October '21

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38 THE SHOP OCTOBER 2021 A LIFETIME OF LEARNING When Matt Kokolis was young, his father had a sideline restoring Corvette hardtops and Matt had to work on them instead of hanging out with his friends. That's why, today, Kokolis can tell you that there are nearly 60 rivets, 50 screws and 40 nuts and fasteners used in a typical Corvette hardtop, and that the specific number varies from one year to the next. Knowledge and experience are his tricks to success. Corvette fans know Glassworks (the- of Crescent, Penn- sylvania as The Hardtop Shop. The company grew through specializing in show-quality restorations of removable fiberglass hardtops for 1956-'62 and 1963- '67 Corvettes. In more recent years, other products have been added, from a top removal/replacement lift to polishes. The job of restoring a fiberglass Corvette hardtop starts with the disas- sembly of the frame. The top shell is then sanded until the fiberglass surface is baby butt smooth. This requires hours of work with different grits of sandpaper. Only when the top is made perfectly smooth is it sent out for painting. Kokolis enjoys doing the stainless steel frame restoration work and has devel- oped personalized techniques. A light hammer is used to tap the backside of the molding to carefully remove dents. This leaves the outer surface with a pat- tern of small, dull marks. He smooths the outer surface with sandpaper, progressing to finer grits. After the outer surface of the piece is sanded, it is then buffed to a factory- like finish. REGULAR & SPECIALTY WORK Joe Thorn of Metal Crafters Inc. (met- in Stevens Point, Wis- consin is another guy with a trick to suc- cess. His company does metalwork that includes portable welding, boring, shearing, forming, rolling of steel and onsite machine and equipment installation. However, Thorn is also an avid old-car lover who collects Fords. So, he devel- oped a specialty service that rebuilds Model T and Model A Ford engines. Metal Crafters does rebabbitting and complete engine rebuilds. The Auto- motive Department rebuilds about 20 of the four-cylinder Ford engines each year. It has even rebuilt an engine for The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. Metal Crafters builds engines to tight tolerances and some customers have found them a challenge to start ini- tially—although they always kick over eventually. Thorn explains that once the engines get started, "they kind of burnish in the Babbitt bearings and you wind up with a nice-running engine that doesn't throw oil all over the place." He adds that members of Model T and Model A Ford clubs "say good Matt Kokolis of Glassworks grew up restoring Corvette hardtops. Glassworks leaves the actual painting of Corvette tops to a nearby shop. In addition to machine work, Metal Crafters employees fix Model T and Model A Fords. Big Ideas

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