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Copyright 1997, by Harry Pellow, All Rights Reserved.




.....July 31, 1995. A Monday. It was a warm day in Sambo Se. (Actually it was hotter'n Hell in Sambo Se- about to reach Triple Digits- again!) And of course, the Summer Rush was on.

.....The Maestro was dealing with more than his usual Monday morning rash of phone calls- most of them from poor 356 or poorer 912 owners whose cars suffered breakdowns over the hot weekend. The Maestro knows that feeling well, 'cause his own car broke down over that hot weekend too! (Actually, it's really Mrs. Maestro's car, but when it breaks down, it's (A.) the Maestro's car then, and (B.) His fault that her car broke down, no matter WHAT the Problem really was! Sigh.)

.....Yes, the Family 528i BMW with a mere 197,528 miles on it developed a major water leak from a minor water hose that heats the intake manifold. (Such a problem- Water-Heater intake manifolds and leaks from hoses attached thereto- are a problem 356's NEVER have. 944's need two counter-rotating balance shafts to balance themselves, so the the Worst Curse you can put on a 944 Owner is: "May your Balance shafts be installed backwards, forever". 356's don't need no steenkin' balance shafts nor hot-water hoses!

.....But water-cooled/heated BMW's DO need intact 8mm (13mm Outside Diameter), water-heated intake manifold hoses - especially when that itty-bitty 8mm water hose fails. And, by Actual Test, how long does it take a BMW 528i to pump out A WHOLE ENGINE'S WORTH OF Prestones' finest anti-freeze while trying to make it home down the El Camino? Not very long. About as far as you can go with a broken 356 fan belt. Two, three miles. Then, it's tow truck time.

.....Needless to say, Mrs. Maestro wasn't very happy about this. In fact, she was a-tappin' her foot, waiting impatiently for the Maestro to FIX HER CAR! Since then, the Maestro's Center of Higher Reasoning was a-workin' like crazy in the background, trying to figure out how to shrink the Maestro's hands down by a factor of three, so he could reach in and undo the tiny Hose Clamp installed by the hands of Elves at the BMW Factory. Or find some other way to remove the damn hose clamp short of dropping the engine. (Elves at the BMW Factory, by the way, never worked at the 356 Factory, as most everything on a 356 can be gotten to with a Normal pair of hands,... though Supers are better.)

.....With bloodied hands and a definite Honey-do from his Mrs., the Maestro was a-tryin' to find a replacement hose from his faithful Wholesalers. If he could only get off the phone long enough to call the importer and order the damn hose!

.....About the fifth call in a row, though, the Maestro heard an earfull from a poor 356 driver/owner, in FAR worse shape than the Maestro was. Potentially. He thought he's pass it on to you. And, boy was there ever a Story there! Here it is:

.....Ringggggg.,,, Ringgggggg said the phone.

....."Maestro here", said the Maestro.

....."WOW! Said the Voice On the Phone (VOP). "The Maestro. Wow. Man. So you really DO exist!!!???"

.....The Maestro, after checking around to be sure he indeed, does exist said: "Yes my son, I think I do, Therefore I Am, ... in.

....."Oh, wow- man, maybe you can help me. I'm from Hollywood, but I'm now up here, in The City, visiting. I've got a 1964 356C Cab, and it's got a Strong Smell of GASOLINE inside. It's pretty bad, man- my girlfriend and I almost passed out from the smell- and that's while driving with the top DOWN!"

....."Hummh," said the Maestro, astutely grasping the obvious, "If you're from L.A. and you're being overwhelmed by the smell of gasoline with the top DOWN, you've got a pretty bad gas leak. Your oughta find and fix it fast! And that's my Professional Opinion."

....."Well, said the Man From Hollywood, "I've looked all over the car, but I can't see anything dripping. But it's a REAL strong gas smell. I 'd sure like to bring it by your shop on my way back to L.A..

....."Sure," said the Maestro, always willing to help out a poor 356 owner in times of distress. "But be forewarned and careful- a gas leak can very easily lead to a Conflagration of the Worst Kind- - one where you make an ash of yourself, your car and maybe your girlfriend."

.....The guy said he'd be REAL careful and would be down in a couple of hours. Maybe.

.....Just then, the Maestro's call-waiting beeper beeped and he went back to take next call.

.....An hour later, the Maestro finally called the Wholesaler, and got his voice mail. Left message. Called the first BMW Dealer. Put on hold for parts. Waited five minutes until call-waiting beeped. Called Second BMW Dealer Tried to explain the hose. No, it's a small hose, about half-inch Outside Diameter, about 2 feet long and has a simple curve at the end. No it doesn't have a "question mark" at one end. No, it's not a heater hose. No, it's not a '85 528e, it's an '80 528i. That's Eighty. Eight-Zero.

