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THE E-BAY 356
The Maestro has warned you before about buying 356 stuff on e-bay. While that site might be just fine for Pez dispensers, for Porsche parts it is Caveat Emptor, Baby- Let The Buyer Beware.
When there IS a picture of the part, it's obvious that the part is wrong. Like the "356B Clutch Disks" that are really solid-center VW disks. Or those "Original Porsche Distributors" advertised that are either the Ubiquitous VW .009's or a VW .010 from a '59/60 Bus. Neither one works well in a 356.
Now, maybe the Seller doesn't know the difference (Right!). But then, the Buyer won't either. Maybe that's what the Seller hopes.
Truth be told, there are SOME things on e-bay that even tempted the Maestro- like a Third Piece of a 1955 Super Case- a mere 80 past the start of the 1600 Supers that he bought. For twenty bucks. Hey- someone might want it someday.
But as for buying CARS on e-bay. Surely you jest.
The Maestro likes to IN-spect the VEH-icle himself, interview the Candidate up close and Personal-like. Only then can you tell whether you want her in your garage. Or not.
The ONE time the Maestro bought a 356 Sight Unseen, it was from a trusted Acquaintance from Upstate New York, where the Maestro is from, Originally. Said Acquaintance said that said car had the LEAST amount of Rust he'd ever seen.
Unfortunately living deep in the Syracuse Snow Belt, the acquaintance never saw a rust-free car! (The Maestro hadn't either- until he came to California. Then he Believed.)
That car, as many of you know, was the Maestro's very own, beloved Trusty Rusty,
Anyhow, one day on e-bay, there was advertised for Auction a "Pristine", Rust-free California Car, from a Town in California you don't want to be stuck in.
It was a 356C with supposedly the Original Engine. And did I mention that it had "Solid Floors"?
The bidding wasn't terrible spirited, and when the end of the auction neared one yearning owner-to-be decided THIS WAS IT! This was the car for him. So he bought it for slightly less than 10 Big Ones. A Real Steal.
After picking up the car, the proud new owner called the Maestro for a post-purchase Inspection, and a Tune up, for the car wasn't running like a good Porsche should.
The Maestro, overwhelmed in May by the early start of the Summer Rush, and being deluged simultaneously by Tune-Up after Tune Up (which he likes to do and besides, it brings in business), wasn't expecting this new arrival.
But one Monday, the car appeared as if by magic in the Maestro's parking lot when he returned from his afternoon Rounds.
There it was in his private parking place, covered by a car cover.
I wonder what this is about, the Maestro though as he opened the Shop's door and found the keys to the car slipped through the mail box slot.
He decided he'd see what "before" was like, grabbed the keys to the car and headed on out. He removed the car cover and eyeballed a Refrigerator White '64 356C Coupe.
And he couldn't help but notice the linear array of rust bubbles on the driver's (and passenger's) door- an inch above the bottom. That's where the door seam is, and where the salt-laden water sits. All the better to rust you out, my dear, in Linear Fashion. A Maginot Line of Iron Oxide Protuberances.
Not a good sign, thought the Maestro as he entered the car.
To be engulfed by a Smell that was definitely NOT The Greatest Smell In the World.
It wasn't even the Second Greatest Smell in the World- that of good Leather.
It was the same smell as Alberta Cream Rinse Conditioner, only about a thousand-fold times stronger. No longer was it air freshener- it was nearly poison gas.
The Maestro rolled down the window, and started up the car. The 356 cranked over extremely fast and started up almost immediately. "Oh," thought the Maestro. "Obviously we have here a 12 Volt conversion. That's the only way a 356 starts like this."
The Maestro eased it into Reverse, backed out of the stall, and drove on down the Airport Test Track.
As he accelerated (or attempted to), das ist Klear dat der vas a tremendous hesitation. And a lousy feel in the gas pedal. And lots of slop too. About par for the used 356 course these days. Nothing an afternoon of carb linkage removal, de-rusting, cleaning and adjusting wouldn't fix.
As the Maestro got up to test speed, he aimed the car at strategically located bumps in the Test Track, designed to test a 356's suspension to the fullest.
(The bumps were placed there courtesy of the High Tech, Telecommunications Companies, who dug up the just-paved street for a month. Planted the multi-colored, 3" thick stack of Fibers. And paved over the holes.
A week later, another Telecommunication Company comes along and digs up the street. Again. Repaving the repaving job. This has continued in a seemingly Infinite Loop for the past two years until the Test Track has the exact "look and feel" of a washboard.)
