January 1994 Newsletter


First a progress report then on to the exciting news! Tom’s ’54 Cabriolet is almost done metal wise. Not only did we have to make a left front fender, but both door skins were weak and had to be partially replaced. Door skins are the toughest repair on a 356. Too much heat and you can chase the bubble all the way across the door. Anyhow, the metal on Tom’s Cab is now probably better than it was 40 (!) years ago.

Abby’s ’62 Coupe came back from the painter in a beautiful Slate Gray and we did the color sanding and buffing. It sure does shine! Abby opted for a burgundy interior and the upholster has started stitching. Abby’s 356 will be placed in a protected part of the shop while we put it together and hopefully not scratch the paint (it would be nice to have a separate shop for painted cars to avoid grinding dust and contact sports).

Ron and Marcia’s ’64 Coupe is just about done metal wise. Only a few surprises, i.e. the left rear inner fender seam was gone and there were a few more holes in the floor. This 356 should be off to the painter within a month.

Next up is Ed’s ’65 Coupe which should go quick as we mostly have to cut out rust, and tack in numerous patches. Ed and his father will do the final welding and finishing.

After Ed’s 356 will be Joe’s Speedster, the Shop ’63 Coupe (first choice to Mike D), Rich’s outlaw 356, and Tom’s T’s Pre-A. Checking the schedule board, there are four other 356’s after these, so the next six (or more) months will be busy.

Exciting News!

Exciting for me, hopefully for you! I decided to take the small profit from the shop in 1993 and spend it all in December. There was no reason to give anything to the IRS. First purchase was a 5-horse, two stage, 60 gallon Ingersoll-Rand compressor. This unit is quieter than my little 2 horse, 20 gallon compressor and is located outside the shop in the garage. I had to run 220 wire and have it plumbed for disconnects and drains but boy is it neat! Now we can drive all the professional air tools (up to 175 psi) and do a better job on finishing. We can still use the small compressor for house calls.

The next investment was new tools. We now have 7 inch air grinders and sanders. But the neatest tool is a stud welder. I had seen these tools at various clinics and what they do is weld a stud into the metal to which you can attach a puller and pull out dents and low spots. I was told they cost about $500 so I was resigned to using a hammer/dolly and slide hammers. But during December, Al West Paint had an entry level stud welder on sale for $240. I bought one and it is the greatest tool! No. more using hammer, dolly, spoons, and pry bars on low spots. Now we lightly sand the 356 exterior with the new air sander, discover the low spots and pull them back into position with the stud welder and puller.

Since there was still some money left, we bought another 356. A mechanically sound ’65 Coupe that needs some exterior work. It should be mechanically sound as it belonged to one of the top 356 mechanics in the area. Since I had no place to store it, it is being driven and garaged by Ryan, the 356RESTORE shop assistant. Imagine, a shop assistant with his own “company car”.

Tech Tip

I was told by one of the recipients of this newsletter that he saved all his copies to reference the tech tips. Now I have to think of one a month! Here’s one: never throw anything away! Rubber and upholstery pieces can be used for trim patterns, rusted metal can be used for weld patterns, old headlights can be used to position new headlight buckets, damaged/dented parts can be used to verify the correctness of repro parts, and even the ugliest rusted out, brazed over, dented part can be hung on your shop wall to remind you of where you started and where you are now.

Another tip! Why use tape and newspaper to mask off suspension parts or wiring from paint or undercoat? Use aluminum foil instead. It’s quick, easy, and while more expensive, it’s reusable. Shop the discount warehouses, there are lots of shop supplies at low prices.