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Copyright 1997, by Harry Pellow, All Rights Reserved.

At last, the 1968 912 was almost finished. The Maestro's Tiger Team had come through again. The Customer, the Platinum-Iridium Standard of an Old Geezer/Codger and former Engineer wanted Perfection for the '68 912 he recently bought to satisfy a youthful Dream. Once, when the Geezer was much younger, he had a 912 but, sadly, sold it. Now, on heart pills and a 1000 Megawatt Hearing Aid, he was a-tryin' to relive his youth.

.....The Maestro, having passed that Half-Century mark, and having been visited on that Memorable Birthday by The Secret Angel that imparts Wisdom, doesn't blame him one bit. Why NOT go back to your youth, when you were young and Life was Fun, buy a '68 912 with 114,000 miles and only a little rust. Engineer a Massive Fix to the perennial problem of the failed 912's Front Suspension Mounts, and have the Maestro's Tiger Team Rebuild the Power Train?

.....And that's what the Old Codger did. He even interviewed the Maestro before committing his beloved 912.

....."You don't work on any OTHER car besides 356 and 912 Porsches?" asked the Geez.

....."That's RIGHT," said te Maestro. "I ONLY work on 356 and 912 Porsches", said the Maestro.

....."No 911's. No 944's. No 928's. No 914's. And God forbid, no 924's. Only 356's and 912's.?"

....."Right again..."

.....The Maestro mustave won the Contest, 'caused the Codger dropped the '68 912 off from the trailer- straight from the painters. (The Geez, not having time to do it himself, listened to the Maestro's suggestion that the Proper Order of a Restoration is: 1. Body & Paint. Then: 2. Interior. THEN and only Then: 3. Engine.

.....That way the nicely Powder-painted Engine doesn't get Overspray from the body work all over it! For no matter WHAT color the body's exterior is, it will NOT look good oversprayed on the Engine sheetmetal. And no matter WHAT the Body shop people say, some/lots/a TREMENDOUS amount of exterior paint WILL end up on your nicely-powder painted engine if you leave it installed in n the car! This you don't want.

.....Taking the Maestro's advice the Geez had towed the '68 912 straight from the Body Shop some 200 miles to the Maestro's door, for the Powertrain Transformation.

.....The Maestro's Tiger team is divided into three parts. The Maestro inhabits the First Part, does the Engine & the Coordination. The Wolfman, Viet Nam vet that he is, inhabits the Second part and rebuilds the Transmission to Military Precision using the Special Factory Tools. And The Bespectacled Beckle commands the Third Part- the R&R (Removal & Replacement) Team, self-generated and able to Remove, Replace the Engine & Transmission and Repair (if necessary), most anything along the way on. More importantly, the Bespectacled Beckle actually LIKES to remove the Engine & Transmission! Having several kids in college at the same time, has a lot to do with liking to do it.

.....Anyhow, the 912 Transformation was almost complete- a MaestroMassaged Engine. A Wolfman rebuilt 5-Speed Transmission. The Pair, Bespectacled Beckle-Installed.

.....And the Codger was a-chompin' at the bit, a-wantin' anxiously to pick up his Baby on Halloween. A Tuesday.

.....That's when the Bespectacled Beckle called the Maestro late Sunday Night to say:

....."Well, the Engine & trans are in. It runs OK. Shifts OK. But there are NO Tail lights, NOR Brake lights! Come and get it."

.....The Tuesday deadline being two days away, the Maestro had no choice. So he and his Mrs. drove on down to the East Kilroy to pick up the taillightless 912. With Mrs Maestro following closely, oh, so very closely, behind to shield the Maestro's butt from Other cars and the California Highway Patrol, they caravaned to the Maestro's Shop. Wherein the Maestro deposited the 912 inside the warm, thermostatically-controlled environs of his Ultra-modern shop and locked it up. Got into Mrs Maestro's 1980 528i BMW having just turned 200,000 miles on the trip from Kilroy, fired up the ever-faithful BMW engine, and backed up.

.....And the BMW stalled. The Maestro doesn't know why, call it a Vision or something- but he immediately sensed a Serious Problem here. And sho' 'nough, when he recranked the engine. It cranked and cranked and cranked but would not fire. The gauges also went Crazy- flinging their needles wildly all over the place! Just like in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". But with no bright lights outside.

