July 2007 Newsletter

No, you didn’t miss last month’s newsletter; we didn’t send one. After six months of inactivity on my part there was a lot to do when my recovery was complete.

Bill Frey and I took the ’52 Race car to Pueblo for the first race of the season. I decided not to drive even though I felt OK. Bill did well and almost broke two minutes; his personal goal. I’m happy with my two minutes, fifteen seconds.

Next up was the Concours at Arapahoe Community College. Again, good weather and a great turnout. We didn’t have time to prepare a 356 and Barb and I didn’t judge. So for the first time in years we had time to enjoy the cars and people. Congratulations to Cal Ensor for placing first with his ’55 Speedster in the 356 group.

After six months of no open shop on Saturdays, we decided to open it up again. To be honest I expected maybe three to five guys to drop by. Wow! We had twenty-two 356’s and at least sixty folks. I gave a few mini tech sessions and the most discussion was on 356 insurance. A few people felt they were covered with State Farm, Allstate, etc; they are not and a few folks commented on their personal experiences with the big insurers. 356RESTORE continues to recommend Hagerty Insurance to cover your 356. They offer insurance during restoration. As soon as we paint a customer 356 we insist they get insurance. Hagerty will adjust this up when the restoration is complete.

At the Concours was Speedster 80054 a 356 we hadn’t seen before and one presented by the new owner. He said it was for sale as the performance wasn’t up to his expectations. He wanted $165,000.

80054 had a few of the features we have to duplicate for 80013, so I gave him my card and said I’d like to check out these unique features. Before he called, I had an E-mail from a potential buyer in Athens, Greece who wanted me to do a complete evaluation and concours judging. I did this and also met the guy who restored 80054. He is from Las Vegas and said he could make a correct low bow top for the 80013. These early Speedster tops were unique and only on the first twenty five or so Speedsters. They have unique leather straps to secure the top to the windshield and the rear window is smaller.

Anyhow, we submitted the evaluation of 80054 to Greece and the Speedster was purchased for around the asking price.

Restoration Shows
We have commented on the automotive shows on TV before and how many restoration shows use the same products and procedures used by 356RESTORE. We were watching one show featuring Jay Leno’s garage. They were restoring a rare Duisenberg. There was a shot of a guy trying to remove the door latch using a screwdriver. Later, another shot, this time he was using a drill to drill out the screws. We use the same approach on 356s. If the screws don’t budge, we drill them out. We can usually save the latch and screw plate.

Bill Frey finished the engine rebuild on the engine we will use in the ’58 Sunroof Coupe which is still at Autoweave. He also put one of our spare engines on his test stand and it checked out OK. So we will use it in the ’57 Outlaw Coupe which is still at Autoweave.

Many of the 356s we have bought as projects came without engines. So we have been buying engines and have nine for future projects. Buying an engine without a documented maintenance or rebuild history by a recognized 356 mechanic is a crap shoot. You may get one that checks out as usable or one that checks out as needing a rebuild. A rebuild today can run from $5,000-$8,000.

We bought a second welder so BJ can finish the metal work on the Shop ’58 Coupe and I can start on Speedster 80013. The new welder is a 110 volt unit and is smaller than the one we have used for almost twenty years. Price was $650. As in many successful products the welder has been cost reduced with more electronics and plastic parts. We will see how it holds up to our original machine.

The Shop Speedster was at Trevors for final checkout but we had to bring it back to the shop. Trevor found some rust damage inside the rear torsion tube. We had never seen this before and we know the Speedster was stored sideways on a rotisserie for many years. We guess water somehow got inside the torsion tube. We had a spare torsion tube that was removed from Barb’s Twin Grille Roadster twenty years ago. We were able to cut out a piece to make a repair and took the Shop Speedster back to Trevors. See, it pays never to throw anything away!

I am working full time on Speedster 80013 as I had planned to start this work six months ago. I was surprised and pleased to find some of the previous repair work was useable. I found some butt welds without pinholes that had just not been ground down! It appears that three different welders had worked on 80013 over the years due to the different techniques and materials.

BJ and I consider the grinding of welds to be as important as laying down good welds. We have special grinding tools and take our time. Grinders can generate heat which can warp a good repair. Grinding is tedious (and very noisy) which is why some welders leave it to others and at our shop Barb leaves to go shopping a lot.

Tech Tip
We have commented before on the great shop lights available at Home Depot and Lowes. The one we recently bought has a switch for 250 and 500 watts; it is easier to use than previous models and it comes with a spare bulb and still under $25.

Another new product we use is 3M Fast Tack Adhesive. Great for when you want to stick something right away. Like the washer and nut for a hood handle or side mirror.