A Day in the Life
Something new this month! A day in the life of 356RESTORE! It’s up at 7:00 for coffee and the paper. Ryan shows up at 8:00 and we plan the day. I tell him Bob called last night and needs to borrow the dolly to get his 356 to the painter. He should be by today. The plan is for Ryan to work on the right longitudinal area of Abby’s 356 while I work on the rear door area of Jim’s 356. We start. Ryan has to rebuild the rusted out heater tubes in the longitudinal. The one that goes through the rear strut to the heater can is completely gone. Last Thursday I had picked up some of the big tube from Carquip. Tom had a least six 20 foot sections of tube stored in the old school bus. Fortunately, we found a ten foot section that would fit in my S-10 Blazer. Now we needed the smaller tube. Ryan has a buddy who owns a muffler shop in Parker so he takes off to get some small tube. We had some defroster tubing left over from the same section on the left side of Abby’s car, so it looks like we can rebuild a heater system. We like to recreate the original, as the factory spent lot of engineering hours using different tubing and paper mufflers to keep the heater quiet. While Ryan goes to get the tubing, I start on the area behind Jim’s left door. I had cut out a section from a repro lockpost and tacked it on Monday. Now I check it and find it’s not quite right. I check against my ’62 Coupe which has the original lock post. I break the tack welds with the grinder and reposition the piece. I hang the door and check for fit. The fender behind the door is way too low. I will have to bend out the lockpost and shim the fender to match the door curve.
Ryan returns with the proper small tubing. We decide to make some additional tubing pieces for future repairs. We are doing this a lot lately. When we get a nice repro piece we use it as a model and measure, cut and bend a few additional pieces.
Ryan and I trade off the use of the MIG welder. He only asks a few questions. This is the sixth inner longitudinal he has done and he is quite skilled. I work on Jim’s fender behind the door. With the door hung I can line up the door, rocker and fender. But it is 10:00 and time for break. We grab a couple of Diet Pepsis and B.S. about cars, weather, family and friends. Back to work. I finish up the lockpost/fender and use the string trick to check for the proper side curve. It looks great! Some lead work will dress up the area nicely. I check Ryan’s progress and he has welded in the new heater tubing, cleaned the whole longitudinal area and painted with two part primer. It’s time for lunch. We leave the shop and have lunch in the kitchen, catching the noon news on TV. Bob calls; he is en route to pick up the dolly. After lunch, I jack up Jim’s 356 so we can remove it from the dolly. While I wait for Bob, I decide to use the plasma cutter to cut out the steel rods brazed into the hinge area of Jim’s hood. Once I get those out, I can decide how to make the repair.
Bob arrives and we load the dolly in his van. He seems impressed with the shop. It is a shame he spent so much at another shop but he will soon be back on the road with our help. After Bob leaves, I use the plasma cutter to cut out the steel rods in Jim’s hood. With the rods finally out, I attach the hood to the hinges and check for fit. As I guessed, the hood is high in the hinge area. I grab my dead blow hammer and give each side a whack. It works! The hood now fits almost perfect with good seams. I remove the hood and weld up the holes. Tomorrow I will lead this area for more strength and later use a little plastic to make it perfect. It’s almost 3:56 and time for me to quit. I check on Ryan’s work and it is great! But nobody will ever see it as he should have the longitudinal on tomorrow. We briefly discuss tomorrow’s objectives and leave the shop for Ryan to clean and then turn out the lights on another successful day at 356RESTORE.
We are serious about our philosophy of assisting 356 owners in any way to get and keep these great cars on the road. Dick just spent 4 weekends scraping and grinding the front section of his ’56 Coupe. He drove it to the shop and within four days, we had all the rust cut out and new metal in place. He drove home with repairs costing less than $700. At the same time, we continue to complete restoration of other 356’s where the owners do not have the time for prep work. Hey! the whole idea is drive these great cars.
Next month, new parts!