.....Eventually, he got through to his Wholesaler, Steve. Who patiently thumbed through the BMW heating/cooling system Book, found the diagram which showed every hose EXCEPT the one the Maestro needed. Of course. BY Murphy.

.....One hose came close though. Call waiting beeped. DECISION TIME! The Maestro hoped it would be close enough for BMW work and ordered it.

.....Two hours later, as the Maestro was about to take his first bite of his long-overdue lunchtime sandwich, he heard the unmistakable sound of a 356 pulling into the driveway of the Shop. Sho' 'nough, it was the 356 with the strong odor of gasoline.

.....Reluctantly, the Maestro put down his sandwich and ambled past the Laser Disintegrator, out the door to greet the 356 Owner.

.....It was the gassed-out owner. From Hollywood. And what the owner said on the phone was true- as soon as the Maestro ambled over to the immediately vicinity of the 356, there was indeed an eau de la of Chevron's finest in the air. Tally ho, that old Dinosaur perfume.

....."Boy, you weren't a-whistlin' Dixie about that smell of gasoline," said the Maestro, smelling the obvious. It IS strong. You DO have a serious problem."

.....Dropping to one knee in awe of the fumes, the Maestro first looked UNDER the car to see where the fuel line had sprung a leak. Nothing. No dripee of panther pee. No obvious leakee. So it wasn't gonna be the obvious problem. These days it never is. Make heap many good Stories though.

.....So the Maestro checked out the other usual places. Taking out the front trunk protector of the 356C, he inspected the fuel gauge sender areas. It was dry. He checked the fuel filler and cap area. All dry. He checked the gas tank vent line. Dry as a bone. He looked under the car to see if the dreaded fuel cock or its lines had spring a leak (like the one that three years ago had leaked 11 gallons of Chevron's finest out on the floor of the Maestro's new garage in the new home, just as the electricity was about to be turned on!)

.....Nope, the fuel cock too was dry. Hummh, thought the Maestro. That's about it f or this end. Guess we better check her other end.

.....The Maestro popped open the engine lid and eyeballed the engine and was SHOCKED AND SURPRISED- not to find the leak, but to find a VOLKSWAGEN ENGINE where a Porsche oughta be!

.....What's this doing here, he snapped at the Owner. "Your car is a Porsche. Not a VW. And Porsches don't cotton kindly to having VW engines stuck up their, er in them. That's why she tried to gas you. She want's her Original Engine back."

....."Oh, yeah, and I still have it," said the owner. "When I bought the car, the previous owner had taken the Original engine out- it was sick- and replaced it with this hopped-up VW. The Original's in the garage, Engine, but it need a rebuild.

.....Groan, thought the Maestro. No wonder the poor 356 was giving off great quantities of gas- it was trying to tell the new owner that IT WANTED ITS PORSCHE ENGINE BACK!!! Looks like she was willing to KILL for it! The Maestro's found out through Experience it's Damn Dangerous to cross them Damens. They can make your life Heaven or Hell, and send you there too.

.....The Maestro quickly eyeballed the VW-in-a-Porsche installation, and concluded that it was a Typical El Lay installation. It passed (or failed, depending on how you look at it) the LA VW Mechanic Test.

.....The VW engine was stuck into the Porsche with no Rear Plate nor Side Horizontal Tin to keep hot air from re-entering the engine compartment (and thence the engine). Making it run hot. And shortening its sure to be short Life. An attempt at least had been made to maintain a connection with the Porsche, as the VW mechanic had welded VW flanges to a Porsche muffler so the Porsche muffler could attach to the VW engine, making it look like a Porsche, but we know better.

.....Unfortunately, said VW mechanic was a-makin' sure, for he also welded the "J" Tubes direct TO the muffler too! Making it ever the more difficult to REMOVE the muffler! Or the "J" Tubes.

.....A little more eyeballing showed that the L.A. VW Mechanic had even tried to fit the Porsche Heater Boxes and "J" tubes to the VW. Tried, but failed! The Porsche Heater Boxes fit on the VW- sorta- though the "U" shaped cut-out that normally goes under the exhaust outlet of the Porsche was sticking up vestigially on the VW, making a Hellofa hole for cooling air to escape.

.....At the front of the engine, the Porsche "J" tubes with the welded-on VW-exhaust flanges were trying to mate with the Porsche Heater Boxes stuck on the VW engine. Unfortunately, since VW engines are a different species from Porsches, the angle of the dangle wasn't right, and the "J" tube was cantered over at a crazy angle- too far apart from air outlet of the Heater Box for proper mating. They could neither reproduce, nor produce much heat either, thought the Maestro. But, hey, in Hollywood, if you're reproducing (get it, Re- Producing, being a Movie Producer again!) who needs heat?

.....The Maestro decided to get a closer look at this Monstrosity of a conversion, for that was surely where the problem(s) lie (lay, laid, whatever). So he stuck his head inside the engine compartment, He looked at the VW fuel pump. It didn't appear to be leaking. He looked at the VW fuel lines that disappeared up OVER the MIDDLE of the fan shroud. They didn't seem to be leaking either

.....Then he took a breath.


