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AR Summer Institute

Learn auto restoration skills in convenient workshops at the Automotive Restoration Institute.

About the Institute

For Restoration Summer Institute 2021, we’ve created a streamlined schedule that offers fewer classes, but increases the possibility of having Institute next summer. At this point the plan assumes we follow existing campus health and safety guidelines which includes remaining socially distanced in the labs, wearing masks, and distancing in the residence halls and dining hall.
Below is the working schedule to aid in participant planning.  We will not have any sign-up until the middle of March when we have a clearer idea of the situation at that time. Those who were registered for classes in summer 2020 will receive an email announcing an advanced registration opportunity. Then we will open to the public.
Any of this could change at any point based on recommendations from the state, county, and/or CDC. We will remain in communication with you at each stage as we know more. If you have questions contact, Brian Martin at

The same expert instructors and top-notch facility that have made McPherson College’s Auto Restoration Program famous are available to hobbyists and professionals.

Each class concentrates on a specific skill area and is 5 days in length. You learn restoration by doing restoration with hands-on experience.

Enrollment in each class is limited so all participants benefit from personal attention by our expert instructors with ample time on equipment. With this one-on-one approach, no matter what level of skill you have, you will increase your restoration expertise.

Classes include valuable information on locating tools, materials, and parts. In many cases, you can bring parts from your current restoration project to work on.


Brian Martin
Office 620-242-0428
Cell 620-480-9278

2021 Schedule

Week 1 May 31st – June 4th
  • Babbitting
  • Machining
  • Paint
  • Sheetmetal
  • Tune-up & Diagnostics
Week 2 June 7th – 11th
  • Automotive Woodworking
  • Engine Rebuilding
  • Paint
  • Sheetmetal
Week 3 June 14th – 18th
  • 3-D Design & Printing
  • Electrical
  • Tune-up & Diagnostics
  • Trim
  • Sheetmetal – Advanced*



*Advanced classes require having taken the intro class


  • Class: $800 including lunch
  • Meal Plan: $125 to add breakfasts and dinners
  • Dorm:  $250 for single room including bedding and linens, $50 for additional person in room


These classes are designed for hobbyist and beginners of all ages and interests. Everyone comes with different skill levels and knowledge so they will build from the basics. Classes will start with brief histories and fundamentals of the knowledge needed but the goal is to get students in to the labs as soon as possible and start doing.

3-D Design & Printing

This one week workshop introduces participants to Onshape 3D CAD software through the creation of parts, assemblies, and mechanical drawings.  The workshop utilizes a variety of instructional methods including lectures, hands-on classroom projects, and personal projects.  Also included is an introduction to 3D printing.  Participants will be able to use these skills to design, prototype, and reproduce simple automotive parts.

Automatic Transmissions

Learn about the development, operation, and rebuilding of automatic transmissions.  Torque converters, planetary gear sets and control circuits will be covered.   Specific transmissions covered include the major Ford (C4+C6), GM (Powerglide, TH 350, 400), and Chrysler (727, 904) units, though the class content is applicable to all automatic transmissions.  Students are welcome to bring their own projects, though consulting with the instructor beforehand is highly encouraged to be sure the scope of the project is appropriate.  In addition, historical development of semi-automatic and other unusual transmissions will be discussed.  In the shop, students will learn of different tools and techniques involved in rebuilding automatic transmissions, including pressure checks, specialty tools, and adjustment / repair of units in the car.

Automotive Electrical

Discover the fundamentals of automotive electrical systems.  Gain knowledge of the use of basic electrical tools such as voltmeters, ammeters, and multimeters.  Included in the class is an introduction to oscilloscopes for advanced diagnostics.  Explore and practice diagnostics, troubleshooting, and repair of automotive DC circuits.  Learn by hands-on practice finding opens, shorts and miswired circuits, etc.  Also, repairs of starters, generators, alternators, spark ignition systems and wiring.  Learn and understand the necessary theory of current, voltage and Ohm’s law to diagnosis and repair these components.  Gain an understanding of electricity without complicated math or mythology.

Automotive Upholstery & Trim

Learn the fundamentals of automotive upholstery restoration and replacement. Participants will use industrial sewing machines to learn the basics of constructing interior components such as seats (including various types of seams, piping, & seat cover styles), and door panels. To learn the construction techniques, a packet of sewing exercises will be given to each participant.  Each exercise will be demonstrated by the instructor and then participants will be given time in the lab to practice with the instructor’s guidance.  In addition to lab time, time will also be spent in the classroom going over the history and various materials and processes (e.g. upholstery fabrics, tools, foundations, pattern making, headliner & top installation) of automotive trim work.

Automotive Upholstery & Trim – Applied

This class is for students who want to spend their time exclusively in the trim lab honing their skills. Instruction will be catered to student requests and personal projects. It is encouraged that students bring their own trim projects for this week, but it is not required. Preferably, participants in this class will have taken the fundamental Upholstery and Trim class previously or have prior sewing/automotive trim experience.

