January 2008 Newsletter

As expected, 356s are starting to fill up the shop. The Shop ’59 Coupe was finished at the paint shop and we have started reassembly. We had it painted Irish Green which is actually a later green but one we like and have done before. The original color was Fjord Green but it has a little blue in it, while the Irish Green is a rich dark green.

The Shop ’57 Sunroof coupe finally came back from Autoweave after a year. With it back we can take some pictures for the second edition of the 356 restoration book. The first edition sold over 3500 copies and sold out of its second printing. The second edition will have a lot more detail plus the Shop ’57 Sunroof Coupe is featured as a project from the day we bought it to its first drive. Every step of its restoration is described in the second edition and it is great to have it back so we can wrap up the book. The second edition will be off to the publisher in a few months and we plan to have it printed for the Christmas buying season for ’08.

BJ has the Shop ’59 Cabriolet ready for the painter but they are full up and have Speedster 80013 almost ready to start. We have the Shop ’54 Coupe ready for the painter but are holding it here until the painter has room. So BJ is doing the electrical work on the Shop ’59 Cabriolet. We usually do this during final assembly. The last time Joe Leoni was here to help debug some 356 electrical problems, we noticed he used a different solder than we did. He gave us some and it makes a big difference when working on 356 electrical issues. You can’t imagine what previous owners have done to 356 electrical wiring over the years. We have seen extension cords used to replace factory wires and bondo used to connect wires.

The weather hasn’t allowed us to drive the Shop ’57 Speedster or the Shop ’58 Outlaw Coupe so they are still here.

The last few years we have turned away customer work to restore shop 356s. Last year we only sold one shop car; this year we should have at least five for sale:

the ’57 Speedster
’58 Outlaw Coupe
’54 Coupe
’59 Cabriolet
’57 Sunroof Coupe
We have a Shop ’64 Coupe to do but probably won’t finish it this year as we promised to do a customer’s ’61 Roadster. The owner had been after us for three years. He had the Roadster disassembled and had been storing it for twenty years!

Last month we had a little break between 356s so I decided to get all the parts we had laying around on the shelf onto the nine shop engines. It worked out well as we had almost enough parts to detail out the nine engines. So I started on one and put on the best parts and then on to the next and so on. The last engine got the poorer parts.

Then I decided to check what engine would go in what Shop car. Of course, the first engine we need is the one that got the poor parts. So now I have to go back and pull parts. It takes a full day to disassemble and reassemble engine parts and there is a correct sequence to follow so you don’t have to undo something you’ve just done to get to the next part. (The sequence is detailed in the second edition of the 356 Restoration Book).

After my comments on modifying hardware last month, a reader sent me contact info on a hardware website that has tens of thousands of metric fasteners. I can get 100 metric washers for $3.00. The problem now is putting together an order for a lifetime supply of 356 fasteners. The 356 parts manual details the fastener specs such as “screw, cheese head cadmium plated M 6×12 din 84-55”. The Din specs were very rigid and used by all European manufacturers and differed from American SAE specs. But DIN specs changed over time and that is why we can’t get the 14 mm across the flats (ATF) bolts that were used on the 356. So getting our hardware fastener order together will take some time, but hopefully worth the effort.

Insurance Work
We don’t like the hassle of doing insurance work and have only done a few insurance repairs. Recently we did a left front fender repair since the insurance company was Haggerty, a company we have recommended in the past. No hassle, the owners got one estimate from 356RESTORE and got a check. The repair went well and our painter did a great job blending in the paint. We were not surprised when we found the 356 had been previously hit in the left front. We have seen this left front damage on about 60% of the 356s we work on.

Alignment Tool
At a recent RM356PC tech session a member demonstrated a 356 alignment tool he had made. Basically two 2 x 6 boards with an aluminum L channel screwed on the side and two inexpensive tape measures secured to one side. Place one against the front wheel, the other on the other wheel and extend the tape measures to measure toe in. Works a lot quicker than jack stands and strings. We will make a set.

Aloha! We missed our vacation in Hawaii last year but look forward to this year. We will be staying at a friend’s place in Kona on the Big Island. BJ, Jen and Alex are already there and we will join them for a few days and then they will head back and Barb and I will stay for another week. This place has a swimming pool and Alex is a little fish so we will report her adventures in next month’s Grandpa news.