Bought this car over 17 years ago from the original owner who just had the engine overhauled at 70K miles. Sold it 16 years ago to a friend who drove it for about a year and parked it inside his garage after buying my 944. After sitting for 15 years, the car showed up on my driveway for a full restoration. Unfortunately, the same friend fell in love with my Boxster, and we ended up swapping cars and cash. Notice a theme here? Well back to the car. The car is a very original 911S with factory Recaro Sport Seats. Since it was sitting for 15 years, I decided to check condition of the fuel tank. Good thing I did, it was full of rust and heavy varnish. Researched new tanks which didn't fit nor look right, and used ones which were no better than mine. Learned of a method of de-rusting metal using a battery charger and washing soda and water. Since the inside of the tank was the only rusty part, I figured if I use the tank to hold the water and made a insulating collar, I could hang the electrode through the fuel sender hole. The process was amazing, the rust flew off the steel and was suspended in the water.
I used a PVC pipe fitting for the insulator and 24" section of rebar for the electrode. Corks made an easy way of closing off the outlets.
It's imperative that the negative is connected to the part and the positive is connected to sacrificial electrode.
After a few hours, you can see the rust being removed, quite aggressively may I add. I left the charger on for about 24 hours.
I poured out the tank and all the rust that was hard flaky scales that covered the tank. A heat gun was used to dry the tank. As you can see, the tank surface was bare steel with just a slight staining of orange rust. I poured in 2 quarts or Murieatic acid which dissolved the remaining rust and left a grayish residue which was washed out. The final process was to use the Eastwood tank sealer to prevent future rust.
Now to address all the sheet metal uglies. A full investigation uncovered rust in all the usual places. Both outer rockers, both fender supports, both door latch panels, and some minor blistering here and there.
Typical rust pattern for these cars are the rockers, door jambs, and fender supports. The passenger side fender was also affected, as the fender support corroded so badly that it had spread to the fender skin. In my collection of varied and useless parts, I found a perfect fender. I fitted the fender on for size, and it was perfect. Next was to strip it down to bare metal and primer it for paint.
After cutting away the rusted rocker panel, the good news was that the inner rocker was solid, bad news was that the bottom of the doors had rust through at the seams. The only way to fix this was to section out the rusted seam which required cutting into the outside door panel and inside door frame.
I fabricated two new pieces from 20 ga. galvanized steel sheet. The outer panel was a simple flat piece with a 5/16" bend to form the bottom edge of the door. The inside frame section was much tougher and required an hour of hammer and anvil, and numerous trail fittings.
In order to overlap the new sections and still maintain a level surface, I used a panel flange tool to lower the edge of the repair. Instead of welding, I decided to use the new panel bonding epoxy which are used in attaching quarter panels to modern cars, which is as strong as welding and avoids warping the panels with heat. A set of Colecos held the panels in while the epoxy dried.
With the door and fender stripped to bare metal and primed, it was time to see how the parts hung on the car. I drilled or ground out all the spot welds, cleaned up the surrounding metal and coleco'ed the latch panel, fender support, and rocker in place. With minimal massaging, the door and fender lined up perfectly. Now to make the oil pipe brackets and weld on a little extension piece from the hinge post to the rocker.
The panels hung perfectly. Nice even door gaps and fender lines. Time to start welding.
Couldn't bear looking at the faux Whale Tail any longer, so I decided to put on a '73 RS Duck Tail I had in the basement. Although I have the all Alloy original trunk lid, I'm toying with the idea of keeping the Duck tail on the car. I also have the matching RS front bumper and spoiler, with and without the oil cooler. Hmmm................... all I need is a set of SC steel flairs and it could be a RS clone. Nah, maybe if it was a T or E, but this S is going back as 100% original. But I do like the tail though.
6-15-06 I used OEM panels whenever available, but sometimes you have to resort to reproductions. While most of the repros from Stoddard did eventually fit with heavy hammering and cutting, the dog leg panel was so off, I decided to fabricate my own from flat sheet. After cutting a block of wood to follow the door gap contour, I hammered the turn in lip and then curled the bottom to follow the rocker contour. The panel was then flanged under the quarter panel and coleco'ed into position. After careful consideration, I decided to use 3M panel epoxy and stainless steel rivets on the fender support, outer rocker, door jamb, and dog leg. Reason I chose this method was the very difficult tight "C" channels that you would had to weld inside of, and with spot welding, there would be areas not covered by a weld, but ground down to bare metal between the joined panels promoting rust to form in those areas. I heavily weighted the rocker and other panels up and down and they did not budge. So with the epoxy covering all the bare metal, and the rivets with a shear strength of 700 pounds each, the joint should hold up very well.
