356 Project: '58 coupe #104006

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David Gensler
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356 Project: '58 coupe #104006

#1 Post by David Gensler » Thu May 27, 2010 9:51 pm

Ok, I'll take the plunge. The idea of posting projects as a single evolving topic appeals to me. I still think the subject should have its own major category, but if the 356Talk powers that be say it belongs here, so be it.

Thus will begin to unfold (at glacial pace) the story of 104006. Please, no laughter, no jeers or jests (well, good-natured ribbing I can stand). Hopefully no tears.

Bought this car about 10 years ago (could it have been that long?). Not my first 356, but the first in a looonnnnggg time (seduced by the dark side, 9-series, boy racer stuff). Eventually you get back to your roots. For 10 years I'd been on the verge of buying an A coupe. Long string of almost-deals. Coulda-shoulda-woulda. Then finally about 2000, I got a call from a guy I knew in Texas. He had a '59 coupe and wanted to know if I was interested. A phone call, a few mailed photos....a project but didn't look too bad. $4500. Nah, too much!

A year and a half later, he calls again, sort of frantic. Still has the car. He's about to leave for New Mexico with a trailer to pick up an old Jag. Small problem. He's short on cash. Am I still interested in the '59 356? He'll bring it to me. How much does he need for the Jag? A little dickering back and forth, but he'll settle for $1850 cash. Done! He shows up the next day (told you he was frantic). I meet him in Albuquerque. Roll the car off his trailer onto mine. Peel off a handful of bills. $5 minutes later I'm home in the driveway looking at what I've bought.

A mix of good and bad. Shiny fresh paint. Obviously over a lot of bondo. Missing motor, bumpers, and some small bits. Some rust, but not as much as expected. New floors. New longitudinals. Maybe this was a pretty good deal? Oh, and it was a '58. not a '59. He'd read the serial #wrong.

Here's where I post the first photos. But will have to do tomorrow. None on this computer. Will resume the story then.
DG
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Rusty Willey
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#2 Post by Rusty Willey » Thu May 27, 2010 10:59 pm

Thanks for posting here. Hope this is a good way to keep track of and support new builds look forward to pics!!!
Don't hate me for driving Volkswagens.

David Gensler
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#3 Post by David Gensler » Fri May 28, 2010 9:05 am

As promised, first photos of the project. Also my first attempt to post photos to 356Talk. Hope I do this right. I like to think of this project as a series of life stages. Like a child...or maybe more like a marriage. The wedding, honeymoon, first year, etc. This post I guess is the honeymoon stage. The fights and reconciliations start some time later!

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Here it is! 104006 as received. The first glimpse of my new project. Doesn't look so bad, huh?

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Started poking around a bit. Hey, theres the SN. That's a '58 #, not a '59.

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Doesn't look too bad under here!

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Hmmm. Nice new floor! Guess someone should grind the weld bead down, but other than that, looks great, right? If I'd only known then what I know now. I expect many of you will spot right away the problem with the floor, and that of course was only the tip of the iceberg

DG
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Rusty Willey
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#4 Post by Rusty Willey » Fri May 28, 2010 9:19 am

Wow!! That looks like a great score even for a decade ago. I can't imagine finding something so bad under the bodywork that you will regret that purchase. Glad you decided to get this rig on the road!!!
Don't hate me for driving Volkswagens.

David Gensler
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#5 Post by David Gensler » Fri May 28, 2010 10:29 am

Hi Rusty,
Thanks for your comments. You're right. Even with all the problems, it was a good score. Kind of hard to believe now, but I took a pass on it the first time at $4500. And, just amazing how much can be hidden under bondo/fiberglass. Let the carnage begin!

BTW, the T5 seats I offered to you earlier are the ones in the Roadster. Assumed you were not in any great hurry. Will dig them out of storage sometime soon and get some photos to you.

DG
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Mike Klapac
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#6 Post by Mike Klapac » Fri May 28, 2010 10:34 am

Wow,I wish my $1800.00 biscuit looked as good as that! I would have been driving it for the last ten years. My story somewhat parallels yours. Bought my 58 10 years back for the same price as yours. Good Luck!!

