Well, it was a busy month for 356RESTORE. The objective was to finish the bottom of Jim’s ’61 T-5 Sunroof Coupe and replace it on the rotisserie with Abby’s ’62 Coupe. We can finish Jim’s car with it on the dolly but we really need the rotisserie for major bottom repairs. And Abby’s 356 really needs major bottom repairs. We met our objective and are now finishing up the exterior panels of Jim’s 356 and really digging into the underside of Abby’s Coupe. So far we have eighteen feet of lateral weld just on the left side front strut, inner longitudinal and rear strut back past the shock mount. This 356 could have split from bottom to top!
The month had a couple of interruptions. Our shop was part of the RM356PC garage tour so Ryan and I had a couple of busy days cleaning shop. You can’t imagine how grinding dust can get everywhere in the shop. Once we cleaned every rafter and shelf and hosted the tour, we covered everything with plastic drop cloths to avoid major cleaning in the future. The other interruption was the RM356PC West Fest. We got our black ’63 Sunroof Coupe ready for the track and drove it hard. This is the ultimate goal of a Porsche 356 restoration. Drive the car the way it was meant to be driven! Also at West Fest was the swap meet, car show and gimmick rally. 356RESTORE took a lot of new and used parts to the swap meet and did fairly well. The buyers are selective and were buying mostly small ticket items. We also served as a Concours judge and while we were tough on originality, assembly and cleanliness, we believe we were fair.
The reproduction parts that you get through the catalogs are a mixed bag. Sometimes they are good, sometimes (mostly, lately) they are poor. What you should do is compare the repro part to the original as soon as you receive it and complain if it isn’t right. You may still have to use the part, but perhaps the vendors will get the message.
When it comes to sheetmetal 356RESTORE tries to save as much of the original metal as possible. While repro sheet metal has improved over the years, there is still a lot of work to get pieces to fit. Often we will order a repro piece and only use the part of it as a repair.
We recently heard of a guy in Mexico City who is doing metal repair of 356’s. You take your car to Texas and he picks it up and for $5,000 does the bottom. Seems reasonable if you have been quoted big bucks by a restoration shop but $5,000 is about what 356RESTORE has been charging for bottom repair. Our only overhead is Ryan and two cases of Diet Pepsi a week. We are working only on 356’s because we enjoy it, and are continually learning and want to get these great cars back on the road.
We are still making house calls to assist owners in doing their own restorations. We had a job a while back where the owner came to us. Bill from Wyoming drove his ’59 Convertible to Denver on business and dropped by 356RESTORE to have rust holes in his front closing panels repaired. He knew about the holes and had covered them with duct tape to avoid moisture in the longitudinals. With the plasma cutter, we cut out the rust, made the repair pieces and welded them in. Bill was back on the road in three hours. The charge was $67.50.
We have some excellent parts listed in this newsletter. We also enjoyed writing the checks to three 356 folk who consigned us parts for the West Fest Swap Meet. We sold about $500 worth of parts and guess what we did with our 20% commission. You’re right, we bought parts!!
The shop is open every Saturday from noon till 4:00 PM. Quite a few 356 folk drop by to check the progress and down a few beers. You are welcome. Just find Parker, go south one stoplight from Main Street to Hilltop, east 2 miles to N. Sunburst Trail, turn right and go one mile to 8356 N. Sunburst Trail (Actually, you can drop by anytime during the week. I need the break! Trying to stay pace with 23 year old Ryan is tiring.)