Thursday, 24 January 2013

Porsche 911T Project - The Cold

Even in our technically sophisticated world there are still little understood physical phenomena. That the inside of a garage can actually be colder than ambient temperature outside is one, and that the metal contents of that garage can be colder still is another.

Ok, so this is my way of explaining the lack of progress since the last update. As my little bit of England chills under snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures, the nearest I've come to spending quality working time on the car is staring at the garage from the warmth of the living room.


Like the SAS, I have completed a couple of limited scope missions, aimed at producing maximum results from minimum exposure to danger. Or at least, with minimum danger of losing a toe or two to frostbite. 

So the instruments are out. They'll go off for some refurbishment later on, and their absence gives access to the various dashboard fixings. The steering wheel too is now sitting on the top of the growing pile of old 911 components decorating my living room. In its place I'll put the one that was in the car when it arrived from Florida - that should allow the car to be manoeuvred while it's in pieces.

I've taken photos of the back of each instrument to give me at least a fighting chance of reconnecting the wiring later on.

The seat belts came out easily, as did the trim panels on the rear 3/4 panel. They will go off to be covered in basket weave to match the door cards. Or at least, they will when the trimmer has finished moving his workshop to another unit 50metres away - D day didn't take so long. 

But I digress; next item on the mission list was to strip the doors of trim, window frames, glass, and locking & winding mechanisms. A further dawn raid and this was completed. 

A learning point; a task undertaken for the second time takes around 1/3 of the time it took first time around. Awful sentence, but you know what I mean; last summer stripping doors took most of a day each. This time I had them in pieces within a couple of hours.

However, from now on, fair reader, its a voyage into the unknown.

As for colours, my conundrum can be expressed in two statements; 

1. If in doubt, an old 911 should always be returned to its original colour. In this case, silver.

2. Does the world really need yet another silver 911?


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Porsche 911T Project - Starting Off

In the cold light of day (or at least the cold half-light filtering through a garage window obscured by plants) that's a pretty daunting list.

Painting old 911's appears to be a very expensive business. When I first started asking around, I'd been advised that the cost of a good paint job, starting again from bare metal, would be in the order of  £8,000 to £10,000. I'll admit these figures were generally supplied by people trying to frighten me into 'investing' in their stock of recently restored high-end old cars, but its a lot of money.

As I researched more,  I started to get some more sensible estimates, around 1/2 or 1/3 of the numbers above. However, this was based on me delivering a car that was all ready for painting - ideally a bare shell. That means stripping off all panels, interior, electrics, drive-train, suspension and brakes, leaving just the car's steel skeleton. It also means removing every scrap of the old paint, either by media blasting or by dipping the shell in a corrosive bath. 

I'm afraid I bottled it. Mainly because I just don't have the space for that sort of exercise, but also because I doubt very much if I have the competence to put it all back together. 

I'm going to go for a half-way house - I'll get the bits I can take off (doors, boot and bonnet etc.) media blasted, and then remove anything else that might get in the way, but leaving the car on its wheels.

I started on familiar territory, and removed the front seats. Even the 'lightweight' Recaro's are pretty heavy with their steel subframes, so getting them out in the narrow garage was a struggle. But you'd not want them to come lose in a serious accident, so robust mountings are  something I'll happily live with. 

Next job was to remove the rear seats, front and rear seat belts, and the rear shelf.  

I have a confession. There's something I've been dreading in this whole effort - rust. Old Porsche's have a horrible tendency to rot from the inside out. Perfectly nice looking, shiny 911's are only a screwdriver's prod away from being exposed as seductive deathtraps, their strength leached away over the decades by tin worm. Internet sages quote home truths "There are only two sorts of 911s, those where you can see the rust and those where you can't". 

Well, the first rust trap I uncovered is the metal parcel shelf. Its covered by a thick absorbent soundproofing material, and it doesn't take much of a leak for that do become a soggy compress, perfect for killing cars. With relief I discovered, that bar a bit of surface rust, mine was solid.

I called it a day.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Winter 2012/13, and a Project.

So, here we are in the middle of the usual damp, sunless English winter (south coast variety), with only what seems like endless dreary days and long nights to look forward to. 

So, to while away the time between now and spring, and in the proud tradition of British blokedom, I've started a winter project. 

In fact, a 'PROJECT'.

You'll remember, loyal reader, my yellow 911 with the tired interior and the utterly knackered engine. Well I have decided that now is the time to do something about it. In this case, my initial thoughts for 'something' involved getting the instruments restored and maybe a few other bits and pieces.

I also needed to sort out the annoyingly wobbly dash (otherwise the nice, new instruments would look out of place)

And replace the tired carpet (that would let a nice dash down).

Oh, and recover the seats (to remove the red alcantara that new carpet would highlight)

And re-upholster the rear seats (that have lost their stuffing)

And replacing all the other bits of interior (otherwise they'd just annoy me)

Fit a less knackered engine

Rebuild the gearbox (that a better engine would otherwise destroy)

Refresh the suspension (that would be needed to manage the additional power)

Find stronger brakes (to placate the insurance company)

Oh, and paint it. Properly.

If I was a banker, making this list happen would mainly involve choosing one of the well known Porsche specialists, asking them to collect the car, and writing out a large cheque. I would then spend a lot of time annoying friends and forum readers with geeky Porsche colour questions using pictures downloaded from the internet while I prevaricated on a particular shade for my car's Pebble Beach quality paint job.

But I'm not a banker, so I'm going to have to do as much as possible of this myself. However, this will not prevent me from annoying my friends about the colour.

Right, I'm off to the garage.