Learn auto restoration skills in convenient workshops at the Automotive Restoration Institute.
About the Institute
The same expert instructors and top-notch facility that has 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 the personal attention of our expert instructors with ample time on the 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.
We plan to hold the summer institute without any restrictions. This could change before the summer based on recommendations from the state, county, and/or CDC. If you have questions contact, Brian Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Week 1 June 6-10
- Automotive Electrical, Sam Babb
- Engine Rebuilding, Curt Goodwin
- Paint, Chris Clark
- Sheet Metal Restoration, Ed Barr
- Understanding Your Early Car, Chris Paulsen
- Trim & Upholstery, Michael Dudley
Week 2 June 13-17
- Automatic Transmissions, Luke Chennell
- Custom Seat Building*, Michael Dudley
- Finishing Touches & Casting – The last 10% of a restoration, Chris Paulsen
- Machining, Garrick Green
- Paint, Chris Clark
- Sheet Metal Restoration, Ed Barr
- Tune-Up & Diagnostic, Curt Goodwin
Week 3 June 20-24
- Advanced Paint*, Chris Clark
- Advanced Sheet Metal Restoration*, Ed Barr
- Automotive woodworking, Garrick Green
- Engine Rebuilding, Curt Goodwin
- Trim & Upholstery, Michael Dudley
*Denotes classes that require a participant has taken the intro class either this or a previous term.
- Class: $850 including lunch
- Meal Plan: $175 to add breakfasts and dinners
- Dorm: $250 for a single room including bedding and linens
- Shuttle: $20 per person (each way to and from the Wichita airport)
- Cancellation fee is $250 after April 18, 2022.
These classes are designed for hobbyists 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 into the labs as soon as possible and start doing.
Learn about the historical development and design, operation, and rebuilding of automatic transmissions. Power transmission elements including fluid couplings, torque converters, planetary gear sets including Simpson, Ravigneaux and LePelletier designs will all be covered. Hydraulic control circuits including governors, boost systems, lockup torque converters, variable vane torque converters, hydraulic pumps and spool valves will all be covered.
In the lab, students will have the opportunity to work on many common transmissions, including the major Ford (C4+C6), GM (4-speed Hydramatic, Powerglide, TH 350, 400), and Chrysler (727, 904) units, though the class content is applicable to all automatic transmissions. Students will follow the full process through 2-3 transmissions throughout the course of the week. The class will consist of approximately 2 hours of lecture a day, with the rest devoted to lab time.
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. A wide variety of demonstration units are available from the College’s collection to work on as well. All specialty tools will be provided.
In addition, the 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.
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 diagnose and repair these components. Gain an understanding of electricity without complicated math or mythology.
Automotive woodworking usually involves replacing sections of rotted wood on pre-‘30s cars or making a “woodie” from scratch. This class will focus more on the wood replacement topic than scratch-building a body, but most techniques used for the former also apply to the latter.
During this class, we will make a 1929 Stutz Blackhawk rear door frame from plans (a project representative of most construction in automotive coachwork from pre-1930). This project will require project planning, material selection, glue-ups, woodworking machines, hand tool use, and finishing. The completed door frame will be perfect for making a skin in advanced sheet metal, by the way.
No previous woodworking experience is necessary.
Custom Seat Building: Foundation Shaping, Pattern Making, and Seat Cover Assembly
Participants will learn and practice the methodical approach of constructing a custom seat foundation and seat cover from scratch. Demonstrations will include the techniques used to cut and shape foam, methods and materials used to make patterns, and the assembly steps of constructing 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. 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.
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 that we have rebuilt in the class focusing on proper setup, startup and break-in procedures.
Finishing Touches & Casting – the last 10% of a restoration
In this class, we’ll work on many of the projects that are required to complete the details of a total restoration. We’ll straighten bright-work such as brass, copper, aluminum, and stainless steel. We’ll practice the buffing and polishing steps for the same bright-work. We’ll practice different techniques for replicating wood-graining of the 1920s-1950s. We’ll perform various techniques for applying pin-striping. We will apply different types of plating-nickel, copper, and copy-cadmium. We will make simple patterns, sand molds, and cast parts in aluminum. We’ll reproduce plastic parts using rubber molds. We will stamp parts using simple, homemade dies. All of these processes will be taught with the home-hobbyist in mind. Participants are welcome to bring some parts in to work on. Please contact the instructor for more information. Each topic will be demonstrated, then time allowed for participants to practice each. A survey will be sent to participants to assess interest in the different subjects in order to plan the week.