Automotive Woodworking

During this class we will work through making a 1929 Stutz Blackhawk rear door frame from plans.  This project will require: project planning, material selection, glue ups, woodworking machines and hand tool use, and finishing.  The completed door frame will be perfect for making a skin in advanced sheetmetal by the way. Most people that I have spoken to about automotive woodworking want to know about replacing sections of rotted wood in their pre-‘30s cars or making a “Woodie” from scratch.  I focus a bit more on the wood replacement topic than scratch-building a body, but most techniques used for the former also apply to the latter. No previous woodworking experience is necessary.

Babbitting (May be the last chance for a few years.)

In this class, we’ll cover engines with poured Babbitt bearings; from the earliest engines through the late- 1930’s. The class will start with a discussion on the history of Babbitt, and the various types of Babbitt, and which types are best for different applications. Participants will try different pouring procedures. Then we’ll set-up an engine to be machined, using antique and modern line-boring equipment. Both main bearings and connecting rod bearings will be covered. After machining, we’ll assemble the engines with proper clearances. We’ll also tighten an engine with used bearings, and discuss maintenance tips and techniques.

Brakes Systems

Learn how to properly restore mechanical and hydraulic brakes.  Students will gain experience with a number of different kinds of brakes, including external contracting drums, internal expanding drums, and disc brakes.  Both mechanical and hydraulic systems will be discussed, including the proper adjustment of mechanical systems, relining, arching, and centering shoes, and common brake system modifications.  Students will learn the proper techniques for rebuilding master cylinders, wheel cylinders, and disc brake calipers.  We will discuss historical development of brakes from the earliest shoe-type brakes to contemporary modern 4-wheel disc systems, including some unusual and different approaches to stopping a vehicle.  In the shop, students will learn the necessary skills to ensure a vehicle stops properly every single time.

Custom Seat Building – NEW
Foundation Shaping, Pattern Making, and Seat Cover Assembly

Participants will learn and practice the methodical approach of creating a custom seat from scratch. Demonstrations will include the cutting and shaping of foam, custom pattern making, and assembly of a custom seat cover using an industrial sewing machine. After each demonstration, participants will be given time in the lab to complete the step using the instructor’s guidance, until ultimately each participant will have a small version of a custom seat to take home at the end of the week. Preferably, participants in this class will have taken the fundamental Automotive Trim and Upholstery class previously or have prior sewing/automotive trim experience.

Engine Rebuilding

This is a hands on engine rebuilding course designed around the hobbyist. The course will kick off with diagnosing engine problems focusing on mechanical issues to determine what repairs are necessary. Following diagnosis correct disassembly, inspection, and measuring procedures will be covered in order to choose the correct machine shop operations. We will then correctly assemble the engines inspecting clearances and adjustments to factory specifications. The cap of the class will be running one of the engines rebuilt in the class focusing on proper setup, startup and break in procedures.

Engine Tune-up & Diagnostics

Learn how to make your classic run the way it should. This class covers trouble shooting of the mechanical condition of the engine. Then basic ignition system operation and components will be covered with in-depth of diagnostics using an array of tools from engine scopes, digital multi meters and the basic test light. We will learn how to inspect and adjust ignition timing, vacuum advance and mechanical advance. We will cover the fuel system learning the basic systems on the carburetor and how they interact. Wrapping this piece up with carburetor rebuilding including bench and on car adjustments along with diagnosis with gas analyzers and basic tools.

Machining – Precision Measuring and Lathe

Using a metal lathe can be very useful in the old car world. This class focuses on the proper set-up and use of the venerable South Bend tool room lathe (and its kind).  These work horse machines can turn bushings, make precise shafts, cut threads, knurl, precision measuring with an outside micrometer, depth micrometer, Vernier caliper, height gauge, and telescoping gauges.


This class is design to teach the fundamental principles in automotive paint restoration. Procedures include bare substrate preparation, application and use of primers, block sanding, application of final finish, color/wet sanding, and polishing. Through the week two test panels are painted with an emphasis on correct procedures, administered through both classroom teaching and lab experience. The first test panel will we used for the application of single-stage paint, while the second test panel will be used for the application of basecoat and clear coat materials.

Paint – Advanced*

Advanced Automotive Paint Restoration
This class moves beyond the fundamental principles of paint restoration and into more advanced techniques and experiences involved with paint applications. As opposed to the entry level test panels this class is designed to get participants significant time behind the paint gun, masking and taping on an advanced project; typically a project provided by the Auto Restoration Program. Projects will be varied and change from year to year.

Sheetmetal Restoration – Metal Shaping & Welding

An introduction to metal shaping using hand tools, shrinker/stretchers, the English wheel, the power hammer, bead roller, and Pullmax machine.

An introduction to the welding and cutting processes commonly used to repair antique automobile sheetmetal: oxy-acetylene welding, brazing, and cutting, MIG and TIG welding, plasma cutting. An introduction to metal shaping using hand tools, shrinker/stretchers, the power hammer, bead roller, and Pullmax machine. Dent repair, lead body solder application, weld finishing, and patch panel fabrication/replacement are also covered.

Sheetmetal Restoration – Advanced*

A highly individualized course of study for the serious hobbyist. Course content varies according to needs of participants. Topics covered typically include advanced metal shaping and fabrication techniques, copying shapes and making patterns, welding multi-piece panels. Extended time working on a personal project if desired. Must have taken Sheetmetal Restoration from Ed Barr. Students are encouraged to bring a project after consulting with instructor.


*Advanced classes require having taken the intro class