Although I’ve been pretty busy at my shop near my home, I still try to find time to go to Connecticut to work at Francois’ shop. He’s been just as busy as I have been, but he’s taking less work to try and relax his work load. My going down to his shop was to try to help get some long term projects out of his shop and relieve some of his stress. One such project was a Daytona engine rebuild in the car behind me.
Now that the the engine is rebuilt, there were still a bunch of little details to take care of, and one of them was to replace a carburetor top that had gone beyond its regular service life. These Weber DCN carbs have a week point where the fuel line attaches to the carburetor. To cut costs, Weber cut the threads directly into the zymac casting instead of using a brass threaded insert like they did with previous carburetors. Through time, the threads weaken and eventually pull out, and previous attempts show someone tried a helicoil insert, a brass collar, and even epoxy to stop the fuel leaks. GTO Engineering now offers a new replacement carburetor top, and we would see how well it worked.
All the holes lined up, and the dimensions were relatively close, but there was still some tweaking we needed to do. The tabs holding the float were slightly thicker, so when I installed the old float, it would bind in between the tabs. A bit of filing, and I got the float to move freely.
We found the carburetor was missing a crucial plug at the fuel fitting end that wasn’t installed. The main feed line was drilled, but never capped so when the fuel line was pressurized, fuel cam pouring out of the open hole. We had to remove the top from the carburetor and plug the hole.
We made a tapered aluminum plug and installed the missing plug. The original plug were made out of lead, but I wasn’t sure if it would work the same way in the aluminum since the original piece was zymac. The second arrow showed another issue we had with this replacement part and that was the thickness of the fitting. GTO made the fuel fitting slightly thicker than the original dimension pushing the banjo fitting further out by about 1mm, but when replacing only one carburetor top, this fitting wouldn’t align with the other carburetors because Ferrari uses a rigid line between the carbs. We’ll try shimming the other two carbs fittings, but it’s good to note, these carbs are not simple “plug and play” items!
I removed the seats out of the Lusso I have at my shop.
The owner complained that the seats felt a little saggy and looking underneath, it was obvious what the problem was. Normally, I would take these seats to my upholsterer, but I have several projects in the queue and taking another project over to his shop will only delay the other interior work I need him to get started. One solution was to fix these seat myself. I learned a lot about upholstery years ago when I apprenticed with an upholsterer when I restored my car, and this job was easy enough to tackle at my shop. I ordered the webbing, hog rings, and looked in my tool box for my old pair of hog ring pliers. With supply chain issues, and slowdown of the workforce, I have to do what it takes to keep the progress moving forward!
The passenger seat wasn’t much better as the rubber webbing was hard as a rock and broken in several places.
I cut away the hog rings securing the leather cover to the seat to expose the attachment points of the webbing to determine how much of the seat I would have to disassemble to reattach new webbing.
New webbing and a bag of fabric reinforced webbing arrived in the mail, so I could start fixing these seats!
I ended up doubling the amount of webbing in the seat cushions to give the seat a little more support. From what I could see from the stretching of the old strapping, too much support was needed with the few straps that were used the last time around.
Working on these Lusso seats reminds me of who taught me about upholstery. Back in around 2000, I worked with Francois’ upholsterer Frank Segreto at a shop called East Coast Autotrim in New Rochelle NY. I offered to work at Frank’s shop once a week to trade him for time and expertise in refurbishing the interior of my 330 America. Through the process of learning about how a Ferrari interior was done, Frank and I became good friends. I learned a lot about leather, and how to make a show winning interior with Frank through bloody nail beds and stretching leather taught. Unfortunately, Frank died from a heart attack in 2009 after years of smoking and living in the fast lane. I was lucky to have known him, and will always remember the lessons he taught me. Thanks Frank.
Here’s the link to the Video I shot fixing the second pair of seats.
I was invited to join a friend of mine at SEMA this year, and since I’ve never been before I was looking forward to seeing this massive trade show in Las Vegas. The Specialty Equipment Market Association, as its name states, is a collection of Automotive industry people who put on a show in Las Vegas every year. It began as a trade show, but has morphed into a show where more and more consumers attend. I wanted to explore the future of my industry and see where it may be going, and having an invitation from my customer as an employee of his company to the show was easier than applying for the proper credentials to attend!
The irony was I was more interested in the trade show part of the show than the show cars and what was going on in the parking lots! Seeing all this innovation was inspiring and I could see where some of it could help me in my restorations. I collected several business cards, and stayed away from all the free crap that many of the other show goers seemed to collect like spoils of war!
There were plenty of Youtubers in attendance, and it was fun to see their project cars in person. Here’s a Honda powered Ferrari 308 built by Mike Burroughs from his channel Stanceworks. His “resto-modding” may have sent the Ferrari purists into a frenzy, but it may be no different than what hot rodders did to under powered 1932 Fords back in the day.
