Thursday, February 27, 2014

All Buckled Up: Finishing the seat belt restoration

Followers of the blog will know the great time we have put in restoring our seat belts. From carefully cleaning the original webbing, to faithfully reproducing labels, and even scouring rural junkyards for parts, it is fair to say that there is a lot of time into the project. For those of you who missed it here are the links:

Finding Klippan belt covers:

Disassembling the belts:

Reproducing fabric labels:

With all of the remaining parts cleaned, plated, and polished as needed it came time to re-assemble everything. A LOT of time was spent referencing photos before we took the belts apart to be sure of the routing of the webbing. It is a good thing we took those photos as it would have been impossible to get them right without the reference.

In the end we were very pleased with the result and are happy that this little project is behind us.

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.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The departing of a Gentleman: Original salesman Scot Macdonald passes away at 92

Some time ago we introduced a very special man. Scot Macdonald was the original salesman to our Dino and we had the chance to re-unite him with the car he sold some 40 years earlier. To those who missed it the story was told here:

It is with a heavy heart that we have to report that Scot passed away recently at the distinguished age of 92. Always proper and always a gentleman, Scot was a lifelong car salesman selling by his account one hundred different brands of cars in his lifetime. Of note at Young Steeles Motors in Toronto he was THE Ferrari salesman selling our Dino as well as every other Ferrari at the time.

Scot Macdonald posing with a Ferrari 308GTB he sold back in 1977

In addition, he was the first Mercedes Benz salesman in Canada (telling tales of driving a 300SL Gullwing around with the doors open) and was a long time Rolls Royce salesman. Legend has it that he once turned away famous musician Ronny Hawkins on the purchase of a Rolls only for Hawkins to return later that day with a bag full of cash to buy the car spawning the writing of a song that recounted the experience.

Away from the showroom floor, Scot was a WWII veteran and a world class ballroom dancer sharing the better part of his adult life with his both dance and eventual life partner that survives him. It was however as a master of the art of the deal for which we will remember him and it is with that thought that we present the following video. In it Scot recounts his trials with Yonge Steeles Motors dealer owner Bill Popovich in selecting a car for the Toronto Autoshow as well as his account of when THREE Ferrari Daytona Spiders arrived at the dealership requiring his expertise to sell.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dad does it again: Fabricating a special radio support to protect the dashboard

In previous posts we showed the wonderfully original Voxson Stereo 8 radio we had found for our Dino. For those who missed it you can read about it here:
The problem with mounting this or any other radio to a Dino is that if the radio is fitted to the dashboard and supported by the back (the way most installations are done) then the weight of the radio can very easily crack the fiberglass dash. While the Italians left a space for the radio they did not make the mounting anywhere near strong enough to prevent the radio from literally hammering through the face of the dash breaking the fiberglass around it to pieces. The Voxson radio is especially heavy making this an even bigger problem to deal with.
Luckily Dad had other plans and crafted a wonderfully simple and clever steel mount that would support the radio even in the absence of the dash. Here he is hard at work with old school tools crafting the one off creation.

The first step was to locate the exact position of the radio. This was done by setting the dash in place and figuring out where the radio would end up. In order to be able to work with more freedom Dad made up a wood mock up of the radio in the exact position complete with round pegs to mimic the knob openings on the dash. Pretty neat stuff that left me suitably impressed when I saw it.

With the mock up radio in place the next step was to fit the mount. It was decided to make a fully joined mount to stay as stiff as possible and this required a much larger size to clear backside of the heating and ventilation handles as well as the two toggles switches for the fans.

The entire assembly goes bolted to the main chassis tube that passes under the dash and is held in place with 4 M5 bolts with threads cut into the chassis tube. The support arms are L shaped and notched to support the weight of the radio via a cantilever resulting in a very stiff and compact assembly.

Below is a photo with the glass in where the location of the Voxson amplifier can be clearly seen just behind where the glove box door is.
Lastly below is an image of the final mock up using the radio before the dash goes in. Also visible in this photo is the center support made to carry the weight of the backside of the radio. All parts were powder coated black and are totally invisible when the dash is installed.