It took a while (as per previous post) to find a body shop where it looked like passion came as standard, but find one I did, and as providence would have it, practically on the doorstep. He and they are Garry Lee Panel Craft or www.carbodyrepairsrainham.com.uk. The giveaway that he was more than just a car sprayer, was the spray painted grand piano in his websites gallery and a string of custom minis (the originals not the modern version).
I dropped him an email, and he called back, and that is a first. All other mail enquiries have been responded to with email, either auto “we have received your mail”, or terse “we don’t know how to write an email response and we don’t have time anyway” ... this is common place in the non-typing all day practical industries, if you don’t know it or don’t see it I think you would get the wrong impression of most trades. Most trades are not that email savvy, however most trades also seem to have forgotten how to pick up the phone as well ... I’m not being a hypocrite. I order my thoughts into a set of logical questions and write them down. They are for an expert to read and respond to. I believe I’m doing the trader a favour because if I tried to orate what I write, it would take a month of Sundays. If I write then phone ... or they phone me, we have a script to work from. Am I wrong?
Garry and I had the “is it worth it chat?”, after all its thirteen years old. We chatted about ballpark figures £1500 to £2500, it won’t be less than £1500. We did the usual client/seller sniffing each other out chit chat. We had a brief discussion about colours, I favour a Volkswagen Camper/beetle yellow, Amanda is coming around to the idea, but she also likes dirty pale metallic blue. The Jury is out, because Garry said if you paint it yellow it will look like an ambulance, an AA van etc. Suddenly colour becomes more than a snap decision, based on some nostalgic whim. To clarify that, we are creating a camper van, not a motor home per se, (there are fundamental definitions laid down by the DVLA as to what makes a camper van), the yellow is a nod to the classic VW, which people do live in on their travels ... but ... there is always a but; for me the sleeping space is just too small for two people long term (especially if you’re a bit of a spazzer like myself). Finally, Garry and I talked about booking it in to commence the work ... this should be 22nd April.
A little about Garry Lee panel Craft, he has been in business since 1983, he’s had to keep his prices static for at least three years, though he thinks in real terms it’s been more like five, he’s not had to lay anyone off, but he hasn’t expanded either. Garry seems like the sort of bloke I want doing stuff for us; artisan, he will take on the quirky jobs as well as the odds and sods of accident repair (the bread and butter), but quite clearly he likes the craft and the challenge of a project. He has set himself a deadline of two weeks start to finish. The idea being that our van will become the main job for that period of time, this leaves room for odds and sods and condenses my experience of body work and spray jobs from a protracted three or four months down into what is, once you total up the hours about eight full working days including: pulling off trims, grinding, plating, first fill, sanding, priming, drying and hardening, sanding, Second fill if required, top coat and lacquer, flatting, buffing/T Cutting, and finally washing and waxing. All made just a tiny bit easier if you use power tools and if you are not spraying black.
I have some pictures to post in the previous post, relating to the body work inside and out, and you can view Garry Lee Panel Craft’s website from the link above or via Facebook on this tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/cqbyn8u Here’s to the little guys.