Darryl's 1966 Porsche 912
PROJECT JOURNAL ENTRIES (IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER)
Entry: 7/11/05 - Ok, I've got the old Porsche bug, BAD! I've always thought the early, first year of importation into the U.S.A. version of the 912 would make an interesting restoration. The unique, 912 script on the rear deck immediately tells the viewer this is either a '65 or a '66 and it's relatively rare compared to the later '67 thru '69 versions. I've also admired the shade of yellow, "Bahama yellow" which looks like "schoolbus yellow" to me. This color has been reincarnated in recent years on new cars, including Porsches. This car was acquired through my friend Jack Morris and his shop Wolfsburg Motorwerks for whom I recently developed a web site. This car is a project, there's a bit of rust in the floor and rockers and some minor collision damage to the right front but it's complete, all original (no bodywork / BONDO), still the original paint (only one layer thick) and was in running condition (so it's all there).
You can see the extent of the collision damage from this front shot. The car was hit at about the 2 o'clock angle and the fender was pushed over and back into the body. As bad as this might look, it was at low speed and relatively easy to fix with the right equipment.
The rear of the car is perfect, you can see the distinctive early 912 script which marks this as a very early 901 series car.
The engine is complete, the carbs have been updated to Webers, which I haven't decided whether to keep or back-date to the original Solex 40 PII-4 carbs.
You can see the collision damage better with this shot, pretty much all in the first 10" of the nose. The suspension has been bent a bit but because of the unibody construction, easy to pull back into position. The original right side door is included with the car and I'll be putting it back on and fixing the rust bubbles on the bottom edge.
The left side is perfect with the exception of some rust bubbles in the door and front quarter panel, all things to be repaired.
All the original instruments are in the dash, the clock is in a box. Notice the ambient temperature gauge on the far left. This is a very rare optional gauge that shows freezing temperature as a red needle so you know when to slow down on ice! The real trophy is that cool wood steering wheel, which should restore quite nicely with some TLC!
Typical rust in the floor and rocker panels. The inner panels and center tunnel are rock solid and the flanges will be fine for welding a new floor sheetmetal pressing to.
Everything else was in boxes, including the toolkit, manuals, maintenance history and all the interior parts.
This car is essentially a 911 body with a 356 SC engine. How cool is that, the transitional car between the early 356 series and later 901 series Porsches! What I love about the car is that it is all there, all the interior parts, toolkit, manuals, lights and interior panels. All the chrome is nearly perfect, it has a 5-speed transmission and the engine should run once it's woken up from its 3 year sleep. There are two big challenges, first is the pull out the collision damage up front and get the hood and fender gaps correct, second is replacing the floor and rockerpanel sheet metal. All the sheetmetal pressings are available so it's just a matter of careful cutting and welding. I am up for the challenge on the rust repair but will hire out the unibody collision damage repair to a shop with an expensive frame straightening machine.
Entry: 7/14/05 -I removed the hood and taped a plumb line down the centerline of the car to carefully measure and clearly document the collision damage so I have something to show and discuss with the unibody repair specialist at my local bodyshop. As you can see in the photograph, the impact pushed the passenger-side cowl down and back to the point where the nose on the drivers-side was actually pulled over a few millimeters! Some unsuccessful pulling of the damage has already been attempted by the previous owner but it is obvious his equipment didn't have the sophistication and power necessary to simultaneously pull and push from multiple directions and square-up the entire front unibody. Believe it or not, this damage is actually quite easy to repair when a professional unibody frame rack is used. I would be very surprised if my bodyshop's frame rack can't pop all this damage right back into spec in a few hours work and all I have to do is graft on the very tip of the cowl where it has been crushed beyond repair. Test fit of a replacement hood and fender's gaps will be the litmus test of how good of job can be done by a professional.
Entry: 7/26/05 - I've been away in Colorado for 10 days and was finally able to hook-up with David Harto and buy the missing body parts for the front of the car. How about this for luck, the donor car is also Bahama Yellow! David sold me the entire front clip from the door & windshield posts forward so I have all the pieces necessary to put the front of the car back together after the frame shop pulls out the damage. I'll be going back sometime later this week to bring home the front clip, tonight is was just the hood and right fender. It was very educational to see David's 912 all cut apart and now I know all the areas I need to check for rust on mine. Jack Morris had the complete orange front bumper, which I picked up from his shop yesterday. I had to order a "triple-square" 8 mm socket to use on the door hinge bolts and I have reinstalled the original door and found the door gap off by about 2mm in the upper rear edge. More clues for the body shop to look at when they pull the frame. All the pieces are coming together quickly and soon I'll need to pull the engine so I can haul it down to the pros for the uni-body straightening.
