July 2006 Newsletter

TV Shows
One reason given for the strong interest in classic and collector cars is TV. What I enjoy when watching auto restoration shows is that the same tools and products we use are used by the shops that are featured. One thing that does bother me is the lack of shop safety on these shows. Seldom are hand, eye and ear protection used. If you watch these shows with your kids, make a game out of counting the safety mistakes shown. In our shop we have had only one accident in twenty plus years of working on 356s. That was due to a dull Exacto knife, which dulls quickly when cutting rubber.

We finished the assembly on Rob’s ’59 Cabriolet and it will be off to Autoweave for a red interior to go with the Ivory paint. After Autoweave it will go to Trevor’s for engine installation, suspension and brake work.

We picked up the Shop ’57 Speedster from the painters and it looks great in it’s new original color, Signal Red, paint. The first step in reassembly will be to install the Trevor rebuilt transmission. It is the original transmission but at some point the carrier broke and cracked the housing. While the carrier was repaired the cracked housing wasn’t and the transmission fluid leaked out and the gears were ruined.

Tech Tip
It is easy to check the fluid level in your transmission. When the 356 is up in the air for an oil change you will see a 19mm square plug on the right middle side of the transmission housing. Remove the plug and stick your finger in the opening. If your finger is wet the transmission is at the proper level. If the level is low and you don’t know the last time the fluid was changed you can add 90 weight fluid to the bottom of the plug hole or you can drain and replace the fluid.

To drain the transmission there is another 19mm plug at the bottom rear at the housing. This plug is magnetic and when removed should be inspected. A few small hairs of metal would be OK as the transmission was designed for friction and some wear is expected. If there is a lot of metal hairs, or worse, small bits of metal, the transmission should be evaluated and repaired.

To fill the transmission you can buy 90 weight gear oil at auto parts stores. Also buy the hand pump that fits on the gallon container. You are going to have to pump the fluid into the inspection plug hole until fluid starts to leak out of the plug hole.

Since your axle tubes also contain transmission fluid it is smart to elevate them when draining the transmission. Also inspect the axle boots for cracks or leaking. Leaking from the axle boot is the most common cause of 356 oil on you garage floor.

After we install the transmission in the Shop Speedster we will install the new wiring harness. (You may ask how did we transport the Speedster to and from the painters without a transmission and rear suspension/wheels. We have a wheeled rod that attaches to the rear spring plates. It looks funny but works well.)

The wiring harness for the Speedster should go quickly as we recently reinstalled one in Rob’s Cabriolet. We have done a lot of 356 full restorations and have never had to remove the wiring harness. The few we have installed were removed by the owner.

The wiring harness may be forty to fifty years old and usually just needs minor repair. The wiring harness is good for both 6 and 12 volt applications.

BJ is just about done with the paint prep on the Shop ’57 Sunroof Coupe. Very little filler was needed as the body was straight, no collision damage and the dents pulled out flush.

So when BJ finishes the Sunroof Coupe we will start on the Shop ’59 Coupe. We will disassemble and have the Coupe media blasted. The 356 is complete and looks straight with good gaps. We suspect only moderate rust damage.

There will be a Classic Car and Motorcycle Show here in Parker on Saturday, August 26th. The entry fee is $25 and the show benefits the Southeast Community Outreach program. The show will be at the Southeast Christian Church on Jordan Road between Lincoln and E-470. Spectators should bring at least two cans of non-perishable food.

Last year at this time we had three accidents to 356s in the local area. This year there has been only one. Joe’s Speedster received left front damage when run into in a parking lot on Mother’s Day.

Joe had recently transferred his insurance from a classic car provider to the same company that had his house and other cars insurance. They were no help in fixing the damage. They knew nothing about what it takes to repair a classic fifty year old car. Fortunately, the insurance company for the responsible party did understand and is covering the correct repair.

In the shop we have a white board with the owner’s name and the 356 model of 356s we have restored. It filled up a few years ago and we transferred the info to our website.

We had been telling folks that we had worked on 100 356s in the past fifteen years but not all had been full restorations. Some were minor repairs. Well, I went to the website and counted the full restorations. There were 52! When I told BJ he said that’s because we’re crazy.

Grandpa News
She has grown two and a quarter inches since May and her little body is well proportioned. She no longer looks like a toddler but a thriving almost 2 year old.