Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fire & Nice: Restoring the Battaini jack and reproducing the arm rubber

An important thing in restoring an old Ferrari is having the correct tools that were delivered with the car when it was new. These tools were often very cheap in their construction and hardly worth the metal they were made from. Today, despite their lack of quality, they are highly prized collectibles and a complete set of tools for a Dino costs the equivalent of an entry level new car. Our car was missing its jack and we managed to stumble across a slightly damaged unit that was in a car that had caught fire. By Dino standards it was a good buy so we set about restoring the jack to its original 'glory'. Below are some photos of the jack when we got it.

The first step was to remove all of the plastic bits and to sandblast the jack clean. Luckily all of the rust and ugliness was on the surface. A good blasting revealed a perfect jack underneath.

Most people who restore a jack put a nice coating of primer (normally yellow or tan) on it before painting. This results in a nice even paint job when finished. Original jacks were bare metal with a very thin coating of yellow paint. As such the edges of an original jack will always be darker than a re-painted one because the paint that is thinner at the extremities shows the colour beneath. In our case we wanted the protection of primer with the look of original so we first primed the jack, and then painted it with a thin coat of silver paint to mimic bare metal.

The jack was then given a very light coat of yellow perfectly mimicking the look of an original jack. People have often asked me what shade of yellow is correct and we have found a huge variation by studying original jacks. Colours have varied from bright yellow to muted green so in the end we just went to the hardware store and chose a yellow that looked the closest to a jack we had for reference. I think that the biggest challenge of the whole job was restraining Paul to not paint the jack too well. We had to keep it looking original which required a indifferent attitude while painting.

With the jack painted now came final assembly. Unfortunately all of the plastic bits were beyond saving so we sourced replacement parts from an old Alfa Romeo jack that is made by the same manufacturer (Battaini) as the Dino one. These parts are exact to original with the only missing part being the rubber ring that goes on the folding arm.

To our knowledge these rings are long since unavailable and we had a batch of perfect reproductions manufactured. Reproduction rings can now be purchased at our store by clicking the link at the top of the page.

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