The 356 didn't yet get to the bumps when it suddenly jerked like it was frightened.
The Maestro noticed the deviation from Normal & Newton and corrected, but this was not a good sign.
And then he hit the bumps.
Bang! Crash! Vibrate went the steering wheel.
Geez- Bad shocks, Bad Steering Damper and Great Big 195 x 60 tires which greatly increased the Unsprung Weight causing much crashing into the rubber suspension "stops".
The Maestro nursed it around the 10mph (recommended) 90 degree corner at a conservative 25 mph just to be safe. It went around the corner OK, but required un-356-like Truck-like torque on the steering wheel. And oh, those bumps.
And when the Maestro pressed hard on the accelerator- and he had to press REAL hard, there was lots of resistance- the poor 356 hardly accelerated.
Yep, I see what the owner meant about "needs a tune up"
The Maestro figured he might be able to improve on this, nursed the poorly-running 356 back to his Shop, pulled it inside and began the Tune-Up.
As he always does when first inspecting am engine, the Maestro removed the Dip Stick. And was astonished to find almost NO OIL showing on the dip stick!
It was down a good 2 Quarts, and since there are only 4 "working" quarts of oil in a 356, when you're down to less than ONE quart, your engine is right on the Cusp of Destruction. One more Quart less, and Disaster would have struck the new Owner long before the 3.56 Months that is the Average Time Between Purchase of 356 and Overhaul of its Engine.
The Maestro grabbed his Magic Timing light and attacked the Distributor. Amazingly, the Distributor was a rather new .050, and when he popped its top inside he found an "ignitor" replacing the points.
Not a bad idea, really, though the Maestro as he hooked up the Magic Timing light.
He fired the Engine up, and pointed the business end of the Timing Light at the Pulley and pulled the Trigger.
The TDC mark on the Pulley was illuminated by the Xenon Light of Truth, and it was about where it should be- at 5 degrees Advance, while idling.
The Maestro revved the engine up past 3000 rpm, and adjusted the Magic Dial to Magically bring the Timing mark on the Pulley back to align with the Mark in the Case.
Thirty-Three Degrees High Speed Advance. Right where the Maestro likes it.
Geez, thought the Maestro, unlike the last four 356's THIS one actually has good Timing. That's bad news. How am I gonna make it run better when the Timing is right? Would the Maestro have to work for a living?
The Maestro went to adjust the carbs- they were a fairly new set of Webers, compete with Velocity Stacks.
The Maestro first checked the Idle Mixture Screws and found them not where they should be. All four were screwed in almost all the way, and when you DID screw them in allllll the way the engine ran BETTER!
How can this be, I hear you cry?
That be because too MUCH gas is entering the carb, so that cutting OFF the idle system gas by completely screwing in the idle Mixture Screw makes the engine run better.
So, where does that extra gas come from?
Why, from the "transition ports" just above the throttle plate. Which means that the throttle is set too high.
This was a job for the Maestro's Synchrometer- the proper tool for the 21st Century. He stuck the Synchrometer down a Weber's velocity stack. The Synchrometer fit just like it was made to.
And sho' 'nough he found the Carbs way off in side to side balance. One side read 8Kg/HR and the other barely 2Kg/Hr. (Yes, the Synchrometer is calibrated in Kilograms of Air per Hour. You won't find that on your old, out-of-date, obsolete, Last-Century's Technology "Unisyn" now will you?)
So readjusted the Idle Stop Screws until the Synchrometer showed them sucking the same at 5 Kg/Hr.
Then he went back to the Idle Mixture Screws. This time they adjusted a little further out, but still not right.
By then the engine had revved up a bit so the Maestro backed down the idle stop screws until the 5 KG/Hr was reachieved.
And went back to the Idle mixture screw. Again, they adjusted a bit further out, causing the engine to idle higher. So again the idle stop screws were backed off a little.
This iteration continued a few more times until- Viola- the Mixture screws adjusted like they should- and the engine had a halfway happy idle at 1000 rpm.
The Maestro took it out for a test drive and the engine ran much better, but oh, that gas pedal.
So he returned and reached his hand around the front of the Fan Shroud (with the Engine off, of course), and grabbed the Bell Crank on the Fan Shroud.
He pretended that he was the coat hanger-like wire coming from the transmission area that activates the carb linkage.
He felt quite a bit of slop.
So he popped off the socket from the upcoming Linkage rod in front of the Fan Shroud. Lengthened it until the slop was taken up and reattached the rod.
