THE VINTAGE FERRARI SPECIALIST

Ferrari 330GTC Bodywork Progress

April 11, 2021


I stopped by the Panel Shop in Stratford CT to check up on the progress of the bodywork and drop off some more parts to check for fit.

It’s coming along nicely, but the devil is in the details. It always amazes me the disconnect between what you see on TV and the speed something gets done with the reality of time it takes to do things right. There are two ways to explain this disparity. Either there is an army of people working on these cars when the cameras are not rolling, or the quality of work is compromised by taking short cuts for the benefit of getting a car done in time for television. I would tend to go with the latter since I know the priority of a TV show is how it looks for the cameras, and not the quality of the actual work! What do you think?

Ferrari 308 Carburetors

April 9, 2021


I shot a video several weeks ago showing how I disassemble a set of Weber DCNF carburetors on a 308.

Pump gas in America usually has 10% ethanol added to the mixture which does all sorts of bad things to carburetors especially when they’re not used often. Gasoline is also formulated for fuel injection these days, which is a closed system, not open to atmospheric pressure as it’s delivered under pressure by fuel pumps. Carburetors meter the air fuel ratio with atmospheric pressure and the venturi effect, so all sorts of things have been happening to the way our carburetor cars run. A good cleaning is at least a start to getting a caburetor to run right. If a passageway is clogged, or if a float is out of adjustment, you won’t get proper metering, so let’s start with the basics.

Ferrari 365BT/4 Daytona Engine

April 7, 2021


Like most shops these days, we’re super busy. I’ve been buried in work at my shop, and still find time to head down to Francois’ shop to put some time in on engine work we need to get done there.

I started disassembling a Daytona engine to address a noisy bearing inside the timing case. Before the timing chest came apart, we needed to make sure the proper marks were in place so we could put everything back properly.

The factory marked each camshaft with a mark that lined up with a camshaft stand when the engine was at #1 top dead center. These marks corresponded when the engine was new, but not necessarily after the parts wore in, or new parts were replaced. Before we took anything apart, we want to confirm the location of these marks.

Here’s a better picture of another cam mark. Luckily, the marks lined up, and I didn’t have to make new ones for our purposes. When everything is back together, we’ll check cam timing to make any adjustments.

Francois and I made quick work on the removal of the timing chest on this engine. It looks like someone has been inside before, but soon a new bearing will be installed and we can get this engine buttoned up and back together again!

308GT4 Fuel Sender and Coolant Pipes

April 3, 2021


While I was working on the suspension on we decided to replace the coolant hoses. Some of them looked original.

The first step was to tip the car a little forward so when the coolant pipes running down the spine of the car were disconnected, the coolant would drain out of the car instead of draining back inside the chassis tube.

246 Dinos use a full length rubber hose to run coolant forward from the engine to the radiator while this 308GT/4 used an aluminum pipe. I’m not sure which one is better, but I would imagine if moisture collected in this chassis tube, there could be corrosion on the coolant pipe due to electrolytic corrosion. Even though the hose connections were a little crusty, the pipes looked in good condition on this car.

All the pipes from this era of Ferrari were anodized aluminum and survived pretty well, but I found a minor problem on one in the engine bay.

There was a pretty significant gouge in one of the pipes from the clutch slave cylinder. Evidently at one time, when the clutch was adjusted to its furthest point, it contacted this water pipe. With a new clutch installed, the adjustment screw far away from the pipe, but it worried me that this damage was so close to a major leak.

I found a local welding shop to TIG weld the damage, and I cleaned up the weld to reinstall the coolant pipe. Disaster averted!

I found the access panel for the coolant pipes and inner suspension mounts was missing. Although not completely weather sealed, this panel provides a nice flat floor under the car, so I made a new one from a sheet of aluminum. Some of the mounting tabs were bent and needed straightening, but once I was satisfied with the fit, I removed the plastic sheeting an painted the panel black. The big hole in the fiberglass under the front of the car will be fixed next winter!

Here’s a look inside one of the coolant hoses. What looks good on the outside doesn’t mean everything is good on the inside!

Welding up the Capture Nut and other little projects

April 2, 2021


A week ago, my friend Mike stopped by the shop to help cut out a capture nut with his dental drill. With the area open, you can see how the cage had opened just enough for the square capture nut to spin freely.

