December 2007 Newsletter

Happy Holidays
The Kellogg’s wish all of you Happy Holidays and a great New Year!

Tech Tip
If you have stopped driving your 356 for the winter, you probably removed your battery and took it inside. Today’s technology provides us with a battery tender. It is not a battery charger or trickle charger. It monitors the charge in your battery and maintains the correct charge. We use one in the shop and always have a fully charged battery available for testing bulbs, circuits or starting a 356. Many folks leave the battery in their 356 and rig up a disconnect to remove the battery tender before starting their 356. Battery tenders are about $60 and one vendor we recommend is Mick Mickleson at Chatham Motorsports (540) 981-0356 or Chatham Mick is a 356 owner and enthusiast; ask him about his Wonder Dog.

BJ is just about done getting the Shop ’59 Cabriolet ready for paint and it should go to the painter next month. This will be three at the painters; the Shop ’64 Coupe, Speedster 80013 and the Shop ’59 Cabriolet. Plus we still have the Shop ’58 Sunroof Coupe at Autoweave and the Shop ’59 Outlaw and the Shop ’57 Speedster here just about ready for sale. We just need some good weather to drive and adjust the 356s for sale. So with only one 356 in the shop while we wait for the 356 insurance repair, we decided to turn our attention to engines.

Over the years we have bought shop cars without engines and decided to buy engines to have on hand. As we have mentioned before, buying engines can be a crap shoot. “Well it was running before my Uncle removed it.”  Right, your Uncle removed it because it made a funny noise due to the broken crankshaft. Our procedure is to ensure the engine turns over with no play at the pulley. We then disassemble the engine sheet metal, clean the engine, paint the sheet metal and reinstall it with any missing parts. We had nine spare engines of unknown condition. Six were in fair condition just missing sheet metal and parts. Three we disassembled and we took the sheet metal to Blast Tech for cleaning. One thing we’ve never understood is how we have so many engine parts on the shelves when we don’t do any engine rebuilding. The engine parts just seem to come with 356s and parts we buy. For example, we have fourteen sets of Zenith carburetor intake manifolds on the shelf. Nobody needs them we couldn’t even sell them at $5 each.

It looks like we have enough parts for the nine engines. We sent the carburetors, oil coolers, distributors and generators out for repair. We painted the engine sheet metal in black two part epoxy paint with the exception of fan shrouds and oil canisters. Recent information from the 356 Registry website has provided us with the original colors for fan shrouds and oil canisters over the 356 years.

The next step will be to put the engines on a test stand for evaluation. Sometimes they start right up but then leak down and compression tests indicate internal problems and probable rebuild. As mentioned before, 356 engine rebuilds can run from $4,000 to $7,000. A new crankshaft alone can be $1,200.

From our nine shop engines we are hoping for at least four useable engines.

I often refer to myself as “cheap bastard that I am”. The metric washers used with machine screws or bolts to secure 356 engine sheet metal are 32 cents each and you need twenty-five per engine. But SAE washers of the same size are 3 cents each but the hole is smaller. So “CBTIA” I buy a couple hundred SAE washers and drill the hole to the correct size. I saved $65 for the nine engines.

By the way, a sign that a 356 engine was not assembled correctly is the improper placement of the screws and bolts securing the engine sheet metal. The horizontal surfaces of the sheet metal are secured by cheesehead screws with washers; the vertical surfaces are secured with bolts with washers. The screw securing the side plates beneath the carburetor must be tight. The threaded holes go on to the valve area and will leak oil if not tight.

Finding oil leaks from a 356 engine can be difficult. While the side plate screws are one area, other areas that leak can be the lower pulley seal, sump plate cover, oil temp/pressure stand, oil filler canister and other areas. The way to find oil leaks is to thoroughly clean the engine, get the 356 up on jack stands and place paper under the engine. From the leak stain on the paper you can trace the oil leak back to the source. We have had as many as fifty 356s parked at our place. Oil stains on the cement driveway have not been a big problem. Most of you take pride in the cleanliness of you 356. The few oil stains we have found clean up with lacquer thinner.

Speaking of oil, there has been extensive discussions on oils on 356TALK. While today’s oil are a lot better than the oils used when the 356 was new, recent changes to additives have removed chemicals the 356 engine needs. Zinc is one of the chemicals removed in order to extend the life of catalytic converters. Some refiners have kept the formulas with the chemicals needed for early engines. One recommended oil is SWEPCO 306 but there are others. Check the 356 Registry technical section and make your own choice.

Grandpa News
Alex has been talking about her baby sister . Unfortunately she will have a wait as the adoption process from China has really slowed down. BJ and Jen are saying now it will be 2009 for a baby sister. Meanwhile, Alex is “babysitting” the new kitten.