After several years of planning and a few 'false starts', I am back working on my 914.
My name is Bates McLain, I live in Madison, Va, and I have always been a car guy/motorhead or what ever you want to call someone who gets pleasure from making old cars beautiful again.
I purchased an ex race car because I figured it was easier to civilize a racer into a street car than fix a pile of rusted seams and 50 year old parts, either way I knew the car needed to come apart pretty much totally to have the finished car suit my plan.
I owned two 914s previously. First was a 73 1.7 I bought used from the local Porsche/Audi dealer in 1978. I loved the car, incredible fuel mileage, nimble and never a problem with the Alaska Blue Metalic beauty. I was working as a mechanic at a 'foriegn' car repair shop at the time, where i serviced lots of 914s and other cool cars.
I sold that car to a customer about 1980. I missed the car afterwards, somehow the Toyota SR5 pickup didnt actually live up to my expectations or Car and Driver's description, "If BMW made a pickup, this is what it would handle like".
I bought my second 914 in 1983, a 1974 2.0, Delphi Green, appearance group, gasburner wheels....and again, like new. I only owned this one about 6 months before my plans changed due to purchasing business that would allow me to double my income and work 4 days a week!
So another beauty got away, and was back driving a pickup, but I didnt forget how great those little cars were.
In 2013 I found a 73 racecar, with fiberglass flares, already had 5 lug suspension, it was a roller, but it had near zero rust. A near blank canvas to build myself a GT.
Here is one of the first pictures I took of the car after I flat towed it home;
A friend had just purchased a 'Dustless Blasting' system, and his first auto paint removal was my new car. I wanted to see the bare metal of the underside and the known rust trouble spots.
We found some rust, but very little. She would need some repairs and alterations, but now I could now see what was under all the darned black paint the P.O. had sprayed on the interior and both trunks and engine compartment.
Why do people think race cars need to look like a dark cave inside?
No bother all the black cave paint was GONE!!
Nice. Keep us posted on the progress with pictures. The bottom of the chassis looks decent.
Once I had the chassis back in the shop with paint removed from the underside, both trunks and the engine bay I began to see some troubles;
The car had been hit pretty hard in the right front, damage was evident done by either attempting to 'pull' the right front corner bodywork back out after a 'shunt' or maybe a bad pull from a ditch (if cars could talk).
Tear in the panel started some careful measurements of the affected corner.
Right front seam was 15mm back and 10mm up from normal.
Have some BONDO!!!
Time to do some exploratory surgery, how much bondo is hiding, whats it gonna take to fix this mess?
The truth revealed;
Time to learn some new skills. I was not planning to do any welding on this car if I remember correctly. Not much anyway.
This is were I left off last year just before leaving to be rally navigator in the '24 Hours of Lemons' first east coast rally.
I helped prep a rally car with my friend Chris Grimm, his Porsche 924S with 4 studded tires, raise the suspension and some other choice mods. Sticker bomb the car at a local brewery, draw a map of the rally with tape on the hood, roof rack with extra spare tire (it is a rally, right), lots of tools and spares.
the Retreat From Moscow Rally;
Starting in Mosow, PA then to Buffalo, NY and Pittsburg, PA.
Next day Pittsburg to Asheville, NC, (did I mention the snow),
3rd day Asheville to the Tail of the Dragon and then on to Memphis, TN for a
waffle tossing contest (really).
Final day; Memphis to Paris , KY then down to Barbour Motorsports Park in
Alabama, for the finish.
(Think about how far we drove!!)
It was a hell of a run, go ahead a Google it, if you want to see some very unusual and creative cars!!!
Oh, the 924S ran flawlessly, Chris drove extremely well, studded tires in the snow is like cheating! It was a great time, but that is another story.
is that rust or foam under the bondo?
cool project; keep us updated.
That is sand from the sand blasting and a grand amount of fiberglass used to fill the poorly trimmed fiberglass flare installation by the previous owner.