The solution was to make a slightly larger capture nut out of plate steel while still giving the nut enough play for it to move as it was designed.

I made a replacement plate out of scrap steel and held it in place with a little magnet to so I could weld it in position, being careful not to weld the capture nut!

I needed enough heat from the welder to penetrate the steel, but not enough to burn through the thin sheet metal. It’s not the prettiest job, but it’ll work!

Access was tight for my welder and rotary sander. It’s not my best work, so don’t judge me! I thought about buying a finger sander (a good excuse to buy a new tool), but I don’t think I would have had any better access.

I removed the bumper brackets from this same 330 and found one of the welded nuts had broken free and needed to be welded back in place. With good access, I wanted to redeem my welding skills to you guys.

It’s all these little details that help the restoration in the long run.

308GT/4 Suspension Rebuild

March 29, 2021


I’ve got this 308GT/4 at my shop that has low mileage and shows a lot of signs of originality.

Originality is good in some parts, and not so good when it comes to suspension parts. The brakes looked like they had been serviced, but the suspension parts and bushings looked like they were over 40 years old.

One of the tie rod ends had some play, so I checked the rest of the front suspension for wear.

From the looks of the parts, finishes, and factory paint marks, were all original and one of the ball joints was showing some play as well.

When the owner bought this car, we knew the suspension bushings were worn and planned on replacing them, so now was a good time as any to rebuild the whole front suspension.

The A-arm bushings looked the same shape as the shock bushings so all the parts were ordered and I started to disassemble the front suspension.

The bushings on the A-arms were pressed into position and tack welded in place when they were manufactured, so before removing the old bushings I had to cut the welds.

I carefully cut the old welds off to release the bushing collar.

Since I don’t work on 308s that often, I had to make this tool to fit in my press so I could press out the bushings nice and straight.

The new bushings were pressed in and ready for welding

I probably over did it on my first tack weld as it doesn’t take much to keep the bushing from moving in the A-arm after it’s pressed into place.

The next job was to press the shock bushings out. I have found the shock bushings a lot harder to press out than the smaller bushings and it’s probably because of the larger surface area to overcome the friction fit.

To avoid unnecessary pressure and damage to the shock eye, I try to cut a slot in the old bushing to relieve some of the tension securing it to the shock eye. I’m very careful not to cut past the bushing collar and into the shock eye!

Some bushings require more cutting than others for the collar to finally move out of place.

Here’s the shock ready for the new bushing. The new ones press in nice and firmly after the eye is cleaned out and smooth.

The new bushings should last another 30-40 years!

This suspension came apart relatively easily compared to some of the old Ferraris I worked on, but that didn’t mean everything was easy. A couple of bolts were seized in place and required some work to get them out. These issues can turn a big job into and even bigger job, but I managed to get through it without any huge delay.

When I put everything back together, I tried to coat everything with a layer of anti-seize compound. Lately, when working on these old Ferraris, I realized that these cars may still be around long after I’m gone or stopped working on them, and a new generation of Ferrari mechanics and care takers will be wrenching on them. I can see one day in the distant future, someone will be rebuilding this suspension again, and the mechanic will thank the long ago mechanic that had the courtesy of coating the bolts with anti-seize. You’re welcome!

Capture Nut Repair Solution

March 27, 2021


Several weeks ago I posted a YouTube video looking for solutions for a broken Capture Nut. It was in a very tight position, and I needed to get this repaired before sending the car out for bodywork and paint.

My friend Mike, a fellow Ferrari Owner and dentist, offer a solution that sounded like it would work with the least amount of damage to area. Mike has a portable dentist’s drill with very small carbide bits that could reach this capture nut and was willing to make a house call with his set up. Since Mike is retiring, I felt better about his using the equipment to cut up an old Ferrari and it was not going to be put back into a patient’s mouth!

The square capture nut was pretty well seized to the bolt, so cutting it out and replacing it was the only solution.

The Dentist’s Drill made quick work of cutting out the seized nut and the first step of replacing the nut was done. Thanks Mike!

