Order Form


Parts Price List
Ask the Maestro


The Maestro's told you many Stories about Terrible Overhauls, some from L.A. Some from all over the Country. Some from OTHER Countries! And some from his own neck of the woods.

There was one local "Fly-By-Night" operation he dubbed "Nocturnal Aviation", now mercifully out of business, that consistently produced some of the WORST overhauls of all Time.

Fortunately, the Maestro hadn't seen a Nocturnal Aviation Engine in a coon's age, so he figured they were finally extinct, thankfully, the last one having broken down years ago.

But he was wrong!

There was a Survivor.

And it was housed in a nice-looking (until you got close) Blue 1963 Cabriolet, in Dire Need of BOTH an engine and a Transmission overhaul.

To tackle this required a Traumatic Sacrifice on the Maestro's part- because the only free spot in the Maestro's Shop was already taken by an engine-less Trusty Rusty, whose engine transplant to the '65 SC Near Virgin in Off-White was VERY successful.

But Trusty died.

Trusty's Transmission (with BBAA Carrera gears), was being sold to a guy back East for a race car, and the Body the Maestro advertised to the World on the Internet. And got NO serious offers.

So, the Maestro donated Trusty Rusty's Body to Science- he gave it to the Wolfman, his Transmission Subsidiary, to conduct Experiments on during Full Moons. Gruesome VW experiments.

The Wolfman, desperately wanting to get back into 356's, promised to pick Trusty Rusty up within Three Days. But that damn Full Moon intervened, so five days later, the Maestro had Trusty Flat-bedded down to the Wolfman's Cave and dropped off.

The Owner of the Cabriolet Desperately Seeking Overhaul came down IMMEDIATELY to claim Trusty's Space. (The Maestro had barely finished sweeping the stall and sorting all the little parts that had hid underneath.)

Close inspection of the Blue '63 Cabriolet showed it to be previously hit in the front and "sectioned". And that it wasn't Blue Originally, but White. And that the Blue paint was now peeling and in need of repair in many places.

Sounds like a Nocturnal Aviation job all right.

After the Owner left, the Maestro thought he'd take a test drive to see what this Beastie was like "Before". Afterwards, it will be much different and Vastly Improved.

It fired up OK, since it had a new .050 Distributor, a new Bosch Blue Coil and new OEM plug wires on it, all put there by the Maestro at the last tune up.

But on the Airport Test Track, the engine proved particularly powerless. And what little Power the engine did produce also produced a Banshee-like wail from the Transmission when under "load". Thankfully, the engine was way down on Power or it would have ripped the guts out of the Transmission.

The Owner said that Nocturnal Aviation set up the Ring And Pinion with a "Special Preload". Right. That "Special Preload" came back to haunt the Owner.

Yep, this Customer was Absolutely Correct! If Nocturnal Aviation had rebuilt both, then this car NEEDS both an Engine and Transmission Overhaul!

So, the next Saturday, the Maestro grabbed his boy Andrew, stuffed him into the Blue Beast and zipped off to the Shop to pull the Blue Cab's engine.

Nocturnal Aviation struck early.

To remove the Engine you first must remove the Rear Plate (After disconnecting the Battery ground Strap and turning off the gas).

The Rear Plate held the carbonized remains of a very badly burnt Rubber Seal. The Rubber Seal had been fried by the VERY Hot Muffler. The VERY Hot Muffler had been Very Hot because the Engine ran Very Hot. And the Engine ran Very Hot because....

The Maestro, eyeballing the Terminal Moraines left by the many, many oil leaks coating most every square inch of sheet metal in sight with a ever-thickening Glacier of Goo, asked the Customer.

"I bet it runs hot in the Summer. Does it?"

"Why that's Amazing, Maestro", said the Customer. "It DOES run Hot when it's warm out! How'd you know that?"