Dustless Blasting uses ground glass,aka beer bottles. The ramp to my shop had the smell of a 'kegger' for a week after the blasting. It was like a beach as the glass hits the metal the glass particles explode and turn into what looks like sand and smells like stale beer.
More on that topic later..... there was sand in every cavity of the chassis and inside of every crack and bolt hole.
Ahh Madison, where the county sport is: giving speeding tickets on Rt 29
Always good to see another local-ish build!
Bates nice to see you here..
Everyone else here I can tell you after a good conversation with Bates he knows whats going on..
This will be a great project..
I can laugh at myself too! These projects are supposed to be fun, and along the way we may learn a thing or two from the experiences.
I was having trouble making nice welds Saturday and Sunday, couldn't see the metal getting ready to burn through. This afternoon, I went out and bought stronger reading glasses to wear under the helmet.
Shazaam!!! I did a few passes and Ill tell you for a fact, if you cannot see clearly, you sure cannot make a good weld.
Talk to you soon.
Fixing the bent corner;
a can of worms.....
So now I know the right front is bent, I had already gotten a very rusty donor 914 and stripped the interior, suspension.
In order to repair the affected area, which included the front suspension mount, I would need a 'jig' to get the replacement pickup placed correctly. So lets make a jig.
I removed the front end from the donor, and brought it in the shop to use to make the jig.
After bracing and welding up the 'jig' Now I can locate the pretty new suspension pickup from Restoration Design!
I'll skip forward a bit; the onlly picture I have of the jig is on the car taken last weekend.
Here is the finished jig in place locating the new suspension pickup;
I've already trimmed the sides and front of the gapeing hole cut out by previous owner(s) for oil cooler.
Note the 'pointy' jagged ends at the rear of the hole. I have a lovely hole in on the back of my left hand from one of them where it attacked me through a leather glove.
I'm about to get even, and fix the problem forever.
Make a Sharpie layout for the new floor and include area for exhaust of hot air and size of louvers:
Then, cut the radiuses with a hole saw;
Run a 'bead' with the bead roller around the outer edge of the future opening, and roll a step fore/aft down the middle to stiffen the floor;
Weld in the floor after removing the new holes where the future louvers will be welded in.
Lets make a couple of louvered panels;
Pictures take up too much room, Next Reply Please
Bead roller with louver dies installed.
I'll roll the dies over the layout on a piece of 20 gauge steel sheet.
Lets make some louvers!!
Bead roller with louver dies installed.
I'll roll the dies over the layout on a piece of 20 gauge steel sheet.
Here is what the new panel looks like with one louver rolled in;
The wooden block and steel bar in the back of the louver are a homemade die to stretch the metal and make the louvers more consistent.
OK, I need to find out how to make my images smaller....... not enough room for another picture!!!
I've tried Ribbet resizing tool, it does not work with Google images, Google Images where my pics are is absolutely no help. My phone's camera will not let me choose my picture size.
Louvers rolled onto sheet, then stretched with steel die.
FYI, I had the die this size from fabricating engine covers (bonnets in proper English) when I was restoring my Morgan 4/4
I made the louvered panels from 20 gauge sheet, as this is easier on my tooling to create the louvers, the floor panel is 18 gauge
Louvers on the Morgan were harder, the 3003 aluminum is softer, but doesnt hold it shape as easily as steel. Thats why I made the steel stretcher die.
Back on the 914;
Finished floor, with louvers and 1" x 1" bar between front suspension 3 bolt 'pads' for a oil cooler mount and some stiffness for the front end of the car.
fiberglass oil cooler shroud fits perfectly.
Now, trim and fit the nose panel, then weld it in place, and I'll move to the rear of the car to tidy up (grind off and replace) some old reinforcements and boogered patches on the rear longerons and suspension consoles.
love the custom fabrication!
Somehow, I missed this thread when it first popped up. Very cool stuff! Nice work!!! I'll be watching this for pointers on my own project.
how did you make the louvers?
