101 RESTORATION TECH TIPS
COMPLIMENTS OF 356RESTORE
Everyone seems to appreciate Tech Tips. Here are 101 Tech Tips primarily on Porsche 356 body restoration. Most of these tips have been learned the hard way over the last twenty years of restoring 356 Porsches. We’ve tried not to repeat the excellent Tech Tips in the 356 Registry “Technical and Restoration Guide”.
These Tech Tips were initially written for and distributed at the Porsche 356 Holiday in 1991 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They are still good tips.
8356 N. Sunburst Trail
Parker, CO 80134
(if you reproduce these tips or use them in other publication, please include the author attribution above. Thanks!)
1. The very first thing in restoration is preparing a project
2. Label and bag all hardware and components. Then inventory
3. If the bumpers and lid fit good, you may want to scribe
around the brackets for future reference. Also scribe passenger (P) and driver
(D) on appropriate pieces.
4. Be very careful with wheel cylinder bleader valves, you
break ‘em you buy new wheel cylinders.
5. When removing a windshield leave the rubber seal and deco
on the windshield. This will protect the deco from damage prior to reuse.
6. When disassembling doors leave the brackets attached to
the door bottom (assuming the door is OK). You won’t lose them and they will
be properly positioned.
7. Wrap exposed underbody and under dash wires with aluminum
foil prior to taping. The tape will be easier to remove months later.
8. Remove instrument light bulbs from wiring harness. If left
to dangle they will break.
9. Prior to having a 356 media blasted, mask off the areas
around door and lid openings where the factory used lead. Blasting pits the lead
which is tough to fill with filler or primer. Hand sand these areas.
10. During disassembly, drill out and retap any broken bolt
holes. Do it during disassembly rather than later (you will forget).
11. During disassembly wire brush around nut-bolt ends then
treat with liquid wrench.
12. Seat hinge/recliners have to be disassembled for
chroming. Take good notes on part positions. You will have to make a tool to
reinstall the spring.
13. If your horns work, why disassemble them? Have them media
or sand blasted intact then paint with two part epoxy paint and replace the
hardware and badges with a horn kit.
14. Before disassembly try everything electrical and take
notes. Months/years later it’s nice to know what worked and what didn’t.
15. Note what hardware was difficult to remove i.e. lug nuts,
suspension bolts etc. and dress them with anti-seeze upon reassembly.
16. If door fit is good, try to leave the hinges on the 356.
Remove the door at hinge pins. During restoration the doors will be on and off
numerous times to check the fit of surrounding panels. Ensure your hinge pins go
in/out easily but don’t drill the hinge oversize (the door will rattle).
17. You may not have to cut the rubber to remove a
windshield. Check for caulk under the seal and cut caulk with a knife. Push gently
at an upper corner.
18. Lots of photos and notes arranged in a notebook can’t
hurt! Return to Top
19. There are spray on masking products that wash off with
water but they must be reapplied each time you wet sand.
20. Use aluminum foil for masking off underbody parts when
painting and/or undercoating.
21. Dryfit everything prior to paint. It’s embarrassing
when your doors don’t close when the upholstery and rubber seals are in place.
Or your bumpers need metal work.
22. Drain gas from the tank by routing the line to the fuel
pump to the ground and elevating the front of the 356.
23. After cleaning and painting (two part epoxy) the ledge
above front closing panels, fill the area with a tube of automotive caulk. 3M
Allaround Autobody Sealant (part n. 08500) works well and you can form it with
24. Don’t forget to caulk behind the fog light bracket. You
can’t get the caulk gun to the inner edge. Push caulk in with fingers.
25. Paint cleaned small parts with two part epoxy primer and
then Satin Black. If you don’t want to use a spray gun, a bottle sprayer works
well. Thoroughly clean the bottle sprayer for reuse, bottle sprayers only cost
26. After undercoating, seal the surface with a Satin Black
paint particularly on front closing panels (spray can is OK). This will prevent
dust from sticking to undercoat.
27. On stricker plates with rusted screws, try only a few
minutes with a screwdriver then drill out the screw head (3/8″ bit). You
will replace the screws anyway and the stricker nut plate can be put in a vise
to remove remaining rusted screws.