Alimentary my dear Customer- by Murphy, ANY oil leak ANYWHERE on a 356/912 engine results in oil entering the air stream, being sucked into the fan, and deposited on the oil cooler where it acts like an oil-bath Air Filter, filtering the incoming cooling air of dirt and quite quickly blocking half the outside of the Cooler, and eventually, ALL of the Cooler.

Needless to say, this causes Overheating.


Anyhow, the Rear Plate's carbonized rubber was now made entirely of Diamond-Centered Buckeyballs, impossible to bend, stretch or tear.

It took much of the Maestro's knowledge of a Thousand Tire Installation/Removals at the Old Man's Junk Yard (he got pretty good at it), to "work" the Rear Plate "Rubber" up and out of the hole.

Score 1 for Nocturnal Aviation.

Of course the Maestro noticed NO "Lifting Lug" on the engine, but that goes without saying.

And of course, there were self-tapping cheese head screws stuck into the Vertical surfaces of the Fan Shroud to attach the Sheet Metal where there should be 6mm BOLTS. But this is The Standard Expectation on a Turkey Engine.

Unexpected was another Turkey Innovation- Sheet Rock Screws drilled THROUGH the Fan Shroud to hold the Side Vertical Sheet metal on!

(Why the Sheet Rock Screws? Because The weld nut in the Fan Shroud had failed- probably from overtightening, and rather than fix it right they kludged it.)

Chalk up another one for Nocturnal.

Of course the engine had Dellorto Carbs on it, rather than Webers or Original Solexes or Zeniths, and these Dellortos had the Grossly Oversize Dellorto Manifold that requires the Side Vertical Sheet Metal to be badly BUTCHERED!

That wasn't a terrible loss. The Engine was a 1963 Super, and had the one-piece Zenith Side Vertical Pieces found on both Supers and Normals, and there are a bunch of them out there still.

But what Nocturnal Aviation did to the Side Vertical Pieces was Unpardonable Debauchery! They had chopped a big chunk out- right through the spark plug holes. Much MORE than was needed, and leaving a VERY LARGE, UNCOVERED "Hole" in the sheet metal through which Vast Quantities of Cooling Air leaked.

Adding to the Overheating problem!

The RIGHT way:

You can use one-piece Zenith Side Vertical Pieces with the Solex Manifolds IF you trim the sheet metal a bit. Using the Solex Manifolds with Dellortos or Webers (with an Adaptoplate) makes spark plug removal as easy (?) as Stock Solexes.

Or you can replace the Side Vertical Pieces with the 2-Piece type designed to be used with SOLEX Manifolds.

Either way, the Sheet Metal FITS, and the Spark Plugs can be removed with no more difficulty than normal.

Nocturnal had done quite a number on the heater cables too. One broke and rather than replace it, they clamped on another cable and then clamped on a THIRD piece that eventually went to the Heater Box. Not the neatest "quick fix" that. Takes about three times as long to do it that way than to fix it right by replacing the cable.

Instead of the Rubber Grommet used for the fuel line penetration through the Front Plate, Nocturnal used a chunk of 'Merican fuel line- all on one side so the metal line still rubbed on the naked hole in the loose, vibrating Front Plate.

Of course there was no "brush cover" over the Generator and all the wires to the Generator were Red. Well, no. Not quite. The Ground wire had a touch of Brown. But both the D+ and DF wires were the same Red.

While checking out the weirdly wired regulator, the Maestro noticed something amiss in the front of the Fan Shroud. The Fuel Line! Which was NOT tied down to the Fan Shroud via the Bolt that holds the Oil Filter Can.

Instead, the Fuel Line was a-flapping in the Fan-induced air stream going TO the Fan Blades. After the Gasoline-Cooled Engine Experience, this really gave the Maestro the Willies.

File that Flapping Fuel Line under "Fire".

Did I mention that the engine sheet metal was covered in oil and dirt from the Myriad oil leaks? But at least the oil kept the nearly naked sheet metal from rusting.

The Maestro and Andrew struggled with the Demons of the Night Flight but eventually got the engine out.

