December 2001 Newsletter

Tech Tip

Let’s start out with a Tech Tip. Over the years I’ve followed numerous articles and discussions on six to twelve volt conversions. My conclusion after all this input is there is nothing wrong with six volts. The folks that want to go to twelve volts want better lights and quicker starting.

If you clean all your grounds on a six volt 356 you will notice a significant improvement. After all, we are talking about 40-50 year old connections. Start in the front. Check your main battery connection. Take off the terminal; do you have bright, shinny copper? Probably not; clean or cut back to good wire. Maybe buy a new terminal. Next check the ground strap connections. Remove it and get shinny metal to metal connection.

Now under your 356 check the ground strap between the chassis and transmission; again good metal to metal contact. Next go to each corner of your lights; there will be a ground wire or strap to each light. Clean to shinny metal. Now for the headlights; the socket and headlight wires are probably tired. Buy a new pigtail from the vendors. Again, in front the ground is common to the horns.

Now at the starter, buy a relay kit from Joe Leoni. This will divert current from your ignition key, saving its life (they are expensive to replace) and use a relay to trigger the starter. Joe’s kit solves a lot of hard starting problems. Also, Joe has a headlight relay kit; get this as it solves the problem of running current through your headlight switch and will prolong its life.

Time Out!

In my opinion Joe Leoni has made a significant contribution to the 356 owners restoration and maintenance efforts. Before Joe all we had was black and white wiring diagrams from the owners manual. Now we have full color wiring diagrams and relay kits that improve performance and save us money. Joe ranks right up there with Vic Skirmants, Brett Johnson and Harry Pellow. Contact Joe at (303) 431-5764.

Shop Work

We knew some parts doors were coming in and decided to scrap a bundle of doors we had for years. All could be repaired but probably would take more effort than they were worth. We had twenty four doors and decided to scrap fourteen. So BJ and I were off to the scrap metal place. Pulled on to the scales, waited for the green light, then back to the yard to unload the doors plus lots of other scrap. On the way back to the scales BJ said “Want me to get out?” I said “No, lets do it right.” So we weighed again and went inside for payment. We had dropped off 560 pounds of metal and received $5.60. So I told BJ “you are only worth $2.30.”


We are out of sync. Normally, I like to have a 356 ready for metal work, one at the painters and one being put back together. Right now, we have three ready for paint and one ready to be reassembled.

The Shop ’56 Sunroof Coupe is at the painters. The Shop ’64 Coupe is ready for paint. The Shop ’61 Roadster will be ready for paint as soon as we finish the brakes and detail the transmission.

I’ve indicated that we will do the Roadster as a show car. This means instead of just cleaning the front end in a day or two we disassemble everything, clean and paint to original specs. Even down to painting the ZF logo on the steering box with red paint and polishing the zerks on the suspension. We even found a NOS steering dampener with the original Porsche decals. So, we spent almost two weeks on the front end for a show car.

While I work on the Roadster, BJ is restoring parts for the ’56 Sunroof Coupe, ’64 Coupe and ’61 Roadster. So, shortly we will be reassembling three 356’s. Then hopefully, back to the routine. We want to put a new floor pan in the Carrera Coupe and restore it back to original specifications. Do some maintenance on Barb’s Twin Grille Roadster and my ’63 Coupe. Put the engine back in the ’58 Race car and start on the ’52 Race car. We also need to finish the Shop Speedster as we have had a lot of interest in it. During this period we also want to get parts ready for the big L.A. Swap Meet in February; remodel the downstairs storage area and put a ceiling on the shop area. So lots to do, but still having fun.

Harbor Freight

Harbor Freight sells good tools cheap. (Not great tools but useable tools.) They have a store in Denver on Alameda near 225. We like their car dollies as they are great for moving 356’s as well as great storage mounts for 356 engines. We also like the price of their tools, particularly those tools we don’t intend to keep for a lifetime. While most of their tools are made in China they are very inexpensive but serviceable for the occasional user. So if you get this before Christmas you can always find a 356 gift at Harbor Freight.

Other Christmas gifts might include a turkey baster to remove oil from the oil canister. Or a good tire gauge (26 front, 28 rear) or a good Carnuba Wax or some jack stands ($10 at Checkers), any McGuires products or just a note “Thanks for keeping the 356 Faith”

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and God Bless America.