Entry: 8/5/05 - After a 4-day boating adventure in the San Juan Islands earlier this week, I returned to find my floor pans had arrived from Restoration Design and I picked-up the front clip from David Harto. The floor panels from Restoration Design look great and measure out to 18-gauge steel. The original pans seem to be about 25% thicker but as I've learned from my VW Bug floor pan replacement, you can't really tell once it's installed. I do know it's easier to work with the thinner metal when it comes to mating it with the existing pinch weld flanges. The front clip has some rust and what I believe to be BONDO in the leading edge of the right side wheelhouse panel I'll probably be needing. I think the fist thing I need to do is to sandblast the areas I suspect of rot and see what I've really got. I've been looking for an excuse to blast an original rear apron for my 914 anyway so the more stuff to do the better. The great thing is I have a perfect clip for the frame machine guy to compare with my damaged one... how much more leg-work can I do for the guy? I need to focus on getting my '63 Bug convertible ready for the upholstery shop for a new top and my '45 jeep transmission put together... I'm just so excited about starting this 912 project it's hard to be disciplined... this wouldn't be the first simultaneous restoration project I've started!
Entry: 8/15/05 - Today I finally got out the sandblasting gear and took a good close look at the metal in that donor front clip and see if there's any BONDO. After using my propane torch and a wood chisel to soften and scrape-off the thick layer of undercoating and removing the extra sheetmetal added to the pan to compensate for the rusted front suspension mounts, I was able to blast away the rust and see what I've got to work with. The white substance I thought might be BONDO was actually a coating like Wurth "Stone Guard" under the black undercoating. Blasting went pretty fast and I exposed the bare metal all of the area I am hoping that all I'll need to graft on to the existing front corner if the frame shop work goes as planned! The mounting point for the fender is very solid and looks great as does the bumper mounting point but other areas have some problems.
It is easy to see why this straight old 912 was condemned to become the donor clip, it has extreme rot! As you can clearly see in the photo below, the area under the hood weatherstrip is left looking like lace! The area under the headlight "conduit" tube is also pretty much gone. Luckily this area on my 912 is solid and I should be able to cut it out and graft it back into the panel from the clip. Fixing the "lace" area in the hood's weatherstripping channel should also be fairly straight-forward since it's basically just replacing the flat surface which can be cut out and a strap of sheetmetal welded back in. Looking at the donor clip and then my 912 makes me feel pretty good about how solid my project car is. I will have a solid piece of steel once I get finished with making these patches.
The photo below shows one subtle '65-'66 only feature that's going to take some work to preserve, the front trunk latch sill. On my car the sill is symmetrical with the right being a mirror-image of the left side and the nomenclature plate mounted inside the trunk. On the '68 front clip I've got, the nomenclature plate has been moved to the latch sill so the right side is flat and the left side looks like the earlier type (with the exception of the big round hole). Mating these two surfaces when I patch the collision damage on my car is going to take a bit of fancy fabrication and welding. A reproduction of the rusted metal lip forward of the latch sill, used to hold the rubber flap over the front bumper, is available at Restoration Design and can be easily spot-welded into place. I think preserving the unique early features is critical to maintaining the value of this car.
Entry: 9/4/05 - I've finally finished all the tasks required to prepare my '63 VW convertible's top frame for the upholstery shop, scheduled for the 26th of this month to go in for a new top. Now it's time to focus on the 912 since I've scheduled an appointment with Aldercrest Auto Rebuild, Inc. for the unibody straightening for around the week of the 19th of this month. I need to pull the gas tank and drop the engine/transaxle prior to taking the car into the bodyshop. Today's task was pulling the gas tank and inspecting for rust. Just for fun, I used wire ties to better position the new fender on the right side and set a spare headlight in the open hole. It really creates the illusion of being almost done except for the missing bumper... if you don't look too close! The fuel tank came out with very little effort, other than using a floor jack to bust it loose from the lip where it had rusted tight over the years.
