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LOVE BEADS FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
One day last week, a 747 landed at the San Bose "International" Airport, taxied up to the Maestro's door and disgorged the Pilot in a Pick-up truck with a Texas Long Block from Houston.
.....It was a 1963 Super-90 engine- one that had been rebuilt 10 years ago by a "restorer" in South California whose name shall remain nameless.
.....As is natural whenever a Porsche Long Block arrives from the Lone Stare State, the Maestro began the Disassembly.
.....First thing the Maestro noted when he removed the Valve Covers was that ALL the Rockers were assembled wrong! The "Top Hat" part of the Rocker shaft assembly was installed bass-ackwards- with the "Top Hat" part towards the "outside air" rather than against the Rocker's Shim like the Gute Herr Doktor intended.
.....Wonder who REALLY rebuilt this engine, thought the Maestro. I can't imagine anyone but an amateur doing something like that. And not many amateurs would make this kind of mistake.
.....Next thing noticed was that the Super-90 Heads had almost ALL of the Special Blackening blasted off, from an over-eager Igor beaver on the Bead Blaster.
.....Underneath the heads were a rather strange set of Big Bore Pistons & Cylinders, rather strange for they were the Flat-Topped, Low-Compression, 85.5mm INDUSTRIAL Pistons. (Yeah, they ARE a "Big Bore Kit", but with Industrial-strength 7.5:1 Compression they're not terribly exciting. Especially in a Super 90.)
.....But THESE Industrial Pistons had the top of the piston "chopped", for reasons the Maestro can't begin to fathom. (Well, actually he CAN fathom why they did that- they tried to make Industrial set LOOK like an NPR Big Bore Kit! Why the Deception? Why, To sell them! Otherwise, who in their right mind would buy a LOW-compression Big Bore Kit? You're not in Kansas anymore Toto, you're in South California. )
.....Apparently, the Southland's rebuilder wanted to LOWER the compression even more on the already low compression Industrial set, which he did by cutting out a Very LARGE exhaust pocket- which certainly wasn't needed on these Pistons.
.....So large was this enlarged Exhaust Valve Pocket that it protruded into the rest of the Piston far enough to CUT off most of the "Picture of a Crankshaft with a Flywheel on its end" Symbol that's embossed into the top of most all Mahle and Kolbenschmidt Pistons to tell you which end of the piston is supposed to point towards the FLYWHEEL.
.....(The Flywheel side of the Crankshaft pictured on the Picture on top of the Piston is supposed to point towards the Flywheel. Surprise, Surprise. Just don't mistake the Picture of a Crank & Flywheel for an ARROW, like one Gentle Do-It-Yourselfer did once, and put ALL his SC pistons in Backwards! Fortunately, this error was caught by the Maestro BEFORE the Do-It-Yourselfer put the heads on, and easily corrected.
.....Note Also- NPR Big Bore Kits use a simple ARROW on top of the Piston, not a pictograph. The Arrow of course, when installed, should point towards the FLYWHEEL.)
.....But when the California Turkey cut out the enlarged exhaust valve pocket, he also cut OFF the Flywheel end of the "Picture". (Ouch, I hate it when that happens), as well as most of the rest of the diagram, making it all the more Difficult to tell which way to point the piston!
.....Now, you'll remember that this was a 1963 Super-90 Crank, and all 1963 S-90 cranks are Counterbalanced, but inside this Super-90 were Industrial Engine Pistons. But Industrial Engines don't use Counterbalanced cranks and have a Piston with a LONG skirt. For Modesty and long life.
.....Pistons for Counterbalanced cranks need to have SHORT, sexy skirts to clear those rapidly rotating counterbalance weights a millimeter or so away.
.....So, the Industrial Pistons had to have their skirts cut off, which they were. That gave them the funky punk LA look with the buzz cut and large "eyebrow" gouge on Top. And the short skirt down below.
.....Or were all these "Modifications" made to the Pistons to make them LOOK LIKE an NPR Big Bore Kit? Who knows what evil lurks in the Heart of Hollywood.
.....Lotsa Devils in that City of Angles.
.....Anyhow, the Maestro continued with the disassembly and found the Lower End to be rather nice. A Standard Super-90 Crank, counterbalanced, yet not balanced.
.....An almost NEW set of 912 Connecting Rods, also not balanced. A Bona-Fide "102" Super-90 cam, but with two pitted lobes and a worn oil pump drive slot. Figure that combo out.
.....There was even a nice Super-90 Flywheel with the Clutch Disk solidly stuck to the 200mm Pressure Plate from 10 years of Houston Humidity.
.....What wasn't so nice was the Heavy Contamination (Now there's another GREAT name for a Rock Group, Heavy Contamination) of Crud in ALL the Rod & Main Bearings. Wonder where THAT came from?
.....A few days later, the Owner arrived from Texas, after driving the rest of the engine 'cross country in a Taurus stationwagon.
.....The Owner was the ORIGINAL Owner too, having bought the car NEW in 1963 and had all the Paperwork to prove it!