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#7 Post by David Gensler » Fri May 28, 2010 12:07 pm

Hi Mike,
You may become less envious as the story unfolds. Why don't you get your story on here too? Help overwhelm the list with Projects! I will certainly enjoy reading and seeing pictures. Probably many similarities. I guess we are not so far apart geographically either. Is there an unusual abundance of A coupe projects in the NM/Colo region?
DG
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#8 Post by David Gensler » Fri May 28, 2010 3:13 pm

Set in to do a little more evaluation of 104006. I could see there were some problems. Doors didn't fit well. A few holes here and there. A bunch of the structural stuff was only half done. Was going to need some metalwork, but how to go about it? I was not familiar with the details of 356 metalwork, and only an amateur welder. Had always been a do-it-your-selfer. But I had a little money in the bank, a new daughter I was enjoying time with, and plenty of work and home projects to otherwise occupy the hours. So, for once in my life I decided I would let someone else do the heavy lifting. Looked around a bit and found a place. Out of state, but not too awful far from me. Seemed like a good candidate. Went to visit. Liked the guy's attitude. Seemed like just the right approach. They were busy, so I said I'd wait. Two years a passed, and finally an opening came.

First problem: how to transport a dismantled 356 several hundred miles? The solution was a dolly that doubled as a trailer. Built over a week of ievenings, it turned out to be a strong and useful device

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Here is 104006 mounted on the rig, ready for transport to the shop.

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Another shot. The axle and tongue can be unbolted. Believe it or not, this rig trailered arrow straight at 75 mph over 400 miles!

Upon arrival at the shop, car was media blasted. Pictures came back (have these on film, maybe I should scan and post). Problems started to be revealed. Welding and brazing from the distant past. the floor was iincorrectly installed under the "ledge" instead of on top. Some weird stuff around the LF A pillar, and a big dent in the roof (how did that get there)! I'd noticed earlier some rippled metal inside the car, to the left of where the drivers knee would be. The blasting revealed an overlap seam at the left inner fender that didn't belong. Rear fenders had been chopped out for wide wheels in the past, and then the original (apparently) pieces had been welded back in place. Oh well, nothing really unexpected. Told the shop to just do whatever was needed to put it right.

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A shot of the left rear "custom" fender work.

Time passed. The better part of a year. Occasional e-mail exchanges with the shop. Alls well, making progress, that sort of thing. Then the call came that major metalwork was done, and to come and have a look. Man, was I excited!

This was followed quickly by disappointment after viewing. Work was not exactly inspiring. A lot of patches and fiberglass (thats what it went in for in the first place). Things changed, but not really fixed. Left door still wouldn't latch, by probably 3/4". New fresh thick bondo filling the same old dents that the old bondo had been taken out of. In the words of Dr. Suess...it Stink, Stank, Stunk! I think the guy meant well, but I guess he and I just were on two different planets about how to do things. I brought it home. It sat another 9 months with me too disgusted to even look at it.

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Here's how it looked at that point.

DG
David Gensler

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#9 Post by David Gensler » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:01 am

Chapter 3. Time heals all wounds. After stewing about the car for several months, I finally got to the point where I could look at it again. Started gently poking and prodding and trying to figure out what to do next. Sell it? Scrap it (I was that frustrated)? Fix it? Eventually, like the little red hen, I resolved to do it myself and fix it correctly.

But how? I was not intimate with the details of 356 construction. Or for that matter, what was wrong with the car. It clearly was screwed up, but where and how? Two words: Ron Roland! Started reading my way through the articles written by this fellow. Pure genius! The best thing ever to happen to the amateur 356 restorer. This guy gave me the confidence to do the job!

Another breakthrough: Factory workshop manuals: dimension diagrams, and measurement! Remember the jig/dolly I had built? Well, something funny happened during construction. I had VERY CAREFULLY laid out the mounting points for the car, and built the thing square to a fraction of a millimeter. When I went to bolt the car to it...IT DIDN'T FIT. OK I thought, must have screwed up building the jig and I drilled some new holes and bolted the car down. Hmmm, 18 months later, I'm starting to wonder about this.

