January 2002 Newsletter

Tech Tip

When was the last time you checked your transmission oil? It is easy to do. The fill location is about two thirds of the way up the tranny on the passenger side. Remove the fill plug and stick your little finger in. It should come out with some of that sweet smelling 90 weight oil on it. (Actually, tranny oil is foul smelling and the smell won’t come out of your clothes). If it smells a little burnt you could have trouble.

But why just check you oil; let’s change it. The drain plug is on the lowest part of the tranny. About a gallon will come out. It helps to elevate the axle tubes to drain the oil from them. Look closely at the drain plug, it is a magnet and can tell you if you have problems. Now, what to fill with. A good 80/90 weight gear oil will work. You need a gallon. We recommend a gear oil called Sweepco. Hard to find but try Carquip in Boulder. Do not use a synthetic gear oil! The 356 transmission needs friction to work properly. While Sweepco costs more than regular gear oil it gives better performance and will reduce some of the tranny noise the 356 acquires with age.

You need to fill the tranny until the oil comes out the fill plug. The 356 should be level. Ninety weight oil is thick and you can’t easily pour it into the tranny. Buy a pump at an auto parts store that attaches to your gallon container. Replacing your transmission oil is an easy Sunday afternoon job now that the Broncos are done. (Actually, pumping is hard work).


We were detailing the transmission on the shop ’61 Roadster and when we checked the oil it smelt burnt. When we drained the tranny we found metal strips and some gear teeth. This was surprising as we determined this is a low mileage 356.

So off to Carquip for a replacement transmission. Tom had a nicely detailed and rebuilt transmission. We did a swap and I got credit for some spare tranny parts I had. A rebuilt transmission will cost about $2,500; so check your oil!

The shop ’61 Roadster is almost ready for its Aetna Blue paint. We’ve detailed the underneath and all the compartments. We reconditioned the wheel cylinders and bought a new master cylinder and rubber brake lines. We always get a new master cylinder when doing the brakes due to the single point of failure issue.

We reassembled a ’64 Coupe awhile back that had the front repaired and the body repainted. The reason for the repair; the brakes failed and the owner drove into another car in front. After we reassembled the ’64 I checked the brakes. Firm pedal, no leaks. I suspect air got in the system leading to a intermittent failure. Bleed your brakes! We’ve covered this in the past.

While I worked on the shop ’61 Roadster, BJ has been reassembling Allan’s ’60 Coupe. This was a shop 356 we traded to Allan in exchange for the paint work. We are also using a second painter; a retired guy out in Elizabeth. he has the shop ’56 Sunroof Coupe and a shop ’64 Coupe. Both are coming along nicely and should be back soon.

While we wait we will be cleaning and pricing parts for the February 10th swap meet in Anaheim, California. This is the biggest 356 swap meet in the world and we continue to sell more parts each year. If you have parts to sell on consignment contact us. BJ likes the swap meet as we stop in Las Vegas on the way back. After the swap meet it is Aloha time. I look forward to this break more each year.

Tech Tip

As long as your Bronco Sundays are free, why not detail your battery box compartment? This is the first area to go on a 356 if you don’t use a sealed battery. We highly recommend the sealed Optima battery. The Registry website at 356registry.org has patterns to cover up this different looking battery. Anyhow, remove the battery and clean and dry the battery box area thoroughly. If there is rust, treat with a rust neutralizer like Extend. Spray the area with rubberized undercoat and after it hardens spray with Satin Block paint. All products are available at auto parts stores. Don’t let water sit on the top of your battery like after washing your 356. Can’t you just visualize those little electrons moving from post to post? Battery acid will do the same; another reason for a sealed battery.


There are three 356 Holidays this year:

  • April 11-14 in Charleston, South Carolina
  • August 22-25 in Duluth, Minnesota
  • September 19-22 in Vancouver B.C.

Details are in the 356 Registry magazine or online at 356registry.org.

The Web

The world wide web has changed the way we do business. Due to our website 356restore.com we have had inquiries from numerous places outside the U.S. If you want to contact us via E-mail go to our website. Thanks to those of you receiving this newsletter via E-mail. There are over 40 of your and the savings to 356RESTORE is $15 a month.