Craig Richter is a Porsche 356 expert and two-time national record holder. Here are a few things he learned from his racing period and driving with Speedy - his 356 Speedster.
1. What are your recommendations for rollbars?
I've seen the results of several roll-overs. In fact, I was in one of them. My advice is to forget about roll bars in street cars. All they will do is hurt you.
2. What do you think about Weber manifolds?
The Weber manifolds that look like the old Solex manifolds appear to be OK. The area right under the throttle butterfly already accepts 44mm Webers, whereas the Solex is only 40mm and must be opened up to use the bigger carbs. The old "fat" or "dune buggy store" Weber manifolds not only have severe clearance problems, the manifold runners have an odd bend and just won't produce any horsepower.
3. How do I tackle the problem with spark plug electrodes being bent by my high dome pistons?
You could just use a second spark plug washer. We used to do this all the time when clearance problems occurred with high CR's, and shorter 3/8"-reach plugs (NGK B6S) weren't available or seemed too short. Didn't seem to affect heat range.
4. Will I need a Capacitive Discharge System for my ignition?
There are many quality CD systems out there but the good Bosch coil puts out 34,000 Volts, and the 12V Bosch red coil is advertised to deliver 40,000 Volts. Either is quite capable of handling the ignition for racing motors. CD's do make sense for street use, but there is no convincing evidence that they can increase torque or peak horsepower over a properly prepared points system.
5. I don't know if I can trust my oil pressure gauge but it indicates a pressure above 70psi at high revs. Isn't it too high?
It's really difficult to get too much oil pressure out of a 356. My street Speedster runs 70psi when revved up, even hot. Cold it pegs the guage. Never had any problems with seals leaking, or anything like that. Racers assemble carefully, sometimes use heavier relief springs, and get over 100psi. On the other hand, old small pump motors seem to run forever on 20psi, and the oil light flickers at idle, about 8psi. Amazing little motors.
6. What do you consider important when modifying the older engines with early 3-piece case?
You must first address the oil pump issue. These early 3rd pieces used a separate oil pump body, and are not interchangeable with the later 3rd pieces, where the oil pump body is built-in. Better IMO is a VW blueprinted pump. You must use the early VW size that matches the 546 oil passages. But a VW pump will require an electric tach, which is better anyway, no wiggly-wag pointer action. Once you get the oil pump sorted, a simple machine shop mod allows late main bearings, and then the sky's the limit! All the late stuff fits.
7. What's your opinion about using valve seals?
Those seals for the late valves may promote the very thing they are supposed to help, because by restricting oil entry down the guide on the intake suck, which means less oil smoke out the exhaust pipes, especially on deceleration; but less oil can mean the guide/valve wear out faster, which makes the smoke come out the exhaust sooner. I've wiggled the valves on a lot of old motors, early and late, and I don't feel the seals help anything. Lotsa miles, lotsa slop. Exhaust valves operate much hotter than intakes, so you'd never want to limit oil there, and exhaust pressure is pushing the oil back up the guide, so I don't even like to weld-up those little "break-in" squirter holes in the exhaust rockers.
8. Am I correct that the Solex manifold (w/ Adapto-plate) would not work on my A's heads?
No, your A heads can be made to work very well with Solex manifolds. You will have to match-up the port-to-manifold junction, paying some attention to the tips in my book. You will be quite impressed with your old A's performance. Add adapto-plates with the correct Weber set-up, and then correct pistons, cam and exhaust, and you'll be buzzing' around like it was 1959!
9. What do you think of alu oil coolers to let my 356 engine run cooler?
Cooler than what? My two motors both have alu coolers, because I too am a good enthusiast, but I didn't notice a lot cooler running than running the old '60's coolers. Clean old stuff for sure, and I always do some gauge accuracy checking, but is there an actual problem here?
IS THAT ALL CRAIG KNOWS?
Of course not. In 1983 he published "How To Make An Old Porsche Fly". Almost 200 pages packed with valuable information, revealing the secrets for hopping up your precious Porsche 356/912 and aircooled VW. Read to shreds by the "inner circle" and a sought after publication, pretty pricey now because it sold out long ago.
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Now here's some good news.....
Craig has made his "How To Make An Old Porsche Fly" book available again!
How To Make An Old Porsche Fly
by Craig Richter - Digital Edition
Join the "inner circle" and start reading the exact copy of Craig's original 1983 publication.
Download the digital edition to your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
And it's printable too in case you need it on your workbench 🙂
To get your personal copy, click "Get It Now" button below and get immediate access.
The price? Less than a set of spark plugs.
Here are examples of the contents. You'll get the exact copy of the entire original book as a downloadable PDF file. We've partnered up with FastSpring, a US company that acts as our authorised reseller and handles your payments and order processing securely. FastSpring accepts credit cards, PayPal, wire transfer and many other payment methods - depending on country.
If you're a copyright holder of tech documentation you want to offer to the public again, please contact us - you might be pleasantly surprised by a crowd of people appreciating they can have access to information again they thought was long lost!
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To get your personal copy of Craig Richter's "How To Make An Old Porsche Fly": click the button above. You will be redirected to reseller FastSpring who takes care of secure order processing and immediate downloads. For the price of less than a set of spark plugs you simply can't go wrong.