Some careful looking at the car ensues. Car loosened from the jig. Jig is bolted to the shed floor and precisely shimmed to level and square. Car bolted back in place at the rear torsion bar tube mounts. This car is crooked. Very crooked. Right wheelbase nearly correct. Left wheelbase 19 mm shorter than right. 15mm lower than right. Remember the overlap joint seen in the L inner fender well? The left door not latching? The dent in the left roof? Things are starting to make sense. Sort of.

Major collision damage. Must have been long ago. The L door is an unnumbered factory replacement. Repairs are beautiful gas welds. Covered over in Lead (and a lot of it). Digging deeper, I realize that the gas tank floor has been replaced in the past. The dashboard has a subtle kink over on the passenger side, and the whole thing is shoved about 15 mm to the right. The glovebox door doesn't close. This car got hit hard in the left side, with something intruding into the driver side passenger compartment. I start to wonder if someone died in this thing?

But again, what to do. I resolved to start gradually. Start on the right hand side and get it all correct, then tackle the left side later. Oh, and that incorrectly installed floor will have to go too. That's an easy job anyway, right? Sawzall and cutoff wheels! Woo hoo! Floors out. Lets see about fixing the "ledge". Can see inside the longitudinal now. Oops. What a MESS!

This car had two, count them two, outer longitudinals on the R side. The new one had been applied right over the top of the old rusty one. Zip! Outer longitudinal (both of them) removed. Heat tube mostly gone and rust in the inner rear frame. I recall the 356 "restoration expert" once assured me that "your heater tubes are fine". My first real repair project gets started:

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Fabricated new inner heat tube installed through the rear frame member. This deceptively simple tube is 3 pieces with complicated angles to get right. Took a few tries to get it right.

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Here is the piece fabricated for the outer portion of the heat tube.

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Outer repair piece and tube installed. The rear frame member is like an onion, lots of overlapping layers.

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Completed rear frame member/heat tube repair ready for outer llongitudinal. Weld-thru primer. Rustoleum primer thinned and squirted back up into the remote crevices of the rear frame member. My welding was still pretty crude here. It got better though as the project progressed. A 356 project will do that to you!

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preparing to make repair to "ledge" at front of right inner longitudinal

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Fabricated repair piece for "ledge". Floor was earlier trimmed to correct by matching old ledge, and making template from car with original floor. Repair piece to match contour.

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Welding in repair piece. Left too long at the top, so as I went I could trim with a small air saw for a nice butt weld.

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Installing the outer longitudinal to the repaired "ledge". Found the Miller pinch welder to be ideal for this work. Excess material from outer longitudinal later trimmed away. The small piece to fill the "V" notch was later slipped from behind.

DG
David Gensler

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#10 Post by David Gensler » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:42 am

I've realized that its going to be impossible to follow the exact sequence of the work. One, I jumped around a lot working on the car. Work on an area, get frustrated, go work on something else for a while, come back, etc. Two, because I'm disorganized. Photos are stashed all over the place in differeent directories. Three, because this work started about 5 years ago, and I've forgotten a lot of it already! So please forgive me if I seem to make little sense at times.

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This is the R side longitudinal completed. Its straight and nice now over here. Along the way there were repairs made to the lower door hinge bracket and door cell panel. Also, I failed to mention earlier that the rocker panel was removed during the longitudinal work. It was crap anyway.

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Nothing to see here. Just the way the car looked about the time I had finished the R side long. repairs. And I had removed all the bondo/fiberglass/plumbers putty applied by the restoration expert. There was some interesting stuff hiding under there. Including a hole clean through the top of the Left fender!

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Here is what the R side longitudinal looked like, from the rear, before the closing panel. A small improvement, considering the rust/blastmedia/moisture/double panel mess I found in there to start with.

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This is the jack spur attached to the R long. Used a series of plug welds here. Probably should have ground them down and made them cosmetically correct, as Justin Rio demonstrated recently on his project. But I didn't. Lazy maybe. BTW, for some reason the weld-thru primer looks brown in photographs. Its actually bright silver (zinc). Wonder why this is?

