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THE SC FROM LA
It all started innocently enough, with an e-mail from a Man from Maryland who had just bought a 356SC from La-La Land. And wanted the Maestro to tune it up so he (The Man from Maryland) could drive it cross country.
Since the Maestro's arms don't reach 400 miles to LA, the Man from Maryland arranged to have the car shipped from LA to the Maestro's Shop for the Tune Up.
Never mind that the Maestro was constipated from multitudinous Engine Overhauls in what is normally a SLOW time of year- tax time- is always slow- everybody's doing TAXES! Not this Year. Credit the Internet and THe Website at www.hcpresearch.com for much of the added business.
The Maestro never turns down a chance to see another 356. After all, they're getting rarer every day.
So the Fateful Day arrived- a Saturday of course, when suddenly a 356SC backed off the truck, across the parking lot and in front of the Maestro door.
The Maestro ever curious for what passed for an SC in LA these days, went out to eyeball the Beasties.
It was Blue Beastie- well sorta. A very faded Blue, with chunks of missing blue all over.
The front end had been sandblasted down to Primer from many High Speed Journeys through the Desert Dust Storms. Looks like the Previous Owner had DRIVEN the car a bit.
At first the Maestro thought the front hood had been "Gas Station Attendized"- from making the fatal mistake of letting some gas station attendant pull DOWN on the hood without raising it up first! This kinks the hood just forward of hood hinges and makes for damage that's damn difficult to repair.
But a more thorough inspection revealed two funny little "dents" in the cowl- between the windshield and the hood. Unmistakable evidence of a hood having come loose, flying up and putting the dents in the cowl from the edge of the hood!
The Having-the-hood-fly-up in your Face Syndrome, besides being more than a little unnerving when you're trying to see what's ahead of you on the road a Head? But failing at that endeavor can lead to Serious Trouble. It also bends the hood hinges in a way similar to but different from a "Gas Station Attendized" hood.
Eyeballing other parts of the car, the Maestro noticed that the passenger's door had grabbed the front fender sometime in the past, producing another hard-to-fix dent.
And the Driver's Side jack point had pulled out from the body, unfortunately, when the jack was jacking- as evidenced by the big bad bend in the bottom of the rocker panel. (Of course, my Dear Watson, the jack point failed when the car was being jacked up- when else? And of course, with the weight of half the car put onto the bottom of the rocker panel, rocker panels tend to dent pretty easily under those circumstances.
The delivery driver handed the Maestro the keys and headed out for another load. The Maestro fired up the LA SC and took it for a ride around the block and down the Freeway.
Humm. Not a lot of power, thought the Maestro. And a VERY bouncy ride- almost paint shaker like. Feels like a set of worn out shocks.
And the Tachometer needle was reading rpm values well behind the engine and only up to 3000 rpm or so- and the needle STUCK there- sort of like a "tattle take" tach for a grandmother.
Of course, the Abuse Meter- the clock- didn't work either!
After a three mile drive down the freeway, the Maestro Maestro noticed that the engine was getting VERY hot- the temp needle was nearing the Red Zone.
So he quickly returned to the shop to start the tune up. But the engine stalled just as the Maestro got out to open the Ten Ton Titanium doors to drive the 356 inside.
Not only did the 356 stall, but it was VERY hard to start. Finally, the Maestro got it started and pulled it inside his Shop.
And yes, it WAS a REAL SC (a Highly Unusual Event for a Southland 356 these days). It even had matching case numbers.
It also had an Original ".022" distributor, ah but with non-Original 912 Dual Shaft Solexes used on the 1968/1969 912's and most all replacement Solexes,
And in place of the Porsche Oil Filter Can, this car had a Briggs Oil Filter.
Was THIS the 356 that Elfrink mentioned- the one that went 200,000 miles on the SAME OIL with the Diatomaceous Earth Oil Filter, unchanged after all this time???
Maybe. Stranger things have certainly happened in LA.
The Maestro revved the poorly-running engine up. It revved up and belched white smoke out of the Breather can. Sure looked like a case of bad or broken rings. Or bad valve guides. Or both.
The Maestro went first to change the oil- which he always does on unknown 356's- by dropping the screen.
And when he got down to business and eyeballed the yuckie engine underbelly, he knew that Maintenance was definitely NOT one of the PO (Previous Owner's) strong points- for the bottom of the engine was FILTHY.
