Right Tool, Right Place, Right Job

Our first Porsche was a copper-colored 1978 924 2.0L four-speed.  It had a cloth sunroof, like an old VW Beetle, air conditioning, and a brown interior.  It had about 40K on the working odometer when we got it, and I paid something like $6,000 for it from the original owner.  We owned it for a long time, finally ending up with our son, and in all it went about a quarter million miles.  During that time it got an engine rebuild, a five-speed transaxle, and all the normal maintenance stuff.

That car, named “Roxanne,” taught me a lot about cars, Porsches and transaxle cars.  But the most important and long-lasting lesson was this: You cannot beat having the right tools and the right place to get the job done properly.

Roxanne needed a clutch replacement.  Living in a 100-year-old house, there was no garage.  The toolbox was pretty thin, and there was a carport.  And jack stands.  So the job began.

As we know, replacing the clutch is not for the faint-of-heart.  With the car on jack stands, I removed the trans, unbolted the driveshaft tube, and removed the bell housing, all while lying on my back in a cramped space on uneven concrete.  After a week, I was able to finish the job.

While trying to remove the bell housing bolts with cheap sockets and associated ratchets, extensions and universal joints, the socket came loose and dropped from the top of the bell housing.  Straight down.  Into my forehead.  Right above my nose.  Thunk.

When I regained consciousness and figured out what I had been doing, I worked it out that the socket had struck a magic point on my skull and knocked me out cold, probably for a half-hour or so.  Naps are a nice thing, but not a “forced nap.”  I climbed out from under the car, got my wits about me, recovered the errant socket, and went back to work.

After that incident, I built a shop behind the house, but neglected to make the walls tall enough for a lift.  Unlike the carport, it was enclosed, dry, and well-lit.  With the shop, I was able to upgrade my tool collection, focusing on good tools and good tool storage.  I acquired an engine crane, an engine stand, an assortment of drop lights, jacks and jack stands, and some cabinets to put things.  At almost 900 square feet, it was marginally large enough for father-and-son projects.  But in that small shop, we rebuilt engines, updated and upgraded a lot of cars including a new top on a Miata, an engine rebuild in a Chevy truck, and lots of Porsche stuff.

Eventually we moved away from that old house into a brand-new house that we designed ourselves.  In a wholly residential neighborhood, our L-shaped house on a corner lot had a screened pool and an air-conditioned 1100 square foot shop built into the house – this time with enough overhead clearance for a lift.  This house with the “stealth shop” was great.  But as things happen, we sold it and moved again to our current location with two-and-a-half acres, a nice house with a pool and our current 2,700 square foot shop.  The tool supply consists of eight tool cabinets and a bunch of shelving just for tools and equipment.  There are two bead blasters, a cleaning tank, several roll-around carts, two lifts, a thirteen foot ceiling, and LED lighting.  The 14×14 office has windows that look out over the shop, and the space above the office stores our collection of seats, carpet sets, bumpers and other large items.  About 600 square feet is dedicated to well-sorted parts storage.

We have wired/wireless internet, hot water, a double utility sink, a full-size refrigerator with an ice maker, repurposed kitchen cabinets, and a washer and dryer for washing nasty rags and work clothes without using the “good stuff” in the house.  The iRacing simulator setup is in the office.

Yes, it’s the culmination of a dream.  The only thing missing is Air Conditioning for the shop.  And that will happen because I am just too old to work in the heat and humidity.

We have done many clutch replacements over the years, and I have not dropped a socket on my head again.  I guess that means success!  (Please note that there is a medicine cabinet in the shop filled with bandaids and Neosporin.  Work gloves are also a necessary segment of safety equipment.)

It also means that while it may take a while, you can work diligently towards your goals, whatever they are.  Working on the carport was not good; my first backyard shop was okay, but what is now in my back yard is great.  Really great.

Author: Kevin Duffy, 924S944.com LLC, DeLand, FL

After retiring from a career in Law Enforcement, Kevin Duffy turned his attention to one of his passions, Porsche 944's and 924S's. He owns 924S944.com LLC in DeLand, FL, rescuing and restoring forgotten Porsches, bringing them back to a useful life. He is especially interested in the rare-but-beautiful 924S Special Edition. He can be found at Porsche Club events, including track days, tours and shows, as well as other car-focused events around the southeastern United States.

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