DG
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Carl Zapffe
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#11 Post by Carl Zapffe » Wed Jun 02, 2010 12:00 pm

Hi, Dave!

Keep up the good work! I am impressed! 8)

To answer your comment about projects having their own section, I think that this is an awfully good compromise. Build projects on 356 Talk will get lost over the 70,000 posts.

Here there are fewer posts, so a build project will be much easier to find just by scrolling through the headlines. Remember that not everyone here is capable of using the search function, and, besides, not every headline identifies the topic as being a build project. Barry made the correct decision.

Note that I placed my build project on this Photo Forum because of the vast number of pictures that I posted. I'm glad to have you and the others join Fräulein Zuffie here. :D
Carl Zapffe
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#12 Post by David Gensler » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:33 am

Watch out. This installment is going to get very ugly! After getting the R side sorted out, I figured it was time to look into the L side. Earlier measurements had shown the drivers side hingepost was nowhere close to where it should be. Too low, and too far to the right. Not to mention all the obviously tortured metal over on that side. Well, I had new-found confidence. Dive right in!

First thing was to look inside the heater tubes with flashlight and mirror. Yup, big holes! "Your heater tubes are fine", I recalled. OK, remove the L rocker and new outer longitudinal. The old longitudinal was still in place (not unexpected, after doing the R side). Peel its remains away. Wow, things are bad here! The entire L side inner long. is torn, welded, patched, bent. The effects of the long ago collision are plainly evident, as are some much more recent repairs. Welds have been ground in some places so that the metal is paper thin. What to do?

What to do? Drastic measures I decide. Remove the whole thing, and start building from scratch. This is obviously the only way to make this thing right again. The only hope I have of getting the car square, and the hingepost back in the right spot. I'm starting to question my sanity (nothing new, my wife has been questioning it for years).

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Starting to peel the onion. Note old cuts and welds to the right. At some point in here, the front portion of the inner long. was welded to the heater tube, and the rear portion was the same. The only common structural thread was the tube itself. This was very old, so the car must have been driven this way.

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This is a real mess!

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How it looked from the other side. Frankenstein!

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The whole enchilada.

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A view of a 356 that I hope none of you ever have. The heater tube itself was removed moments later. You could then walk right into the car without stepping over anything. Very convenient!

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What have I done?

DG
David Gensler

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#13 Post by David Gensler » Thu Jun 03, 2010 9:58 am

Next step: begin fabricating pieces to make repairs.

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Laying out the new inner longitudinal. 18ga., not 22ga. as some of the repair patches had apparently been made from.

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After bending.

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Spot welded heater tube supports.

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Fabricated thru-the-frame portion of heat tube, next to old tube.

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Fabricated repair piece for inner portion of rear frame repair. Thru-the-frame heat tube gets welded to oblong opening. This area of the rear frame is a double layer. Outer portion done later.

Out of time now, will resume this evening.
DG
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Mike Klapac
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#14 Post by Mike Klapac » Thu Jun 03, 2010 10:12 am

Scary, Man! Now I'm feeling a bit better about my 58 as they appear to be long lost brothers. Maybe yours crashed into the passenger-front of mine. Mine got pissed and took out the drivers door in yours, then yours completely destroyed the passenger rear of mine to finish it off! If they were both side by side, it would seem plausible.

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Not sure if a coupe needs it or not, but since I knew that a majority of the floor was coming out and to avoid my coupe "taco-ing", I welded in a support bar from the rear torsion housing to the bottom of the front firewall. Did you notice your flexing around after you removed the perimeter-longitudinal section? Maybe I'm being overly cautious.

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#15 Post by Herrick Griffin » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:19 pm

Awesome thread! I love the build, makes me want to take a welding class. I like the touched up rear wheel gaps. It reminds me of an Austin Healey 100M we found in a barn back in the 90's; it was all original and not-chopped, but was fitted with some mag wheels and mud tires on the back. So choice.



Also three cheers to the success of the newly designated Projects forum. These kinds of threads are my favorite and thanks to the change, a whole lot of projects are being posted. :)
Herrick Griffin
1963 S Coupe

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