There is a good bit of surface rust on the front fuel tank crossmember and it has completely rusted away on the front edge. The bottom surface of the front suspension pan is also rusted through in a few spots. Fortunately it appears to be limited to the center area due to water pooling and I think it can be patched fairly easily. The thick layer of asphalt undercoating appears to have dried out and water got in behind it... the common story on these old Porsches. One good thing about this thick protective coating is that I can use the modern equivalent, Wurth Stone Guard, applied thick, to hide my patch work and make the repairs undetectable to the naked eye. The fact this is hidden under the spare tire makes it hard to justify doing much more than a good patch. I can't see replacing the whole suspension pan if the mounts are rock solid. I took the opportunity to give any visible surface rust a good coat of Rust Mort which is the purple tinted substance visible in the photo. The wire ties through the fender bolt holes, used to hold the right front fender in place are also visible on the left side of the photo.
I went ahead and jacked-up the rear of the car in preparation for the engine/transaxle drop later this week and took a picture of the bottom of the engine. Judging from the looks of the oil return tubes from the heads to the case, I'd say this engine has had some top-end work done recently. I would like to evaluate the condition of the engine, like do a compression test and leak-down test before deciding if I rebuild it now or later. The temptation to have my buddy Jack Morris at Wolfsburg Motorwerks just build it into a beefy 1800 cc "stroker" engine is hard to resist! You can also see the rot in the area beneath the rear torsion bar tubes at the bottom right of the photo. I'm actually pleased to see it seems to be limited to the very bottom of the channel and the rusted-away heater pipe that runs inside the channel makes it look much worse than it actually is.
Entry: 9/5/05 - It's Labor Day, how about some dirty, sweaty grunt-work to celebrate it? Pulling the 912's drivetrain sounds like the perfect task to fill the bill. Actually the task took a little over 3 hours at my very leisurely work pace and about the only thing that didn't go smoothly was the failure of the technical manual to remind me to disconnect the speedometer cable. It is amazing how difficult it is to remove the drivetrain with the speedometer cable holding the transmission in! Luckily I noticed the problem and was able to disconnect the cable without much drama other than its protective rubber boot getting ripped and perhaps the cable itself was stretched and will be needing replacement. Once the engine was out, I couldn't resist the classic, "Look Ma, no engine" pose for the camera. I'll be removing the rear bumpers and tail lights in preparation for the frame shop trip, as well as the dashboard instruments and radio, just to keep any "trophy hunters" from helping themselves to them while the car is out of my control. I am very pleased with the condition of the sheetmetal surrounding the engine, I cannot detect any rot rearward of the outer wheelhouse channel below the torsion bar tubes.
Entry: 9/10/05 - Ok, it would appear that I have this 912 project well in hand!
But that's just an illusion, more accurately it's a new MiniChamps 1:43 model in the same color as my car. And yes, I make Porsche motor sounds as I drive it around on my desk! My buddy Roger owner of the EuroTech shop up the street (and the guy who found my 911 for me) will let me borrow his 2-wheel car dolly to tow the 912 to and from the frame shop. I just got done wiring-up the trailer lights on my Ford F-250 so it's ready to do the job in a week or so. I've got the rear of the car (bumpers, lights, emblems, etc.) removed and all that remains is removing the dashboard instruments.
Entry: 9/15/05 - More sheetmetal arrived today! The inner and outer rocker panels, jacking plugs and the weatherstrip retaining piece for the front edge of the trunk arrived from Restoration Design. It looks like it will line-up and fit fairly easily but some creative fabrication will be required on the door jabs since so much is still good that buying a complete replacement sheetmetal pressing would be a waste of money. I also got a firm date from the frame shop and will be towing the car up there on Tuesday the 27th. Things will really start moving then.
Entry: 9/20/05 - I thought I had better take a close look at the "basket-case" disassembled Solex 40 PII-4 carbs that came with the car, in exchange for the Webers that were on it. These Solex carbs are really a dedicated carb per cylinder that share a bowl and accelerator pump which makes them quite challenging to adjust and synchronize. These particular carbs are "split-shaft" types from a '68 or later where each butterfly valve is individually adjusted. I've been informed that the earlier "solid shaft" version with butterfly valves on a single shaft is much easier to synchronize and a highly recommended "back date" conversion to perform on the 40 PII-4 model. One good thing about these particular carbs over the earlier ones is that the butterfly shafts are bushed with brass bushings. I'm starting to evaluate the strategy of getting the current motor running to assess its condition. Key to this strategy is doing an inventory of the carb parts, hunt down the missing parts and performing a rebuild on these Solex carbs myself with help from Jack Morris. If rebuilding myself falls short of usable carbs, I will send them into a rebuilder who does work for Jack Morris' Wolfsburg Motorwerks shop. So far, I've soaked the carbs in cleaner overnight and used my Dremel tool to buff and clean the one on the right. You can really see the deposits in the bowl on the left one compared to a much cleaner bowl on the right. Between the manuals that came with the car and ones I've acquired over eBay, I'm feeling pretty confident in the challenge of figuring out this puzzle. I've mastered the single barrel Solex 28 PICT carb on my '63 Bug, now it's time to figure out 2-barrels.