.....Damn near died 'cause there was almost NO Oxygen in that breath he took! It was 99 and 44/100 percent pure GASOLINE VAPOR!

.....Gasping, he pulled his head and its attached body out of the engine compartment, inhaled a large draft of Real Sambo Se Smog and quickly regaining his composure- (and some needed oxygen), dropped to his knees again to look under the engine for the expected MONSTER of a gas leak- that Mother of all gas leaks that tries to kill mechanics who try to find them!

.....Nothing- no drips nowhere underneath!

.....By my Grandfather's name, that's Strange! the Maestro thought.

.....Again, the Maestro returned to the engine compartment- this time holding his breath. There's a Hellofa of a gas leak here, and I intend to find it.

.....This time he reached around the fan shroud, following the fuel line with his hand. Just to the front of the fan shroud his hand found a fuel filter. He pulled the fuel filter up to inspect its connections, and as the fuel filter came into view of the Maestro's well-trained, optically enhanced eye, he noticed a Seminal Stream of Gasoline, squirting Copiously INTO THE FAN!

.....Quickly he screamed at the owner to SHUTITOFF!!! Which the owner did. Quickly.

.....The Maestro jumped back from the car, drew in a another big breath of Sambo Se's finest 100 degree smog, and said: "I think I've found your problem!"

....."Why That's AMAZING!," said the Owner. What is it?"

....."It's your VW Engine. Or the mechanic who did it!"

.....Regaining his composure, and breath, the Maestro once again returned to the scene of the leak, pulled up the fuel filter from in front of the fan shroud and showed the owner the leak.

.....And explained that the fuel filter had been mounted INCREDIBLY STUPIDLY- in such a way that the filter had been SUCKED INTO THE FAN!

.....Yes- that's right! The Fuel Filter was SUCKED INTO THE FAN! And the fan, as it is wont to do under those circumstances, it's temper having been aroused, attacked the fuel filter. Showing no Mercy, the fan took a chunk out of the fuel filter's hide, and caused a decent gas leak- about normal male urinary tract discharge rate one-half hour after three beers.

.....The strong stream of gasoline was sucked into the Fan, and from there distributed ALL OVER THE HOT FINS OF THE CYLINDERS & HEADS! The engine was hot enough (on a 100 degree day), to evaporate allllll of the steady stream of Gasoline faster'n the gasoline could drip down, run off and Be Obvious.

.....The rapidly evaporating gasoline also COOLED the hot heads and cylinders, and making this VW-powered, 356 Porsche one of the first, and hopefully the last, with an L.A.-built, gasoline-COOLED engine! Which probably saved the engine's life coming up from Hollywood!

.....Come to think of it- if you ever wanted to MAKE a Gasoline Evaporator to evaporate gasoline in A Most Efficient Manner, the VW-powered Gasoline Evaporator is a good technique to use- lots of Nice & Hot Heat Transfer Surface area! A high-capacity fan to sling the raw gas all over the hot heads and cylinders. Air Deflectors that make sure the gasoline comes into intimate contact with the hot fins. Add a cylinder head leak for Excitement. And lots of gasoline.

.....How much Gasoline? Well, the guy had a full tank when he left The City & County of San Francisco, but ended up with less than half a tank when he got the 40 miles to the Maestro's shop.

.....So, let's see. The Porsche 356 gas tank holds about 12 gallons. Half of that is, say, 6 gallons. It takes about 2 gallons to get from the City to Sambo Se, so FOUR GALLONS OF GASOLINE LEAKED OUT ALL OVER THE ENGINE in 40 miles!!! (Well, that's still 10 mpg, not bad for a Recreational Vehicle.)

.....The Maestro is once again convinced that there is a God. One who, it is said, protects not only Widows, Orphans, the United States of America but newbie Porsche Owners (and their girlfriends) from disaster! From becoming TOAST! First you Burn. Then you Crash. Then you Burn some more. Burn. Crash. Burn. Your Time's up.

.....The Maestro is also convinced that ifin HE had the same damn problem in his car, that as sure as the sun will burn out someday, surely some stray spark from a spark plug wire, or stray free radical from a subtle exhaust leak would have lit the Maestro's torch. And he would have gone down in flames, his noontime sandwich, Toast!

.....In case you're still not convinced of the existence of a Porsche god able to bless cursed cars, the Maestro personally challenges YOU to spray FOUR GALLONS of GASOLINE into YOUR fan shroud with the engine RUNNING for an hour and SURVIVE! Ifin you do this experiment, and indeed survive with an intact Porsche and less than third degree burns, the Maestro would like to hear about it!

.....Until then, you'd damn well better:

.....KEEP THE 356 FAITH!!!



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