This might be a boring newsletter as most of it is about restoring the Porsche Model 356, (Gee that’s different!). For the past month BJ has been working on the Magnusons’s ‘59 Sunroof Coupe and I have been working on Jim’s project. Last month we were sort of stalled on the project as we were waiting on the front end panels. We needed the dash, cowl, inner fenders and outer fenders. We had repaired the front bulkhead with the hinge pockets, the front suspension chassis area and trial fit the battery box.
So while waiting for the parts, we decided to see what was needed for the rear panel repair. Well, the rear clip needed to be replaced but we had one. The rear cowl was dented but looked like it could be repaired and the engine compartment firewall and engine tray needed repair.
Years ago we used to take repair panels to swap meets and sell them. We did well financially, but soon realized we needed these panels for restorations. So we kept them in the storage building. We went there and found a engine compartment firewall, an engine compartment rear panel with side trays and some inner fender pieces.
No sooner did we find rear panels we could use, then the front panels arrived. So the rear panels were taken to Blast Tech and we can start on the front.
As you know, Jim’s project has the chrome removable windshield frame and all the repairs we made on the left side chassis were from a Coupe. So the top of the left hinge post had to be modified to receive the windshield frame. We did this and used the windshield frame and top frame to verify we were positioned correctly.
This is critical, because the front cowl is the first panel to be installed. It has to be correct at the windshield post as this panel also has the upper corners for the hood. If you are off a sixteenth of an inch, the hood will be off center and the whole front end will be off.
So, we spent a week and a half fitting the cowl and hood and inner fenders. Tacking them in place, then removing the tacks, repositioning and doing it again. When we were close, we added the outer fenders and nose. This makes it look like a complete 356 but every panel has to come off, readjusted and tried again. We actually had to walk away for a day and a half as we were taking one step forward and two steps back.
The problem was the hood. It is key to the whole front end. The hood we were using was the best one from our inventory. It would need kink repair but this could be done during body work. The real problem was the hinges and hinge pockets. Just being off a fraction at the hinges can throw the whole hood off and as a result the fenders and nose.
We had repaired one hinge pocket and replaced the other. We decided to position the hood without the hinges and fix this area later. This was the best approach and we began to move forward.
When working with fenders, both front and rear, you have to remember x,y and z. Not only do the panel edges have to line up with adjacent panels, they have to go up to established contour. With the Magnuson’s 356 here we were able to take measurements for z and using a level to confirm equality. So the front end of Jim’s project is almost all together; tacked in place but correct. There will be lots of welding to tie it together but we will probably start on the rear panels to ensure the 356 is correct before tying it together.
Earlier, we mentioned selling restoration panels at swap meets. Many of these panels we sold and wished we had kept were new old stock-NOS. This means they were new replacement panels from Porsche but old stock they had in inventory for a while. Companies like Tweeks, NLA and Stoddard got in business obtaining NOS parts from dealerships after 356 production ceased.
Where we got our NOS panels was from a body shop here in Denver. They were shutting down and we assisted in cleaning their outside storage. When they saw we were interested in 356 panels outside they showed us the NOS panels stored inside on top of the office. If they had to repair a 356, they got a panel from Porsche, cut out what they needed and threw the rest on top of the office roof. Having NOS panels was great, as years ago all we had was donor panels from parted out 356s. But today, we have vendors reproducing panels as good as NOS. Jim’s project could not even been attempted without these panels.
We mentioned hinge pockets earlier. Well, after twenty five years we learned there are two types. Early 356’s with the fuse block under the dash were solid. Later 356’s with the fuse block in the front compartment had holes to hold the rubber strap that secured the fuse block cover. Since we used parts from a ’63 Coupe we will also have to change the heater outlet on the inner longitudinal to the earlier style and also the radio speaker opening even though it is covered by carpet.
The Signal Red Shop ‘64 Coupe has had its engine installed and will be for sale soon. This 356 has European heating system so will probably go some place cold. The engine for the Fjord green ‘58 Cabriolet is in final checkout, will be installed and this 356 will also be for sale soon.
Alex received straight A’s for the first quarter of third grade. She says she does not want to become a doctor/ veterinarian anymore but now wants to be a director of TV shows and movies.