…and then there were the burnouts in the parking lots. I get the exhibition of speed and the thrill of putting too much horsepower to the ground, but I found a few minutes of watching was all I needed, and yet it continued all day. Without a good wind, the crowd was breathing in this noxious mix of tire smoke, and the only people smiling were the tire manufacturers!
With about 4 million square feet of convention center space, the SEMA show definitely exceeded the human scale. My phone was counting my steps and I was averaging 12 miles a day! Getting from one building to another was easily 1/2 mile and there were 4 buildings, not including the AAPEX show which was accessible by shuttle bus. Leave it to Vegas because anything worth doing is worth overdoing!
There were buildings for show cars, paint and body supplies, hand tools, lifting equipment, electronics and radios, even protective films and tires.
I even attended a couple of educational seminars, one showcasing perspectives from restoration shop owners, and I was pleasantly surprised to actually know a couple of these guys! Bob Smith from Coachworks in Texas, a long time Ferrari Restorer and good friend was on a panel!
Bob Smith has been a member of SEMA for several years, and can be seen here next to Dan Short, the owner of Fantomworks, a shop in VA that used to have a TV show.
The most interesting thing I found at SEMA was the advent of electric car technology. There were several manufacturers offering kits to retrofit in older internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles.
They had several examples like this ’65 Mustang Coupe that was converted to full electric.
Gone are the engine, transmission, and fuel tank, replaced with two large battery packs, an electric motor, and a controller.
Vintage Mustang Coupes have very little room in the trunk, and it looks like it was made worse with the need for battery space, but for a weekend cruiser, the trunk might not be needed. All this equipment however pushed this car to over 3500 pounds, probably 5-700 pounds more than a ICE Mustang. I’d be curious what it drives like.
Seeing these cars really made me think about where the hobby is going. Most owners of old cars don’t drive more than a hundred miles at a time during a weekend cruise or car show. Not having to worry about oil changes, or carburetor issues due to stale gasoline could be a thing of the past if they bought one of these electric resotmods, but would it be the same thing? Would the cadence of V-8 be lost from the soul of an electric Mustang? What attracts us (and I mean older people) to vintage cars? The sound? The history? The mechanics? Will removing the engine simply make the car into a Mustang shaped golf cart? Will the younger generation care?
What was interesting was when asked about electric vehicles to one of the educational panels I attended, the response was almost universal, THEY REALLY DIDN’T LIKE THEM! Understandably, all these owners had their success from ICE powered cars, modifying, restoring, and celebrating what they loved, and they were being asked to embrace the future of something they didn’t grow up and love, but I believe it’s not up to them, or me, to decide if electric vehicles will succeed, but up to the new generation of car enthusiasts that are starting shops, and nipping at the heels of the last generation of hot rodders. I look forward to seeing what they do for the future!
There was still a diversity of automobiles for everyone, and that is why I’m not worried about ICE in my lifetime. We had a 2 door ’73 Chevy Impala as the family car when my Dad bought it brand new. Who knew these would become collectible!
…and let’s not forget the trucks! There were probably more custom trucks than cars at SEMA. Crazy.
One area I don’t want to repair myself is the turn signal switch. This particular switch is out of a Lusso I have at my shop, and it won’t stop flashing the turn signal despite being the center position. ODD parts knows exactly how to disassemble this unit and tweak the detent so it works properly. Sending it to Sonoma CA guarantees it’ll work, and I don’t have to figure it out myself!
The only challenge is normally the wires connected to the switch are bullet connectors, but someone soldered the wires directly to the switch! Admittedly, this would eliminate a common problem when the connections get unplugged inside the steering column, but simply unplugging the switch to send out for service becomes more involved, not to mention soldering it back together when I get it back!
The work continues on the Concours Prep for the PF Coupe that’s headed for Cavallino in January. This car was restored in Latvia by Autoclassic.LV, and they did a very nice job. I tried my best to consult on this restoration, but with COVID, and restricted travel, we had to make do on Zoom calls, and a lot of emails. Whenever I wasn’t available, they found help from their European Specialists.
The first thing I noticed that didn’t seem correct with this car was the diamond quilting in the trunk. I have personally worked on two original unrestored Series II PF Coupes in the past, and both of them had original trunk upholstery, and none of them had this diamond quilting. When I asked the Latvians, how this detail was made, they told me the supplier that sent pictures of the brochure of a Ferrari with diamond quilting in the trunk. The picture was from a Pininfarina brochure, and it didn’t take long for me to figure out the pictures were of a SI car.
