“The Rustiest Hobby in the World” during the Corona Crisis

Veterama founder and chief of Dr. Carl-Benz-Automuseums Winfried Seidel used the shutdown in spring and wrote a few lines about his "rusty hobby" in the Corona period:

"When I made up this sentence in 1984, I actually thought “rust is the worst enemy for our hobby”. Back then, I wrote the first special issue of the magazine “MARKT” under this heading. In that special issue, I shared many tips I had gathered for the restoration of my vehicles. To be honest, today, I would probably do many things differently and also write differently. As you know, you live and learn. But how bad is the rust on our holy vehicles in comparison to what we are experiencing right now? It is not the red-brown devil that keeps us on our toes and that we have to get rid of. No, today’s hell is a tiny invisible virus. This virus, called “Corona”, is putting our hobby on hold. And unfortunately, even more than just our hobby.

So, what can we do in a time in which we had originally planned to get our historic vehicles going again? This year, most of the events are cancelled due to the current planning uncertainty. However, we can already see some light at the end of the tunnel we are passing through right now. In order for you to be able to spend your time productively until this gentle ray of light at the end of the tunnel turns into a sunbeam for the “rustiest hobby in the world”, I would like to tell you how I have been handling the situation so far. I would like to give you some tips on how to use your free time in a productive way.

On the right side of my desk, I have three stacked trays. They all used to be brimful. So, I started organising them. I came up with three categories...
1.   Done, can be thrown away.
2.   To be remembered, should be filed.
3.   Damn, I forgot about that. Has to be done right away.

My trays are almost empty now. Then, there is a room with two desks. In that room, we keep our archive with books, photos, manuals, spare parts lists, sales brochures etc. Those desks were so packed; it was almost embarrassing. I was able to make some room there, too. The books are back in their respective thematic shelves. The photos are in their designated boxes. Brochures, spare parts lists, and manuals are back where I usually look for them and I managed to work through some of the trays as well. You can finally see the dark-stained old desk panels again, and now, I find almost everything I am looking for.

Right now, I am working on my spare parts storage. I almost feel as if I were on a tour around the VETERAMA premises, Europe’s largest market for classical and vintage cars. I am sure that will keep me busy for a while. I discover things I forgot I had. Probably, I will find a lot of things that I could actually sell at the VETERAMA. Why don’t you take a look at your spare parts storage, too, after organising your office?

In fact, it would be ideal to take the time to label all of the spare parts, so you always know where they belong. However, I hope there won’t be enough time for that until they finally find a vaccine against this virus from hell. Another idea would be to check all your tools, machines, and devices: to sort the spanners by size and to arrange the screwdrivers in a clearer way, to lubricate the joints of the tongs, to get rid of the files that already have smooth, worn-out surfaces. And then there is the workbench, where a lot of things have been piling up over time that should be put back to where they belong: the drill to the drills, the thread cutter into its respective drawer, and all other tools onto the wall with the hangers behind the workbench.

That is when you can feel it: it is a lot more fun to work when you have some space. Alright, and now to the most important part: the vintage car(s), the real core of our hobby. You can still go on test drives without any restrictions... despite the virus. You can polish up all the brass, nickel, and chrome parts, or the lower parts of the bumpers, the spots you don’t see right away. That would be a lot of work. The paint could probably use an extensive beauty treatment as well. If the interior is made of leather, it could probably use an extensive treatment, too – one that makes everything nice and smooth and helps preserve the beautiful patina. You can find a lot of useful products in our journal if you haven’t already gotten some as a precaution at the last VETERAMA.

The interior woodwork should be renewed from time to time, rubber seals could be rubbed with glycerine every now and then, so they do not dry out and stay nice and black, and tyres could be given a new shine with a simple commercial product. I hope, after all that work, your vintage car will look as if it just came from a beauty farm. You might as well check the mechanics in detail. When was the last time the brake fluid was changed? There are probably many ball joints that could use some grease or oil. Also, it has probably been a while since the gear oil and rear axle oil have been renewed. If you discover issues that you cannot solve by yourself, just contact your regular workshop – I am sure, they will be glad to have their clients back, too. And when eventually everything is done and you don’t know what else to do in the next days, weeks, or months during your vintage car boredom, just make some space for your next vintage car, which is just waiting for you to find it in a newspaper ad or via a call of your vintage car friends. When the new vintage car arrives in your hobby workshop, you will definitively have enough work until they find a vaccine. Additionally, that will make your next trip to the VETERAMA worth it, since you will need many new parts, tips, and advice. So, use your time right and escape the boredom!

Your
Winfried A. Seidel"

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