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The Maestro's July Quiz:

The Friday before the 4th of July, the Maestro was just leaving his Shop, preparing to help a poor 356 owner fire up a 1958 356A Cabriolet for the first time in Fourteen Years.

Thanks to the EXEMPTION from any SMOG INSPECTION for all PRE-1973 cars in California- including ALL 912's- Happy Times are Here Again! Thank you Quentin Kopp!

Now is the time for all good Owners to Resurrect from the Garage/Barn/Field those 356's and 912's not run for Fourteen Years and get 'em BACK ON THE ROAD!

A few tips from the Maestro might make the process easier.

Here's what the Maestro told the guy with the '58 Cabriolet that hadn't been fired up in Fourteen years to do initially:

Change the oil by dropping the Screen and Magnet. Inspect the Magnet/Screen/Oil/Inside of the Case for any pieces of copper, aluminum, piston ring, connecting rod, etc.

If the oil and the sump has nothing significant in it, replace the oil with 20w-50 Pennzoil, Castrol or some such.

Turn the engine over and adjust the valves. If engine WON'T turn over- STOP! You're probably not gonna be able to start it nor do you really want to. The rings may be seized to the cylinders. Or there may be water inside that you're about to pump throughout the engine. You'd best be taking it apart!

But if it DOES turn over freely, and there be nothing in the oil, well, then why not try to fire 'er up?

Why not indeed.

And that's the way it was when the Maestro arrived at the print shop that housed the '58 Cabriolet undergoing a quickie major restoration a mere month before the Monterey Holiday.

The Cab was stripped and bondo-ed, fairly well actually- with no doors nor windshield nor top nor deck lid attached.

And all over the 1961 Normal engine in the 1958 Cabriolet was a quarter-inch layer of Bondo Dust.

It was about typical for an engine left in the car when the body is undergoing a restoration, which is why the Engine should be the LAST thing put into the car, so it doesn't end up with layers of Bondo dust and Overspray on top of everything.

And the owner was pretty smart- he had another engine- a 1958 Normal engine with a WORKING Thermostatic Oil Control Valve that was damn close to the right engine for the car. This engine he was building to replace the one in the car AFTER all the bodywork got done.

But right now, he just wanted to start the engine in the car and drive it over to the paint shop. Only it hadn't been started in Fourteen Years.

Where to begin?

How about at the Beginning.

Situation: Engine Unrun for 10-15 Years, but turns over freely.

Must start up.

Oil Changed. Valves Adjusted. Static Timing and condition of Spark Plugs checked and confirmed.

All we need now is Fuel.

But don't even THINK about feeding Fourteen Year Old Gasoline to your carbs. You won't like the results.

Instead, use one of the Maestro's Little Secrets: the MaestroMaster Fast Gas Bypass System, that allows you to pump the Foul Fluid out of the Tank, to something else, for disposal.

Before hooking the fuel lines up, and pumping explosive fuel around, the Maestro wanted to make sure that there was Spark. Fire in the Hole!

So, he had the owner turn the key to on but not start it.

The Maestro found Top Dead Center on #1 Cylinder and popped the Distributor Cap off. He eyeballed the Rotor which was a-pointing to the notch in the body of the Distributor. And low, the spark wire that the rotor was pointing to was actually #1 plug wire. An Amazing Coincidence.

So the Maestro cranked the pulley back and forth across TDC and eyeballed the Points. But there was no little spark at the Points.

He pulled the wire from the center of the Distributor Cap and wedged it between the Oil Filter Inlet Line and the Oil Filter Can strap- so that the wire end was about a quarter inch away from a convenient ground.

And cranked the pulley back and forth across top dead center while eyeballing the coil wire for spark.

Nothing. Nada Sparka.

So he eyeballed the points, they were opening, and closing, like they should, But no spark.

The Maestro pulled off the Power wire from the Coil and touched it to ground for the briefest of moments to see if there be a voracious spark.

