Monday, March 26, 2012

Doing the work of sand: Restoring damaged aluminum castings

Over time mechanical components get accumulated marks from both use and service. Or rather between use and varying degrees of care during service. Our gearbox casing showed 40 years of such marks and, while we were lucky to have no broken bits, there were still many scrape marks and nicks that required our attention.

The original gearbox casing was cast in a sand mold that gave it its distinctive outer texture. The first step in restoring the casing was to carefully file away damage so that the rough shape of the part is restored. After this is done, hours are spent with an assortment of odd tools and hammers peppering the surface of the aluminum to replicate the natural finish once made by sand. While extremely time consuming the results are well worth the effort as the repair is not visible even under the closest of scrutiny.

One last job was to restore the original drain plugs. Again, an assortment of tiny files and a finishing using glass beads at a very low pressure achieved a factory fresh look over 40 years after manufacture.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We are not the only ones:

In the world of vintage Ferrari restoration Tom Yang's website has long been a wonderful source for information and inspiration to those who pursue the prancing horse. We urge the visitors of to visit Tom's site and see the magic he works on his and other cars.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Crazy Task #4: Micro welding the most obscure of studs

It has been a while since we have profiled one of our jobs of lunacy but today's confession of crazy will squash any doubts that perhaps we have softened in our approach. Recently we took apart the instruments to be restored and re-built. We discovered that most of the studs that hold the guages in place had damaged threads.

The first step was to clean the gauge casings and remove the offending studs. From there new items were manufactured by turning down button head machine screws in the lathe. Mind you there was no functional reason to do this; we just thought that it looked more proper to do it this way and certainly the result is more elegant than a bolt head.

Next came the decision to have the guages sent to a shop that specializes in micro welding with special tools under a microscope. There the tiniest amount of weld was deposited on the stud fixing it forever in place.

Why go through the time and expense to make pretty the head of a screw that lives its life on the inside of a sealed guage which is on the inside of the dashboard? The answer is I am not sure however we are happy with the result and will always make a little smile when we think of this crazy task.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rust is like an iceberg: The rear hatch re-skin

The one thing about rust is that it is like an iceberg. The tip you see on the outside is always a fraction of what lies beneath the surface. When we bought our Dino the rear engine cover had the smallest of rust bubbles on the surface and we thought it to be an easy fix. As with all things on the Dino nothing is ever easy and the original skin was rotten all along its supporting frame. Evidence was found where others attempted to fix the panel with a small patch here and there but the correct solution here was to remove the skin from the frame and start again. Yes it is much more time and money to do it this way but we can now ensure that the beauty of our car is more than just skin deep.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

On days like these: Memories of the last drive

Today I was searching through some old photos and came across images of the last drive before 01464 was taken apart for restoration. Being surrounded by all of the parts one can easily forget that at one time they came together to make a very beautiful automobile. It is also a reminder that cars always look better in pictures than in the flesh which hopefully will validate all the time and effort we are spending to get our Dino right.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The low mileage myth: Opening the gearbox for inspection

It seems as though many Ferrari owners and buyers believe the myth of low mileage as the sole factor of judgement with their cars. You often hear of people touting an odometer reading of a few hundred or thousand miles in a car that is 30 or 40 years old without knowing that mileage is essential to maintaining the mechanical parts of these machines.

Almost 10 years ago we bought a Ferrari 308 (Dino's younger brother in an older post) that the previous owner had bought 3 years earlier with 10K miles on the odometer. He naively thought that with such low mileage he was buying a near new car he proceeded to spend some $36K in service during his tenure. This was all documented in a large pile of receipts that we received when purchasing the car with 18K miles. Still low by any metric but the last 8K had been driven recently and in almost a decade of ownership the car has cost us little more than an annual oil change in service.

The low mileage myth was further proven with the dis-assembly of 01464's gearbox. Getting help from our experienced friend Jamie, we set about stripping the unit for inspection. Again recent mileage prior to purchase (coupled to the fact that the joker who built the engine never touched it) paid dividends as the condition of the internals were outstanding. The bearings looked as though they had been installed yesterday and there was no visible wear on any of the gears. The only thing to address were lightly worn synchronizer rings that will be replaced as a matter of course. Jamie had recently worked on a 'garage queen' low mileage Dino that required all new bearings as they were rusted and pitted due to lack of use.

The moral of the story is to ignore the odometer and judge both the condition of a car and how recently it has been used prior to purchase. These are much better indicators that the numbers on an easy to disconnect instrument.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Red ,Orange, & Chrome: The taillight restoration

The taillights on the Dino looked good but something looked off when they were illuminated. It was quickly discovered that the inner lens reflectors had their chrome flaked off causing an un-even light dispersion. Using a heat gun we split the reflector from the lens and then proceeded to blast the reflectors clean and then have them re-chromed. Once done they were bonded back to the original lenses. For good effect the lenses were then water sanded with 3000 grit sandpaper and soapy water topped off with compound polishing to their original freshly molded luster.