12 March 2016
"Primum non nocere"
Or in English, "First, do no harm."
The easy updates first. Last month I did a few fixes to the rear of the car. I've never been totally happy with the LED strip I added as a third brake light a few years back, so I removed it. But in an effort to still try to help those following my little car notice me, I decided I needed some higher powered brake lights to make up for not having the third light in the rear window.
What I found was a custom fit LED kit just for '69-89 Porsche 911. This kit uses 48 LEDs on a custom printed circuit board. That many LEDs makes these much brighter than most retro-fit bulb replacements, plus the LEDs are packed close enough together that they don't have that typical LED look (a bunch of bright dots behind the lens).
I also decided to fix up the rear lights a bit while I was adding the LEDs, by replacing both the tail light lenses and the rubber lens seals. So the tail/brake lights now look good, don't let moisture get in any more, and are much brighter with the near-instant response that is typical of LEDs.
Then just to add a little more visual spice to the rear of the car, I added a new Porsche Club badge to the rear engine grill.
Back to the "do no harm" bit. I decided a while back that I should consider overhauling the suspension. None of the records I have for the car show any suspension work, the car is approaching 168,000 miles, and I had seen that some of the bushings that are easy to check were obviously worn. So I tentatively planned to do it all—bushings, bearings, shocks, ball joints, etc.
Before I ordered all the parts though, I spent an afternoon under the car really examining the condition of it all. And in the end, all I found that was truly in need were both front and rear sway bar bushings, and the rear spring plate bushings. So that was what I ordered.
Sway bar bushings are a relatively simple project. But the spring plate bushings are somewhat unique to these cars, and are said to be rather tedious to replace due to how they are bonded to the spring plates. So thinking ahead, I also ordered a special cutting tool designed to ease the removal of the old bushings. Using this tool, it is claimed that one can change these bushings without the use of a heavy-duty press.
Perhaps so in some cases. But after spending an hour or so taking apart the first side, I quickly determined that the improvised clamp/press I had access to was not up to the job.
And here is the time to "do no harm"—in my younger days, I would have continued to try to improvise even further, trying to figure out a way to do this myself. And in so doing, I would quite possibly work myself into a hole where I couldn't finish with what I have available, but because I'd gone too far I could no longer put the car back together either, or worse, damage or break something.
"Primum non nocere"—in this case, recognize that I had bitten off more than I could chew, and stop before someone or something (other than my pride) gets hurt. I put the car back together, and set up a time to have the bushings installed at Eric Jones Motorsports, which is where I was planning to take the car for the required corner balancing and alignment afterwards anyway. More expensive that way, but both I and the car are probably happier for it.
Continued in April...