.....Circa 1986, The guy had gotten 100,000 miles out of the Original Super-90, and decided to have the car restored and the engine overhauled by the nameless restorer in South California.
.....The engine returned from California and its overhaul, but the Owner never liked the way it ran. So after putting a mere 20 miles on the engine, he parked the car.
.....For ten years!
.....It was only after the Urging of Others that the Owner finally got up enough gumption and removed the engine- 10 years later- and gave it to the 747 pilot who dropped it off at the Maestro's door.
.....And there you are.
.....Fortunately, the Original Owner still had the Original Super-90 Pistons- with the large dome for High Compression, and the Special Super-90 Cylinders- with the Plasma Arc Sprayed Iron coating on the Alloy Cylinder walls.
.....Unfortunately some Texas Mud Wasps decided to build their nest on one piston and cylinder, effectively cementing (adobying?) the Piston and Cylinder together. Fortunately, the California Produce Police captured the Texas Mud Wasps at the Border.
.....But the Maestro got the nest.
.....The Maestro eyeballed the Powder Painted sheet metal pieces. The South California restorer used "oil black" powder paint, a low-gloss black that doesn't look that great even when clean & new. Ten years in the Houston Humidity had taken its toll on the shine.
.....As the Maestro was eyeballing the Sheet Metal, his Center of Higher Reasoning turned its attention to the Super-90's Flip-Top-Box Oil Filler Can.
.....Commanding the Maestro's Magic Finger to sample the inside of the Oil Filler Can, the Center of Higher Reasoning began a proctological exam.
.....It didn't take long. The Maestro's Magic Finger immediately recognized that Certain Unmistakable Feel of bead-blasting Beads.
.....BEAD BLASTING BEADS- left inside the Oil Filler Can! Just lying in wait to enter the engine along with the First Quart of Oil you pour in, to RUIN everything inside!
.....Then the Maestro eyeballed the Big Rubber Gasket inside the Top of the Super-90's Flip Top Box Oil Filler Can.
.....He popped out the Rubber Gasket and exposed a whole PILE OF BEADS!
.....The "restorer" (or his bead-blaster) had bead-blasted the Oil Filler Can WITH THE RUBBER GASKET STILL IN PLACE!
.....AND they had POWDER PAINTED the Oil Filler Can with the Rubber Gasket STILL IN PLACE!
.....THIS was the source of the crud in the Bearings! And now, sadly, throughout the engine! The Maestro was gonna have his hands full trying to get all the crud OUT of this engine.
.....Fortunately, there are Ways.
.....The Original Owner was Really, REALLY Lucky that he had run the engine a mere twenty miles! Had he run it much further, the crud in the bearings would have machined the Standard Super-90 Crank far undersize. Not to mention most every other part in the engine.
.....Even more insidious, the sand/beads trapped by the Rubber Gasket would drop inside or be washed out at Random Times.
.....Even changing the oil several times during break-in might not help much.
.....This rebuilt engine was Destined for an Early Demise.
.....Only a Very Wise Original Owner, whom the Porsche gods blessed with Porsche Psycic Perception, sensed that something was Terribly Wrong, was Terribly Wrong, was Terribly Wrong with the Rebuild allowed him to save his Baby.
.....(So, how DO you deal with the Oil Filler Can, anyway? I hear you cry.
.....The Maestro's Technique for Dealing With the Oil Filler Can (and you gotta do SOMETHING with them- the rust Stalagmites and Stalactites that sometimes form inside are as bad as sand when they flake off and fall into the Cam Gears.
.....So: first put the Oil Filler Can in good Carburetor Cleaner to remove as much of the Oil, Grease, Rust, Paint & Crud as possible.
.....Rinse well in the Safety-Kleen tank.
.....Let the Oil Filler Can relax for a few days in the Warm California Sun.
.....Once completely dry, place the Oil Filler Can in a GE Nuclear Toaster Oven on "Broil" and heat to 450-500 degrees F for a half an hour or 45 minutes or so.
.....Once well "Toasted", all the Organic Material (oil, blowby crud, etc.) inside is turned into Carbon, and there are no "moist", sticky hiding places for beads or sand to latch onto.
.....While hot, bead blast the can both Inside and Out. Blow out thoroughly. Especially thoroughly.
.....Powder Paint the INSIDE of the Oil Filler Can too, so that the Can's insides won't rust anymore. (Also the powder fuses and traps any remaining beads inside an epoxy-like coating matrix, so they can't come out and bite your engine.)
.....It's either that or buy a new Oil Filler can! (For a 356A/B they're only a mere $347, according to a Large Midwestern Porsche Place as of 22 Sept 1997). And who knows what's inside THEM after 30 years on the shelf?
.....Yeah, you gotta be a little scared when doing an Oil Filler Can. But ifin it's rusty inside (and they usually are), you gotta bite the bullet and do it.
.....You also gotta:
.....Keep the 356 Faith The Maestro
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