Importance of Plain Language with Resorations

Often in restorations the people who write the how-to manuals know the whole design inside and out, forgetting to include details or they write using terminology the majority of people who would read a restoration book would not understand.

Restoration work is not like baking.  There is no set list of ingredients or exact quantities. You are given a range of tools and supplies to work with that you can pull from. Earlier in the semester we learned the importance in using people’s senses. This is important with restorations, especially bodywork since there are parameters but no exact formula every case is different. If it takes one coat of primer to attain a good surface then great, but there are also cases where it may take 5 or 6 coats. In these cases describing by senses is great because you can simply say “apply primer until a smooth surface with no pitting is attained.”

Restoration work is very methodical. Everything must be done in a certain order for it to come together in the end. For this reason it is important to plan your writing. With novels it is a common practice to flashback and bring up more points and details from past events. With restoration backtracking often involves taking apart a lot of pieces that were much easier to put together than they are to take apart. As a writer, make sure the person doing the restoration has all necessary information when they need it.

When it comes to writing a technical document about restorations just call it what you would call it. If you have to look up a word or term then chances are the reader will too.  Don’t make up names that should be more descriptive because often times they are not. For instance “patching a rusted rocker panel takes five steps” is much better than saying “It takes five steps to patch the piece of sheet metal below the door closest to the road.”  Many people do know what a rocker panel is. If they don’t, the first pop up on an internet search will tell them.

Lastly, restoration is more of an art and a trade. The people who do restorations have a sound mechanical knowledge but are not mechanical engineers. They all know what a ¼-20 bolt is but if you start saying a quarter inch diameter bolt with a thread count of twenty per inch then they will have to pause to covert what they just read back to 1/4 -20.

People try desperately to make their restoration match the original to a tee. Due to this every detail counts. It is important that language does not become a barrier to this in any facet.

-Ben Yager