Of course it had a 180mm Clutch and of course the Clutch "fingers" were badly worn by the El-cheapo throw out bearing.

And the Tach Cable was the cheap rubber-covered kind, not the nice Braided Steel Original.

Oh, and did I mention the Front Plate wasn't screwed down and was flapping in the breeze like the fuel line.

Since rebuilding a Nocturnal Aviation engine would require Heap Big Magic, the Maestro waited until Monday before he tackled the teardown.

Besides he wanted to document all the boo-boos.

Yes, the Dellortos had BOTH 12 mm and 13 mm ATF (Across The Flats) nuts on them, but the Maestro was Prepared with all manner of wrenches. And of course there were no hose clamps on many of the fabric fuel lines feeding the Dellortos.

And of course everything was a dirty, oily MESS!

But the Maestro persevered.

And got the disgusting sheet metal off, exposing an Oil Cooler ALMOST COMPLETELY BLOCKED on the outside (like 90%+) from MANY layers of oil/dirt/oil/dirt. Ad Infinitum. Ad Nauseam.

Why that's Amazing, Maestro." said his Center of Higher Reasoning. "It WAS a clogged Cooler. You were RIGHT again!"

The Maestro tackled the overly obese Dellorto Manifolds first, and noticed something Interesting.

The Obese Dellorto Manifolds narrowed to a tight "V" in the middle, sooooooo tight that the Middle Manifold Bolt with the 14mm Head left little room for a wrench to fit on.

Too little for Nocturnal Aviation, for the Middle Intake Manifold Bolt on 3/4 side was LOOSE. And yes, so was the Manifold! Loose. Could this affect the engine's performance.

You Betcha!

The Maestro popped off a Valve Cover, and found that Nocturnal had run out of the Special half-thickness 13mm ATF nuts used to tie the Super/C/SC/912 Rockers down to the Aluminum Rocker Stand. So Nocturnal used "regular" 8mm nuts on most of the Rockers.

The Maestro removed the rockers and pulled out the pushrods. Or actually, he pulled out 7 of the eight push rods, And one end of the eighth. The 3" long steel section had separated from the Aluminum center section which stayed inside the Case.

No matter, he'd get it later.

The Maestro popped off the Heads to find the usual couple of leaks at the intake valve side of both Heads, and an NPR Big Bore kit with its raised arrow staring at him.

With the Heads and Cylinders off, the Maestro tackled the Oil Cooler. As he undid another of the ubiquitous Nylock nuts, the stud fell off. The STUD from the Oil Cooler fell off! Meaning, one of the two Oil Cooler Studs had BROKEN- either upon installation or sometime afterward!

But the Cooler wasn't leaking. It was almost completely clogged and not working as a Cooler, but even with only two of the three studs holding it, it hadn't leaked. Amazing.

Sometimes even Nocturnal Aviation gets Lucky.

The Maestro might ever be so lucky.

The Maestro tackled the Case Perimeter Bolts next and found a mixture of 13mm and 14mm Bolts always with those damn self-locking 13mn ATF nuts. The Case Perimeter were Staggered with the bolt head put in first from one side, then from the other side, etc. Not right.

The Bolt Heads are supposed to go in from the LEFT side, and 14mm ATF NUTS are supposed to go on the RIGHT side.

Gosh, maybe Nocturnal likes to stagger.

The Maestro took off the Pulley Nut to get the Pulley Shroud off and noticed that: A. The Pulley Shroud was held by only ONE 6mm bolt. And: B. The 6mm Bolt was THE WRONG SIZE! The Pulley Shroud takes a Special SHORT 6mm Bolts, because ifin you use "regular size" 6m bolts here, these are TOO LONG FOR THE HOLES and will either strip the threads or drill a hole through the Third Piece.

Nocturnal did neither- his overlylong 6m Bolt wasn't tightened enough and came loose!

The Pulley had been leaking oil out all over the engine (and into the air stream), and after the Maestro got it off he realized why.