Entry: 9/25/05 - The carburetor rebuild project is progressing very well. After a couple days of scrubbing with a toothbrush and my favorite product, ABC Corrosion Buster which uses a strong concentration of phosphoric acid to eat away the stains and corrosion deposits, the carbs both look beautiful. Once again, with Jack Morris' help and an order to Performance Products for two carburetor rebuild kits, base gaskets and thick base insulators, I've hunted down almost all the missing pieces for the two complete carbs. I'm waiting on a set of throttle return springs and split shaft adjusting blocks I ordered from Klasse 356. I'm still looking for a pair of "banjo bolts" to attach the fuel lines, probably a Stoddard Parts order. Yet another area Jack Morris helped me out with was a set of used original steel fuel lines in great shape. So here's my self-imposed "homework" assignment, figure out the names of each part in the Solex 40 PII-4 carburetor and document a photograph of my carburetor dismantled so I can speak intelligently:
Entry: 9/27/05 - The day finally arrived, taking the car into the frame shop to have professionals fix the collision damage and mount the right front fender and hood with the goal of restoring the factory gaps between them. The equipment and experience required for this kind of repair is way beyond my budget and abilities and I'm not ashamed to admit it and pay for the pros to do it right. My buddy Roger at EuroTech up the street let me borrow his shop's car dolly and it worked out perfectly. It was no problem at all to load the car by myself without the weight of the engine and fuel tank. Unloading was a similar easy job and the guys at the frame shop were very interested in what the plans were for the car. It seems there are a lot more rusty early Porsches showing up at their shop lately because of the growing interest in restoring them. I really need to consider buying a light-weight tandem-axle car trailer for hauling my cars to shows and to the shops since I already have such a great truck for towing with my old Ford F-250. I'm now waiting to hear from the frame shop manager with an estimate on how many hours it will take to fix the damage, the initial "guesstimate" was around $500.
Entry: 9/29/05 - I can't begin to tell you how stoked I am about today's development in my 912 restoration! Jack Morris (owner of Wolfsburg Motorwerks) swapped me a set of rare, very early 912 only Mann & Hummel canister air filters! These particular ones have 5/65 manufacture dates stamped on them, which would be just about perfect for my mid-1965 production 912! Now these air filters are not what one would call pretty and in fact were so "clunky" they were phased-out almost immediately, hence why they are so rare. Check out what Duane Spencer said about them in his book, The Complete Porsche 912 Guide from which I scanned this photo and caption:
As you can see in the photo below, besides the fact the Solex 40 PII-4 carbs are all rebuilt and sealed away in ziplock bags, I've just about finished accumulating all the missing original pieces that put the top side of my engine back into factory original configuration. The Mann & Hummel filters, the rebuilt Solex 40 PII-4 carburetors, the Bosch "022" distributor, the correct formed steel fuel line, pre-heat tube 'T' fitting and all the factory hose clamps. I made an order to Stoddard Parts for the correct size paper hoses and the correct color silver paint for the oil filter can. I'm really looking forward to restoring the engine tin. I will be using the factory original style of semi-gloss hi-temperature engine paint and not powdercoating them. I don't particularly care for powdercoating as it looks too shiny for my tastes, these engines should look somewhat dull. One detail about my new Mann & Hummel air cleaner canisters that I am extremely pleased about is the original white nomenclature decals on the inside of each housing right where they attach to the top of the carburetor. I will take extreme care in preserving that detail with careful masking and a clearcoat in semigloss clear paint to freshen the decal up. Mark my words, the engine compartment is going to look perfect when I get done!
