December 2009 Newsletter

When the Shop ’64 Coupe came back from Blast Tech, BJ started on the metal work. While at Blast Tech he cleaned, painted and polished all the parts for this 356. What we thought was a good floor pan was only good on the back half. The front half was probably a Volkswagen pan. The original was cut out and the VW welded in with the edges of the original still attached to the side ledges. BJ got that all cleaned up and showed me that the original rusty edges had continued to rust and expand. We had read somewhere that rust will expand seven (or seventeen) times its original unrusted size. It was obvious on the pieces that BJ cut out. When you see a rust bubble you are looking at the same expansion. A rust bubble the size of a pencil eraser will yield a damaged area the size of a silver dollar. You can stop the rust from expanding by using the Rust Treatment product from NAPA (item # 765-1232). To remove the rust you have to cut out and replace the metal. We always get a chuckle when we read or hear of a “rust free” car. We believe we can find rust on any 356. Two quick checks. Remove the rear tunnel cover by the back seats and use a mirror and a flashlight to check for rust in the tunnel. Or, remove the carpet deco strip at the door. Pull back the carpet and drill a hole at the sill. Have a piece of white paper to show the rust as you pull back the drill bit. The factory had many areas of overlapping metal on the 356 and after forty five to fifty years moisture is sure to have gotten in these seams and created rust. We have never described our restorations as rust free.

While BJ worked on the Shop ’64. I worked on the assembly of the Wyoming Speedster. When we billed the customer for the beautiful Ivory paint job we asked to confirm that he was going with a black interior as he indicated earlier. Glad we asked! He had changed his mind and wanted a tan interior and a tan top. We have ordered these pieces and it will look sharp. While the factory offered suggestions for interior colors compatible with the exterior color, the buyer could order any interior color combination. We always wondered what the lady ordered for her pink 356. Maybe black?

The assembly of the Wyoming Speedster was not without its challenges (we never say problems). The wiring harness had some wrong terminals and short wires. While working the wiring harness through the tunnel we used a mirror and saw a cable caught in the tunnel. We had to cut the back of the tunnel to get to it and discovered about two feet of the tachometer cable that had been twisted inside the tunnel. It would have interfered with the throttle and shift linkage. Another challenge was the disc brake system that had been purchased for the Speedster. The Speedster had the later front spindles and we had to dress the front caliper to get it to fit. We also had to shim the outer wheel bearing to get it to set. At the rear, some parts were missing and we had to adapt some parts to fit. We ordered the missing parts from Germany.

Last month we talked about starting reassembly on the Wyoming Speedster. We have kept track of our hours as we had estimated time and materials for the reassembly. So far it has taken eighty two hours and we expect another thirty. This is with all the available parts cleaned , painted and polished. You can multiply by the shop rate to determine the cost. This is why we encourage owners to do their own reassembly. It is enjoyable and you really get to know your 356. Caroline’s ’63 Coupe is due back from the painter this week and we get to do more reassembly. We also look forward to getting back on the reassembly of the Shop ’54 Coupe.

We ordered and will install a wool headliner which is correct for a Pre-A. We have never done this and look forward to the challenge.

We haven’t done many 356 evaluations lately but we did do one on a ’57 Sunroof Coupe in Boulder. The 356 had been dipped years ago so the suspension and the wiring harness had been removed along with all the parts. It sat flat on the garage floor against a wall with all the parts stuffed inside. The engine had been disassembled and was covered with surface rust. The owner wanted to sell but we told him we couldn’t give an estimate until we saw all the parts which we couldn’t do in the crowed garage. He said he would clean it up and call me. When we went back up, there was two feet of space on one side but all the parts were still stuffed inside. We could see the floor and all the damaged areas had been cut out and rough repairs started. You never want to cut out the rust and the damaged areas all at once. Panels are set to adjoining panels and when they are cut out structure is lost. This may have been the most butchered 356 we have evaluated. We gave him a fair estimate which was about a third of what he had into it. He was very disappointed but may part it out and we indicated we would buy parts.

Joe Leoni turns 80!
Happy Birthday to Joe! Joe has provided one of the most valuable services to 356 owners with his 356 electrical books and products improvements. His knowledge and assistance has helped 356RESTORE get these great cars back on the road. He is a good friend.

Grandpa News
Happy Holidays from Alex and the rest of the Kelloggs! Alex has five Santa lists going to ensure she gets what she wants.