Clearly, this Pulley Seal had NOT been installed with a "Pulley Seal Installer!"

In fact if hadn't been installed with anything FLAT either, because one half of the seal was inside the Seal Housing and the other half was OUTSIDE the housing! This makes an "oval-shaped" seal that doesn't seal well! As vividly demonstrated here. Q.E.D.

The Maestro popped off the Third Piece of the Case (all 11 of the Nuts were the damned self-locking 13mm Nylock instead of the 12 mm ATF nuts that should be there!)

Even the Distributor Clamp had been butcher-welded to repair cracked ends from a previous over-tightening.

The Crank looked to be a Stock 356B 50mm Main Normal/Super, not a big surprise since that's what the engine was.

The Rods were the later "01" C/912 type, that's Good, but they had never been Balanced.

The Middle Main Case Bore showed the dreaded multi-faceted patina, meaning it was likely that the Case was now too big and needed an Align Bore.

An Align Bore? And Align Bore Bearings for "B"'s are like Hen's Teeth!

The Camshaft had every lobe pitted badly, probably from old age.

As the Maestro was taking the Rods off the Crank, he noticed yet another Characteristic of The Turkey Rebuilder!)- some of the Rod Nuts were VW!

Two actually. And they were on DIFFERENT rods! (You'd think he'd put them on the same Rod, but nooooooo.)

The Crank was ground, of course, to First Under. But the Rod Throws were down two Thou and would have to be ground to SECOND Under, right during a Worldwide Shortage of Second Under Rod Bearings! (EVERY Importer used to have Second Under Rod Bearings. Now, NO ONE has any!)

So, of course, what size Bearings will the Maestro need to repair Nocturnal's Engine?

That's' Right- SECOND Under. Made from Pure Unobtanium.

Yes, thought the Maestro rebuilding a Classically Turkeyized Engine requires Heap Big Medicine.

I'd better have another Beer.

For there be miles of Rebuilding to go before we sleep. Keep the 356 Faith Maestro P.S. One Rod Bearing had significant wear- it was one of the two fed by the Middle Main whose Bore was overly Big and the Journal overly small, which may explain the worn Rod Bearing.

The Rod Bearings had many embedded particles in them too- debris from somewhere.

One possible source:

Like most Turkey Rebuilders Nocturnal Aviation didn't measure the diameter of the Oil Pump Tach Drive Gear, for it was worn down over ten Thou from its normal 0.707" diameter.

When the Oil Pump Tach Drive Bearing gets that badly worn, the Gears get Katywhompus, go crazy, have a "Donner Party" and start to eat each other, forming a noticeable "line" of wear along the gear. That's the "Dinner Line".

Nocturnal's Tach Gear had one of the best (worst), well-defined wear "line" he's ever seen!

That could explain some of the crud in the Rod Bearings!

Speaking of Bearings, the Maestro's told you how the #3 Main Bearing for a 356A/B Normal/Super (the completely circular one that goes on in front of the Crank Gears and that you gotta take the Gears off to Remove or Replace the Bearing) is NOT Symmetrical and only goes on ONE WAY!

The Oil Holes in #3 Main Bearing are, in fact, Asymmetrical, and must be installed so that the Oil Hole at the Bottom is in the Right Hand Case Half, so that it feeds Oil to the Crankshaft correctly.

That Oil Hole should NOT be in the Left Hand Case Half.

Randomly, there's a 50-50 chance of doing it Right/Wrong, so by Murphy, #3 Main will be installed WRONG 90% of the time!

Nocturnal Aviation was in the 90% crowd and installed #3 WRONG! Probably 'cause they had NO IDEA there WAS an "Asymmetry" involved here!

But the Big Bugaboo didn't come until the Next Day when the Maestro cleaned the Crankshaft in the Safety Kleen tank and set it outside to dry in the Warm California Sun.

A couple of hours later, he wandered back to inspect the Crank. Taking off his Optical Aids so his naked eyeball could get a closer look, the Maestro hoisted the Crank up and presented it to the California Sun god.

