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The Resurrection of Foam Car - 63 T6B

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  • The Resurrection of Foam Car - 63 T6B

    In Sept, of 2000, an add appeared in the local newspaper for a 1963 356, which was located not far from where we lived. We drove out to take a look, and were allowed a test drive. This thing went like a bat out of hell compared to the PreA. Not knowing much about newer 356s, I jotted down the engine and body numbers and went home to do some homework. Turns out it had a Super 90 engine number. You could tell the body was rough, because this guy had painted it black, which shows everything, plus my magnetic spot rot gauge identified that there were not a lot of places where there was just paint and sheet metal. There was also a lot of yellow foam sprayed on the undercarriage and painted black, thus the name Foam Car. The seller said he had a friend in the foam business and had him spray it on. NO wonder it was so quiet in the cabin compared to our PreA. But, the engine ran strong, and that was what I was after. The transmission shifted smoothly and the differential was quite. So I offered what I was willing to pay for the engine and transaxle, but he said no. He wanted almost triple that amount and said he had people as far away as Texas interested. I wished him good luck, but left him my name and phone number should he ever reconsider. Several months later he called and had a much lower price, but still significatly more than my original offer. By then I had acquired a my daughters old car that we bought for her after she bought her first new car. Now I had two of her older cars that she just had to have at the time - a VW Rabbit Cabriolet and a 1974 Triumph Spitfire. I asked the seller if he would be interested in a trade for the Spitfire and he said yes. So, I drove it over, his wife looked at it and liked it, and the deal was done. They did not even drive the Spitfire. Well, the Spitfire was worth less than my original offer, so I was quite pleased with the transaction. I drove the car for about 2 months, then my foot went through the floor. Thus began the ten year(so far) repair of Foam Cars body and engine.

    Thats the car background. Now for my mechanical background. I have rebuilt probably eight to ten engines starting with a 1948 Studebaker, 1953 Mercury flathead V8, 1957 Plymouth 318 V8, 100-4 Austin Healy, XK 120 Jaguar, 1968 Olds Cutlass 350, and a few more, including the PreA 1500. I also took auto mechanics for 3 summers during high school. But the body work side had been limited to the usual smearing of Bondo, fiberglass mesh, and a cheap set of seldom used hammers and dollys picked up at an auto swap meet. The body work side was the skills I was grossly lacking, but had a strong desire to learn.

    Here are some pictures of Foam Car way back then with my first bag of foam removed and more on the way under wheel opening. Turned out the complete interior was sprayed with foam and the trim installed over the top of it.


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  • #2
    Hey phil!
    Thank you for posting and Welcome!!! Its amazing what previous owners end up doing to thier cars; This is defintely one of those stories. This car must have been like a brand new Lexus to ride in with all that foam dappening the sound. I mean until your foot went through the floor. Your car background sounds very familiar. I find that most cars guys are either seasoned engine guys or body and fender techs. I have to admit I am more of a body guy with just basic engine experience. I can do alot of things but I am most in my eliment doing welding and paintwork type chores. Do you still have your XK120? You'll have to take a look at Gordon's stunning XK DHC on the open topic forum. (your other auto obsseions Page 2) His restoration is amazing! really looking forward to your updates so please keep them coming! Thanks and welcome once again!
    Justin
    Justin Rio

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    • #3
      Hi Phil,

      Been watching your fender post on the Samba and was going to comment directly there but for whatever reason my account no longer works. While its been interesting with the "gathering fork" etc. I wanted to ask how are you coming out ahead on this replacement? By the time you finish contouring,shinking,and rewelding this piece in are you not just trading one "worked" piece of metal for another? I like your repairs so don't get me wrong just curious as to why you did not choose to put the same effort into saving the original section. Keep up the great work! Justin
      Justin Rio

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      • #4
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        Justin
        Funny you should ask, as I was just reviewing old pictures of this fender, which I have been struggling with for a good 2 years now. This fender had some serious accident damage years ago, as can be seen in these pictures. I have spent countless hours raising as many dents as I can, but some are gouges that just won't come out. The worst problem is that there is a high ridge with low areas on both sides that I have not been able to remove, even with advice from experts on metalmeet.com. Today I spent about 4 hours working above the area I have now cut off(below blue line in samba pic). The same high and low areas carry up almost to the top of the fender. I decided that the high area needed to be shrunk, so heated several times with map gas torch and pounder her down while hot. Did not help much. At that point I took a break, as this issue has been haunting me for 2 years now. Fay's fender is nice an smooth and one piece from almost front to back. I already had welded in a new rear section. Anyway, went back out to the shop and started streching the low areas on both sides of the now lower high area. Low and behold it all smoothed out. Lots of damage just below fuel filler and also in front of it. Got that pretty well raised an smoothed. Regarding all the work on Fay's fender, really all I have done to it was make it fit better at the front where he did not put in the inward sweep to the headlight. Anyway, I will take a few more shots and post on thesamba, as well as here.

