The Dirty, Nasty, Thankless Job of Restoration.

The Dirty, Nasty, Thankless, Jobs of Car Restoration. September 2-3, 1999

I don’t know anyone who enjoys lying on their backs, scraping undercoating off the bottom of a car. Dirt, rust, and loose undercoating falls down your shirt, into your hair, and gets into your eyes. I’ve avoided completely scraping the undercoating off my Sunbeam Alpine for many years because of the mess, but on this Ferrari, I couldn’t push it off. I can, however, do it in stages. I pick a small area and begin scraping, and when enough dirt falls down my shirt, and into my underwear, I stop! I let the memory of this ordeal fade, and in a week, I begin with another spot.

Another nasty job was degreasing the rear differential. Years of grease, and road grime has collected on the aluminum housing, making it resemble a cast iron housing. I used engine degreaser. and a small stainless steel scrub brush to knock off all loose stuff. We’ve decided to leave the rear suspension in place, so cleaning it makes it a little harder. I haven’t figured out what’s worse to have fall into your eyes, undercoating flakes, or degreaser. I’ve GOT to remember to buy a pair goggles!

While I was working in the back of the car, I removed the fuel filter assembly. (I can’t wait for the day I’m actually putting something back on the car!) I wire wheeled the undercoating, rust, and old paint off, and primered the fuel filter holder. It evidently takes a grey paint that I’ll have to buy. Luckily the same paint can be used for the fog light buckets so it won’t be a waste of a can of paint! I guess while I’m at it, I might as well get the decal that goes on the housing as well. Am I getting too anal?

As I’m continuing to prepare the engine compartment for painting, I removed the fresh air hoses that run in the wheel wells on both sides of the car. When they first one came out, I made an archeological find! Evidently mice like to nest in these hoses, because both hoses had evidence of a previous inhabitants. One of them had an old “Arby’s” roast beef sandwich wrapper, but both nests were made up primarily of cotton stuffing, probably from the seats. Mice are horrible creatures that do irrepairable damage to cars, and most of the time, they go unnoticed until it’s too late. They start by finding a nice place to nest deep within a car, not easily reached by human hands. Then they begin building a bed with whatever is available. The stuffing in the seats are usually the most convenient. When they start chewing, they usually start from the bottom the of the cushion, so you’ll never know until you see a tiny hole on the surface of the seat. By the time that happens, you’ll discover that everything beneath that hole is destroyed! Mice also love to eat leather, so you can imagine how nice of a home a Ferrari makes!

Having Leather seats destroyed by mice is bad enough, but can you imagine a way a mouse can destroy a Porsche motor? It happens often enough to see a trend. No, they don’t nest in the cylinders, but they love to build nests on top of the cylinders. They get in there through the cooling fan in the back (front?) of the motor. Over a winter they will build a nice nest of insulating cotton, and batting. When you go to start your car from winter storage, the mouse will be long gone, but it’s nest remains. This nest will be forced into the cooling fins by the fan, and will eventually over heat the motor. Air-cooled Porsche motors depend on air circulation to keep running cool, and having debris blocking it’s cooling fins is not good. The driver will usually never know, because by the time the overall temperature on the gauge shows “hot”, the particular cylinder where the nest was has already overheated. The only way to clean this mess up is to remove the engine, and clean house. If you’re lucky, you didn’t overheat, and it’s just a cleaning, if you’re unlucky, that cylinder will need attention, if you’re really unlucky, a dropped valve from overheating, cracked piston, holed block, etc…all from a stupid mouse!

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