The California Sun god shined its Always-Warm Light on the Crank as the Maestro inspected the Rod Journal Radius of #3 Rod Journal (the most likely place for a crack), and he FOUND one!

A Crack that is!

A Big Bad noticeable-by-the-naked-eye Crack that went half way around the Journal, then took off on a tangent (literally) through the widest, thickest section of the crank. The Crack was already more than half way through the Crank!

Must be Nocturnal Aviation's Turkey Crank Grinder thought the Maestro. Crankfusius says: Grinder who put too small Radius into Journal suffer Premature Crank Failure!

With just that one crack, the Crank was toast, but the Maestro was Curious. So, he checked another Rod Journal. It TOO had a Crack, an IDENTICAL Crack!

So the Maestro checked a Third Rod Journal.

What did he find?

A THIRD Identical Crack!

And the Fourth Rod Journal? Was it cracked too?

You Betcha!

All FOUR Rod Journals had Big Bad Cracks in them! Cracks that went almost ALLLLLLL the way through! Like they were having a RACE to see which one would crack the Crank in half FIRST!

Think of the Insidious Skill Nocturnal Aviation's Crank Grinder must have had- to be able to grind such incorrect Radii into the Crank that all the Rod Throws crack quickly, badly and at the same rate!

In a few thousand miles or less, this Crank would have been Two-Piece! A short time thereafter- THREE piece, then FOUR piece and finally- True Turkey Perfection-- The Ultimate- a FIVE PIECE Crankshaft!

Really, the Owner is Lucky he tore the engine down NOW rather than AFTER the Crank broke and REALLY took things out, like the Case!

And since the '63 Super Case is late enough that it has the "tangs" in the Middle Main Bearing Bores to take ANY 356/912 Crank, wouldn't it be nice to stick a "C" crank into it, to take the Power of the Big Bore kit?

Yes, it'll take a little Magic and a lot of TLC, plus some Balancing and Blueprinting, (and a few bucks of course), to exorcise Nocturnal Aviation's Demons, but the Maestro likes Problem-Solving Challenges! Especially when he gets paid to fix 'em.

And Nocturnal Aviation always provides those! Keep the 356 Faith Maestro P.P.S.

So it was the next Saturday when the Maestro was bidding Adieu to a Man from Bakersfield whose 912 was just leaving for the drive back home with a new MaestroMaster Engine, when the Owner of the Nocturnal Aviation Engine came by to see his parts.

The Maestro took the Owner out to the Sun god and showed him the Bad News- the Crack in every Journal! And showed him the multi-faceted look of the Middle Main Bearing Bore. And the mismatched batch of Cam Followers.

He also pointed out the decent late Rods, the good 356B Super Heads, the (mostly) good Rockers, the one defunct Pushrod, the Morbidly obese Dellorto Intake Manifolds, the Butchered Side Vertical Sheet Metal to "fit" them over the obese Manifolds.

The Maestro took this opportunity to ask the Owner a most important Question- how many miles did he get out of Nocturnal Aviation's Engine?

Now, the Maestro had a Number in mind. Considering that the Average Turkey Engine goes about 20,000 miles, the Maestro figured about that, maybe 30,000 Mlles max.

So how far did it go?

Would you believe, 90,000 Miles???

The Maestro was SHOCKED! If he had built an engine with all the mistakes this one had, he'd never get 90,000 miles out of it! Hell, he'd never get 20,000 miles of it of it!

But Nocturnal did!

Another Lesson in Life- THEY will get away with it but YOU won't!

The Owner of the car, must have driven it VERY gently and maintained it well and had the Luck of Gladstone Gander! And an Indemnity Policy from the Porsche gods!

Well, Hell he was an Original Owner too. And they are Blessed!

Keep the 356 Faith



Home  Videos  Books  Order Form  Engine Overhaul  Transmission Overhaul
Parts Price List  Classifieds  Stories  Samples  Quizzes  Ask the Maestro