No spark from the Coil Wire when touched or even HELD to "ground".

Ergo, there was NO POWER to the coil!

"Well, I think I found ONE problem," said the Maestro.

"What's that," asked the Owner.

"Like there's no 6 Volt DC to the Coil. That may be why there's no spark."

"Oh," said the guy. "It might be the ignition switch. Or the fuse box."

"Yes," said the Maestro. "But I can still fire her up."


"Simple. You got a pair of Jumper cables- BATTERY jumper cables?"

"Yep, sure the long Costco ones."

"Get them."

He did.

The Maestro had the owner hook up the Red Positive Jumper Cable to the "+" battery Terminal. And handed the Maestro the other end.

The Maestro attached his end of the Jumper Cable to the Left Hand Side of the Coil being careful to avoid contact with ANY "Ground", or you'll have SPARKS all right- right here in Gas Fume City!

And again he checked for spark at the points or the coil wire. The points were closed. He opened the movable point with a screwdriver. No spark.

With the points still closed, the Maestro went from one point to the other with his screwdriver, bridging them. Suddenly, a spark jumped, both across the screwdriver and at the coil wire wedged against the oil filter can.

So there WAS juice TO the points, but no "spark" when opened by the distributor's cam.

Why is this?

That's Part 1 of the July Quiz.

The Maestro's seen this before- it's Murphy's Oxidation of Breaker Points- Use the points a while, then let them sit for oh, a decade or two. Deposits will build up on the points to combine with the Oxides there to form a Room-Temperature, Super NON-Conducting Surface! (Research into Room Temperature Super NON-Conductors has been completety ignored by Big Science.)

Where no Current dare pass.

And None does.

But this problem can be remedied by a little Mechanical Abrasion such as can be provided by your wife's fingernail file or emery board (as long as she doesn't find out), or a REAL File, made for the job. Both work.

In this case a small, square file was improvised to fit between both point halves and simultaneously dress both surfaces.

THEN there was spark at the points when the points were opened, confirmed by a simultaneous spark from the coil wire wedged between the oil filter inlet line and the oil filter's body, and sparking strongly.

Yeah baby, we got SPARK!

"Ok, now, do we have new spark plugs installed throughout? asked the Maestro.

"No," said the owner. "Only one plug is new. It was the only one I could reach.

"Number 2 plug," said the Maestro and the Owner simultaneously.

So the Maestro began to replace the other plugs, fortunately made quite easy by the lack of Engine Deck Lid. Turns out it wasn't so easy.

Because this engine had the Awful 914 or late VW Bus "411" Type plastic Spark Plug Connectors that were some five inches long.

The Maestro pulled off #3 plug wire and stuck his Spark Plug socket on. Or TRIED to stick his socket on. His socket wouldn't go on the Spark plug!

And WHY wouldn't his socket go onto the Spark Plug?

Because part of the F*&$ing 914 Connector had broken off and transplanted itself onto the spark plug, making insertion of the spark plug socket problematic.

Problematic for the Maestro. First he tried needle-nosed pliers to get off whatever the hell was on the damn plug!

No go.

Then he tried a socket without the rubber center.

Still no go.

So, what's a Maestro gotta do to get the damn plug out???

That's Part 2 of the Quiz.

Not having the Factory Plug Wrench with him, and none in the car, the Maestro tried HIS socket again- this time pushing it fully onto the spark plug, then adding the extension, but only putting the extension into the socket a minimum distance. Then he could use the socket wrench to break loose the plug and a 5" piece of 912 Breather Hose piece to grip the plug, unscrew it and pull it out for inspection.

Inspection showed it to be badly Fouled.

So he puled #4 plug. Same damn F*$&ing thing happened- the inside end of the insulator stayed on the spark plug, But this time the Maestro knew the Secret and pulled the remaining plugs out.

There were Obviously Fourteen Year Old Bosch Plugs. And HOW could the Maestro be so sure? Did he "Carbon-14" date the plug deposits?