The Maestro cleaned off the crud and dropped the Drain Plate- and black goo straight from the La Brea Tar Pits oozed out! Slowwwwly. Not a good sign!
The Maestro eyeballed the Magnet to find mucho "hair-o" on it and a whole lot of sludge all over the drain plate. Yucch!.
He put on his Radiation Suit (liberated from the Nuclear Division of a Generous Electric Company) and using remote manipulators (from same, out of the Hot Cell, bought Govt. Surplus real cheap and only slightly radioactive) scooped out as much of the crud inside the Case as he could, cleaned the disgusting screen and magnet and reinstalled it with new gaskets.
Now for the Valves.
He popped the #1/#2 valve cover off and found a Seriously Sludge-covered rocker train- with an EIGHTH of an inch of crud on the INSIDE of the valve cover! Crud that thick takes a LONG time to form and requires a LOT of Lack of Maintenance! Sludge deposits like these form, Quantum-like, only when unviewed by humans for great lengths of Time in constantly dark locations.
Doesn't look like a Cross Country trip would be a very good idea.
Amazingly, the valves were adjusted almost right and a tad loose to boot- but close inspection of her adjuster nuts and the displaced crud, showed the valve adjust must have been done rather recently. Wonder what the valve adjustment had been before? Negative?? And how come they didn't clean the Valve Covers? Was it a "Quick & Dirty" tune up just to get it running well enough to sell the car?
The Maestro then pulled the plugs to find Champion L87Y 's. He replaced them with Bosch W6BC's, noting that one of Champions had been fouled.
Then he hooked up his Timing Light and fired the engine up.
The Timing was amazingly, smooth up the range to 33 degrees, but VERY sticky DOWN the rev range, taking forever to return to idle.
Looks like another good candidate for an .050 Distributor to cure that Hang Up At High Idle Syndrome.
But with the idle timing halfway decent, the carbs could at least be adjusted, maybe.
And the Carbs actually did adjust- sorta- not nearly a sharp as good Webers, but adjusted nonetheless.
Then the Maestro took the tuned SC out for a driver- much more Power. Running much Much. But still that smoke from the Oil Breather can and NOW from the exhaust pipes too- for that one spark plug that had been fouled before was firing now and making many smoke signals to its 356 brethren.
Yep, broken rings I bet.
Such a deal.
And it was- the New Owner went through with it, despite the Maestro's somewhat negative assessment of the quality of the current engine.
Well, maybe in the future- the near future- the guy would come back for an engine overhaul.
It didn't take very long either- for about a week later the New Owner called and said:
"I got that car I bought in LA- and took it for a drive. It ran OK for about 10 miles, then it started to overheat VERY BADLY- the oil temp gauge went up almost to the Red Zone.
And the Green Light came on!
Uh, Oh, thought the Maestro. The Green Light came on! That's a Very Bad Sign!
So I came back home and drained the oil and do you know what I found.
Let me guess said the Maestro- a whole lotta crud inside!
Why That's AMAZING, Maestro- I DID find a whole lotta crud inside- so much that the crud was COMPLETELY BLOCKING the oil Screen.
Oh, Lord, said the Maestro the fresh oil mustave loosened all the crud inside the engine and the sludge just POURED out onto the screen. Maybe PLUGGING it! Which would account for the Green Light coming on.
And do you know what ELSE I found inside besides all the crud?
"Let me guess." said the Maestro, on a roll. "More 'hair' on the magnet?"
"Well, yes, that too,- but lots of little Bronze and Silvery pieces all over."
Oh, NOOOOOO said the Maestro- that means the Rod Bearings have gone- probably from the oil starvation from the crud-blocked screen!
Rather sooner than the Maestro expected- for many Decades before, he had brought back to life from a near-crud-death experience many a VW whose owner had neglected Maintenance.
You gotta change the oil quickly- usually in the first 100 miles.
But in the case of THIS Porsche- you shoulda changed the oil every TEN miles!
The New Owner didn't have much to lose- the engine was Bound & Determined to have itself overhauled soon- it just didn't realized HOW soon.
These things happen to LA SC's all the time, and it's what keeps the Average Time from Purchase of a 356 to Overhaul of its engine down at 3.56 months!
This guy had it down to 3.56 DAYS from receipt of his 356. Almost a new record- (The Current Record is 3.56 MINUTES after receipt of Porsche and driving away from the seller's place!)
Do I hear 3.56 SECONDS?!
Keep the 356 Faith
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