6-19-06 Dropped the rear valence and removed the bumperrettes for chroming. The rear bumpers looked solid on the car, but after removing the deco trim, I found the driver side bumper to be severely rotted out. I could repair this part, but good used parts are plentiful and inexpensive, so a replacement is in the cards. Unfortunately, while removing the 8MM Allen's holding the bumpers, one of the blind nuts inside the console box frame broke loose. I ended up cutting the bolt and dragging out the nut from the 1/2" round access hole at the end of the console next to the tail light. Replacing this would be challenge. Trying to see if I could get a rive nut in there or perhaps a weld nut with side wings. This way all I have to do is slide the nut in, epoxy the wings to the inside of the console, and the wings would jam against the sides of the console to hold the nut while tightening or loosening. The epoxy will just hold it place to initially align the bolt for tightening. Plus, it's not like it'll will be an actively accessed part anyway. Once it's on, it'll be there for quite some time.
6-21-06 The car suffered from a slow oil leak ever since I had bought it, so with the bumpers off, I decided to check out the oil tank. After stripping the tank from years of gunk and soaking it in Murieatic acid, the only damage appeared to be one of the ears holding the tank had rusted away. But when I pressure tested the tank with soapy water, tiny bubbles appeared all around the welded mount. Since it was brazed on, I de-brazed the bracket and fabricated a new one from flat sheet, using a large socket to form the round edge. Not one of my best brazing jobs, but thin metal and numerous pin holes required going back to the torch a number of times, but it holds and is now leak free (and solid). I painted the high rust prone areas with POR-15 but didn't want to over do it as the oil heat may have an adverse effect on the paint long term, it shouldn't, but just in case. Sprayed satin black on the un-rust protected areas as a first coat and will paint over the POR-15 when it hardens.
6/30/06 - Taking a break from all the rust, metal pounding, welding, an painting to do something fun. And what I find fun is mechanical upgrades, especially when you have to do the research, hunt down the parts, and put it all together yourself. Biggest drawback for any early Porsche is the shifter, which if described as vague, sloppy, and loose, would be an understatement. The throws are long, you never know what gears you're in until it's too late, and missed shifts are a given. So with that in mind, I set out to find the best shifter I could build. After talking with numerous people on numerous boards, I found that there was nothing you could do with a 901 shifter. However, if I should find a 915 shifter assembly out of 1973-1986 911, there was a lot of aftermarket and OEM kits available. But the shift pattern was different with Reverse on opposite sides.
901 Shift Pattern 915 Shift Pattern
R 2 4 1 3 R
1 3 5 2 4 5
Shift geometry was the same, but the mechanism preventing you from accidentally shifting into Reverse would be on the wrong side. On both mechanisms, there is a spring or are springs that require you to pull to the left of right (overcoming the spring force) before engaging into 1 and R on the 901, and 5 and R on the 915. So the 915 shift assembly would give me no tension to alert me that I was going in reverse in attempts to execute a 1-2 shift (very bad thing). So I found Sherwood at Seine Systems who makes a "Gate Shift Kit" which applies spring tension for the 1-2 shift on a 73-86 911, and indexes the shifter in neutral in line with the 3-4 gates. The kit was mainly used to prevent accidental missed shifts, i.e. a 4-3 down shift on a 915 going into 1 instead (bang). But this also provides 901 cars with the tension it needs to avoid reverse, so the 1-2 shift automatically indexes to the second gear as the spring forces the shifter into the correct gate. Neat. So I found a used shifter and began taking it apart, plus I ended up blueprinting the shifter since I was already in there, a sickness that I think we all share.
While I was waiting for the parts to show up, I fully disassembled the shifter and cleaned all the parts. Little did I know, the new 1984 Factory OEM Short Shift Kit ( off e-bay for $138) contains all the internals, and I all I needed was the housing. The housing was cast aluminum, and anything bare aluminum never stays that way with me, so I spent several hours buffing it to a mirror shine.