Brochure pictures, although taken from the period when these cars were new, can be misleading. The photographs are often taken of pre-production, or early cars, well before the rest of the cars were produced. These photographs can be used as a guide, along with using the evidence produced from actual original cars, can these details be accepted as standard. This particular example was not only a special pre-production car, but built a year or so before the SII 250 PF Couple (SN 1557) I was working on.
I went back in my photographic archives and found this picture of the trunk area of another PF Coupe (SN 1747) and found proof that this unrestored Ferrari had no diamond quilting. I then reached out to a group of judges and owners of Vintage Ferraris to confer. They all seemed to agree with my conclusions.
My next task was to convince the supplier to demure and sell me more material to make the correction! After several emails, providing evidence, and even international phone calls with mutual friends, we had an agreement to buy new material to make this correction! I don’t think if it will be harder to gain back the points deduction on this panel than what I went through convincing the supplier of this mistake!
Removing the panels for re-upholstery revealed the source of a gasoline smell I had from the last road trip coming out of the trunk area. One panel was showing solvent damage from exposure to fuel, and it was coming from the fuel filler door. Any spilled fuel from the neck would dribble down into the trunk and soak the upholstered panels. There wasn’t a drain out of the filler area, so I will have to remind the owner and myself to be more careful when filling the car with fuel.
The shape of acorn nuts can be a topic of discussion for hours, but when you see the obvious difference between the wrong one (left) and the right one (right), it’s kind of hard to un-see. This particular nut is found on 250 engine cars. It’s not the normal M6x1.0 cadmium plated two piece acorn nut found on the rest of the valve covers fasteners, but is the only M8x1.0 acorn nut on a Ferrari. It secures the water pipe to the engine block between the heads at the front of the engine. This is not only an uncommon nut, but also harder to find as an acorn nut, in white cadmium and has the proper shoulder. Luckily, Newco Products has them, and he charges accordingly due to its rarity! It’s a small detail, but is very obvious if a judge knows what he’s looking for, so I wasn’t leaving anything to chance in a Ferrari Concours!
Moving onto the next anal detail was the color of the coils. I felt the red paint used to paint the coils was too bright, and tried to find something darker. My first attempt didn’t see much difference (top), so I had to find darker paint. There was some discussion that the coils may have started out in a brighter red, and darkened through time due to the heat the ignition system generated, but whatever the case, I wanted darker.
My next attempt was better, but the camera seemed to pick up more of a scarlet color that was not there in person. Color perception is very subjective, and it’s made even more variable with automatic color correction made by our digital cameras and cell phone cameras. Whatever the case, I liked the result and am going with it!
I believe batteries are considered consumable items on a Ferrari, so they shouldn’t judge the type of battery used as long as the correct size if fitted, but I wanted to swap out the blue Bosch unit for something that looked a little more period correct.
I used to install reproduction “lead top” batteries with gel cell technology, but in recent years of supply chain issues, getting one made to specifications in a timely manner has been a challenge. I moved towards conventional lead acid batteries simply because they’re readily available and I can make them look close to period correct without to much effort.
With all the modern stickers removed, and a reproduction decal installed, the battery looks more at home in the engine compartment of a Vintage Ferrari. It may not get points added, but it lends itself to the overall presentation of this car for a show.
One of the things on the To-Do list for the Rubino Lusso was to get the wipers working. Nothing was happening when the switch was turned, and if this car was expected to drive in a road rally, it had to be ready to see some rain.
The Lusso hides its wiper motor above the driver’s left shin under the dash, and with one quick look, I quickly discovered our problem: the motor wiring was not connected! Unfortunately, simply plugging it back in was not going to be easy.
The wiper motor wiring is supposed to be color coded, but as usual, the Lucas wires were faded and the indiscernible. I also wanted to check the motor, because there had to have been a reason the motor was unplugged.
The first step was the wipers had to be removed, and I found another problem. One of the wipers had stripped some of the splines on the shaft. I would have to address this when I got the rest of the system working.
When I disassembled the motor, I found a pretty dirty commutator with some slight pitting on one spot. The darkened wires also showed signs that this motor got hot in its past. I just hoped nothing got hot enough to short a wire.
I chucked the piece in the lathe and cleaned the commutator with some fine sand paper.
With the pig tail to the wiper motor wiring exposed, I could trace each wire into the motor and identify what it did, and guess which color it could be.
Looking at an old Lucas wiring diagram, and the Ferrari owner’s manual, I figured out the color coding and installed the motor, but when I plugged everything back in, the wiper wouldn’t stop running! I soon realized an extra ground wire was added to the wiring loom, and was the cause of the run-on. This also explained why the motor was disconnected! When the previous person gave up trying to figure out why the wipers wouldn’t stop moving despite the switch position, they simple unplugged everything. Besides, who needs wipers in Los Angeles? Lucas motors are isolated from ground and integrates it as part of the park mechanism and washer single swipe. Something was obviously wrong here, but once I eliminated the ground wire, the switch would give me stop, slow, and fast. The only problem was the switch would have to turned off at the right moment to put the wipers in the park position. The owner and I decided this was fine for now without delving further into Lucas/Ferrari wiring!
