Porsche 356 Restoration
This subject is hot. In twenty five years we have not seen the huge interest in restoring 356s that we see now. If you follow 356Talk on the 356 Registry web site there are lots of 356 restoration projects being discussed. Of course, much of the interest is due to the increases value of these great little cars. We owners know of the excellent design and engineering and the pleasure in driving a car that is responsive. Once again this month we have turned away folks wanting us to restore or finish the restoration of their 356 project. Surprisingly, three of these have been Colorado 356s. We thought we knew about Colorado 356 activity but there are still projects that have been in Colorado for twenty, thirty, forty years. A recent call was about a ’64 SC Cabriolet, the owner was eighty and the project had been sitting for years. We are pleased that our 356 Restoration book is being used by those with skills for restoration but there are many without the skills and we wish we could help them. You should see the shop, parts from five 356s spread all over. We need to finish our own projects before taking on customer work.
Well, we still have one customer 356 to finish. That is the Magnuson’s ’59 Sunroof Coupe. There was a delay at the painters as his supplier could not match the Ruby Red sample we provided. After three attempts and a switch to a new supplier we got a match. The ’59 is now in the shop and being assembled.
Prior to arrival of the ’59, we worked on Casper the Shop ’61 Coupe. This was the 356 fixed with screen wire, insulating foam and Bondo. Most of the damage was in the front and it would need a new front clip, front battery box bulkheads and battery box floor plus other front repairs. This is fun because we can cut off all the damaged front pieces and work from the inside out. It is so much easier and pleasurable to install a battery box floor when there is no front sheet metal in the way.. So with the battery box floor in , we could install the lower front bulkhead. This just took a little trimming. All replacement panels require trimming, they are not drop in pieces. The 356 was “Made by Hand” and they are all slightly different. Next was the upper bulkhead. Then the hood is installed to position the front clip. For this project, we bought two half clips. You use some bar stock attached to the front bumper brackets to assist in positioning the clips. You overlap the clip to the fender, tack in place, then mark the original factory seam and use the plasma cutter to cut thru both pieces. You remove the excess metal, make the panels flush and weld. Since we had two half clips , we had to make the halves meet in the middle. A tie down strap between the horn grille openings, a little tightening and “voila” a perfect match and weld.
Cal Ensor found this one in his 356 reading. Put a small magnet in the cup of your fuel petcock to catch metal particles before they go through the filters and clog your carb jets. Anyone heard of this? Anyone tried it? We check our fuel petcock for material often. Right? Easier for 356s through T-5 where the petcock is under the dash, harder on T-6s where it is under the car.
Back to Progress
The Magnuson’s ’59 had been completely disassembled. We mean completely, but parts carefully labeled. The first thing to do when back from the painters is to clean and paint the front compartment, interior and engine compartment. There will be overspray in these areas and any bare metal will have surface rust due to the wet sanding. We use Rust Treatment on these areas (available at NAPA). Don’t forget to blow out the tunnel before painting all compartments Satin Black. The next step on the ’59 was to install the wiring harness. The original had been removed and was damaged at the rear where the wires had shorted together. It is a lot easier to install a new reproduction wiring harness which is clean and supple but they cost around $1200. We have plenty of original wire pieces and decided to do a repair. Then you have to feed the wiring harness through the tunnel and through the fuse box cavity under the dash. Lots of fun! We got it in, but without Joe Leoni’s great 356 electrical schematics it would have taken a lot longer. Next was the sunroof which had been completely disassembled. We first checked the shop manuals and parts book but no picture of the manual sunroof assembly. Then we remembered we had done a sunroof project as part of our 356 Restoration book. But, again, no pictures. So, trial and error and we hate to admit, over three hours to assemble the manual sunroof. The way it is assembled is not obvious, a pin that secures a lever is almost touching the panel surface. Something you think isn’t correct but it is well designed not to touch when assembled.
U.S Vintage Racing National Championship
Our 1952 356 race car has been accepted to participate in the National Championship to be held October 24-27 at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas. Over 550 vintage racers have been pre-registered. More, when we get details later this month.
Alex received straight A’s this last quarter. She got 38 A’s out of 38 in 16 subjects. Now she is ready for summer vacation. Alex is signed up to learn how to Scuba dive and then a trip to Minnesota to visit her Grandparents. But the Big Trip will be to China some time in late July to pick up her little sister Samantha.