No. But he knew that when Bosch changed the Spark Plug Numbers to the "Modern" Part Numbers from W225-T2 to W6BC, there was an intermediate Number- the W6B, (*no "C") which was just about 15 years ago. These plugs were the W6B type. Ergo...

Ergo too this required a trip back to the Maestro's Shop to get ... Yep, you guessed it- new Bosch W6BC Spark plugs- the owner didn't only had one.

Another separate trip back to the Maestro's shop was require to get four plug "ends" to replace the F-ing 914 wire ends. Yes, they were "regular" VW ones (well, hell it's only gotta get to the body shop).

The next problem was Fuel.

And for that the Maestro had his special MaestroMaster Fast Gas Bypass System with him to attach to the 356A/B fuel pump with the banjo bolt fittings.

First he unbolted the Outlet line of the A/B Fuel pump, and attached a a 6" long metal line. To that he attached a flexible fuel line leading into an empty container. That was to collect the old gas.

Then he hooked up the separate Fuel line he brought with him- first to the Zenith carbs, and then to the outlet side of the hand-held C/912 fuel pump that he with Foresight brought with him.

And he pumped that C/912 fuel pump, until the carburetors were Full of Fresh Gas, and there be Fire in The Hole, so let the action begin.

The Maestro signaled the Owner, and the Owner obediently turned the key to start.

The Engine Cranked and cranked but still didn't start. The Maestro was puzzled, until he glanced over at the tool table where he spied the ROTOR for the Distributor he had forgotten to put back in.

Silly boy.

He put the Rotor back in the Distributor and signaled the owner for another try.

Ruhh, Ruhh. Pop. Sputter. Cough. Cough. Sputter. It stirred reluctantly from its fourteen year sleep.

The Maestro goosed the throttle and immediately the Battery Jumper cable came off the coil and the engine died.

The Maestro put the Jumper Cable back on the Coil and tried again.

As she was being cranked, the Maestro pumped the throttle furiously,

This time the Jumper Cable stayed on the Coil. And the engine began to run.

The Maestro gave the C/912 fuel pump a few strokes to fill up the carbs again, and concentrated on idling the engine.

Soon, he had her down to near 1000 rpm, and could start to adjust the mixture screws.

And boy, were the Mixture Screws off- WAYYYYYY too rich- and maybe the reason the fouled spark plugs Fourteen Years before.

The Maestro's magic Fingers got all four of the Zenith's Idle Mixture Screws adjusted to near perfection.

The engine sounded quite good, especially considering that the last time it ran, Ronald Reagan was in office!

The Maestro checked the timing- it was about right. 34 degrees High Speed Idled at about 5 degrees. Not too bad for an Original Distributor.

But then the Maestro glanced down at the OUTLET line from the Engine's Fuel Pump to the empty can.

The can was still EMPTY- The Maestro grabbed the fuel line and eyeballed it closely. NOTHING was coming out the end.

"Lookey here," said Maestro. "You said you put five gallons of fresh gas into the tank, and a new Petcock (boy, don't use THAT term to non-356 owner!) but there's NO gas coming out of the fuel pump!"

How come there's no gas coming out of the fuel pump, even though there's a NEW Fuel Cock (that's turned "on"), and 5 gallons of gas in the tank?

That's Part 3 of the Quiz.

The Maestro and the owner could have cranked for HOURS and never gotten anywhere or any gas!

That's why the Maestro's Fast Gas Bypass System works so well- you KNOW you've got fresh gas to the carbs!

But Clearly here, there was a Blockage somewhere.

Which is when the Owner showed the Maestro the old Petcock, uh em, the Fuel Cock- it looked like a Normal, Used Fuel Cock.

"Take off the Reservoir and eyeball it," suggested the owner.

The Maestro did.

And wishes he hadn't.

For what was inside, no 356 Owner should see! It was the most Disgusting, Black Gooey Snot you've ever seen. Thick and sticky, and where it was exposed to air it formed a CONCRETE-like deposit. Lord help you ifin that stuff gets inside YOUR fuel pump/carburetor/fuel lines.