Do you press them in a die?
Love the fixture for fixing the front suspension pick up mounts.
Not that familiar with the GT builds, are the louvers done the way the factory or other race teams did the oil coolers?
Great work so far!
I am doing repairs of my 73 914 chassis in preparation of creating yet another GT clone.
I have started a build thread; GT Build; Flares add flare here;
I thought anyone else who has repaired a 914 may have run into oval rear suspension console mount holes;
Here is the suspension pivot , which has a step shoulder on the end that locates the pivot in the suspension console hole. My non digital caliper measures it at .550"
The pivot is one I cut in half to see how it was made, easier to deal with also.
Here are pictures of measuring my right side console;
out of focus, but easy to see needle is .030 larger than the step of the shaft
Vertical measurement is .040" larger than the step of the shaft.
I want to keep the suspension hole close to original placement, and the original two pieces of stamped plate are in decent condition, so my plan it to make a new locater out of a larger piece of stock;
I took a piece of 4140 tubing, .750" o.d., .500" i.d..
First step is to make the i.d. fit the step of the pivot shaft , something just larger than .055".
I checked the stock in my lathe and bored the center out to .055" (14mm).
So now I have a shaft to create a 'washer' from that has the perfect inside diameter.
I'll take it back to the lathe and 'part' the thickness of the two plates that currently have an oval hole inside. After I have a repair washer that is .750" outside diameter, I'll drill a hole .75" in the oval hole and insert the new washer.
Here is the rough washer, it is a bit warm from machining, so pliers are in order.
Now I'll mark a step bit at the diameter I do not want to exceed with a Sharpie. The red is very visible as I drill, and as soon as I get the hole to the red mark I know to stop.
Step drills are good for keeping slightly oval holes on the original hole center when enlarging the hole for repairs.
I took the little washer back to the car, de-burred it and metal finished to clean for welding later. placed it in the .75" hole, holding it there with the stepped shaft for placement;
I then tacked it in place with my MIG welder, and then ground off any 'proud' weld tacks.
I went back after this picture and ran a TIG weld pass around both sides of the new 'washer' .
The stepped shaft is now fixed in one location, no moving up and down/ back and forth,. creating havoc when trying to align a suspension.
Next step, new roll bar.
pictures show up here;
???? dont know why they disappeared here/
After grinding off all of the layers of crappy reinforcements that were stacked on rust, partial welds etc, time to make some pretty repair panels;
Now lay the panel on , start plug welding in the middle and work out.
Now reinforce the top of the rear suspension above the console.
The previous owner had cut out the rear trunk floor along with the rear suspension console cross member. The arched sheetmetal box section at the rear of the engine compartment opening, and replaced it with 1.5" x .120 wall tubes that were paerially welded in place. This triangle had been 'bugging' me since I bought the car.
I had guessed the triangle was heavier that the origional structure and since tthe triangle was only partially wellded ( they welded where it was easy to access- total lack of planning on the part of the welder)
You can see the square tube I welded in to the rear diagonals of the roll cage. Just in case things want to tweak.
So finally get to see how much the weight difference is....
Stock floor is the lighter in weight. and no doubt stronger, look at the lack of weld on the diagonals;
Next reattach the floor and the cross brace. I'll be making my own rear floor section.
I strained my back, so grinding/welding is uncomfortable, time to do some busy work. Clean small parts and start plating them.
I got some of the Zinc Chromate pretty parts nicely plated.
I'm doing some other parts with just shiny zinc; suspension shims, etc.
Cleaning and prep take the most time. I plate a few parts at a time, set a timer to remind me to take the plated parts out of the 'bath' and put in a few more while I'm working on something else.
Pretty amazing what you can do with vinegar/Epsom salts, a piece of zinc and a D cell battery. After you get the zinc on, dip the part in the yellow zinc chromate bath, and hang to dry.
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