And went for another test drive.
Now the engine ran much better and the gas pedal "feel" was vastly improved, not perfect perhaps, but a LOT better than it was!
The Maestro had lunch and waited for the car to cool down to adjust the valves.
He also waited for the Owner to call about his car. But that didn't happen, so he went back to adjust the valves.
And for the Fifth time in two weeks, this 356 had way too tight valves- some exhausts had almost no gap. Bad news- no gap on an exhaust valve can quickly lead to a burnt exhaust valve.
While he was underneath the car, the Maestro always likes to check out the Undercarriage.
Some, like the Original California Car in the Shop just last week, are a Work of Art- still Pristine after all these years. With none of that fancy Galvanizing stuff either.
Just the California Climate.
But this 356 wasn't quite that way.
In fact, this 356 was at the other end of the Spectrum.
The Maestro knew it wouldn't be Good, but he didn't know how bad it was.
The Outward Signs were readily visible. The White California Plate. The aforementioned Rust Line at the bottom of both doors. The Jack Point that had pulled loose and dented the bottom of the body.
But the Underneath... Here there be Demons.
The Maestro jacked up one side of the car (obviously NOT using the broken jack point), so were DID he jack the car up?
That's right- where the Trailing Arm joins the Torsion Bar Carrier. That's usually the strongest and most intact point. Usually.
And when he shined the light of Flashlight Truth onto the Underneath, what did he spy?
A Black Hole?
Black Undercoating galore all over.
Not a good Sign,
He began probing the pan with his Magic Fingers and it didn't take long to find that the Longitudinal was no long connected to the rest of the body pan.
The Longitudinal/pan weld seam had preferentially rusted, leaving a nicely defined "fault" alllllll the way down the Longitudinal, splitting it from twat to tit.
He eyeballed up inside the Rear Wheel Well. And saw Big holes in the body.
Up front in the right wheel well was a baseball-sized hole at the wheel well/longitudinal interface. Long ago, when the hole first formed, it allowed immediate entry of water and whatever corrosive chemicals the water contains to enter the body. Makes major mincemeat out of the Longitudinal. Rusts it from inside out!
The Maestro shown more light on the "box" section of the front suspension, where the two "X" members attach to the rails.
Both "X" members were hanging onto the body by a thread of metal!
And the longitudinal "rails" making up the sides of the "box" were badly rusted, with much of the bottom and most of the sides rusted away.
Hummh, thought the Maestro. Methinks maybe we've found part of the reason for the Squirrly handling!
Everywhere the Maestro looked, he saw the Look of Rust. Not Love.
This was no "California Car".
This car was from Rust Country!
About this time, the Customer finally made an appearance.
"So how's my new car", he asked somewhat proudly but tempered with a bit of Trepidation.
"Come here," said the Maestro. "I want to show you something."
He showed the Owner the Unmistakable Signs of rust- the bubbles in the Door. The failed jack point. The rusted longitudinal seam. The HOLES in the front wheel well.
But when they checked the Passenger's side rear wheel well, the Maestro found an Innovation in Rust Repair.
He noticed a particularly protruding piece of Undercoating, and pulled it off.
And when he inspected the piece closely he found it made of- DUCT TAPE!
How about THAT for a Rust Repair- Duct Tape the Hole and undercoat it all over!
Such a Deal!
And yet ANOTHER use for Duct Tape.
But hey, whatever makes your Duck Quack.
The Maestro mentioned to the owner that when rust attacks, the gas pedal is usually affected, which might account for the terrible gas pedal feel.
So the Owner and the Maestro ripped out the carpeting (which was never capeted originally), that was GLUED to the wooden kick panels so as not to be removed.
But remove it they did- to find a couple of metal plates BOLTED to the floor around the gas pedal area to support the gas pedal.
But while there the Maestro made another VERY interesting discovery- the entire "floor" felt like a Trampoline- with a lot of "give".
Good floor pans aren't supposed to be like Trampolines- they're supposed to be Solid.
This 356 wasn't Solid. It was Holey.
"How much to fix," asked the guy, not really wanting to hear the answer. "Figure at least what you paid for it. Which means you'll have DOUBLE what you have in it."
That's about right for a sight unseen e-bay "Bargain".
This guy could have saved a LOT of money by having an Inspection of the car BEFORE he bought it!
Just like the Maestro should have inspected Trusty Rusty first-hand before he bought him.
But them, think of the Stories you would have missed!
And the new uses for Duct Tape.
Keep the 356 Faith
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