August 2006 Newsletter

Polishing the Zerks
This is an expression I use when describing the extra work to restore a 356 to near show car level. (A zerk is a small grease fitting used to lubricate the suspension.)

On the Shop ’57 Speedster we are “polishing the zerks”.  Actually, a Speedster is the easiest 356 to detail. There is minimal work to do on the doors, top, seats and dash as many of the parts used on other 356s are not used on Speedsters which were the low cost offering. Of course now, Speedsters command a high price and should be detailed to obtain that price.

When we started 356RESTORE fifteen years ago our approach was to do driver level restorations defined in our 356 restoration book as a 356 restoration “that will be correct, admired and be driven”.

We mentioned last month that we had done fifty two full restorations. If we tried to do concours work we doubt if we would have restored a third of that many 356s. In fact, we have only done one high level restoration prior to the present Shop ’57 Speedster. This was a 1961 Roadster that when we had it blasted we found minimal rust repair and no collision damage. We spent the extra time on this 356 and it sold for an above market price. (Later it sold for fifteen thousand above what we got as the buyer just had to have an Aetna Blue Roadster.)

There are always challenges when restoring a 356. On the Speedster, I had the brake drums blasted and polished. We got new ball bearings and proceeded to install the front suspension which had been cleaned, primed and painted. The brake drums would not go on! We checked the brakes and couldn’t figure what was the problem. We disassembled the Shop ’57 Sunroof Coupe to see what we were doing wrong. Nothing obvious. So we walked away and did other projects. Then we remembered a similar problem we had on Cal’s Speedster. Sure enough, an outer needle bearing had been substituted for the original ball bearing. The needle bearing race which is pressed into the brake drum will not accept a ball bearing. It’s close but not correct. Substituting a needle bearing for the ball bearing solved the problem.

When we installed the Trevor rebuilt transmission in the Speedster we assembled the rear suspension and everything was fine except the emergency brake wouldn’t work. Since some of the Speedster E-brake parts were missing, we had used parts we had on hand. We checked everything. We compared our installation to the Shop ’57 Sunroof Coupe. No difference. So we walked away from the problem, we will let Trevor fix it! A few days later it occurred to us to check the shop manual. Of course, the brake shoes have to be adjusted! Did this and problem solved, dummy.

BJ has finished the body work on the Shop ’57 Sunroof Coupe and will be starting the bottom clean, prime, caulk and undercoat. He has dry fit the major components. He had some problem getting the rear bumper to fit. We want it to be equal distance from the fender on both sides. We see many 356s where the bumpers are not centered. It took him two days to get it right. I joked that at his hourly rate it was a $250 bumper installation.

As many of you know we do not work to a schedule. When I started 356RESTORE I had just retired from the computer industry. The first thing I did was put up a schedule board in the shop. It lasted two months when it was obvious you can’t schedule a 356 restoration.

For the past year we have been saying no to customer restorations so we could finish all the Shop cars we bought. Owners still call and E-mail us to get on the future schedule. We tell them we don’t have a schedule and to check back in one to two years. Almost all say they can wait.

One recent E-mail was from a local owner who had his ’61 Roadster repaired and painted in 1971. He has not yet had it reassembled. He doesn’t have a garage so it has been in storage for thirty-five years! This has to be a record! I will call the owner and see if we can fit him in the “schedule”.

Planning is underway for Porsches and Pastries which is only a few months off. It will be at our place on October 15th from 10:00AM to 6:00 PM. To celebrate our fifteen years there will be goody bags for everyone and of course the great food and Porsches.

Don’t forget the car show here in Parker on Saturday, August 26th. It will be at the Southeast Christian Church at 9650 Jordan Road. The entry fee is $25; spectators should bring two or more cans of non-perishable food.

The 356Registry Holiday is only a few weeks away. It starts September 5 in Snowmass and then we drive to Steamboat. There are about 170 356s registered so far; it will be a great event! Details next month.

Don’t forget that September 17th is drive your 356 day to honor Dr. Porsche. This is turning into a worldwide event and pictures of various drives are printed in the 356 Registry. We usually have great photos of Colorado drives so do it this year.

The next 356 Holiday will be June 26-July 1, ’07 in Harbor Springs, Michigan. Barb and I haven’t been there and think we will attend and perhaps have the chance to visit with Michigan people Vic Skirmants and Colorado transplants John and Carol McConnell.

Grandpa News
Well, she is 1 month short of being two years old and becoming quite independent. Not the terrible 2’s yet but knows her mind! Great to be grandparents rather than parents; we had our share of that primary role!