August 2009 Newsletter

newheaderA Challenge
We mentioned the problem we were having with the Wyoming Speedster last month. How the 356 sat a little low in the left front.
We had the suspension checked so we know the problem had to be in the body. But we couldn’t find it so we decided to paint it and play with the suspension settings later.

Well this bothered me. So rather than taking the Speedster to the painter we decided on one more attempt (after three previous ones). We rigged a 2X4 from the ceiling joist to the strong vertical piece in the battery box. We then made some relief cuts in the left front fender area and jacked up the left front from under the headlight bucket. It worked, but after making some tack welds and lowering the jack the metal would move back.

We got about half the problem solved but it still wasn’t right. We had positioned the 2X4 over the left side of the battery box. We decided to move it to the right side to get more leverage.

In the new position we jacked and jacked and jacked and had the left side six inches higher than the right when “sprong” the metal on the left fender made a noise and a small buckle appeared in the fender. We let the Speedster down and the 356 was level!

We think the Speedster was a race car and dove under something while in a right turn. The force of the impact was on the top of the fender and down. The headlight bucket and hood area were not damaged but the force of the impact tweaked the metal all through the left front. We finished the welds and there is only a slight difference in measurements from the right side to the left side.

Typical of a made by hand 356. We redid the fender for paint and it is now at the painter for Ivory paint. A challenge but also a lot of satisfaction.

George’s ’61 Roadster got its new top at a shop that only does tops. They did a great job and it is impressive how a new top completes an open 356. It is now at the mechanic for engine startup, tune and linkage adjustment. Remember this 356 had been stored since 1972. We had pulled the engine and checked it out on a test stand. After an oil change and valve adjustment the engine started and ran with good compression. The Roadster will be back soon and George will drive it for the first time in over thirty years!

When we pick up George’s Roadster we will drop off Kit’s ’64 Coupe. It is all assembled and was a pleasure to work on. We were able to reuse about all original parts which meant parts fit! This saved a lot of time and challenge. Kit’s engine is on the test stand and while it had not been run since 1988 it appears it too will run with minor adjustment. So Kit will be driving her 356 home in a month or so. Not a bad year so far: Jim, George and Kit all driving their 356s after many, many years.

Caroline’s ’63 Coupe is moving ahead quickly. There was not as much metal work as expected. The problem was a very poor previous paint job that failed. BJ has it almost ready for paint and since Caroline is thinking Ivory we will have her check out the Wyoming Speedster when it comes back in its Ivory color.

Off Topic
When we set up the shop almost twenty years ago, we decided on epoxy paint for the floor. It was expensive but should hold up to shop use. We applied the paint correctly and it failed. It would not adhere and lifted after a few months.

We rented an industrial sander and took it off. Dust everywhere in the house! We did it again, following directions and it failed again. We went to cheap floor paint and had to keep repainting.

A customer in the cement business said a vapor barrier had probably not been installed before the floor was poured. He said to tape some plastic on the floor and see if there was moisture on it the next day. There was! So paint wouldn’t work and we went to the black and white self sticking vinyl floor tile, bought them for 72 cents each at Home Depot. Whenever we had a floor tile damaged we would get some at Home Depot and repair the spot. This was great for years until Home Depot didn’t have them. They said they were not being produced any more. We tried other floor stores and got the same answer. Lowe’s showed them on their website but when we went to Lowe’s they showed not available.

This bugged us and probably others as the black and white checkered flag look is popular in automotive shops. We finally went to the Armstrong Tile web site and found a “contact us” for flooring. We stated our problem and the website said we would get an answer in forty-eight hours. We got the answer the next day. Armstrong still makes the tile but it is sold exclusively through Lowe’s. Armstrong sent specs, order numbers and phone numbers. We went to Lowe’s and their system still said not available. They called Armstrong, got the ordering info and within a week we got a box each of forty five tiles in back and white. The price? Thirty-nine cents each!

Grandpa News
Alex went with friends to visit Santa at the North Pole in Colorado Springs. The first time on his lap she said what she wanted for Christmas. Then they all took a second turn and this time she asked “How’s Rudolph?” being the animal lover she is. Santa pulled out his wallet full of reindeer pictures and told stories about all of them. The kids were entranced.