.....Hummmh, thought the Maestro. Guess I'm right again. It IS a Serious Problem.

.....So, was it gonna be the Fuel Injection Relay again that the Maestro couldn't fix that necessitated a tow three years ago? Or is it the Fuel pump? The Spark? Ah, now the SPARK we can check.

.....And check he did. He pulled the wire out of the center of the distributor and wedged it a quarter inch from a good ground. Had the Mrs crank the engine over. No spark. Hummh. OK. Well maybe that's something I can fix. He re-opened the closed shop turned on all the lights he'd just turned off, went to the Coil Area and grabbed a 12 volt 912 coil.

.....He disconnected the 528i's coil and hooked up the new one. Mrs Maestro cranked. And still no spark. Maybe the Hall-effect Top Dead Center Sensor Gorzenplex had tanked.

.....DAMN these "modern cars! For the second time in his life, though he could Diagnosis what was wrong with the BMW, he couldn't fix it! And had to take a TAXI home! (No, he was not about to drive the Geezer's taillightless 912 any further! He knew the gods wouldn't permit it!)

.....(And as to Diagnosis- it'll get worse- the California Air Resources Board will require at the start of the next Millennium, appropriately, that all new cars have an On Board Diagnosis unit (OBD) to detect anything wrong with the emission system. Now, normally, that's a Good Idea. Except that the OBD the California Air Resources Board has in mind will BROADCAST to Sensors on the shoulder ifin your car should exceed their emission limits and the Sensors can broadcast to your CAR and SHUT YOU DOWN! Stranded by the side of the road. Easy pickings for the SMOG SWAT team to pick you and your car back for Testing. And Re-Education. This is No Joke. This is not a Test. I am not making this up. This is The Real Thing! It's their plan!)

.....Monday, the next day, the Maestro decided that ifin he wanted to finish the Codger's job by the Halloween Deadline, (and get paid for it), he'd better get the damn taillights and brake lights working again.

.....Unfortunately, the Body Shop that did the paint job had removed all the lights and had reattached the wires rather hastily after the paint job.

.....It was the Maestro's job, and he had to accept it, to find out what the painter had screwed up.

.....So he pulled off the 912's rear tail light assemble. Hummh. Separate sockets for Turn Indicator, Reverse and Brake/tail light. Brown for Ground hooked up like it should be. Color combo wires on the other terminals. Everything looks kosher.

.....So the Maestro went to the fuse block, unscrewed the cover and looked inside where the circuit descriptions are printed. Nothing there. It's missing. No circuit descriptions. Great.

.....There were, however, two burned out fuses midway in the fuse block. This is Not Good thought the Maestro. He replaced one of the burned out fuses. It stayed intact.

.....Then he pulled the light switch on. The fuse brightened momentarily to Incandescence, and popped with an audible "pop". OK, thought the Maestro, firmly grasping the obvious. Looks like we have a Short Circuit Somewhere.

.....The Maestro went back to the rear lights, and this time pulled off ALL the wires, hung them so they touched neither themselves nor any ground. Then he returned to the fuse block and replaced the burned-out fuse again. Again he pulled the light switch to on. And again it was Incandescent City from the fuse followed by that "pop". Still a Short Circuit. Even with everything disconnected at the Rear! This is NOT gonna be easy. Sigh.

.....The Maestro got under the car and pulled off the Reverse Switch wires thinking that maybe that might do something. Nope. All it did was pop another fuse, just like it did before. Wasn't that.

.....After a while of trying this and trying that, the Maestro tried thinking about it. He even used his Kepner-Tregoe Problem Solving Stuff on it. What's the Problem? The Problem is No rear tail Lights. And No Brake Lights. And No Reverse lights. What's NOT the problem? Well, the Headlights work. Both high and low beam. The Left-Rear Turn Signal works. And the Left-Front Parking Light works.

.....OH! The Left FRONT parking light works? Does the RIGHT front parking light work?

.....No, the Right front parking light doesn't work either.

.....Well, have you checked it?

.....Uh, no.

.....Well, dum-dum," said the Maestro's Center of Higher Reasoning. "Maybe you OUGHTA check it!"

