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Quick Valdy Update

Hello friends! We’re just popping our heads above water for a few quick minutes to share a little bit about where we are at with the Rolling Restoration of Valdy, the Porsche 912 that we’ve been entrusted with.

As you might remember, last time we outlined the results of our diagnostic testing and assessment on the car. With a benchmark set, we began the process of dismantling the car so we could begin to really sink our teeth into the project.

valdy5

As anyone who has ever taken apart anything can attest to, one of the biggest concerns with a restoration project that has been scheduled over an extended period of time is that parts will get misplaced, or vital information will be forgotten when it comes time to re-assemble the car many months (or years) later. We are always careful to document the disassembly process thoroughly, and ensure that any components that are removed from the car are labeled and organized accordingly. Let’s just say we go through a LOT of Ziploc bags and Rubbermaid tubs over here…after all, it’s amazing just how valuable an old, rusted out part becomes when another one cannot easily be found or created. Even eBay has its limits, as anyone who has started (or attempted to complete) a restoration can attest to.

The majority of the disassembly process was handled by our in-house Porsche aficionado & expert, otherwise known as Alex, and “supervised” by my son Charlie who happened to be visiting from the UK while this was happening.   I’m so grateful for their continued enthusiasm for the project, and really appreciate their passion for Valdy. I’m also grateful that only one of them is on payroll, and the other agreed to trade his time for Tim Horton’s hot chocolates and vague promises of an early inheritance.

After we had a little paparazzi action in the shop – in other words, taking a million and one pictures of the car, from every angle – we got down to business. Lest you think we are trying to give the Kardashians a run for their money, fear not: as good as our memories are, it can be hard to remember every little detail of every car we have in the shop and photographic evidence is invaluable to preserving our sanity.

valdy1

It probably goes without saying, but prior to disassembling a car the battery must be disconnected, along with the hoses and wires connected to the engine. Safety first! The car was then drained of its oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and gas, which we safely recycled and disposed of.

After removing what was left of the exterior trim, we began by removing the larger pieces off the car first; namely, the engine hood, bonnet, and gas tank. We then removed the front and rear bumper. Everything was relatively straightforward, which was wonderful (but slightly unnerving at the same time – is this too good to be true?!). Unless of course you count a minor gas spill that happened while removing the tank…but we won’t talk about that one. A good reminder to double-check that the tank is 110% empty before moving on, right guys?

When it came time to remove the fenders, we were met with a lot of resistance. Apparently, they were glued on with a rubber substance of some sort, and determined to stay on the car. Let’s just say Valdy could have been driven at 100 miles/hr with no bolts attaching the fenders to the car, and they still wouldn’t have fallen off. A little lot of manpower later (and maybe a power tool or two), they were pried off and set aside while someone went for a little visit to their Registered Massage Therapist.

With all of the major exterior components removed, we got started on the interior. As you’ll remember from our last update, the interior has had a re-trim at some point in time but the car is more than overdue for a facelift. We removed the seats first, and then all of the carpets. This allowed us to get a proper look at the metal floorboards, and gain a more thorough understanding of the overall condition of the frame of the car. As we quickly discovered when we had Valdy up on the hoist for the inspection, the floors were replaced with flat-sheet steel at some point. Leaving the floor at it is is not an option, so it will be redone along the line.

valdy4

Certain makes of cars are more prone to issues than others, so when we’re disassembling a car we are always keeping an eye out for any problems that weren’t apparent during the initial inspection. Porsche’s are notorious for having buried rust spots in the door pillars and kidneys, which we want to know about now rather than in 6 months. Thankfully, the front wheel wells look really good, with no other surprises or hidden problems so far. Unfortunately, the rockers aren’t as lucky – they have most certainly been covered with bondo at some point, and we are expecting to find rust behind them. Oh the suspense! Luckily, we have repaired more than our fair share of rusted out panels and feel confident that we’ll be able to handle whatever comes our way with this car.

