Ferrari Steering Gearboxes

Earlier this year, a good customer drove to the shop in his 1967 Ferrari 330GTC for some service work and asked me to critique the way his car handles. We went for a spin and I immediately understood what he was talking about, when entering a curve it took lots of “input” in order navigate a corner and even go straight down the road. I use the word “navigate” because it handles like a boat.

We have had the suspension aligned and he had it aligned at his local shop a few times in an attempt to remedy this problem but it still steers super slowl. We compared it to a few other cars that day which validated our feelings, there was something wrong with his car.

Ferrari used ZF steering boxes in all of the cars from the mid 50′s through to the Daytona in the early 70′s.  A 1:20 ratio was chosen for the 330GTC but the 275GTB of the same year used a faster 1:17 ratio. My solution was to buy a brand new 1:17 worm gear to replace the 1:20 and see how it goes down the road.

The handling was transformed and it finally felt like a sports car. The 1:17 ratio was the perfect match for the car, even the steering effort at parking speed wasn’t compromised. I really don’t understand why the 330 got the slower steering but I have since changed the ratio in three other GTC’s. If you have a 330GTC or even a 330 GT 2+2, you’ve got to install this faster ratio steering box, you will love the transformation

Ferrari 330 Steering Box

330GTC Steering Gear Box

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Ford GT

Ford GT 2005

2005 Ford GT Red with White Stripes

We take care of a few Ford GT’s at our shop but this one has really stopped me in my tracks. While I like interesting colors, I am not into flashy colors but this GT in red looks incredible. This car has only 500 miles and is unmarked in every way. We sold it to one of our best customers who is just as blown away by the car as I am.

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Very Special Porsche 912′s

Over the last few months, I have been around a number of Porsche 912′s. Anyone who frequents this website knows that I really like early Porsche 911′s so it seems natural that I’d like 912′s but to be honest, I’ve only worked on a few of them but really don’t remember much about them.

This winter, a local man needed his 912 appraised to help settle his fathers estate. His father bought the car new and kept it in impeccable condition. It wasn’t restored, had a weak re-paint in the original color but everything else was tidy, solid and the car was complete with the books and tools and tons of records. Driving the car was a delight, it doesn’t sound like a racing car the way a 911 does but 4 cylinder 912 feels as fast as the 6 cylinder engine of the same year.

1969 Porsche 912

1969 Porsche 912 in original color, one family ownership history

1969 Porsche 912 interior

Original interior for 1969 Porsche 912

In February I visited a friend who just got another dark red, one owner 912 in his shop that he offered to sell me. He needed a month to clean the car, polish the paint and make sure it ran like new, then he would let me have first chance to buy the car. He sent me photos of the car after the clean up and I had to have the car and immediately sent him a check for his asking price. A few days later a very good customer of mine called and I told him about this 1968 912 and he held his hand high in the air for the car. It turns out that he bought the last “one owner” 911 that I had in 2011, the car I affectionately called ‘ol silver, a ’72 911 T Coupe.

Now Michael has two of my favorite “901″ cars, both of them under fastidious care from new and the tradition continues

1968 912 Coupe Burgendy for sale

'68 912 Porsche

1968 Porsche 912 in the shop

In the shop, next to 911 and Ghibli

1968 912 Porsche engine

Engine in the '68 912, original and immaculate

A few weeks ago I saw a beautiful 1976 Triumph TR-6 on ebay. I bid on the car but the next morning realized that I wasn’t the high bidder, I was off by $750. Fortunately, the seller, Branden in Seattle, called me the next to day to offer me the car because the high bidder needed a loan to buy the car and wanted the title sent before paying for the car! I pulled a muscle in my arm as I raised it so high for the car. Branded asked me if I was looking for other cars and I sent him my “must have” list. Within a few days he sent me photos of this 1968 912 in its original color, Polo Red. This car looked outstanding in the photos because it has a gorgeous interior without holes cut in the door panels for speakers and a perfect dash pad. The front pan, floors and longitudinal sections are absolutely straight and perfect, the bottom of the doors are perfect and other than the thousands of stone pecks on the front hood and old paint, the car is damn near perfect.

The car arrived on May 6th and I was absolutely blown away with the car and equally impressed with the care of ownership since 1968. There is a 3 ring binder in the car with EVERY reciept from new! Every part purchased, every oil change and service job! It has had a few owners but they all continued the tradition of maintaining the car and keeping record of every detail. What is it with these 912′s?