        Phil

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        • #5
          Oops - guess I forgot to hit "insert" on the pics.

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          • #6
            Oh yeah, I remember these photos but had forgotten how bad it was. All that secondary Hammer damage really stretched it out. I think I see peck marks; was it struck with a pointed hammer too? Its all coming back now, we both had a very similar dilema with our right fenders; save or cut?? I think Jason and his pop could have meassaged this but without the luxury of a house call I would have had to replaced it as well. I also read the concerns about MIG'ing these skins back together. I used a MIG on my car. I know the welds can be brittle but Jason really put my joints through thier paces with all the bumping, filing and heat shrinking that day. No cracks, at least not yet.
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            Jason really worked the entire area and the welds held up. I would love a TIG no doubt but if a MIG is all you've got it can work. Does Bruce only TIG his skins?
            Justin
            Justin Rio

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            • #7
              Always that timing thing or maybe this would still not have done you much good...http://porsche356abcgt.com/classifieds/8-356-parts/119-nos-t6-right-ft-fender-section.html
              Justin Rio

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              • #8
                Well, it's been a while, but another restorer here would like to see some pictures, so I will try to start adding. I will start with the area I fixed very early on as this is an area that will help John out.
                I actually started at the front battery area, then the passenger side strut.
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                Next was removing foam from front closing panel, and removing more and more rusted metal.
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                • #9
                  After the closing panel metal was removed I must have removed the front part of the rocker. Also, some of these pictures were pre-digital camera for me so I used a Polaroid(remember those) and scanned them in. The area of repair here is the metal forward of the lower door hinge that the rocker inner attaches to. I will start with the picture from the parts book that shows what this metal looks like, as some of mine was too far gone to figure out. I did add a picture here that should have been in my prior post showing all the bad metal in this area removed. Kind of scary. The box section below trick is to get the front flange angle and fore/aft just right so that the inner and outer closing panels will just butt up to it for future attachement. I had to remove part of the lower hinge to get to the rusted metal behind it.
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                  • #10
                    Hey Phil,
                    Glad you found it and thanks for sharing your build sequence. Don't forget to hit the "insert" button on each of your photo attachments. Place the curser in the text box where you want a photo to display and hit "insert". Photos can be moved, edited, removed, and even placed between existing text. Place the curser where you want the photo and hit insert. I just did that for you but you can go back and edit to add text to each photo or change their order. Thanks and looking forward to these old build photos! Justin.

                    Man this car was rusty!
                    Justin Rio

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                    • #11
                      Justin
                      Thanks for the insert reminder. Been a while since a put a picture here.

                      "Man this car was rusty!" Well, what did you expect? It's a Michigan car. The good news, if any, was that no one had botched it up trying to repair it when it was only worth $500. I think all the foam sort of preserved it's condition as a time capsule. Even this year(12 years later) I am still finding a little yellow foam here and there.

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                      • #12
                        Oh, Michigan... right! Makes perfect sense now; taking that into account your car is quite preserved for the area then. My Corvette was from Port Huron and every metal bracket was either missing or severely rusty and thin. You know how thick old American brackets and tabs were. Being from an arid climate I was not used to seeing and dealing with the "back east" corrosion. Keep the updates coming! Justin
                        Justin Rio

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                        • #13
                          Hey Phil,
                          All 356's had that secondary wall. Its what closes out the top of the longitudinal in the door well.By your photos your car should look exactly like my buddies car. Your initial tray repair looks correct but you did not add the closing wall? In one of your shots I can see traces of that round embossment on this secondary closing wall.
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                          This wall is depicted here in green...
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                          Here is whats left of yours and is waiting for its lower section with mount flange..
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                          Repair tray like yours
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                          Template for the closing panel. Yours would just have the round embossment; only difference...
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                          Is this what your now seeing?? Justin
                          Justin Rio

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                          • #14
                            You are correct Justin. Just looked at my pictures and I did have that part on the drivers side and repaired it. That was a long time ago. I assume this part is on the passenger side, as it does show up in my posting. Have to go out and take a look, as I cannot find any pictures of that area after I thought it was completed. Here is drivers side repair:

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                            • #15
                              Aha! Looked in my rocker repair section and there it is. Whew!


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