And that’s it! As you can see, disassembling a vehicle properly is time consuming and labour-intensive, but we believe it’s well worth taking the time to be methodical and strategic in order to save time, money, and therapy bills down the road.

valdy2

Where do we go from here? In our next installment, we’ll walk you through what we’re doing to the mechanical side of the car – the engine, trans axel, brake system, clutch, and suspension are all (over) due for tune ups and rebuilds, along with the starter, alternator, and exhaust components.  Will the mechanics be what we are expecting, or will there be any hidden surprises? Stay tuned…

Valdy’s Big Night Out

It is a well-known fact that when a few car aficionados get together, projects are brainstormed and planned, and much excitement ensues. About a year ago, news started circulating in the car world that there was a new car on the block that had quite the story behind it, and it was known as “Valdy”. My curiousity got the better of me, and after asking around I was fascinated to learn that a 1967 Porsche 912 had been found on the side of the road on Vancouver Island, and had at one time been owned by the famous Canadian folk musician Valdy. It had been purchased by Port Alberni based realtor Dave Koszegi, and while his original intention wasn’t to complete a restoration on the car, once he found out about its history he decided it just might be a project he was willing to undertake after all. The seed was planted, and the wheels started turning.

signed print

Dave and I met several years ago through events hosted by the great team at Classic Car Adventures. We’ve done several rallies together, and have enjoyed getting to know each other and discussing all things cars. Knowing I was passionate about restoring beautiful cars, he contacted me to see if I might be interested in playing a role in restoring a piece of Canadian history. I was honoured that he would choose me and my team at RWM & Co. to help him transform his dream into reality, and we began to make the necessary arrangements to make things happen.

Of the course of several weeks, Dave and I ironed out the details of the project. I went over to the Island to meet with Dave and see Valdy, and to assess what needed to be done. We decided that the restoration would be carried out over a 24-month period, and on a budget to boot. Beautiful “rolling restorations” don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, despite what many people have been led to believe, and we were committed to proving that with Valdy. When it’s done, Valdy is going to be a road car, so we wanted to ensure that no matter what, it was safe and fun to drive.

Fast forward several months: the planning was done, and I was like a kid on Christmas morning! Dave and I made the necessary arrangements to for me to go pick up Valdy in Nanaimo, and bring the car back to my shop in South Delta. Only one small, minor problem: Valdy hadn’t run in eons, and we had no guarantee it would even make it back in one piece. We debated trailering the car to the shop, but decided in the end that we weren’t the type to back down from a challenge and that we’d give it our best shot. WE were up for it, but was Valdy?!?! Only time would tell. Gulp.

I was dropped off at the ferry terminal, purchased my ticket, and walked on. I was so excited and nervous – in a few short hours, I would be seeing Valdy again after talking about and planning the project for months, and bringing the car to its new home for the next 2 years. I just hoped it would behave nicely on the way home to the shop!

Naturally, the evening I was supposed to go we were dealing with a torrential rainfall, and crazy winds. The weather was so bad that I wasn’t sure if the ferry would even sail, or how rough the crossing would be, but fortunately for me it did and it wasn’t too choppy. It was a surprisingly smooth ride, and while on board I paced like an expectant father in a hospital – I couldn’t sit still, or help but wonder if I was completely insane going to fetch a car that hadn’t been driven in 8 years (save for a small jaunt to meet the Classic Car Adventures Fall Freeze participants in September 2013), in the dark with heavy rain and winds. Thankfully, I have a great office coordinator who had thought to pack me a small rolling suitcase with essential tools, a spare battery, jumper cables, and a few other bits that I might need. She was gracious enough to include some water, snacks, and my trusty Haggerty recovery card, just in case. Thankfully, I would only end up needing 2 of the 3 extras she packed.

By the time we docked, I was so anxious – we had a very small margin of time to retrieve the car and load it back on the ferry to return to the mainland, and there was zero room for it not behaving itself. Despite the inclement weather conditions, our ferry was on time – phew! One less thing to worry about.

