April 1996 Newsletter

Problem Solving

I’ve told many of you that the reason I enjoy restoring 356 Porsches it that I get to solve a lot of problems. When I worked in an office I always had a plan; a strategic plan, a marketing plan, a product plan, a project plan. With the plan I could anticipate problems and consider solutions in advance. With a 356 however, you inherit problems. Over 30-40 years problems have been created by abuse, accident, poor repair, neglect and of course rust. You really can’t have a plan that will cover all the problems you will find on a 356. I’ve restored over thirty 356’s and still find new problems every day. This is my enjoyment, solving new 356 problems or solving previously discovered problems in a new and better way.

On the Shop ’64 Cabriolet we had the engine stored on a roll around so I never got to check the heater boxes. Once the freshly restored engine was in the car and I was able to get underneath I discovered the driver side L shaped pivot that connects the heater cable and rod was broken off.

What to do? Well this is the double flapper heater box used on S90/ SC’s. It turned out I had a spare set on the parts shelf but these are expensive ($320 each retail) and I hate to break up a set. Plus I would have to put had three levels of problem solving. I could try the extension, if it didn’t work I could try the assembly and if that didn’t work I could replace the complete heater box.

My kind of problem solving; I had a strategic plan! So I got under the 356 and saw I could pound back the heater box sheet metal to expose more of the broken pivot rod to clear the welder tip. After repair I could pound this back out by reaching through the flapper opening.

With the metal back, I used a dremel tool to grind a tip on the broken rod. Then I found some stock rod and also ground a tip. I left the rod long to ease the welding. The purpose of the tips where the rods would join is to allow weld between which could be ground down to clear the pivot. This technique of welding rods together was learned years ago when we first encountered a similar problem. Leaving the rod extension long meant I had something to hold when welding and I could trim it off with the side cutter after welding on the replacement pivot.

So, how did it go? Exactly as planned. The rod extension was welded on, the pivot prepared, properly positioned and welded on and the extension trimmed. There was no frustration, only enjoyment because I knew if the first attempt failed, I had two more solutions. Time involved; one half hour to study solutions, 15 minutes to implement. (By the way, 356RESTORE never charges for solution time, just implementation time.)


Progress has slowed as my helper over committed so there has been rework and delay. I got the Shop ’57 Coupe finished and off to Boulder for adjustments and engine tune-up-I am now alternating between Appleton and Conway. I also finished the Shop ’64 Cabriolet except for door assembly. The ’64 should be off for upholstery within the next week. Don’s ’59 Coupe is in paint but needed some minor rework

before I finish it. Mike’s ’65 Coupe was also sent back for rework. Warren’s ’65 Coupe is ready for paint and Bruces’s ’59 Convertible D was started but then stalled. Paul’s ’52 Coupe went back to Lincoln and I spent a few hours repairing the damage to Norm’s ’62 race car. Hey! racers, you aren’t suppose to damage these great cars!

Follow Up

I asked Stoddard why the C steering coupler had gone from $40 to $140. The answer was that they had possible problems with the quality from their supplier and rather than take a chance with liability, they now provide a Porsche part. I can’t argue with this since I always have a trained mechanic check out my mechanical work.

On the Shop ’57 Coupe the doors were binding on the front hinge upright. I had to trim both the metal and rubber seal before the door fit flush. Just one sixteenth of an inch at the hinge would cause the door to be out three eights at the lock post.

Tech tip

Wurth no longer provides the black sealant I had used for years to seal windshield seals and other rubber to the 356 body. I switched to GE Silicone II black sealant and it works just as well. In fact, many household sealants and adhesives are just as effective as the specialized automotive products