Thursday, 1 May 2014

Eight weeks….

Well I must admit, even by my standards it's been a while. The muse had abandoned me for nearly six months, but as spring settles in Sussex here we are again. So I thought I let you have, dear forgotten reader, an idea of where I've got to with the old 911's light refresh.
Old 911 sitting on its dolly tries to eat mechanic
Before winter set in last year the car came off the metal dolly used to move it about when just a shell and landed back onto its wheels.
Back on its wheels again after blast-cleaning and the application
of lots of lovely Gulf Blue paint
The suspension set-up now includes the new Bilstein Sport dampers, turbo-specification track rod ends, standard anti-roll bars front & rear, and big fat hollow 28mm Elephant Racing rear torsion bars. I've also replaced all of the bushes with stiffer SuperPro polyurethane. It was a shame the latter wasn't done by the specialist who had the car when I first had it - the rear set in particular were in a bad way. The standard brake callipers were rebuilt - one replaced when it was seen to be cracked - and with uprated pads, race-spec fluid and a trick pedal box should give power and feel.  
The engine takes up residence in a DDK workshop
Bigger holes; six of them. New JE pistons and cylinders with an 86mm bore
 will give a small increase in capacity (up from 2.3 to 2.5litres) and added 'zing'
My original intention was to replace the engine with a larger unit from a later model, but a re-think was forced on me over the winter. Partly this was because expensive mechanical disaster overtook the 'other Porsche', and partly because steadily rising values of old 911s are dependent on their having the original engines in place. I was also helped immensely by the offer of help from some DDK mates with a re-build. 

The challenge with the 1973 2.4T's engine is that firstly the specification was changed to make it cheaper to build, and secondly it was Porsche's first effort to meet newly introduced US emission regulations by adopting the K-Jetronic fuel injection system. The result is a motor that, while under-stressed and delivering of good mid-range performance, has little of the early car's zingy top end. Mine also suffered from a poorly maintained injection system. 

After much debate, the engine committee has agreed on an approach that keeps the original engine in place, but adds missing 'zing' while keeping a tight rein on expenditure. I was lucky in one respect, when the old motor was dismantled it was discovered to be in excellent condition; there was very little sign of wear to any of the major revolving bits. So good was it, that we've decided to take the calculated risk of leaving the bottom end untouched.  The smoke that plagued me when on the motorway was the usual air-cooled problem; a couple of fairly minor leaks caused oil fumes to get into the heating system, resulting in a smokey interior. In hindsight I was doubly lucky that my earlier efforts to sell the engine were unsuccessful.

The recipe will include high compression pistons in slightly larger bored barrels, camshafts from a 2.4E, heads that will be gas flowed and have the ports opened up, fat PMO carburettors and, should budget allow, a less restrictive exhaust.  With a bit more luck that lot will deliver plenty of zing and knock on the door of 200bhp. Oh, and my run of good fortune extended to the gearbox, wear was limited to the synchromesh on 3rd gear, which meant the re-build was about as straightforward (and cheap - although that's only in context of old Porsche prices) as a 915 re-build gets.

Heater, tank and wiring
Meanwhile I continued to bolt all of the bits that were being stored around the house back onto the car. All of the wiring is in place, the dashboard and instruments are fitted, the heating system is in and the fuel tank now sits back in the front. Which was good as the thing was a perishing nuisance to find a place for.
The superbly fitted headlining and 10kgs of sound deadening
The latest area of focus is on the interior. I used many, many coats of POR15 to protect the floor and vulnerable areas around the rear seat wells and parcel shelf. To replace the sound deadening that I removed, I installed a good few kilograms of bitumen-based sheet around the interior, including the roof. The aim is to cut down noise without encouraging more corrosion in the longer-term, and many, many cans of Dinotrol have been exhausted down hidden box-sections to help that cause. 

With some more help from the DDK crew, the headlining (white now - to lighten the interior) was installed and carpet is on order. When I found the car in Florida the interior was a horrible concoction of cheap after-market man-made materials that emitted the stale smell of oxidising plastic and damp carpet.  I find nothing puts me off a car faster than an interior with a bad odour, so the new one will contain more in the way of natural ingredients.
Looking car shaped with doors and wings
More recently, the panels that made my dining room look like a Porsche dealer's parts department store have found their way back onto the car; doors, sunroof and the wings were test fitted. After more debate I've decided to award the engine's new lease of life with some additional cooling. Oil pipes, cooler and thermostat were sourced via ebay from an mid-80s 911 and they will be fitted to the car. It represents a slight challenge as the spot where the oil-cooler would naturally want to sit is taken up by the early car's battery box, so a fudge will be sought.

Suspension and brake bling and trial fitting the oil cooler pipework
In a few sentences then, that's about where I've got to. Looking back it doesn't seem to represent much for nearly 18 months effort, it surprising how much time you can lose cleaning up bits and pieces, planning the next move, waiting for various specialists to do their thing, and for the weather to improve - a tiny garage means most operations involve wheeling the car outside.
Details, details; the engine shroud after removing the old yellow
paint and revealing dull gel-coat

After several hours with wet and dry

More bling; engine pulley and bonnet latches

The eight weeks? Well, its now the beginning of May, and Classic Le Mans (and boy #1's summer prom) are both in early July. The race is on.


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