Sadly, the Maestro's crazy friend Randy from Bezerkeley had EXACTLY that kind of Black Goo in his 1968 VW bug that hadn't run in Fourteen Years and that the Maestro was helping to get started long-Distance.

Randy had Back Goo Oozing out the fuel pump outlet. Then it stopped oozing- Permanently.

The Porsche 356, exhibiting Great Forethought, has a Fuel Cock Sediment Bowl to PREVENT just that from happening. Bless you Dr. Porsche.

However, if the sediment bowl DOES fill up, or you try to start the car, the Black Goo can be sucked into the Fuel Lines, which apparently, just happened here.

So the Maestro left the Owner with a running 356 Engine, and instructions to replace the fuel pump and see if a new one would suck out the Black Snot from Hell from the clogged fuel line.

It was several hours later, when the Maestro was painting the Homestead when the phone rang.

Grateful for the break, (makes painting soooo much more fun) the Maestro answered the phone, only to find the owner from a few hours before who had the Black Goo in the Petcock.

"I fixed it," said he guy. "I've got a Mean, Movin' 356 Machine!"

"So, how'd you get the Black Goo from Hell out of the fuel line?" asked the Maestro.

"Well, first I took the top off the fuel pump."

"Yeah, and was there lotsa Black goo inside?"

"No, thanks to the Fuel Cock, there was No Black Goo in the fuel pump= just fine crystalline stuff- like sand.

"Probably corrosion/oxidation from the fuel pump after 14 years. So how did you fix it?"

"I pushed down real hard on the fuel pump diaphragm. Suddenly something "broke free" and the diaphragm worked again."

"Uh, huh," said the Maestro.

"But before I hooked the fuel pump back up, I decided to clean out the fuel line from the Petcock back to the fuel pump.

And HOW did the guy do that? That's Part 4 of the Quiz.

So, how did the guy clean out the fuel line?

"I disconnected the inlet line at the fuel pump and put a Snot Rag around it.

Then I pumped my air compressor up to 140 PSI and stuck an air hose onto the Fuel Line, just downstream of the Petcock. (that word again.)

And blew."

"And... what happened?"

"About two ounces of Amber liquid followed by the Black Snot-like Goo blasted out into the rag at the fuel pump end. God, it was disgusting!"

"I can imagine," said the Maestro. "And rather not."

"So I hooked the fuel line back up to the Fuel Pump, turned the Fuel Cock to "ON" and fired the engine up! It now runs on its own. I even drove it a little around the shop."

"Wait a minute," said the Maestro. "Wasn't the Clutch Disk stick to the Flywheel, so you hadda break it loose by putting it in gear with the clutch down and the engine off and the brake on and hitting the starter?"

"Nope didn't have to do any of that. I just put the clutch down, put it into gear and took off. The Clutch works fine thanks to inside Storage in California.

HEATED inside Storage in California thought the Maestro, knowing of several examples of Stuck Clutch Disks after only a single California Winter in an UNheated garage.

Anyhow the guy got his car started and DRIVING for the First Time in Fourteen Years, all in ONE DAY, thanks to the Maestro and a little help from the Porsche gods, who blessed him by not letting the Black Goo penetrate his Fuel Pump.

Unlike poor Randy whom the Computer gods have condemned to be an Obsolete DEC Real Time Systems Programmer (now that DEC has been bought out by Compac). Randy's VW had NO Fuel Cock reservoir to grab the Block Goo, so the Black Goo From Hell reached Randy's Fuel Pump. But no great loss, really, it's only a VW.

What a GREAT Fourth of July Weekend- not only did the day bring another 356 to Life and Back on The Road (almost), but it brought a Solution to Randy's Black Goo in the Fuel pump problem. And YOUR Problem too, ifin you have the Goo.

I got one word for you Ben:


Keep the 356 Faith



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