Coachworks Part II
Everywhere I looked in Coachworks during my tour was something
interesting, and Bob Smith was happy to show us. In one corner of the
shop was a stack of templates for various pieces that fit Ferraris. I
easily spotted a belly pan template in the pile.
Bob Smith's shop also takes engine rebuilding to another level by
testing all the sub assemblies as well. Coachworks rebuilds engines for
clients all over the country but insists they send not only the engine
accessories for testing after the rebuild, but also the gauges. Bob
explained how he used to bench test the engines with his own gauges,
but when a customer called to say a freshly rebuilt engine was showing
low oil pressure there was concern the engine would have to be shipped
back. Bob asked the customer to send the oil pressure gauge to test,
and sure enough, the gauge was faulty. Now every complete engine
overhaul is finished with a break in period on this test stand, making
sure all the components work including the actual gauges from the car.
After a nice BBQ lunch, complete with ribs, brisket, Texas Toast and
fried okra, Bob asked if we wanted to see his ranch on the way to
another Coachworks facility. Bob's other passions in life include
horses, and he approaches the love with the same intensity he has with
Bob raises Gypsy Vanner horses, and breeds them for buyers all over the
I could tell these young mares were Bob's favorites.
It was fitting to find one stall in the stables paying homage to the
other Prancing Horse.
From the ranch outside of Gainesville, we headed over to the chrome
shop. Coachworks has the liberty of having its own chrome shop to do
all their plating. At other shops, including ours, do not have the
pleasure of fitting and checking the fit of our chrome pieces
throughout the chroming process. As metal gets repaired and polished,
it can distort, and it's up to the chrome plater to take care not to
damage the parts. Bob Smith's frustration with an outside chrome shop
drove him to building his own chrome plating facility in Texas.
In the early 90s Bob brought in engineers, fabricators, and consultants
to build a state of the art chrome shop in Gainesville. A new building
was constructed with holding tanks below ground to meet Environmental
Protection Agency regulation. Any spillage of chemicals would be
contained within the holding tanks, and no water used in the plating
process is flushed out of the building. Everything is reclaimed,
filtered, and reused.
Custom transformers were designed and built especially for this shop.
Conditioned and stable power is needed for consistent plating which is
an "electroplating" process and how the power gets to all the tanks was
considered as much as anything else in the building. By the time the
chrome shop was up and running, Bob said he had spent $2 Million
With a fully functional plating shop at their disposal, Coachworks
could design Ferrari specific tools to better the processes. Here are
mounts for Knock offs that seal the electroplating chemicals away from
the threads of the knock offs.
Plating involves many chemicals steps from cleaners to cyanide baths.
Safety is a priority at this shop with good ventilation, and well
Some tanks had some pretty nasty stuff in them and the real dangerous
stuff is stored in separate room. Bob showed us some acid tanks that
can really do some damage to anything that fits in the tank!
Bob Smith spent a better part of a day giving me and my friends a grand
tour of his facilities. Despite all the phone calls and people vying
for his attention, he was so generous with his time and knowledge. I
was honored to have him show me some of the things he'd learned though
the years, and know I'll be using some of these techniques at my shop.
Bob started out working at a ranch in Texas as the "Fix it" guy and
turned his ingenuity and drive into a multi-million dollar company. His
no-compromise approach to everything he does is perhaps the secret to
his success, and he has clients willing to pay for this service. I
learned a lot about the business of Ferrari Restoration during my visit
and saw where someone like Bob Smith can take it. I may be happy right
where I am, but it was inspiring to see where it could go!
Thanks Bob for your hospitality, and I wish you all the benefits and
success your hard work will bring!
Set the Date!
Saturday May 5th 2012
Radcliffe/Tomyang.net Spring Car Show
The 5th Annual show brought to
you by car guys, for car guys
12340 Owings Mills Boulevard
Reisterstown, Maryland 21136
Register Early for Show Cars,
spectators are free!
Reminder: If you have a Ferrari
related project, car, or idea
you'd like to explore, I'd love to talk to you. I can also help if
you're thinking of buying or selling. This website represents what I
love to do, and now it's how I make a living, so if you'd like to do
something together, let me know. It all begins with an e-mail!