28. On open cars it’s a good idea to undercoat the inside
29. After cleaning panels i.e. floors with a metal prep, dry
all the seams with a propane torch prior to paint and caulk.
30. There are lots of rattle can paints that match 356 parts.
When using a metallic i.e. steel paint, let the part dry and then cover with a
31. Two part epoxy paint is just as durable as powder paint
and looks proper.
32. If the rust in your 356 body appears minor you may not
want to blast it. A repaint, caulk and undercoat with today’s products will
last a long time. Plus you will never see the ugly brazing repairs done twenty
years ago. Return to Top
33. When glueing trim, stir your glue and put a small amount
in a small container. Have you ever kicked over a gallon can of glue inside a
34. On T-6 front turn signals the wire goes under the pot
metal bracket. Notice the small notch at the bottom of the bracket.
35. You can leave the knobs on window cranks when having them
chromed if your chromer has a hot dip capability.
36. All the interior metal pieces should look chrome (except
seat rails which are nickel). You can make stainless steel screws i.e. door
panel, look like chrome by sanding (1500-2000 grit) and buffing.
37. Never throw anything away! You will need old rubber seals
to determine how to trim new rubber. Aluminum deco can be restored by filing,
sanding and buffing if not too badly pitted. Original decos fit–repos don’t.
38. The chrome luggage strap brackets in the rear interior,
point up. Source–factory photos in Merrit/Miller’s book.
39. Hood handle and hood hinge nuts/bolts were hand painted
body color. Nuts/bolts in front luggage area and under dash were hand painted
40. Replace non metric carriage bolts in repro bumper deco
with metric carriage bolts.
41. Never approach a painted 356 with a sharp object unless
you have protected the work area and are in a cautious frame of mind.
42. Always inventory all parts sent out i.e. blasting,
43. When the restoration process turns sour and things aren’t
going well and the problems keep compounding, back off and take a break. Think
about something else.
44. The torsion hole covers should have a round piece of
headliner material behind them. The factory did this to protect from
scratches/chips if the cover came loose.
45. Those spare wires coiled around the ground connection on
the battery box sides are for the optional fog lights. The spare wire coming out
of the passenger side front compartment harness was for the Carrera electric
46. Those two holes in the rear of the engine compartment on
teardrop taillight 356’s are to access the inner nut on the taillight
47. When something doesn’t work, that use to work, it’s
probably because of the last thing you did.
48. If you get water inside the 356 from under the dash when
it rains, did you put a sealant under the wiper/washer mounting rubber?
49. Gas smells inside a T-6 356 are probably from failing
sealant around sender gasket. On T-2, T-5 356’s check your fuel petcock.
50. When repairing a kinked hood, position hood in opening,
then spot weld heavy gauge metal over the hinge area.
51. Buy if necessary and READ your owners manual.
52. It’s easy to design a license plate bracket for the
front. Can you use the bumper drain holes? Make it springy to avoid damage.
53. Can you get every part for a 356 from suppliers? No.
Check the wanted section of the Registry for hard to get parts and look for them
at Swap Meets. Return to Top
54. You can use duct tape to hold sheetmetal repairs in place
when tack welding. It will melt but not flame. (Wear gloves when removing hot
55.That metal bulge on the driver side of the T-6 battery box
was for the optional gas heater. The bulge doesn’t come with the battery side
piece. You have to repair it or you can fabricate one starting with a headlight
56. Small holes/areas that can’t be welded can be repaired
with two part epoxy plumbers putty. The area must be cleaned.
57. The two most important tips in lead work one, having a
well tinned surface; it must be shinny and two, never spreading lead past the
58. Only lead the areas the factory leaded i.e. around
59. Never do lead work if children under ten will ever be in
60. Where the rocker meets the fender, the factory had an
overlap which was spot welded and leaded. Consider changing this to a butt weld.
61. Door fit is important and is the first step in
restoration. Once the doors fit, all other panels are fit to the doors i.e.
thresholds, rocker, fenders, front and rear of door.
62. When filling dime size holes, place a piece of aluminum
behind the hole. It won’t stick and acts as a heat sink. Just work a pool of
weld to fill the hole.
63. Poster board available from office suppliers is great for
making patch patterns.
64. The wire used at fender and bottom edges is readily
available at hardware stores.
