12 August 2007

Shop Of The Month August 2007

I met Patrick Aldrich in 2003 after purchasing a 1954 MG TF from a lady in Connecticut . Back then, Patrick was in the business of hauling old cars. For some reason, his ad caught my attention and I was glad that it did. Patrick turned out to be one of the more reasonably-priced haulers, but he worked to the highest professional standards and delivered my “new” car safely to my door.

A friend named Peter Van Scoy picked the car up from the seller and took it to his home in New York . Patrick Aldrich met Peter at the local firehouse (Van Scoy was a volunteer firefighter), followed him to where the car was stored, loaded the car and safely carried it to my home a few days later. At every stage of this complicated procedure, Patrick called me by cell phone to let me know exactly what was happening. I always knew where the car was and when it would get to Iola. As might be expected, it arrived right on time.

Recently, I wrote an article about transporting cars and mentioned Patick’s former business, The Packard Farm of Bennett , Colo. He called to advise me that he had relocated to Dayton , Ohio and had switched from the car-hauling business to the car over-hauling business. He was now running a restoration shop that specialized in refurbishing Packards, but also did work on other cars.

Pat and Leia Aldrich have shared a long love of old cars. In Colorado , they tried their hand at selling Packards and transporting old cars, but Patrick’s true love was always restoration. Patrick has been fixing old Packards since he was 14. Back then, it was his father who inspired him to build a 1948 Packard Standard Eight Club Sedan as a family project. Aldrich says that the experience of returning that car to its original glory taught him the “joys, trials and sense of accomplishment that come with the automobile restoration trade.”

Now Pat and Leia are investing their passion for Packards and other classics into Aldrich Restoration Specialists LLC and contacts in Dayton tell me they are fixing up cars with the same professionalism they practiced in the transportation end of the hobby. Together, the couple have built a restoration shop with only one goal in mind — to restore other people’s old cars the way they would do their own. “We want people to enjoy the cars that we restore for them as much as we enjoy the cars that we own,” says Patrick. He sees Aldrich Restorations as “the customers’ bridge between what is and what it could be!”

Aldrich Restoration Specialists is housed in a brand new shop that’s centrally located in Dayton , a day's drive from just about anywhere east of the Mississippi River . This location puts Pat and Leia closer to more customers. A second man named Roc Patterson is the “utility fielder” for the Aldrich Restoration team. Patterson balances the books, but he also strips fenders from cars and paint from fenders. Roc will soon be taking the Ohio Bar Exam, but he enjoys restoring so much that he’ll continue it even after he starts practicing law.

2Aldrich Restoration Specialists, LLC is a full-service shop that does complete restorations, collision repairs, metal fabrication, structural woodwork, Ultramatic transmission rebuilds and complete mechanical repairs. Patrick also continues to sell a few cars and even to do some enclosed transportation.

The Dayton shop has the equipment needed for in-house metal fabrication. The metalworking machines include a stomp sheer, a bench-mounted metal snip, a metal break and a bead roller for doing floor pans and interior bodywork. Patrick can work, weld, shape or cut any metal part. A recent project involved making a damaged fender whole again. The front edge of this fender was gone, so it had to be patched. Then, the repaired fender had to be re-attached to the running board. Rebuilding the twisted fender involved patching, shrinking and stretching the metal until it took on its proper lines again.

While many restoration shops farm out their automotive woodwork, Patrick included a woodshop in the plan for his shop: “The woodshop is not always in use,” he admits, but it is a necessary item when you’re restoring cars like Packards.” Being able to offer structural wood fabrication comes in handy when doing old cars which are constructed of metal panels over a wood frame. Current projects in the shop include a car that will get all new interior structural wood.

Aldrich also straightens and polishes bright metal trim. “Doing this on an in-house basis allows us to maintain a better quality level,” says Patrick. “We can also time the restoration of the bright-metal trim to the schedule for the overall job, so the car gets done on time.”

Cars currently undergoing restoration include a ‘59 Ford Thunderbird convertible that has the distinction of being the first non-Packard automobile to be restored in the Dayton shop. Initially, all body panels on this car need fixing and the whole car requires straightening. After the welding and reconstruction are completed, the car will be all set for a perfect paint job.

Another current project is a 1937 Packard 120 rumbleseat Convertible Coupe that belonged to the grandparents of Leia Aldrich.The car was recently repurchased by them and will be put back to the way it looked years ago

Aldrich Restoration Specialists, LLC can be contacted at 2416 Stanley Ave. Dayton , OH 45404 . Call (937) 222-3633 or fax (937) 222-3833. You can also see a company background, current projects and more at www.AldrichRestores.com.

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