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Dallas High students (from left) Bailey Hise, Jeff Shryer and Louie Galindo grind rust and grime off the frame and hood of a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle at BST Kustoms in Dallas April 11. The body of the car being restored is visible behind Galindo at right.
April 24, 2012
DALLAS -- "Wire wheel" grinders in hand, four Dallas High School students slowly remove layers of dust, rust and old paint from the hood of a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle.
The noisy process takes patience and diligence, but eventually it will allow for a full restoration of what is now a very sad looking vehicle.
If it can be called that.
The Chevelle -- except for its hood and frame -- is in a heap in the corner of BST (Blood, Sweat and Tears) Kustoms' garage in Dallas.
Before the restoration got underway, "Faith" had been languishing in Break the Chain founders Tammi and Jim Burns' storage unit for seven years, awaiting its time to shine.
BST owner Bill Carter is overseeing a group of six students, who will over the next several months to a year restore the car to its former glory. Or perhaps something better.
This will be a huge challenge, but if completed, also a powerful statement about the possibility of restoration -- not just of a classic car, but of people, too.
The project is a partnership between BST Kustoms and Stayton-based Break the Chain.
Break the Chain is an apparel line that uses its clothing to speak out about domestic abuse and addiction.
Break the Chain founders Tammi and Jim Burns also are custom and classic car enthusiasts. The organization tours with a restored "monster" truck that carries the "Break the Chain" message wherever it goes.
The truck began as a rusty old 1978 GMC that by all appearances was beyond salvaging.
Break The Chain
"It was kind of a real piece of garbage," Tammi Burns recalled.
She said a group of local businessmen decided to help Break the Chain do a complete overhaul on the truck.
The restoration moved quickly as people heard about the project and sent donations. Burns said the truck became symbolic of the recovery the organization wanted to see in the people it tries to help.
"Once you peel back all the brokenness, the real person -- or machine -- comes out," Burns said. "It may appear that a person can't be valuable in society, but that is not true."
The Burns' named the truck "Hope."
Little did they know that they had "Faith" sitting in a storage locker just waiting for the right opportunity.
"My husband purchased this car thinking, `Someday I will restore it,'" Burns said.
That didn't happen. In fact, they forgot about it.
It wasn't until Carter contacted them a few months ago that the Burns saw a chance for Faith.
"I wanted to be involved with them," Carter said of Break the Chain. "I wanted to donate my time and efforts (to the organization's cause), but I didn't know where I fit in in the scheme of things. When I told them what I did, they said `We've had this project car for seven years in storage.'"
It wasn't long before a plan developed to make Faith a counterpart to Hope.
Carter told Burns that he had been considering asking local high school students if they wanted to work on cars to earn class credit or hands-on experience. He thought this would be a perfect project for such a program.
"I would like to offer as much work experience as I can for the kids because they've eliminated so much from the high school," he said. "It can be a little frustrating for them to get real-world experience."
Burns said she couldn't have thought of a better way to bring Faith back to life.
"It was a no-brainer," she said. "The opportunities (in schools) are just not there like they used to be."
Seniors Louie Galindo, Tanner Schmidt, Shaun Duffus and Jeff Shryer, junior Ian Ussery and freshman Bailey Hise said the opportunity was too good to pass up.
Dallas High freshman Bailey Hise grinds the underside of the car's hood to prepare it for paint.
"It's something to do for extra curriculars," said Shryer. "I thought it would be fun to rebuild a car and learn a new skill."
With the students spending several hours each week on the car, they seem as committed to the cause Faith represents as Carter and Burns.
"Maybe seeing it will help people go through the process of getting better," Galindo said.
The young men began working on the car in late March. Most of that time has been spent prepping parts to be powder coated or painted.
"It's such a slow process and it's so grueling to get in there and grind and weld," Carter said. "It really doesn't look like much until you get about three quarters of the way though the build. Then it really starts coming together and starts to look like something."
Burns said her only request was that the color scheme include "synergy" green, the color which Break the Chain uses in its logo and much of its clothing line. Otherwise, Carter has creative control getting the car show-ready.
BST Kustoms owner Bill Carter, left, looks over a weld made by Dallas High senior Loui Galindo.
The only roadblock in front of Faith is whether the project can find enough donors.
"Our biggest concern is not so much the effort we are putting in, but the sponsorship behind it," Carter said. "If finances allow and people are willing to contribute, then it will go real quick."
Carter, Burns and the young men rebuilding the car hope for enough support to have Faith ready for its first show soon.
"I want people to be in awe ... that we were able to take something that was bound for the junkyard and bring it back to life," Galindo said.
To make a donation to the project, contact Bill at BST Kustoms at 503-706-3662 or send an e-mail to BSTKustoms@yahoo.com.