1968 Porsche 912 in Polo Red

Polo Red 1968 Porsche 912

1968 Porsche 912 Original interior

Original interior for the 1968 Porsche 912

Records for the 1969 Porsche 912

912 Porsche records for maintenance

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Super Low Miles on a 308 GTSi Quattrovalvole

1985 Ferrari 308 GTS

1985 Ferrari 308 GTSi QV

308 GTSiQV LR

308 GTSi Quattrovalvole LR

Interior 308 GTSiQV

GTSi QV interior from the Top

For the ultimate Ferrari 308 enthusiast, I have located and purchased this spectacular 1985 Ferrari 308 GTSiQV with only 5600 miles for re-sale. It is totally complete with hand books, tools, jack roll, trouble light and often missing boot for the removable top. It even has the original Goodyear NC/T Tires!  This car is truly amazing and needs nothing to be shown or driven, except maybe tires that aren’t 25 years old!

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Brake Fluid Reservior for 250 GTE/SWB/Lusso

So often we try to repair old parts to maintain originality or because new stuff isn’t available and if I tallied up the hours spent patching the often rusted and mangled brake fluid reservoirs for Ferrari 250′s I’d get really depressed. I found a few of these New Old Stock reservoirs with the correct caps and quickly bought them all! Since I have a few more than I need, I’ll sell a few.

Brake Fluid Reservoir 250 Ferrari

Ferrari 250 Brake Fluid Bottle

Brake Fluid Can Lusso, GTE

GTE/Lusso/SWB/PF brake fluid bottle

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Carello Tail Light Relay Control Box

As much as it irritates the guys at the shop, we don’t throw anything away so you can imagine the boxes and boxes of “trash” that we have in the attic! Years ago we parted out an Alfa Romeo 1900 and I saved this blown out Carello Tail Light Control Relay Box. Its totally broken, missing the flasher part, the points are broken on the switches and the aluminum cover is gone but the brown plastic base is in decent condition. There was a big chunk broken out of it  but the overall shape was good and the numbers were all crisp and clear.

Carello Relay Box reproduction

Re-producing a Carello Tail Light Control Box

Fast forward 15 years, we need to finish the restoration on the 1950 Ferrari 166 Berlinetta which requires this part to make the brake lights and turn signals work properly. I can’t find anyone with these parts so I am making one. With some polyester body filler (Bondo), I filled in the imperfections on the original part and made a “negative” to fit inside the hollow portion. Then I poured silicone mold making stuff around the part to pick up the numbers and details. Next, I poured in the brown-tinted liquid plastic that hardened to become the base of the relay box.

Carello Tail Light Control Box replica

Replica Tail Light Control Box Carello

Making the aluminum cover was a pain in the neck because it has to be perfect with no file or sanding marks to look like it came out of a factory press machine. I sent some photos of the original part to the engraver who replicated the script perfectly.

Carello Relay Box Cover Aluminum

Aluminum Relay Box Cover Carello

Instead of using the electro-magnetic relays, I’m using a solid state controller hidden inside the box so that everything looks totally original from the outside while being a little less problematic on the inside.

 

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Ferrari 330 and 365 A/C Vents

Ferrari 330/365 A/C Vent

Ferrari Air Conditioning

Awhile back I published a post on reproducing the often broken or missing vents and knobs for the Ferrari 330 and 365′s that showed the  prototype to review before the final production. The final order of vents have arrived in a box and I challenged myself to make the delicate and finely detailed knobs that go in the middle of them.

Late production 330 GT 2+2′s had optional Air Conditioning with 3 louvered vents in the middle of the dash with little thimble sized knobs that you twist to both direct the air flow and operate the fan speed and temperature of the A/C system. The middle vent had a blank knob and the outer vents said “aria” I II III (for the three speed fan motor) and the other outer vent had a knob that had the script “freddo” that controls the temperature of the air outlet. I found some very good original knobs and cleaned them up, chipped the white paint out of the script and sanded the delicate fluted lines on them to make a good mold. Then I made tooling to make consistent parts time after time to fit the “D” shaped switch shafts. The results are amazing, I am so impressed at how great everything came out.

I didn’t make the louvered vents, these parts were extremely complicated because the outer cylinder of the vent is on a different angle than the louvered slats, how do you make a mold that not only pulls apart straight but allows the louvers to be on a 45 degree angle! Since I paid the big bucks, I own the multiple piece mold and may tell you the secret someday.

The only part I have not made are the chrome trim rings that go on the outer edge of the vent. Later this month the tooling will be finished up to stamp them out of brass and have them chrome plated to match the rest of these lovely little parts.

In this photo you can see the simple little tool to make the fluted knobs. I can only make one at a time but the same tool makes the “Aria”, the “Freddo” and the blank knob. Since I am using the slow cure plastic, I can only make two knobs per day but will experiment with faster cure resins to churn them out a little more rapidly. (if anyone actually orders them)

A/C vents for Ferrari's

330 or 365 Air Conditioning vents

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Antifreeze Doesn’t Last Forever

What makes antifreeze go from alkaline to acidic? Does combustion gas leak from the head gasket and contaminate it or is it the heating and cooling process? Regardless, we have had two corrosion situations from acidic coolant recently, a pair of 330 cylinder heads and the core plugs in a 365 GTB/4 Daytona. To be fair, the core plugs are very soft alloy in comparison to the engine block so they are kind of sacrificial, unfortunately they are difficult to change. These plugs were so delicate that just by scraping the crusty coolant off to find the source of the leak, the screwdriver poked right through them like they were made from waxed paper.

