Auto Restoration Summer InstituteLearn auto restoration skills in convenient workshops at the Automotive Restoration Institute. 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 workshop 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 workshop is limited (classes are limited to 9 students per instructor) 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.

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

June 4-8, 2018 session:

  • Drivetrain Restoration – FULL (can be added to wait list)
  • Electrical Parts Restoration – FULL (can be added to wait list)
  • Engine Rebuilding – FULL (can be added to wait list)
  • Machining- Mill & Lathe
  • Paint – FULL (can be added to wait list)
  • Sheetmetal Restoration – FULL (can be added to wait list)
  • Small Parts Reproduction
  • Upholstery & Trim

June 11-15, 2018 session:

  • 3-D Modeling and Design
  • Automatic Transmissions
  • Automotive Woodworking
  • Brightwork & Finishing Touches
  • Engine Tune-up & Diagnostics – FULL (can be added to wait list)
  • Paint
  • Sheetmetal Restoration – FULL (can be added to wait list)
  • Upholstery & Trim – FULL (can be added to wait list)

June 18-22, 2018 session:

  • Brakes Systems
  • Engine Rebuilding – FULL (can be added to wait list)
  • Fine Woodworking – FULL (can be added to wait list)
  • Paint – Advanced
  • Sheetmetal Restoration – Advanced
  • Upholstery & Trim – Advanced

Register Online

Actual class dates and offering may change due to demand.

See class descriptions in next tab.

Classes offered for Summer 2018:

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 Modeling & Design NEW

This workshop introduces participants to Solidworks 3D CAD software through the creation of parts, assemblies, and mechanical drawings (blueprints). The workshop utilizes a variety of instructional methods including lectures and hands-on classroom projects. Also included is an introduction to 3D printing.

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 Woodworking
Most 1930s and earlier car bodies are wooden framed and have rot issues. This class will focus on many facets of wooden frame construction and some coach building. Students will learn to tooling and joint making techniques necessary for repairing or replacing wood components in vehicles. In this class you will be able to build a wood door structure from drawings.  This project is representative of most of the types of construction that you would encounter on the rest of an automobile. Prior woodworking experience will be beneficial but not required.

Brakes Systems NEW

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.

Drive Train Restoration

Learn how to rebuild and restore manual transmissions and drive axles. Students will go through in-depth disassembly and assembly of transmissions and rear axle assemblies ranging from Model Ts to 1970s cars. Historical development of automotive drive trains, including front wheel drive, four wheel drive and unusual power transmission systems will be covered.

Students can expect to learn in-depth mechanical techniques for removal of rusty and broken fasteners, tips and tricks on achieving different finishes on mechanical components, and insight into the judging process and places to pick up a few extra points. The College will provide demonstration projects, though students are welcome to bring a project of their own. Consulting with the instructor beforehand is highly recommended to be sure the scope of the project is appropriate and that parts are available before proceeding.

Electrical Parts Restoration NEW

Our goal in this one-week course is to take the “Black Magic” out of electricity and automotive electrical systems. It’s really easy stuff when you get a chance to look under the hood and you know what to look for (but you have to promise not to let the secrets out). We’re going to look at the insides of the stuff that usually never gets fixed right, and see how to do repair — and proper restoration. We’re going to look at testing and fixing gauges, senders, speedometers, clocks, voltage regulators and charging systems. We will take a look at what’s really going on in the ignition system and see how to test each part of it (what’s that condenser really doing, anyway, and how do you test it?). We will look at the right way (and the wrong way) to do wiring and harness repair, and soldering and crimping. And what’s the right way to convert to 12 volts (if you really need to do it) and still run 6-volt gauges and radios. We will even look at a little bit of the radio itself to see the most common problems and what you can repair yourself. All that and more, coming to Kansas! Be sure to bring some projects with you.

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 & Diagnostic

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.

Fine Woodworking
Learn the skills necessary to do fine and decorative wood work. Special attention will be given to glue-less joints such as dovetails and Mortise & Tendon. Students will use these skills to construct an ornamental keepsake box.

Finishing Touches

In this class, we’ll work on many of the projects that are required to complete the details of a total restoration. We’ll restore bright-work such as brass, copper, aluminum, 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 1920’s-1950’s. We’ll perform various different techniques for applying pin-striping. We will apply different types of plating-nickel, copper, cadmium. 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 instructor for more information.

Metal Machining

Using a metal lathe can be very useful in the old car world and as high schools and industry eliminate their manual machinery there are deals out there on these old machines.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, and so much more.

Precision measuring will be a support topic during the class, so if you have an old Starrett, Mititoyo, Browne & Sharp 0-1″ micrometer feel free to bring it along.  We can calibrate and tune it as long as it is not stuck or bent. The typical day will include one to three hours of instruction and the rest of the eight-hour day will be spent grinding your own tool bit or running a lathe.  There are two set projects: a step shaft, threaded on both ends (very much resembles a water pump shaft from a pre-thirties automobile) and a bronze bushing with a close tolerance internal diameter.  Contact me to inquire about bring your own project. No previous experience necessary.

Paint Restoration

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 Restoration – Advanced

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 on an advanced project; typically a project owned by the Auto Restoration Program. Projects will be varied and change from year to year.

Sheetmetal Restoration

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 – Advanced

This class is for the serious hobbyist. Includes advanced metal shaping and fabrication techniques, copying shapes and making patterns, welding multi-piece panels, wood buck building, 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.

Small Parts Reproductions

In this class, we’ll explore various ways to reproduce small automotive parts and methods that will allow you to do it at home. We will make patterns, sand molds, and cast parts in aluminum and bronze. We’ll reproduce plastic parts using rubber molds. We will stamp parts using simple, homemade dies. We will perform nickel-plating, copper-plating, and cadmium plating. 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 instructor for more information.

Upholstery and 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), door panels and carpet binding. 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.

Upholstery and Trim – Advanced

This class is for students who want to spend their time exclusively in the trim lab honing their skills. Preferably, participants in this class will have taken the fundamental Upholstery and Trim class previously. 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.



Dorms are situated across the parking lot from the restoration building. They will contain a twin bed, desk and closet. They do not have TVs or refrigerators in the rooms, but there is a common living area with a TV, kitchen and laundry facility. Bathrooms are communal, but do have individual stalls and showers. Women and couples will be in a wing of the dorms with women only restrooms. Participants will be assigned a single dorm room to themselves unless they request to share a room. Shared rooms are intended for spouses, family and friends. We ask if you are sharing a room to indicate who you will be sharing with so we can get you matched up.

Lunches are now included as part of the class tuition. A breakfast and dinner plan can be added for an additional $100. Individual meals may not be pay as you go any longer. The breakfast and dinner plan may be added at a later date, but the sooner you can let us know, the better the food service staff can plan. These changes are to help streamline the process and to keep meal prices as reasonable as possible.

Due to the popularity of some of the classes and number of people on wait lists we have instituted a cancellation policy. If you need to cancel please let Brian Martin know as soon as possible. Cancellations before April 23 will have a check issued for your payment minus a $35 administrative charge. Cancellations after April 23, 2018 will be charged a $250 fee.