We finalized the design of the remodel of the new home and shop in late February. We expected the plans to be submitted to the County Planning Department three weeks later. But it took three months as the designer, architect and engineer reworked the roof design and point loads. While we waited, we had the contractor build shelves for the new shop. They are installed and we have started moving parts to their new home. The contractor has started demolition so we are underway. We expect this to be a nine to twelve month project.
One of the first batch of parts we moved were drum brake parts. We have a lot of these as new brake parts would have been installed on the 356 and the used parts kept by the owner. We had eighty two used brake wheel cylinders. These can be restored if not pitted at the end of the cylinder. If the bleeder valve is broken off, Martin Willis in Colorado Springs has a jig to drill and tap a new bleeder valve hole on the opposite side of the cylinder and you just switch location on the backing plate. We also had large number of drum brake shoes. We have never had to buy new brake shoes for a Porsche 356; they seem to last forever. All the parts we are moving have to be cleaned and labeled. BJ found a labeling machine that connects to the computer and it is great. We are going to have a neat, clean, organized shop.
We installed the shifter in the Shop ’56 Speedster. This is a challenge on the A cars as the shifter is attached to the tunnel shift rod by a pin and cotter key. To install them you have to get the shift rod high in the tunnel, attach the shifter, then working inside the tunnel, push in the pin and install the cotter key. We use a long hemostat to do this. It can take many attempts to do this. On one 356A we spent over an hour and many attempts to do this only to get up off the 356 floor to see we had installed the shifter backwards!
We had a call from a 356 owner in Vail who was removing his 356 from winter storage and had a heavy gas smell on the drive home. We diagnosed the problem as probably a fuel line hose failure in the tunnel. The next day, we were starting the Shop ’64 Coupe and had a fuel leak. All German 7mm rubber hoses had failed. They were less than a year old! Either a bad batch of hose or today’s fuel is destroying the hose. The solution is to replace all the German 7mm fuel hose with 5/16 rubber fuel lines available at most auto parts stores. While the originality of the German hose (identified by the fabric cover with blue threads) is nice, today’s rubber fuel hose is designed for today’s fuel. We have mentioned this often; inspect your fuel hose! We repeat, inspect your fuel hose.
BJ is finishing the body work on Casper the Shop ’61 Coupe. He will move on to undercoat and it will be off to the painter for it’s original Ivory color. Jim works on the Shop ’56 Speedster or on parts to be moved.
The Speedster brakes have been installed. The only issue was the right side E-brake cable which would not go down the tunnel tube. We must have slightly bent the tube when we did the tunnel restoration. The solution after trying to straighten the tube with metal rods was to remove metal from the cable end until it past the obstruction. The cable end will still clamp into the aluminum block where the three cables connect in the tunnel. The Speedster is basically ready for carpet, trim and top installation but the upholstery shop had to delay new work for awhile.
The Porsche 356 Speedster has always been popular. We often called it the James Dean effect. Four thousand one hundred and fourty five Speedsters were produced from 1954 to 1958 out of a total of 79,316 356s. So about five percent.
The Speedster was preceded by the Aluminum Sports Roadster which had been requested by Max Hoffman the importer in 1952. Only 16 Aluminum Sports Roadsters were produced by the body builder Heuer. The hand built aluminum body and the high price doomed this first attempt at a light weight entry level sports car. In early 1952 Max met Ferry Porsche and Edwin Komenda chief of the body design department in New York. Max Hoffman committed to 200 Speedsters if Porsche would produce them to his specifications. Porsche started Speedster planning and the first prototype Speedster, was serial number 12223 and we saw it at the Speedster 50th Anniversary Event at Pebble Beach in 2004.
The first 200 Speedsters were basically hand built. We had the privilege to work on number 13 (80013) and it was obvious they were hand built. Due to their light weight (about 1680 pounds) Speedsters were very competitive in Sports car racing. When the Carrera engine was added in later production they were formidable. Yes, James Dean did race a Speedster It was s/n 80126 and he raced it in the novice class at Palm Springs in March of 1955. He won this race and qualified for the Sunday race where he placed third.
Once again, Alex got straight A’s on her report card and this meant a trip with BJ. This year they went to Chicago. Last year for straight A’s they went to Long Beach. Sammie has had swimming lessons, Sunday school and Summer camp this week so she also has been very busy. The girls will be spending most of July in Minnesota visiting the northern family.