April 2010 Newsletter

newheaderThe Machine Shop
The Rocky Mountain 356 Club had a Tech session at Martin Willis’s “The Machine Shop” in Colorado Springs. Martin is very entertaining and knowledgeable. He was from South Africa but now is a U.S. citizen. In South Africa he was active in motor racing some of it in a 356. He explained his ongoing quest for better breaking and the various techniques he tried. A solution he perfected for brake drums is now available to 356 owners. He makes the steel liners and machines a grove in them that lines up with a groove and a slanted hole drilled in the drum. He explained the exact and critical temperatures needed to install the new lining. Once installed he inserts a stainless steel wire through the hole in the drum to secure the liner to the drum. He also pins the liner. A very innovative technique! Martin impressed us with a lot of innovative solutions to problems.

He had previously told a club member he could fix the problem of loose axle splines in the rear brake drums.. I thought how does he do this, heat treating or adding metal? Simple, he machines new splines hubs. He also machined a tool to repair 356 brake wheel cylinder with broken off bleeder valves.

Martin Willis’s shop is at 110 Fountain Blvd in Colorado Springs, CO,

We picked up the Wyoming Speedster at the mechanics and completed the assembly. There is a remaining problem with the brake master cylinder. The pedal goes soft and we expect a seal in the master cylinder which is not a Porsche 356 part. We are waiting for a solution from the supplier.

This brings up a point. Why go to the disc brakes on a drum brake 356? Porsche won LeMans with drum brakes. Compared to a Volkswagen, Porsche 356 drum brakes are huge. Yes, if you are racing, disc brakes don’t fade as fast as drum brakes (we use front disc and rear drums on our ’52 race 356). We believe a drum to disc conversion is expensive, adds more weight to rotating mass and may devalue the 356.

Why convert from 6 volts to 12 volts? All the 6 volts problems i.e. dim lights, slow starting, added accessories can be solved with good clean grounds and the tools sold by Joe Leoni at 356Electrics i.e. starter relay and head light relay kits. There are also new L.E.D light kits and electronic turn signal flasher for the 356. When Joe was asked why go to 12 volts, he replied, you can get 12 volt fuses at the auto parts store. Probably the only reason to go to 12 volts in our opinion.

Why go to the 5 1/2 inch wheels on a 356? We did this on both my ’63 Sunroof Coupe and Barb’s ’62 Twin Grille Roadster, but we have gone back to 4 1/2 inch wheels which were original to the 356. We found slower low speed turning, tire rub on the front struts and high RPM needed to move the wider tire. Yes, they give a more modern aggressive look to the 356 but the 356 was designed for 4 1/2 inch wheels, as it was designed for drum brakes and six volts.

The shop ’54 coupe is stalled waiting for the corrected rear upholstery panel from the supplier. We need this panel installed before we can install the rear windshield and engine. BJ continues the assembly of the shop ’64 Coupe and I replaced the vinyl headliner. Once removed we found what ever critter ate the small holes in the original headliner had also done a job on the sound deadening pad that is glued to the roof. The pad is fun to reinstall using spray adhesive and trying to position the pad using your hands and head while pieces of material get down your shirt and in your eyes and mouth.

One headliner trick that got in to the second edition of our book, we learned by accident. We had removed a headliner and put the screw for the sun visors,rear view mirror, coat hooks and quarter window latch back in their respective holes. Later when we reinstalled the headliner we didn’t realize we had covered over the screws. But they were easy to find and a little x over the screw head with a Xacto knife exposed the screw and allowed quick attachment of the fixtures.

Gasoline Smells
A few years back, we woke about three o’clock in the morning with a strong gasoline smell in the house. Our bedroom is two floors above the garage. A carburetor float had hung up in the 356 in the garage and gasoline had filled a cylinder and was running out the muffler. We had not turned off the fuel petcock.

We had a 356 owner tell us the gasoline smell in the garage was really bothering her. When we checked out the 356 we started at the engine and worked forward. The problem of course was up front. The ground wire for the fuel sender was attached to the wrong screw leaving the correct screw hole open. A 6 millimeter hole caused a strong gasoline smell. If you smell gasoline and there is nothing on the floor, pull your floor boards and inspect the rubber fuel line that connects the fuel petcock to the steel fuel line in the tunnel. You should inspect all the rubber fuel lines annually.

Grandpa News
Alex got all advanced and proficient marks on her kindergarten report card. Subjects are reading, writing, social studies, math, Spanish, handwriting and attitude. Alex also attended the show “Mary Poppins” over the Easter weekend, at the Buell theater. She loved the big theater, the dancing and singing but when Mary Poppins flew over the audience she was amazed.