Parts finally arrived. The Factory shift kit came with no instructions, but after a few minutes reviewing the parts it was self explanatory. Actually the only differences were the shifter and shift fork, everything else was the same as the stock components. The Gate shift kit ($150) came with the gold anodized "keeper" alignment ears that bolted directly over the factory top plate, the red anodized sprung plunger which bolted to the side of the housing, and a longer shifter pivot pin. I had to elongate the side access hole on the housing since the pivot point for the short shifter was move upwards. The Gate system was clever. The longer pivot pin allowed the factory springs to provide tension for my 4 and 5 gates on one end, and the other provided tension for my 1 and R gates via the new sprung plunger mounted on the other end. So all you have to remember is to push or pull sideways for 1-4-5 and Reverse, couldn't be simpler. The housing looked so trick polished up and anodized, that I may forego the shift boot and leave it out in the open. In a rush to get this done, I forgot to take pictures of the blueprinting process. It mainly consists of adjusting and light machining of some of the parts to achieve a frictionless fit, not all that necessary unless you are an anal compulsive like me. All in all, job took about 45 minutes net polishing, easy.
With the shifter done, I peaked at the pedal box. Knew I had to do it, but it's one of those jobs I've done a hundred times and hated each time. Nasty, dirty, and not easy. Plus it always inevitably leads to more stuff to do. Luckily the floor was solid, linkages good, but master needs replacement. And I hate those reservoir lines, can't reach them, can't seat them in, and you're always working blind. But back to the pedal box. If everything goes well, it's actually an easy job, but it never does. This time the roll pin was frozen on the clutch pedal shaft. Soaked it WD40, applied propane heat, then acetylene heat with heavy blows with a 5 lb hammer and drift with no luck. Then tried drilling it out but ended up breaking all my bits (really hard roll pin). Finally I weaseled it out. Now the clutch pedal should just slide off the shaft right? Wrong. OK a few taps with a hammer, a few more, then huge whacks. No joy. Learning from my previous experience, I went directly to the acetylene. Punched the shaft, no go. Out comes the heavy duty Snap On gear puller, cranked it down with a 1/2" air gun and it didn't budge. Only when I applied tremendous pressure with the gear puller and heated the pedal until it was glowing red it began to make tick tick sounds. More heat, more ticking. Cranked down more pressure on the puller, more heat tick tick. This thing fought me every thousands of an inch before it fell off. Needless to say, the brazing on the pedal stop gave up long before this and every plastic bushing melted and poured out before the job was done. But the bushing needed to be replaced with bronze ones and the pedal stop was an easy fix. Door bell just rang, it's the Fedex guy and my bronze bushings are here, yippee. Be right back.
Took all of 15 minutes to assemble the pedal box with all the new bronze bushing. Big difference from the disassembly stage. I had sand blasted all the parts and painted them with POR15. Took the liberty of using the Eastwood Gold Cad paint on some of the parts just to jazz it up a bit, but it'll be hidden, so those sticklers to originality shouldn't be too upset. The kit also came with a new roll pin which required the use of a vise to squeeze it into place. Will be also cleaning up the floor and POR15 that as well and installing a new 23MM Master Brake cylinder replacing the original 17mm for better pedal feel.
Back to the body. Tried finding a good used bumper, but every one that was represented to me as "Excellent" turned out otherwise. So I overcame my reluctance to hammer out compound curve repair panels to repair my bumpers (see the before pic earlier). This time I surprised myself. Made a panel that was almost perfect. Welded the panel in with my Tig and with the slightest amount of bondo, I was able cover the welds and to reproduce the lines and curves of the original bumper. And the best part was since I butt welded the panel in, it will be invisible from the inside as well. Ground out all the surface rust from the tail light housings, including inside the quarter and covered everything with POR15.
While taking the window regulator out of the driver side door, I heard a clickity click of a small part falling inside the door. Fished it out and saw a small piece of aluminum. After careful examination, I found the broken part. An aluminum pin that was pressed into the window regulator that held the regulator spring under a lot of pressure, no wonder it broke.
Yeah, I could of ordered a new one for 35 bucks, but I had just finished restoring a 1969 Clausing metal Lathe, and what better project than this to try her out. Used a 6061 Aluminum rod, and turned down the step. The parallel flats on both sides of the rod was a challenge. This is were the pin is pressed into the regulator arm, so it had to be perfect and a few thou larger than the hole. I found a neat tool that is a square block that would hold collets. I inserted the turned pin into the collet and then locked into the square block. Placed it in my milling vise, and using an end mill, milled off the proper amount of material. Flipped the collet holder 180 degrees, and milled the other side. The collet holder allowed me to cut perfectly parallel lines. The slot was easy. Turned the part around and inserted the other end into the square collet holder, and used a circular saw blade on my milling machine and made several passes to get the proper width. The part worked out nicely.
Ok, enough fun for now, it's back to the grind, literally. The driver side was much the same as the passenger side, rotted outer rockers, lock post jamb, and fender support. While the fender was rust free, the inner rocker had way too many soft spots, unlike the other side. So after grinding out hundreds of spot welds, we finally separated all the panels.
