern classic owner who is now accustomed to enjoying the benefits of modern motoring. We fit the best and most advanced heat and noise insulation available as we find that significantly adds to the sense of well-being, comfort and usability of the restored Aston. The cost of fitting is significantly reduced with the benefit of a stripped out body-shell being the ideal time to install hidden modern materials.

New versus old hides; most owners who choose to undertake a major restoration will invariably choose to include a full re-trim, but it is also worth considering the merits of retaining, where possible, the original hide/leather. Much like a slightly frayed but comfortable sports jacket, slipping into it seems natural and the car retains more of its character but it is also worth considering whether the extra expense of a hide re-trim will increase the value of the car more than cleaning and restoring the original. As always, ultimately it depends on the individual customer, but the evidence is that provided the original leather is in good condition, a car with original leather will still be just as valuable as one that has undergone a full new hide re-trim.

There is nothing difficult, apart from a little elbow grease, to restoring old leather, but it is important to use the correct cleaning and feeding materials as well as the correct, advised technique. Excellent advice is available from the Leather Conservation Centre (www.leatherconservation.org) which is situated on the Northampton University campus as well as many local specialists.

Finally the other principal material used in trimming is the carpet, these do wear out, they become frayed and discoloured and often there is no alternative but replacement. Many a good restoration has been badly let down through economising on low quality materials. In the context of a major restoration the carpet represents a relatively minor expense and Astons demand best quality Wilton carpet being properly bound with matching leather.

Some words on comfort and safety are appropriate as both attributes are to an extent bound up with each other. We do have an opportunity if you are a person of untypical stature to tailor the seating to suit your particular needs. We can alter the shape and padding of the seat to a limited degree; we can raise or lower to suit and we do offer the option of unobtrusive, concealed inertia type seat belts when appropriate and finally if headrests are specified then these too can be readily accommodated.

Weather proofing and seals; Astons of the  40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s come with relatively rudimentary seals and weather proofing, modern seals are light years in advance of what was then available. We can to an extent use the more modern seal extrusions and improve upon what has gone before where available;  the most visible seals being those around the windscreen and rear window and it is sensible to ensure that new and flexible seals are used when these are refitted.

One of the joys of creating an unique product such as a fully restored Aston Martin is the almost endless opportunity for the bespoke fittings, choice of body and trim colours to original specification or to match your dreams, in theory, nothing is impossible. What we can do is to tailor the interior and boot space to accommodate customer’s wishes for additional stowage, security containers and hidden “cubby holes”. Central locking is a common request, again the restoration providing the optimum time for adding unseen upgrades. We can also readily accommodate a wide variety of security systems, trackers and other security features that customers wish to have. Finally, we can source and provide tailored luggage to complement the restored Aston and make it truly special. In principal nothing is impossible but occasionally we need a little time to devise and source the materials required.

Introduction to the assembly

Following much chassis and body etc. preparation work we would have a fully painted body-shell, suspension in pieces but with all new components prepared, an engine complete and dyno tested, a fully overhauled transmission, all new or reconditioned brake components and a full inventory of wiring looms, instruments and trim ready for assembly. We would then be in a position to begin the assembly.

Beginning with the bare body shell

  • Great care is taken with the painted body shell, you may ask why not finish the painting after we have assembled the Aston so it doesn’t matter so much if we inadvertently mark the newly painted body? Well there are several reasons why we paint first.
  1. Because we want to ensure the best possible protection against corrosion, which could not be  achieved if we apply paint after everything has been assembled.
  2. Because the standard of finish would otherwise be compromised, there is nothing more detrimental than overspray straying onto new components to spoil the effect. No matter how careful one is in masking all parts it can never be as good as fitting fresh new components and fastenings over previously painted structures.
With the use of wing protectors, polythene sheets etc. we prevent dust contamination and maintain a clean working environment, these are all key factors in the avoidance of damp and high humidity. Finally, having carried out a full pre-fit with bonnet, doors and boot lid aligned and checked, we remove them and store them in a safe place until needed later.

Our preferred order of assembly is as follows

  1. Installation of sound and heat insulation, brake pipes, fittings, reservoirs and servos with all clips, grommets and security fastenings.
  2. Fuel tank, pump, lines and fastenings, basic wiring harness fore and aft, grommets and fastenings, front and rear suspension, axles, bearings, hubs and brakes, (we can now make the shell mobile) the steering column,  power steering components if specified, front bulkhead fittings, e.g. fuse-boxes, relays etc.
  3. Next would be the pedal box with master cylinders and connecting pipework, handbrake linkages and lever assembly, windscreen wipers and washer assemblies (excluding the washer reservoir for the present), the heater box and air conditioning evaporator, where specified, followed by the heater vent trunking, the pre-assembled dashboard (minus instrument panel), then the instrument panel binnacle with gauges to connect to the pre-installed wiring loom.
  4. We then continue with the fitting of lights and indicators and wiring connections with continuity checks as we move forward.
  5. Install the pre-fitted front and rear bumpers, splash guards and pedal box protection panel.

First step of the re-trim is the fitting of the new headlining of choice, followed by panels and tailor- made black Wilton carpeting for the boot, then door and boot lid seals.

Complete the fitting out of all under bonnet ancillaries excepting radiator and engine assemblies.

Install the engine and gearbox in unit. Install water and oil radiators with air conditioning condenser (if specified) and connect up all services and instrumentation. Install the new propeller shaft, fit the transmission tunnel and close up.

Install the exhaust system, with Zircon heat protection (if specified).

Check the electrical system, fit the battery, power up and function test all electrical circuits.

Install the tailor- made Wilton carpets bound with matching hide and all remaining body trim, complete with the in-car entertainment system, as specified.

Assemble the doors with locks, door frames, wiring, window mechanisms and door glass, hang and align the doors and window frames. Trim the doors to complete the assembly, check the function of the locks and window raising and lowering systems.

Carry out front and rear suspension to chassis alignment as appropriate.

Fill with fluids, start the engine and commence initial testing and setting.

When all is satisfactory, hinge settings, safety cable and lock operation, finally fit and align the fully assembled bonnet.

As a secondary safety check present the Aston for MoT test.

Carry out our road test programme to check the integrity and reliability of all components and operations with final checking and tuning.

Fit and finish, our objective. It cannot be overemphasised that the most painstaking restoration can be ruined by careless final assembly, failure to use the correct new fastenings, new seals and use of non-original parts where specifically required.

It is also important in achieving the standard expected that all components to be refitted are scrupulously cleaned, painted and polished where appropriate.

The mark of a good final assembly is the care taken to ensure that any fastenings securing a component that may need removal in the future and that may be subject to damp, heat and erosion has been copper greased to ease removal and provide good final protection.

Finally, it is very nice to see aligned screw heads, but it is more important that what they secure has been snugly and carefully fitted.

A dedicated area for final assembly Body shell prior to commencing assembly Painted body shell with wing protectors etc fitted All of the engine bay components are fitted in advance of the engine being installed excepting the oil and water radiators Rear axle, suspension and gearbox ready to fit Front suspension in place prior to final alignment. Alignment will be one of the last tasks Engine being installed - The steering system will already have been fitted Assembly completed Wired ready to install the dashboard. We routinely fit new looms All of the instruments will have been overhauled and calibrated Suspension and Steering alignment check Painstaking attention to detail and absolute determination to maintain the best possible standard of fit and finish Some available overhaul kits A combined navigation and audio system installed in the central console. When not in use, this folds away to leave it looking as the original. A much improved level of insulation is now possible with improved materials - It is one of the first items to go in at the start of the assembly process  A commonly requested item
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