We ended last months newsletter with “We just picked up the Shop ’56 Speedster”. Well, we did and it looks great! We have had nothing but favorable comments from shop visitors.
So for the last month, Jim has been full bore on the Speedster; while BJ finishes the body work on Casper the Shop ’61 Coupe.
The first job on the Speedster was to get it up on our special jack stands so we could paint the underside to cover any white overspray. There was little overspray but lots of wet sanding residue. There are a lot of exterior holes on a Speedster due to the side deco and emblem holes. To do this touchup paint, we have to completely mask off the exterior. Every hole and recess has to be covered. Using a Satin Black paint underneath we did get some over spray on the white exterior but it will rub out. The next step was to install the windshield frame to make the body look like a Speedster. Then, the wiring harness. We got a new one from YnZ and they have a really good product. Each wire termination has little stickers with letters/numbers that corresponds to the directions identifying the termination. These little stickers are quality as they have to stay on the wire as it is pulled through the tunnel and various openings.
We once judged a 356 with a new wiring harness and these little stickers had not been removed. A few points off, as under the dash looked like a crossword puzzle.
All the wires going to the back of the 356 have to be tightly taped so they can be pulled through the tunnel and a hole in the rear bulkhead.
The front of the wiring harness also has to be taped as much of it has to be pulled through the fuse box tunnel. It took a day and a half and the wiring harness went in with few problems.
We had a good fuse block and cover in inventory and burnished all the connections. The reproduction fuse block today do not have the back connections and have to be bridged. Plus they come without a cover and an original cover won’t fit. We went to install the fuse box and discovered that there were still small pieces of the original fuse box still attached to the mounting screws and the screws were rusted solid. With Kroil and some heat and vise grips we got one screw out. The other screw snapped off. This is a problem as the fuse box has to be solidly mounted. Epoxy cement won’t work as there is a lot of tension from the wires when they are attached to the fuse box. There was one inch of the screw stuck in the bracket. With a good small drill bit we were able to drill through the center of the frozen bolt. We then followed with the proper bit to allow a tap, we then tapped the bracket and were excited as this was a very difficult repair and we did it perfectly. It is small things like this that makes our day.
The next step was to get the side deco attached. Since the fenders did not have holes but the doors did, we were able to position this deco by reviewing Speedster pictures. We did this as part of the dry fit prior to paint using an old set of deco pieces. The new deco went on and it was perfect. Now for the nervous part. There are “Speedster” emblems that go above the side deco on the front fenders. The nervous part is the emblem has very small studs and five holes have to be drilled in perfect alignment with the side deco. Looking at Speedster pictures we determined the distance above the side deco and distance from the door opening. We then made a jig out of heavy paper and pressed the emblem on it marking the holes for the studs. With the jig on the fender we marked the holes with a Sharpie, then drilled the holes using the emblem to verify each hole. Another perfect placement. Are we feeling good!
We think a project 356 during restoration looks better with eyes, so we attached the headlights. With the wiring harness in place, we could hook up most of the dash. We had the instruments restored by Palo Alto Speedometer. The originals were very rough but now look perfect. In fact, we are restoring almost all the original parts of the Speedster; the bench seat is the best example. Before installing the hood we had to install the hood seals. Once again, all the screw holes had to be drilled. We doubt there was a factory jig for this purpose but we had researched the placement of these screws on the various 356 models and documented this in our D.I.Y 356 restoration book. So we used our own book to install the hood seals. We installed the bumpers on the Speedster but without bumper guards. We had to use reproduction bumpers and they come without the hole for the bumper guards. We like the “naked bumper” look and will sell the Speedster without bumper guards. Many others also like this look as you will see plenty of naked bumpers 356s at events.
We purchased some 165×15 Veredstein tires and noticed that while they still have the period looking tread patterns, they have changed the sidewall design. We like the look of painted wheels and used the last four good ones we had in inventory, we prime them multiple times, then paint with Dull Aluminum or Satin Aluminum. We then paint with a gloss clear which dulls the silver color to original. Next, will be brakes and linkage and then off to upholstery.
Alex and Sammie brought little Bundt cakes for Barbs birthday. After singing ” Happy Birthday You, You” (Sammie’s version) Sammie blew out Barbs candle. We all laughed and she looked confused.
Spring Race 5/17, 5/18 at High Plaines Raceway over 130 racecars