Mechanics: I've got a 1964 chevy bel air which is my daily driver that needs some work. I'd like to do it myself, but I'm sorta a car newbie. What online communities and resources will be useful to me? Do you have any specific anecdotes, tips and tricks for working on old cars?
First, some photos, 'cause we all love looking at cars.
Photos of the bizzler
I'd like to think I have some mechanical aptitude -- i've got no problems unbolting shit and keeping track of screws and all that crap. however, it was just recently that I felt comfortable pulling shit off my car and then starting it up. Basically, I don't know where to start in troubleshooting a problem. Repacking bearings, oil changes, general maintanence etc, I could probably do -- taking apart an engine and putting it back together with the right tolerances? probably not.
Tools aren't a problem, because I share a warehouse space with my (wrencher) buddy, who mostly has a full complement of car tools. I've also got the original service manuals for the car, which are useful, but presuppose a "common sense" knowledge about cars that I don't have yet (for example, I spent a lot of time replacing the gaskets for my heater core because I thought they were important -- i didn't find out they were just to prevent rattle until after I'd completed the work -- it would've been nice to know this).
Still, I have next to zero mechanical experience. I took a beginning auto-shop course last year, which added a bit to my confidence, and I have tons of friends who can (and have) worked on my car (doing non-trivial things, like replacing the heads and the head gasket) that I can fall back on if I fuck up big (so I'm not really looking for answers that say "take it to a mechanic"). I'm not looking to do the work myself to save money (although that will be a nice bonus), I'm looking to do the work myself for the joy of knowing how to do it.
So far I've done mostly twiddly stuff -- replaced the heater core, etc. Nothing big.
Right now, the car needs some carburetor tuning (i think). I have a bunch of flat spots in the acceleration (AND i'm running the idle real high in order to make the car drive-able). I'd like to try tuning the carburetor myself, and possibly look into working on the brakes (drum right now, although I might recruit some friends and covert them to disc) and do some basic tuning on the engine.
Information about working on cars seems mostly darknet to me at this point. What i'd like to find is a newbie-friendly chevy community that could reliably answer questions about my car, and also get general tuning tips (for example, I was talking to my gf's uncle the other day, and he suggested cleaning out the engine by running a bunch of automatic transmission through it for about 15 minutes and then draining it, which sounds entirely crazy to me (but my oil is real dirty, so hey, if it'll clean it out, i'll try it).
Hell, I bought a bunch of oil leak-stop and I'm afraid to use it, because I don't know if it'll harm my engine more then it'll hurt.
So, basically I'm looking for places I can start researching what and how I can work on my car online. I don't know if these exist. If you have any specific advice for my car, I'd love to hear it (for example, I'm naively thinking about putting a header and a new exhaust on there -- is it worth it? No? what? why?)
Any old car advice you can give is welcome. How did you learn about cars?