March 2010 Newsletter

Vacation was great! Totally relaxing! All we do is sit in the sun, read books and watch whales.
Editor’s note: (Some of us take lots of naps.)

Caroline picked up her restored ’62 Coupe and was quite pleased with our work. This started out as a repair on the door and fix the hood kink but evolved to a complete restoration. The previous color was a mottled metallic green and we went with the period color Ivory. With the restoration Caroline’s 356 probably doubled in value.

The Wyoming Speedster went to the mechanic just before vacation but little was done. Since then they have made great progress and it should be ready for final assembly and delivery. The customer decision on Ivory with a Tan interior and Tan top was an excellent choice. This is a sharp looking Speedster.

So, I’ve been working on the Shop ’54 Coupe and BJ on the Shop ’64 Heron Gray ’64 Coupe. We just about finished the metal work on the other Shop ’64 Coupe but are holding it to finish the three Shop 356s which are painted and need reassembly.

We started to install the wool headliner in the Shop ’54 Coupe and realized it was over our skill level. The upholsterer we use was able to come to our shop and do an excellent job. There was a delay as the headliner was not made to match the notches in the chassis that hold the headliner metal stays. We had to make new notches for the headliner to fit. The wool headliner sure looks good compared to the later vinyl headliners. Wish they hadn’t changed.

We also had problems with the rear interior panel. We ordered a new panel from the premier 356 upholstery supplier and the studs that secure the panel to the fire wall didn’t line up with the holes in the firewall. We made a paper pattern of the ’54’s firewall and sent it and the bad panel back to the supplier.

Speaking of headliners, we had not removed the headliner in the Shop ’64 Heron Grey Coupe. It was in good shape, just needed cleaning. The painter did a good job of protecting it from over- spray. But the other day we looked at it and found six small holes. They do not seem to be from cuts but as if some insect had eaten the material i.e. similar to damage you would see on vegetation. Anyone know what vermin eats vinyl? Oh well, we have done lots of vinyl headliner installation. It involved trimming and glue.

Tech Tips
Some glue tips not covered in our 356 restoration book: use Weldwood Contact Cement in quart cans. There is also a gel formulation but it is too thick for headliners and carpet. Also use quarts rather than a gallon as the gallon can go bad if not used in a while. (Plus, have you ever kicked over a gallon can of glue in a 356?)
You use small flux brushes or one to two inch brushes to apply the contact cement. They are cheap enough to be disposable, but if you scrape them clean they harden but can be reusable when softened by the glue.

Follow the directions on the can. Apply the glue to both pieces to be glued and wait 12-15 minutes before fitting together. While contact cement is a one shot deal on things like counter tops, you can peal headliner and carpet pieces apart to refit them. You can also do two applications of contact cement on hard to stick areas.

When we wrote the first edition of our 356 Restoration book, we sent a draft out for review. One reviewer said when installing carpet use hot water in a spray bottle to soften the carpet for difficult curves and dips. This works well and you can apply the contact cement to wet carpet once you’ve got the carpet to fit. For pieces like tunnel covers, we just put the carpet piece under the hot water faucet then glue and clamp. The next day it is dry and secure.

356 Restoration Book
Speaking of the book, we have received over two dozen phone calls thanking us for writing the book and informing us it is being used for it’s intended purpose~ Do-It-Yourself 356 restoration. We took a chance writing the book as there are many 356 “experts” who do not hesitate to be critical. We have not received one negative comment on the book. We have even been told the book has been given to restoration shops to follow the techniques described.

We have probably a few more weeks to get the ’54 Coupe ready for mechanical checkout. Bill has the period correct but not original engine rebuilt and ready for installation. Some may remember, we got the ’54 Coupe in exchange for doing a restoration on a ’55 Coupe. Of course the ’55 got all the hard to find pieces to complete its restoration. We have found many Pre-A pieces but still need a glove box knob.

BJ has restored and installed all the exterior pieces on the Shop ’64 Coupe and is working the electrics. We will have to get a headliner before finishing the interior. The engine is at the mechanic’s for evaluation on the test stand. When we finish the ’54 and ’64 we will fix the top fit problems on the Shop ’61 Cabriolet and get it finished. The goal is to sell all these shop 356s this year.

Grandpa News
When Alex has a day off school Jennifer, Barb and Alex usually try to go on an outing. On the last excursion they were waiting for their lunch to be served after a walk through the aquarium and Alex was doing the word search on her placemat. She found the word jellyfish and turned to Barb and said, “you know Grammie, that is a compound word.”