November 1998 Newsletter

Tech Tip

This is a useless tech tip. The birds or deer keep knocking the bottom plastic plug out of the tube type bird feeder. It finally disappeared. The replacement is the drain plug from a 741 transmission. Actually the tech tip is you should become familiar with standard pipe threads on your 356. Brakes, tranny, engine. Sometimes you can substitute a common plumbing piece for a repair or fabrication.


Cal’s Speedster should go to the painter this week. The painter is without a helper so Allan’s ’59 has taken a few weeks longer than normal. While I’ve been waiting, I’ve worked on restoring the Speedster parts. The steering wheel had a lot of cracks. You clean these out with a dental tool (ask your dentist or order similar from Harbor Freight). Then pack them with plastic filler (bondo). Sand with 100-600 grit. Then prime with two part epoxy and wet sand with 1200 grit. Paint with the appropriate steering wheel paint from Stoddard. Then seal with two to three coats of Clear.

Cal’s steering wheel was beige but the steering column was black. Most steering columns would have been beige or gray. When I disassembled the column I could tell it was originally black and was appropriate for a Pre-A white car with red interior. Beige or gray wouldn’t look right. For those of you on 356TALK on the Internet you know that interior colors and trim on Pre-A’s and A’s has been much discussed. The consensus is what looked right was right.

After many discussions with knowledgeable 356 folks, I’ve decided to paint Cal’s Rudge Knock off wheels with a powder paint chrome. To rechrome the wheels would have been about $2,000 each. The problem is not only do the wheels have to be split, the twelve rivets have to be removed for chroming. These are special metric rivets which are hard to find. Removal of the original rivets may mean replacement. I’ve looked at the powder paint chrome finish and it looks like a semi gloss stainless steel. I think it will look ok; not chrome but also not $10,000.

The other parts for Cal’s Speedster were straight forward restoration. Strip to bare metal (media blast or paint stripper), repair as necessary, paint with two part epoxy primer and paint original color. The Speedster seats and top bow needed lots of repair but turned out great. The Speedster seat upholstery was all original and quite unique on how it was attached. You can tell how these seats were low cost and uncomfortable. Cal’s Speedster also has the Coupe seat option. Recent surveys indicate most Speedsters sent back to the States by servicemen had the Coupe seat option. My ’56 Speedster also has Coupe seats.

I’ve also done some work on Norm’s ’54 race car. Since this Coupe gets all the latter stuff, everything requires fabrication. Since Norm is a big guy we first found a comfortable race seat and positioned it to the steering wheel. Then we positioned the B/C shifter which connects to the 741 tranny. The later B/C pedal cluster required fabrication of the throttle linkage. The 911 master cylinder required fabrication of the brake lines and the brake light switch and of course the disk brakes required major fabrication of the front suspension. And since ’54 Pre-A’s didn’t have a front sway bar we had to fabricate one of those. The rear sway bar is from Vic Skirmat’s and is a bolt on-no fabrication. Thanks, Vic!

So the past month has been mostly parts restoration. Since Blast Tech wasn’t too busy, I sent about 20 doors, 12 bumpers, 4 hoods, 4 deck lids in for blasting. This is after I had them do about sixty wheels. Anyhow I’m thinking of restoring these parts and hauling them out to L.A. for the February 7th Swap Meet which is getting to be a big deal. I’ll need a trailer this time but more importantly if I sell a lot of parts, I will need to replace them. So if you have 356 parts or know of some I would like to buy them or take them on consignment. I pay about 25 cents on the dollar. In other words, if I think a bumper will sell for $200 after restoration, I will buy it for $50. My philosophy is 356 parts shouldn’t be on the shelf. They should be restored and put on a running 356.

I said last month that Allan’s ’59 was the last customer car for a while. Guess what? Rocky’s 64/65 SC Coupe showed up! I evaluated this 356 in October 1992 when I first started 356RESTORE. Rocky didn’t have the time or resources then but does now. And since he was one of my first potential customers I will start on his 356 next year. I indicated this is a 64/65 which means it is a ’64 but 1965 rolled around and it became a ’65 as you can’t tell the difference. (I think the only difference between ’64 and ’65 is the absence of a coachbuilder badge in 1965 since Porsche bought out Reutter and didn’t badge the 356 in 1965.) If you know of other 64-65 differences let me know-could be worth a prize. Rocky’s 64/65 was also imported from France and has the neat importer’s badge on the engine shroud. I haven’t had time to evaluate the 356 yet buy it doesn’t look too different from when I checked it out in 1992.