65. If a brazing reapir is good, you can leave it. Today’s
products will cover it. Return to Top
66. You can buy 500 craft sticks (popsicle sticks) for around
$5.00. Use these for holding parts off paper when painting. Grind or whittle an
edge on them and use to position rubber trim close to painted surfaces.
67. A 356 restoration project requires lots of wood! You will
need everything from dimension lumber for cribbing to wood shims.
68. Rubber must be cleaned for appearance and to ensure
adhesive works. 3M General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner (part no. 08984) is an
excellent cleaner for rubber and even painted surfaces.
69. Shop rags are OK if you have a cleaning service. Grease
in the family washer/dryer may not be acceptable. Buy paper shop towels at
70. A dremel tool with variable speed is a good alternative
to a die grinder.
71. Harbor Freight usually has specials on cheap 1/4″
and 1/2″ paint brushes. Just use and throw away.
72. RAINX not only helps in the rain, it also makes old
pitted windshields look better.
73. When disassembling panels if you don’t have access to a
plasma cutter or side cutter, a sawzall with a metal cutting blade will work.
74. An air punch is a great tool for punching holes to
simulate spot welds. It’s not expensive (check Harbor Freight) and sure beats
75. Spade drill bits are great for drilling out spot welds
but they won’t enlarge a hole.
76. Grind down an old plastic spatula handle to use for
seating rubber. Return to Top
77. Install the hood seal when the hood is off the car.
78. Ensure the hood seal is clean (see tools) and use a good
rubber cement (i.e. Wurth). One method is to install the hood seal dry, make any
adjustments then glue two foot sections at a time by lifting the screws and
79. Some wiring i.e. fuse block, some switches can be done
before the wiring harness is installed.
80. New hardware makes assembly a lot easier. Use the parts
manual for sizing and plating.
81. Use duct tape to protect painted areas when installing
doors and hood. Two people are better than one.
82. Reassembly of quarter windows after chroming and with new
rubber is easier if you have a glass shop grind 1/16th” off the glass edge
(cost around $15)
83. Fit repro bumper deco to a bumper before painting. You
may have to remove center rubber to fit deco to bumper. Use wood blocks in
center channel and a hammer to fit.
84. If you don’t have a factory parts book, the diagrams in
Stoddard’s catalog are quite helpful.
85. Rubber seals around doors and front lid take awhile to
seat. Make final adjustments later.
86. When assembling doors the plastic/rubber profile under
the top chrome straps goes on first. You can’t get to the screws on the chrome
strip once the glass is in.
87. Most electrical problems are ground problems. Do you have
the ground strips/wires at all four corners for the lights/turn signals?
88. Prior to upholstry measure the location of screw holes
which will be covered by carpet/headliner. Measure from a fixed point that will
be available after upholstery.
89. That toe board mount with the welded nuts for the
accelerator pedal may not have metric nuts. Check before trying to force a
90. The tow hook can be riveted by having a helper hold the
rivet head down with a small socket and extension bar. Secure the tow hook with
bolts and then remove a bolt and rivet one at a time. Rivets are hand painted
after assembly and soft steel rivets are available at most hardware stores.
91. Today’s batteries don’t fit the T-6 battery position.
Ensure good fit with wood shims.
92. When installing the rear window on C cars, be sure the
defroster is clipped tight to the window opening ledge.
93. When reassembling under the dash, hook up washers first.
94. There should be a fiber board panel under the rear seat
back carpet on B/C cars. This keeps the carpet from falling in the crack.
95. To keep the assembly momentum going, purchase all parts
and supplies prior to assembly.
96. Do not over tighten any bolts in pot metal material i.e.
carbs; they are easy to strip.
97. A headliner can be installled without a hair dryer which
can cause more problems than it solves if you don’t know what you’re doing.
98. If you don’t know how to do it — don’t do it! Call
someone who knows. 356 people share information. Return to Top
99. If you have a trash can by the vise on your work bench,
consider a fire-safe one.
100. There are no short cuts to shop safety. Always use eye,
ear and breathing protection. It will become a habit! Also, back injuries are
common; wear a support belt and get help.
101. When lifting, towing, moving a 356 always have a
secondary protection system. No one will criticize a third system either.
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*And the best Tech Tip of all—Drive your 356! When you don’t,
seals weaken, oil drips and you really miss why you did this in the first place.
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