Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Perpetual Confusion Machine

As the title of this post points out, when I'm working on my '74 911, and I think I've gotten the details right - after all, I've researched the issue to death before starting to work - it turns out that I messed up. Not all the time, of course, but often enough that I growl at the car just as much as I glance at it admiringly. And, naturally enough, I worry that something I did will catch fire, fall off, explode, be a waste of time and money, or not result in the solution I was after in the first place. 

You must be cautious about what you use for parts; it matters. Generally, Chinese reproduction parts don't cut the mustard, but you don't always know where stuff comes from, even if you try to buy quality. I recently got badly made spark plugs - Bosch, made in Russia. You can't install spark plugs that have coarsely made threads without causing wear to the threads in the aluminum cylinder head, so what brand should I have gotten? One of them would not screw in at all, period.

I didn't start life as a mechanic, but I'm trying to turn into an ersatz one for the purpose of keeping my Porsche alive, as well as trying to civilize it a bit. So, there's a learning curve. I don't pretend to know all there is to usefully know about these cars, but I'm trying to get a handle on what I need to know. How some people know as much as they seem to know tells me that that they are at least 150 years old, and that they spend 22 hours a day working on, researching, or attempting to drive their 911. Fanatics, but they are a useful resource. You have to check out the online forums, but be cautious - maybe they don't know as much as they claim.

No engine, no transmission, no interior, nothing in the trunk, no worries.
After spending work and time carefully refinishing some piece of the puzzle, I don't want to have to yank it out of the car again because I forgot a detail, or tightened something incorrectly, whatever. I'm recreating a work of art, after all. It's sort of like brazenly retouching a Rembrandt - an outrageous affront to genius - but even an Old Master needs cleaning and a new coat of varnish now and then.

It takes perpetual enthusiasm to be an antidote to the perpetual confusion. If I can even get this car started after it is all screwed back together (again) it will be an important victory and something to be proud of. To an amateur. There are enough imperfections in this car to cause Ferdinand Porsche to roll over in his grave.  Sorry, Dr. F., I'm working on it.

But, who knows. Perhaps the thing that I unwittingly bumped while fooling with a part next to it will peevishly refuse to function, and it will pretend that it didn't do it and that it's fine, but it very much is not fine. Denial. If it starts and runs I will install my ear plugs, to forestall deafness, and drive off to find a 150 year old genius to help make it run properly. This job will never be finished, but that is, in part, the point of the exercise and one reason for ownership. Dr. F. will be proud.  

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