Entry: 10/1/05 - Today I spent most of the day helping my buddy Jack Morris reorganize his 356 & 912 Porsche parts in his store room at his shop, Wolfsburg Motorwerks. In the process of all the sorting and organizing, I found some little parts I needed in addition to those which had just arrived in orders from Stoddard Parts and Klasse 356. With the new parts I was able to assemble my engine with the Solex 40 PII-4 carbs, Mann & Hummel air canisters, Bosch "022" distributor, steel fuel lines and pre-heat tubes. Yesterday I did a preliminary degrease and clean-up job on the engine and transaxle using my favorite purple "SuperClean" biodegradable degreaser and scalding hot water. As you can see, the engine sheetmetal and aluminum case really cleaned-up very nicely. I was really wanting to compose a nice "before" shot of the engine prior to media blasting and repainting all the sheetmetal and new decals. I really love how those big, "clunky" Mann & Hummel air filter canisters look on the engine! Looks like a vintage Volkswagen engine on steroids! One thing that should be mentioned is the b&w picture from Duane Spencer's book shows a 912 engine with a European style heater. US models didn't have the big "U"-shaped hose coming from the doghouse shroud like you see on the European models. I think the European models were designed to better utilize an optional gasoline powered auxiliary heater installed in the front trunk which was intended to help drivers there cope with the bitter cold and damp winter weather.
Now picture that new hardware back in here:
Here's the documentation on my motormount "backdate" from the Porsche PET (Porsche Erstatz Teile katalog – Porsche Replacement Parts catalog) CD-ROM with the engine number change over date given in my 912 Supplemental Parts Catalog.
Entry: 10/28/05 - I cannot tell you how stoked I am about the results of spending $344 at the body shop for a unibody repair professional to pull out the collision damage with a state-of-the-art, computer controlled frame rack. Check out the gaps! Right now the fender is only held in place with a couple bolts so the small variation in the hood gap in the center area, maybe off by 1/16" or so is in the fender itself. The body guy says these cars were hand-built (built by craftsmen not robots) at the factory so what was a good final fit on the '68 912 this fender came off of is a little off on the '66 it is going on... in other words, totally normal. Some wood block and large hammer work once the fender is bolted firmly in position will be required to coerce it back out so it lines up with the edge of the cowl so the hood gap is the same all the way down. All part of the fun of rebuilding a hand-built car as it really is all just one big cleverly shaped piece of sheet tin!
Here's the straightened front of the car with the lights, turnsignals and horn grills in place. You can see a slight cant to the right horn grill showing how much flex the unfastened fender has in it. This will line-up once it's bolted tight to the nose section. The only thing keeping me from mounting the front bumper is the need to spotweld the right bumper mount from the clip into position. All the work that remains on this is rust repair and final fitting of the right fender! The passenger door gap is perfect all the way around too!
Entry: 1/4/06 - Exciting times! Today the 912 was moved into the shop to begin the restoration project. For most guys, moving a car without an engine would be a matter of a coaxing couple buddies to help push it in but for a guy with a driveway like mine, it is a major engineering feat! I have a 110-volt Warn winch that does the job pretty easily but it takes three different "pulls" to get it onto the 4-post lift in the shop. I was an AAA tow-truck driver back when I was a kid and had a Jeep with a PTO winch that saved me from many a brush with physics so I'm very experienced at moving heavy objects with a cable. Having a variety of "snatching straps" is a necessity for attaching the cable to the car and anchoring the winch itself to the house foundation. The first "pull" is getting the car up the steep slope to the garage door, for which I use a "snatch block" to reduce the tension on the cable by half. This is important because I have to physically feed the cable onto the winch drum by hand so it doesn't bunch-up and jam the winch or kink the cable and the less tension, the easier that is to do.
Once the car is pulled up to the door, I block all four wheels, remove the winch and chain the snatching strap the winch used to be hooked to, to the foundation with a logging chain as a fail-safe measure in the event the wheel blocks fail while I'm moving the winch into position for the second "pull." If I do it right, the logging chain should always stay slack as the car pivots on the blocked downhill, back wheel.
The second "pull" requires the use of two "GoJak" showroom dollies on the front wheels anchoring the winch to the roof pillar in the center of the main parking garage and attaching the cable to the front 'A'-arm on the car to pull it into alignment to roll onto the 4-post lift. This usually goes pretty easy since the slope is much more gentle at the top of the driveway so no need for the "snatch block."
Once the car is lined-up, the third "pull" is up the ramps of the 4-post lift and into position. The winch goes slow enough to center the car on the ramp by steering the front wheels and moving the car a few inches at a time.
Finally when the car is on the lift, I can remove it from the winch and lift the car for a better look at the work I'm going to be needing to do. I will be starting with the front nose where the collision damage was pulled by the body shop, so I can get the pieces I need off that donor front clip and get it out of the shop! I will need to clear the space the front clip is stored so I can move the 912 off the lift when I need it for working on my other cars.