This class is designed to teach the basics of operating a toolroom lathe to make replacement parts for your project vehicle. The first day or two will be heavy on classroom time to build knowledge and transition to mostly machine-time as the week progresses. We will make at least three projects, which are representative of common repairs needed in restoration.
Your instructor for this class will teach you to:
- Use a Southbend toolroom lathe to make cylindrical parts – we will make: (1) a 5-step 4140 steel shaft with external threads on both ends, (2) a 2-step 4140 steel shaft with internal and external threads, and (3) a bronze bushing
- Precision measure with an outside micrometer, depth micrometer, Vernier caliper, Vernier height gauge, and telescoping gauges
- Grind a high-speed steel tool to use on the lathe
- Single-point thread on the lathe (including left-hand threads)
- Drill and bore on the lathe
- Power tap on the lathe
- Oxide surface-finish steel
- Read blueprint drawings
No prior machining experience is required.
This class is designed to teach the fundamental principles of automotive paint application. Topics include sheet metal preparation, preparation of existing paints, application and use of primers, block sanding, application of topcoat paints, color/wet sanding, polishing, paint gun setup, air tool and compressor selection, and paint material usage on various parts of the automobile. Through the week, two test panels are painted with an emphasis on proper paint application techniques, which are administered through both classroom teaching and lab experience. The first test panel will be 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. This class aims to prepare participants to begin entry-level painting procedures and not larger, more advanced painting projects.
This class moves beyond the fundamental principles of paint application and into more advanced painting experiences. This class begins with taking an already painted test panel that is dented and/or scratched and making a repair using correct bodywork methods. The proper use of body filler and its application techniques are emphasized with this project. The refinish work on this panel will incorporate two-tone colors using proper tape and masking procedures and may also include usage of metallic or pearl components. The latter part of the class will consist of a group(s) project provided by the college. The purpose of this class is to instill confidence and prepare participants for larger and/or more advanced projects upon returning home.
Sheet Metal Restoration
An introduction to the welding, cutting, and metal shaping processes used to repair antique automobile sheet metal. Learn oxy-acetylene welding, brazing, torch cutting, spot-welding, MIG and TIG welding, and plasma cutting. Explore metal shaping using hand tools, shrinker/stretchers, the English wheel, the power hammer, bead roller, and Pullmax machine. Dent repair, heat shrinking, lead body solder application, weld finishing, and patch panel fabrication/replacement are also covered.
Advanced Sheet Metal Restoration
A highly individualized course of study for the serious hobbyist. Course content varies according to the 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 Sheet Metal Restoration from Ed Barr. Students are encouraged to bring a project after consulting with the instructor. Students who are unable to bring a project can work with the instructor to design a course of study that will best meet their needs.
Trim and Upholstery
Participants will learn the fundamentals of automotive upholstery restoration and replacement. Industrial sewing machines will be used 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 installation) of automotive trim work.
Tune-Up & Diagnostic
Learn how to make your classic run the way it should. This class will start with troubleshooting the mechanical condition of the engine. Then we will review the basic ignition system operation and components and their diagnostics using an array of tools from engine scopes, digital multimeters and the basic test light. We will cover how to inspect and adjust ignition timing, vacuum advance and mechanical advance. Finally, we will cover the fuel system by learning the basic systems of the carburetor and how they interact. Wrapping this piece up with carburetor rebuilding that will include, bench and on car adjustments along with diagnosis with gas analyzers and basic tools.
Understanding Your Early Car
This class will cover a variety of topics related to early automobiles, through the early 1930s. We’ll study their mechanics, history, technology and lasting impact. We’ll explore what makes them go (and occasionally not go). The class will cover the basics of their working components – engine, transmission, fuel, ignition, steering, and brake systems. We’ll also talk about early auto history, and what makes it an important and fascinating part of car collecting. We’ll discuss their collectability and usability today. We’ll focus on the Model T Ford, but also look at and experience the 1886 Benz replica, 1902 Oldsmobile, Model A Fords, and others. This will be a mix of classroom lecture and hands-on demos. Vehicles will be provided by the college.
*Advanced classes require having taken the intro class