Ferrari 308 Seat Repair

March 18, 2021


I brought a set of Ferrari 308GT/4 seats down to my upholsterer to try and repair a tear in the leather. The leather Ferrari used in the 70s and 80s was pretty poor quality to begin with, add to that years of drying out, and the leather becomes quite fragile. These seats had the added problem of broken support straps in the seat bottoms, so we needed some emergency repairs.

Justin, my upholsterer managed to glue another leather patch under the original leather, and dye the crack to match the surrounding blue dye. The straps underneath were repaired, and we managed to preserve these original seats for a few more years.

Here’s a video I shot of the work I had done on the seats. I think the videos really help show the process of the work and I hope you’re enjoying them. Please Like, Share, and Subscribe to my YouTube Channel so more people hear about these videos. Getting the word out helps motivate me to do more! Thanks!

Ferrari Engine Work

March 17, 2021


I’ve been trying for weeks to get back down to Francois’ shop to do some engine work. This Daytona engine needs to have timing chain bearing replaced, but with the snow, Francois’ schedule, COVID, and my personal life, it’s been a challenge. Even after loading my truck up with the engine, there were delays that caused me to drive around a couple of days with this lump in the back of my truck. I finally got it down to CT!

Before I could tear into the timing chest of the 365 engine, I needed to finish the assembly of a 250 engine nearing completion at Francois’ shop. The last time I was working on this engine, we were waiting on an upper oil pan gasket. Incorrect parts have magnified time delays because of the time I scheduled down at Francois’ shop, but I’m glad to be making progress again.

With the oil pan installed, it was time to move onto the the valve covers. These had been powder coated by the owner.

I found an area that was masked incorrectly and would cause some pretty bad oil leaks if I didn’t address this before installing the valve cover. There are machined flat faces on each side of the valve cover that seals against an o-ring, and with the wrinkle paint on this surface, oil would probably find its way past the surface finish.

Powder coating has it pluses and minuses. It’s good because it’s durable, and it’s not because it’s durable and hard to remove! Because the powder coated wrinkle finish was more fine grained than what I normally do, it was easier to scrape off with a razor blade to get to a flat surface. Since the coating was so well stuck to the aluminum, I didn’t think I needed to remove all of it from the surface for the o-ring to seal.

With the engine sealed, the next step was to install the carburetors and linkages. Steady on!

Ferrari 308GT/4 Front Bumpers, Lights, and Horns

March 11, 2021


After pulling in the rear bumpers on a Ferrari 308GT/4 I wanted to do the same with the front bumpers.

I posted a video of some of the process here.

After drilling out the pistons, and pulling the bumpers, I had to deal with a clearance issue with the turn signal assemblies.

With the bumper pulled in, the clearance of the back of the turn signal started to touch the bodywork. The driver’s side light was very tight, but was just clearing.

Unfortunately, the passenger light had even less clearance. For some reason the bodywork was tighter on the right side than the left side, but this is often the case with Ferraris. Even though by the 70s, these cars were pretty much assembly line cars, they still had a certain amount of irregularities.

The turn signal assembly has a plastic cover that could be removed, and allow the light to clear the bodywork, but I hate permanently removing parts on these car and will have to find a better way.

You can see the passenger side light is able to clear the bodywork on the car without the rear cover.

I thought about modifying the mounting bracket to move the turn signal assembly forward a little bit to allow more clearance in the back, but that would push the light too far proud of the bumper.

So far, I like the look of the bumpers tucked in on this car. The large 5mph DOT bumper don’t looks a large when half of its mass is pulled back inside the car.

While I was working on the front of the car, I wanted to upgrade the headlights. I replaced the original DOT seal beam units with European units.

I ran into a problem however when one of the headlight doors wouldn’t close all the way. I found a metal tab that was interfering with the new H4 headlight. The tab was slightly longer on the right side than the left light, so a little trimming was needed so the door was close properly.

A high speed cutoff wheel made quick work of the trimming, and I painted it to give it some rust protection.

With the front bumper off the car, I wanted to replace a section of hose for the horns that was not correct. Its not something that was easily seen, but It’s nice to make things right when given the chance.

Some previously replaced the horn hose with a section of black rubber hose but I had a stock of red hose that is closer to the original hose.

Although you may not easily see the hose, it will be correct in case someone looks a little closer!