Hammered and tweaked all the parts into place and fitted them up to ensure fit before mig'ing them up through all the drilled out spot weld holes. Flushed the rockers/console with Oxysolv (Eastwood rust remover) and painted everything with POR-15. Some other small rust holes were cut out and new metal welded into place.
Everything lined up with better than original. Door gaps are better than from the factory. After I welded in the fender support and made sure that was in the correct position, I started to sand the fender down to bare metal, as will the rest of the car. I'm using a two part epoxy primer, DPL 80. This stuff seals everything on the metal and keeps it there and dries hard as a rock. After letting it harden for 30 days, I scuff it lightly and will be spraying white sandable primer (like factory) and finishing it off with block sanding with 600. A bit anal, but the paint lays on better and polishes up to a mirror shine.
After the Epoxy primer hardened up, a light scuff, and the whole car was sprayed in high build white primer as OEM. Decided to paint the interior before assembling the car, and then spray the exterior all at one time. Normally I would paint each individual part off the car and then assemble, but wanted to ensure a perfect shade consistency. Plus I got to borrow my friend's downdraft booth which makes painting the whole car easier.
Got the whole thing back together, panels fitted well as they should, and spent the better part of the day wet sanding with 400 grit to smooth out the primer to a shiny finish. Had to break through the white high build primer in some areas to level out the panel to the grey epoxy primer, but the surface perfectly flat now.
Towed the car to my friends body shop to use his downdraft spray booth. Sprayed 5-6 coats of Baja Red and 5 coats of clear. Usually the color coat only requires 2-3 coats, but for some reason I was not getting the correct coverage. Good thing I had a gallon at the ready. Got the car in Saturday after business and sprayed it in 2 hours. By Sunday morning she was ready to come home.
Soon as I got the car home I popped out the glass and started on the headliner. With winter fast approaching, I had to seal up the car ASAP. Hung the headliner on the rods and began to stretch it out in 4 different directions, using clips to hold it in place. This was a slow process, as the cold made the headliner material less pliable. But persistence and 200 clips, going around all 4 sides, pulling, stretching, and clipping, numerous times, and finally placing a heater inside the car overnight, and going around another number of times, provided a neat and tight headliner.
Once the headliner took a set, I carefully removed one side and sprayed adhesive on the body and headliner. Another snugging up session to put it home for good showed another 1/4 - 1/2" of material that I was able to stretch out for an even tighter fit. Overall, took a bit longer than I had anticipated, but the outcome was great.
11/17/06 - Bought a brand new OEM dash from Stoddard Porsche and spent weeks fighting it to fit. Main problem was it did not move forward enough to seat properly. The advice from Stoddard was to shave some foam off the inside of the front of the dash. I did, down to the aluminum core, and it still didn't fit. The dash sat about 1/2" too far back. After examining my old dash and the shaved new one, you can plainly see that the new OEM dash was 1/2" too short. With no more material to remove, it went back for a refund.
The dash had to go in before the glass could be installed, and it was getting cold. So in a panic, I found a good used dash on e-bay and asked the seller to name a price to end it now. The number was less than the new dash and I told him to consider it sold. The used dash popped in with no drama and fitted perfectly.
With the interior squared away, we now were able to install all the glass.
Always hated the US spec headlights on the early Porsches. And for some reason I had collected several pairs of new European H4 Bosch headlights just because I liked the way they looked. So finally had the chance of breaking out a set and installing them on a car. Ordered new turn signal lenses and horn grills which makes a big difference. The old foreign car "bullet" fuses were a hoot, how they actually worked in it's day was beyond me. But after cleaning and sanding all the connectors, we got everything working. Well at least until the next bump in the road.
12-5-06 On the final stretch. The original hood emblem was horribly oxidized. The black and red stripes had turned white. Tried polishing to no avail. Figure a new one was in the cards, so tried wet sanding the entire emblem and then clear coating. It turned out well and a nice original touch to the car. Break in the weather allowed me to wet sand and polish the bumper. Assembled the deco trim and fitted it up and it's beginning to look like a Porsche again.
12-21-06 With the car almost done, it was time for the little details. The speaker was toast and finding a high quality 4"x8" replacement speaker was next to impossible. I found a set of new Blaupunkt 3.5" round speakers that was far superior than what the stock OEM Blaupunkt Frankfurt mono radio could ever out drive so I decided to build a panel to mount both speakers in the center dash location. Using hardboard, I cut a 4"x 8.25" panel and cut two holes for the speakers. The panel has to sit flush on the dash super structure, so I had to rivet the speakers in place.