The stripped splines on the wiper shafts were a little more complicated, but I found a simple solution. Finding matching wiper arms, let alone the correct length, angle, and style that would fit the wiper arm shafts could be quite a challenge. The two parts still had splines that matched, but had slipped at some point (perhaps when the wipers wouldn’t stop working from before) so I wanted to see if installing a thin piece of soft shim stock between the wiper arm and shaft would be enough to hold the two parts together without slipping. I took some brass shim stock and slipped it in between the wiper arm and the shaft. The brass was soft enough to deform between the splines and hard enough to lock the splines together. How much shim stock to use determined how tight I could get the fit. If these arms become available, I would consider replacing them, but for now we have working wipers!
I’ve been working on Ferraris long enough that I’ve known particular cars longer than their owners, and this Daytona just returned to my shop under new ownership. I worked on this car for many years for the previous owner, taking it to Phoenix AZ for a Ferrari Club Meet, and even shooting a video of me driving this car not too long ago.
The previous owner sold the car and it showed up at a dealer’s showroom last month. I was contacted by a potential buyer asking if I would be interested in performing a Pre-Purchase-Inspection for him on a Daytona. I soon realized I knew the car intimately, and helped the buyer lock in his decision.
I knew the car didn’t need much mechanical work, but I suggested the wheels should be refinished. The car was shipped to my shop to address the wheels before shipping it out west to the new owner. She might not stay at my shop for long, but it was nice to see an old friend again!
Since the last time this car was at my shop, someone installed a modern radio with bluetooth and a media player. The new owner found a period correct Becker and asked me to install it in the car, but first I had to pull the old/new system out!
I had a discussion with my customer who owns this 1959 250GT Pininfarina Coupe SN 1557 about showing the car at the upcoming Cavallino Ferrari show in January in Palm Beach Florida. The car was restored by a shop in Latvia where I consulted on some of the restoration. Autoclassic.LV did a really nice job and it would be nice to show off some of the hard work. The car arrived in the States back in August, and I have the task of correcting a few details to get the car to compete in a Concours. The first thing you may notice is the 410 Superamerica side grilles that isn’t normally found on PF Coupe. Some cars came with this option, but it was rare. This particular car may have been one of those cars.
Before the purchase of this car it was owned my Peter Glucklick in Michigan. When Peter bought the car it was painted red.
The car had Californa plates from the 80s.
Once Peter stripped the car, he found remnants of the side grilles.
It looks like the car sustained some accident damage to the left fender possibly damaging the original grille beyond repair. A flat steel patch was made and welded over the original opening.
The right side grille opening was also filled with a patch, but the under-structure remained.
An insert patch was made to make the fender flat and match the repairs done to the left fender, the rolled lip to accept the 410 type grille was still there.
With the patch removed, you can really see the shape of the old 410 type grille in the fender of this PF Coupe.
Peter managed to buy a pair of side grilles from Hillary Raab that he brought back from a swap meet in Europe. Hill said these may have come from another PF Coupe!
The theory on this car SN 1557 is it may have been one of the handful of PF Coupes that came with side grilles, but sometime in its past it was involved in an accident that damaged the left fender. The damage was bad enough that the left grille was not salvageable. These grilles are not common, and at the time of the accident, the easier repair was to eliminate the grilles, patch the openings, and have the car look like all the other PF Coupes without side grilles. When Peter stripped the car for a restoration he discovered the mismatched body work and patches that showed this previous detail. Peter sold the car as a project having never restored the car, but we decided to restore the car with the side grilles due to the evidence found in the body work. I also think they look great!
I’ve been working on Mike’s Ferrari 365GTC/4, and on the first drive the front brakes started to seize up. From what I can see, Mike didn’t get a chance to drive this car a lot the last year or two, so I wasn’t surprised they were having problems.
I ordered a front brakes seal kit, pulled the front calipers off, and blew out the pistons to take a closer look.
The original pistons were chromed steel, but upgraded replacements were made from stainless steel. Luckily, these pistons were the stainless replacements, so I simply had to polish them up and they would be good to go. They siezed because of the small ridge of rust that formed on the cast iron caliper body and the piston past the seal behind the dust boot. (You can see the rust ring that stained the stainless steel piston before I cleaned it up with some fine sand paper.) I think disuse, and damp storage formed this ridge, and built up enough to jam the pistons so they wouldn’t retract. I put a new seal kit on the front calipers, and disassembled the rear calipers to clean up the rust ridge that was forming and about the seize the rears as well!