Daytona engine block

Ferrari 365 Daytona Engine repair

Core Plugs for Daytona Ferrari 365

Ferrari 365 Core Plugs

The 330 heads are a combination of a bad casting and corrosive coolant. I saw a youtube video showing the process of building a modern Ferrari 612 engine where an MRI test was used to determine the thickness and integrity of a cylinder head casting. They didn’t have this technology in 1966 and this is the evidence of it! The deep pores in the exhaust port aren’t from corrosive coolant, it’s from a horrible casting. The pitted areas around the water passages are due to corrosive coolant rotting the material away.

330 Head Gasket leak

Head Gasket leaking on Ferrari 330

Cylinder head Leaking on 330 Ferrari

Welding holes in Ferrari 330 V-12

Like a dentist, I drilled and scraped the corrosive material out so I could weld the holes that were leaking coolant into the exhaust and intake ports. I don’t often remove valve seats and realize what a difficult job it is but I found a great way to get them out easily. I take a valve with the same size stem as the original (8mm for Ferrari) but has a slightly smaller head. I weld the head to the seat and drive the valve and seat out with a hammer from the back side!

Ferrari 330 GTC Head Repair

Repairing 330 GTC Heads

Anyhow, after welding, grinding, pressure testing a number times, I finally have the heads sealed up and looking great. After grinding and cutting the core plugs out of the Daytona block, we installed the new ones and sent the car home.

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Jaguar XKE Engine Overhaul

4.2 Liter XKE

Overhauled Jaguar XKE Engine

Its been years since we have overhauled a Jaguar engine and are pleasantly surprised at how many high quality parts are available for reasonable prices with instant availability. We have been struggling to get parts for Ferrari engines over the years, each piston set has to be custom made which takes 10 weeks, hardware isn’t available, what a pain to keep the motivation. The only thing that takes time on the Jaguar engine is scheduling time with a machine shop to hone the block, perform a valve job, and grind the crankshaft.

The shop that sold us the parts had Mahle Pistons sitting on the shelf and kits to replace all of the hardware, core plugs, sealing washers, lock tabs and timing chain guides and sprockets. We were all blown away at how little clearance needed for these Mahle pistons to fit into the block, only .02″!

Of course there is the labor at our shop, first removing the engine and breaking it down which makes a huge mess, then cleaning all of the parts in our awesome new hot water dunk tank. With Ferrari engines, we have to drill out (destroy) the crankshaft plugs in order to clean the passages but on the Jag, the plugs are re-usable. Plus the passages are huge and easy to clean, have a look at all the metallic sludge built up in there. We also removed the engine block core plugs and got the huge amount of rusty crud out of there.

The engine is almost finished now, probably by the end of next week it will be finished up and ready to test run. I’m excited to hear it run again.

Plugs in Jaguar Crank

Crankshaft full of Sludge

Block for Jaguar

XKE 4.2 Engine block

 

 

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Dash Vents for Ferrari 330 and 365′s

Vents for Ferrari 330, 365

Ferrari A/C Vents for sale

In 1966 Ferrari began installing Air Conditioning as a factory option in the 330 GTC and 330 2+2 using many U.S. sourced parts such as York Compressors and Aeroquip hose and fittings. Since the cosmetic appearance matters as much as physical appearance, I have gone through great lengths to find the original specification parts to repair A/C systems in factory equipped cars and to assemble kits to sell to people wishing to install A/C in their car.

I have jigs to make the evaporator housing  under the dash and have patterns to make the compressor brackets. There are thousands of different drier bottles available but the style used on Ferrari’s is the hardest to find and I have a little stash of them to make the system look just right. The Pressure switch was a total pain to locate because it isn’t a automotive A/C part, it is a commercial refrigeration part so after a bunch of research, I have these parts too.

The last part that I am struggling with are the cold air vents that have a opening in the center for the fan speed and temperature switches. I have decided to re-make these vents to sell with the kits and to have them available for sale separately because the originals are brittle and break easily. To make the louvered vent set complete, I am making the chrome plated trim and “Aria” and “Freddo” knobs to fit on the switches.

These photos are the prototypes that need to be reviewed before final production and other than one minor change, they look fantastic. In the next month I will finish the trim parts and knobs and I will have car sets available for sale.

A/C vent for Ferrari 330

330 GT, GTC A/C vent

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