I hurried off the ferry, red suitcase in hand, and was instantly met by Dave on the other side of the glass petition. He somehow managed to snag a yellow security vest (even though I’m pretty sure he is not an employee of BC Ferries…or is he?) so that he could whisk me away. Dave had organized everything ahead of time so I didn’t have to leave the terminal. He had brought Valdy over on a trailer from Port Alberni to Nanaimo, and had dropped it off in the boarding line-up. I was so appreciative and impressed with his efforts; it made a huge difference and kept things running smoothly.

driving to shop

Since we were under a huge time crunch, we didn’t have much time for small talk: we got down to business immediately. I jumped in the car, turned the ignition, and was THRILLED when it started up right away without a protest. Not willing to test my luck, I waved goodbye to Dave and the real BC Ferries staff, and drove on to the ferry with a huge sigh of relief.
Once I parked, I hadn’t so much as even set foot outside the car when the questions started coming at me. Valdy attracts attention wherever it goes, and everyone who sees the car has questions about its history and the restoration plans. Once I shared a small piece of the story and the restoration plans, people started to get excited that they were seeing the “before restoration” Valdy, as it surely will be even more of a showstopper when it’s completely restored and they’ll be able to boast that they saw the car in the early days.

The ferry crossing back to the mainland was equally uneventful, but as we started to approach the shore my nerves set in again – would Valdy start as nicely again, or would I be stuck on the ferry with a dead car, forcing the other cars to dodge me as they attempted to leave the ferry? Much to my amazement, it was on its best behavior and started back up again without any problems whatsoever. I drove off the ferry, and prepared myself for the adventurous drive back to the shop.

I was prepared for the car to not run, but I hadn’t been entirely prepared for driving in a torrential downpour on new roads that were not yet on my GPS system. While I was very grateful to not have to change a battery on the side of the road in the dark on a rainy and windy night, I had quite the challenge seeing out of the windshield as the wiper blades hadn’t moved in 8 years and were somewhat resistant to the idea of being woken up. It was raining so, so hard, and they protested by smearing the screen rather than wiping it. Mental note made to not pick up a car on the rainiest night of the year ever again.

After driving Valdy for a few kilometers, I was significantly more relaxed and confident that we’d all make it back to the shop in one piece. I started to speed up a bit, and quickly realized that the seat ratchet was not going to hold my seat back without some assistance. Naturally, I found this out the hard way when I was jerked to the back after accelerating. Oops. Luckily, the brakes worked surprisingly well. Thank you, Valdy. Much appreciated.

I soon realized that in order to drive safely and to keep from springing back, I needed to drive with one hand holding the seat ratchet in place and the other hand on the wheel. No big deal, I can multi-task. However, when it came to change gears, I had to change tactics: I would be cruising along at a steady 80 km/hr, perch myself on the front of the seat, change gears, firmly grasp the seat ratchet again, and only then sit back in the seat. I can only imagine how this looked to those who passed me on the road that night.

By this point in time I was in the groove, and despite the poor visibility I was thoroughly enjoying driving Valdy. Above 2000 rpm’s it was pulling quite nicely, although I did have to double-clutch to get it to change gears since first syncro and second syncro were gone. In all fairness, if I hadn’t really moved in 8 years I would probably be a lot more difficult than Valdy was that night. All things considering, it ran like a dream for a car that hadn’t moved in so many years.

About 30 minutes after leaving the ferry docks, I cruised smoothly into the shop (without having to call for Haggerty roadside assistance, I might add) and tucked Valdy in safe and sound for the evening. After its rude awakening in the rain, I thought the least it deserved was a warm and dry parking spot for getting us back without too much drama, and I was more than happy to provide that.

Over the course of the next few days, I had the pleasure of test driving Valdy (when it wasn’t raining too heavily, of course) several more times to assess what we would be dealing with. Each time, I was pleased to experience a relatively smooth ride. However, I did find that whenever I took the car out I had to budget extra time to allow for answering the questions of all of the people that tended to inquire about the car when I was out and about on the roads. Even though the project is just in the beginning stages, the excitement is building, and rightfully so. Both myself and my team at the shop are thrilled to be working on such a beautiful car in alignment with Dave’s vision and dream for Valdy.

SONY DSC

Once I was satisfied that I had a good grasp on how the car was running, I began the formal inspection process. What would we find when we put Valdy on the hoist? Would it be completely rusted out? Have we bitten off more than we can chew? Stay tuned for Part 2 of our rolling restoration series.

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