Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Perplexing Anomaly with "Genuine Porsche" Parts

Minutes ago I finished reading an online discussion about obstacles someone incurred while installing a windshield into an earlier 911. The issue seemed to be one of gasket fitment, and the questioner had used an OEM gasket from a widely recognized supplier. He thought his windshield was the wrong size, but no, it appeared to be the gasket. The generally decided-upon solution was to use a 'Genuine Porsche' gasket, rather than the OEM item. The OEM units have prices ranging from $39, to $116 from the supplier mentioned - and even $30 for a Chinese version, whereas the Porsche gasket was priced at $141.50 - all in U.S. dollars.

The commentators on this problem pointed out, anecdotally, that while some 'glass guy' struggled for two days trying to get an OEM gasket to fit, upon abandoning that gasket and switching to a 'Genuine Porsche' version, the windshield was installed perfectly within a matter of minutes. Hmmm. It sounds as if the Porsche version was worth the extra money in this case, if the story is actually true.

At the same time, how is it that a number of OEM, and other after-market gaskets remain for sale if you cannot fit the silly things to your car without an heroic effort? This is a good question, because the story being discussed did not only involve the one 'glass guy' described above, but it included a number of experiences with various people's windshield installation efforts. So, it might be true that the Porsche part worked best. A lot of people share the opinion that 'Genuine Porsche' parts, while always more costly, also always fit better and last longer. I guess something must back that up.

Lucky for me, I have not had to install a windshield into my car. Of course, I have had to replace scores of other parts, from one end of my car to the other. Some of the parts I used were 'Genuine Porsche', some were various OEM, or OE, while some were Chinese, or from North Korea, whatever. I have had a variety of adventures getting these various parts installed where they belong.

Porsche has recognized that there is money to be made supplying replacement parts for older Porsche automobiles. 'Porsche Classic' they call some of that supply plan. In any case, 'Genuine Porsche' parts have not always been a satisfying fit for me. I'm not saying that they aren't good, but some have been a challenge to install.

The first time I ran into this, three years ago, I needed to replace the oil lines to my Carrera chain tensioners and cam towers. The flexible, rubber hose portion of the lines had begun to leak on both sides of the engine, as that is a weak part of the line's construction. The new lines that I ordered were 'Genuine Porsche'.

The issue was that the oil lines "superseded" an earlier version(s) of themselves, and this meant that, while Porsche maintains that they fit in the same way as earlier versions, in actual fact the supersession was done in order to reduce the number of parts that Porsche needed to supply while still 'fitting' earlier cars, as I was told. Okay, they can be made to fit, but at times it isn't painless.

At least they improved the crimps on the rubber hose.
Here are the old and new right-side oil lines placed next to one another. No one can claim that the parts are identical, as they differ in length, curvature of the tubing, placement of fittings, etc. With lavish bending and twisting, both of the tubing shown here, and also the small line that wends its way down to the actual chain tensioner, the thing can be forced to connect and, I hope, properly deliver oil to were it needs to go. The lines were not as faultless as you would think authentic Porsche parts should be, but they got connected, at last.

The problems didn't end there, however. One end of the oil line, on its way to the cam tower, must pass under the air pipe through which air is forced from the fan shroud, down to and through the heat exchangers. There was just no clearance to do this. Following consultation with the supplier from which I bought the oil lines, it became clear that I was on my own, because these parts "properly superseded" the old parts that I had removed. 'Superseded' was Porsche's opinion.

After wasting plenty of time, and doing a lavish amount of vigorous cussing, at last I hammered a generous sized dent into the air pipe, in order to allow the differently curving oil line to pass by.  There was no problem with this previously, using the original oil line. Therefore, after bending, twisting, hammering, scraping knuckles, and making the air blue, the thing functions. 'Genuine Porsche'. . .

Where the arrow is you can see the dent and oil line in it.
Alright, that was three years ago, but I have just learned that things are still the same. It has been maybe four years since I removed the giant stereo speakers that came with my car when I bought it. The car makes so much noise as it is; who can listen to the radio without insanely turning up the radio's volume? Possibly that's why those speakers were so large. In any case, the speakers are distant history.

The nice Sony radio still resided in the dashboard, but I had no use for it being there. Then I discovered that there was a 'Genuine Porsche' radio delete plate available, for those who wished to divest themselves of those heavy and functionally useless radios, thereby adding lightness. The plate is meant to neatly cover the hole in the dashboard where the radio previously lived. The idea further is that the Porsche plate would fit the gap exactly, and look 'stock'. At least that was my expectation.

Glove box removed, radio out, knee pad off, ashtray out - ready to install the Radio Delete Plate. 

No such luck. The plate would cover the hole, but it covered way beyond the hole. Actually, it even covered the edge of the heater/ventilation control panel, which looked rather odd. The indentation in the dashboard which once served to position the original radio was swamped, as the new plate way overlapped the entire original recess. Too big, according to me. Yes, it covered the radio hole, but it did not appear to be a purpose-made part in that it did the job with too much enthusiasm. I believe that it should have fitted into the radio recess in order to look correct and original.

I consulted with the supplier about this, and pointed out that the plate was about 4mm too long on each end, a total of 8mm (.35") beyond the indentation that it reasonably should have fitted into.

Last two numbers, 02 = second supersession.
Now here is the interesting part:  On the back side of the radio delete plate there are lines molded into the surface, and those lines marked about 4mm in from each end of the plate. They looked like convenient guidelines to me, for modifications that I didn't plan to have to make. After shortening the plate I would also have to round the corners to make it fit - a bunch of carving.

I was told by the supplier, after providing the part number molded into the back, that the number indicated that this was the second supersession of the original part. I was also told that Porsche probably did mold those lines back there as a guide for trimming the plate, as they often did on parts that needed to be 'adjusted' for fitment on certain model-year cars. I was further told that even though the plate was sold as fitting my car (1974), in fact it did not (it fits 1978+), and that Porsche often does this in order to reduce the number of parts it needs to stock. So much for the precise fit of 'Genuine Porsche' parts. I don't know about more serious parts, but these simple ones were a headache. Aggravation and wasted time for me, better for Porsche's pocket.

All of this complaining aside, where else are you going to get new parts for a 42 year-old car? My issue is that Porsche should be straightforward and point out up front that customer-executed fitment is necessary for some parts. At least you would know what you will face, and can be prepared for it.

Finished and it looks nice, but too much of a DIY project.