.....So the Maestro pulled off the right front parking light right in front of the Porsche gods- and there it was. Now in front of the Maestro- the Geezer's Painter had plugged the Brown Ground wire onto the "hot" side of the Right-Front Parking Light! More importantly, he had, therefore, also plugged the "Hot" side directly to Ground, causing a Dead Short to Ground and blowing the Fuse!

.....And therein lay, lie, laid, whatever, was the Problem! The Maestro reversed the wires. And Confidently Replaced the fuse. Again he pulled the light switch to "on".

.....And VIOLA! Let there be Lights. And there were Lights. Tail lights. Reverse Lights. Everything 'Cept for the Right Rear Brake Light.

.....He had fixed the Problem! Or so He thought.

.....Back at the fuse block, there was still the question of the second fuse. Now overflowing with Overconfidence, the Maestro replaced the second fuse. And with the light switch "on", watched it heat up to Incandescence and "pop".

.....Sigh. There's STILL a short somewhere! The Maestro gave up for the night- at least the guy had most all the lights 'cept for the Right Rear Brake light. Not too bad for a day's debuggin'.

.....It wasn't until later that evening when the Maestro got a phone call from the Geezer and the Geezer's wife who acts as Communicator/Translator as she can hear on the phone but he can't. Then she broadcasts to the Geez her version of what the Maestro has said (which is sometimes not quite what the Maestro had meant. But after hearing a few re-Translations by the wife being re-broadcast to the Geez, the Maestro was able to adjust his output buffer to convey the right meaning.)

....."I found the problem", said the Maestro. "The right front parking light was wired bass-ackwards. Ground to Hot and Hot to ground. And I got all but the Right Rear brake light to work. But one fuse still pops."

.....The wife translates: "He says he found the problem. It was the front parking light wired backwards. He's got everything working but a rear brake light, but one fuse still pops."

.....The Maestro could hear the Geezer's reply before the Translation came: "Well, you might look at the LICENSE PLATE LIGHTS. We might've hooked then up wrong."

.....The Maestro had completely forgotten about the LICENSE PLATE LIGHTS, since on a 912 they're up inside the rear edge of the deck lid, unlike the 356 whereon they're in the rear bumper, staring straight up at you.

.....The next day the Maestro ran to the Shop and checked out the license plate lights. Sho' 'nough they were BOTH wired Bass-ackwards! Ground to Hot and Hot to Ground. Sounds like a 7-11 slogan.

.....Seems as though the license plate lights were switched side-to-side after the paint job. Unfortunately, the license plate lights have "Handiness" (Stereoisomers), and are mirror-images and the wires in the car are jussst long enough to connect to the terminal at one end only, so the "obvious" terminal was the WRONG ONE!

.....That stopped fuse #2 from popping like popcorn.

.....Now if only the Maestro could have debugged his 528i BMW which his previously Favorite BMW Shop couldn't do. They suggested it might be the "computer", but didn't have one to swap to check. Which means they wanted the Maestro to BUY a new computer to see ifin that was the problem Somehow, the Maestro just had a feeling that the Bimmer's Computer was fine and the problem lie elsewhere. Mustave been part of the Vision.

.....So, the Maestro went into info-suck mode to find another Best Damn BMW shop in the South Bay by taking a survey of the parts guys at the various Porsche/Mercedes/BMW Wholesalers with whom the Maestro deals for Porsche Parts. THEY know who's good and who sucks.

.....And the Parts Boys were happy to share the info whit the Maestro. So he had his car towed (Thank God for Triple A), to the winner of the poll. Which a day later, found that the Ignition Igniter Module was bad.

.....The $250 Ignition Module serves pretty much the same purpose as a $3 set of points in Porsche 356's or '69 Chevy Pick-up trucks. Isn't Progress Wonderful?

.....And the wildly swinging gauges? What Demons caused that? Oh, simple- a broken Chassis Ground wire. The BMW 528i's Chassis is rather well-isolated electrically by many rubber bushings and thus requires a separate Chassis ground wire attached directly to the battery's Negative terminal. When the Chassis ground wire broke off from the battery, the electricity began taking Strange Paths back home, the Long Way Around, causing even stranger gauge responses.

.....All the above problems were really Pretty Damn Obvious. Ifin you know how to find 'em! $500 please. KEEP THE 356 FAITH! The Maestro



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