Front Wheel Bearings

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With my daughter graduating from High School this month, I have not had much time to work on the car.  I have spent most of my free time researching how to disassemble my suspension system, a task that looks daunting, but not as daunting as putting it back together!

 Anyway, I had some time over the weekend to remove the bearings from the front hubs.  One of the hubs does not turn as freely as I would like and both have old dried up grease that has to be cleaned.  So, I begin:


First step is to remove the felt seal cover that is screwed into the hub.  A lock screw holds this in place, so must be removed first.  Then the cover can be unscrewed using a tool that has prongs to fit the holes you see in the photo.  Not having such a tool, I had to make one.  At the local hardware store I found a strip of brass and a brass rod that fit the holes in the seal cover.  I drilled holes in one piece of the brass that corresponded to those holes and bent the rod through them so they protruded just enough to fit the felt cover holes.  I then bolted on a cover to keep the rod in place, making sure the bolts were farther apart than the hub diameter.  It wasn't pretty, but it worked.



By hammering on a wooden dowel that I place against the front bearing (from the rear), most of the parts came right out.  The rear bearing was another thing, however.  That guy would not budge.  So, I got out a torch and heated up the hub until it had expanded enough to loosen the bearing.  I quickly learned that you have to protect yourself against the grease inside the hub, because it gets pretty hot!



In the above left photo are from right to left:  Felt Seal Cover, Felt Seal, Washer, Outer Bearing, Cone Spacer, Inner Bearing and Hub.

As I thought, one set of bearings had a hitch when turned, probably caused by a flat spot in one or more of the balls.   I plan to order these from T. Rutlands along with new felt seals for the front and the rubber seal for the rear axle.

This being done, it is time to get back to my suspension research and to figure out a way to remove the rear bearings....

The Front Hubs and the Hub Puller

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This week I removed the front hubs.  Again, I had to pull the cotter pin inside the hub, then use an extra large socket with extension to remove the bolt..  However, this time the hub did not slide off the way the back hubs did.  Lots of tugging and staring did no good.   Then it hit me, maybe I could use the Hub Puller I just purchased for the tool kit!  It is amazing how often the obvious just sails right on past me....

An original hub puller is expensive and doesn't look like much, but works pretty darn well.  It screws on to the hub (and can be flipped around to reveal a reverse thread for the other side of the car), then a bolt in the center screws in and pushes against the axel/stub thing to push the hub out.  It is a simple device, but probably the only one in the original tool kit that I would even consider using.



Once the hub is off, there are two backing plates to be removed.  The bearings remain inside the hub and will be removed later.


Following that, I had a nice day of degreasing parts.  When you read articles or blogs on car restoration, degreasing is a process that is mentioned as an aside, if at all.  Today I found out that it is not a minor job!  Most of the afternoon was spent scrubbing the hub parts, only to reveal rust.  I will probably have to remove the rust in the blast cabinet, but at least now I can pick the parts up without gloves and an apron.  Later, when all the parts are clean, I got to clean the cleaner!  The fun never ends...



Something I ignored last week was the removal of the rubber gasket from one of the rear axle pieces.  I decided not to attempt this until I found out how to do it properly.  It turns out that it was pressure fit, so all I had to do was to tap it out from the rear with a hammer.  Obvious now, but I'm glad I did not wack it only to find out that it screwed in!


Digging into the rear hubs

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Another weekend has come and it turns out that the rear hubs were not as bad as I had thought.  The rusty bolts holding the various flanges to the differential were a pain to remove, but turned out not to be my first obstacle.


In order to remove the loose disc bolts, one had to remove a hub sleeve that the bolts were threaded through, not the set of bolts behind it.  To do so, I had to first remove the nut inside of the hub.  This nut is secured by a cotter pin, which can only be removed through a hole in the hub sleeve.  So, using a very long nosed set of needle nosed pliers, I pushed the cotter pin through the hole until it could be pulled free.  That done, I had to buy a 27mm socket to remove the bolt; which allowed the hub sleeve to slip free.


Using a lot of penetrating oil and a variety of 14mm wrenches and sockets, I was then able to loosen the eight bolts that held the three flanges to the differential.  The first has a rubber seal that keeps the differential from leaking.  The second seems to exist only to hold the heat shields.  The third was part of the differential.


After doing the other side, I thought I would take another look at the seized brake pistons.  I succeeded in removing them by first collapsing them in a vise, thus breaking whatever bond the pistons had with the sleeves.  This being done, I put the grease nipple in one opening (if it wasn't already there) and blew varying levels of compressed air into the other.  When I got to 120 lbs., there was a loud POP and the piston blew through the towel I had wrapped around it and flew 10' out onto the lawn.  The next time, I tightened the towel!   Not only is this a dangerous projectile, but can spread caustic brake fluid all over the place.


Looking at my pistons and sleeves, I can see why they were stuck.  Not only did the 15 year old brake fluid look like mud, but the piston had rusted to the sleeve.  Both will have to be replaced with stainless steel before I will feel comfortable using them to stop the car!



Now all I have to do is remove and repack the bearings and replace the rubber seal.  I guess I should also dig further into the front hubs as well.  Time to do some homework to figure out those tasks.  Maybe next weekend...

Removing the Brakes

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This weekend I started on the brake system.  Two of the brakes are seized and all sat for many years without being used.  The plan is to send the brakes and brake booster out for rebuilding and replace the brake lines myself.  I hope to find a good brake rebuilding company in Southern California, so that I can have a chance to talk to and learn from the guys doing the work.  The pistons will need to be nickel plated and resleeved.  I'm not sure if the brake shop can do the nickel or not.  I also plan to have the brake guys replace the balance tube and first segment of the fuel line with stainless steel.

brake1.JPGRemoving the first brake took about 4 hours of hard work.  Removing the next one took about 30 minutes of intelligent work.  Having a chance to look at the first one on the bench let me figure out what I needed to do, which tools to use and what order to do it in.  After that, with the exception of a few very stuck bolts, removal was a snap.  Special tools needed were flare nut wrenches in standard, not metric sizes, sockets with a breaker bar, an air impact wrench, good 6 sided box wrenches and some sort of wrench extension tool.  I got a great wrench extender from Eastwood for a couple of bucks.

The bottom line is that there are only two bolts holding the on the calipers.  The front bolt is behind the steering arm, so it can only come half way out before getting stuck.  This kept me busy for a while, trying to figure out how to move or remove the arm.  However, it turns out that if you remove the rear bolt first, you can then slide the whole caliper off without taking the (loosened) front bolt out of its hole.  It's amazing how simple things become with a little experience!

Of course, in order to make sure nothing is simple, Ferrari placed the rear bolt behind the balancing tube.  Therefore, the tube must be removed, or to keep things together, you can remove one side, loosen the other and twist the whole thing out of the way.  While you are at it, remove the brake line, so you don't break it off when you remove the caliper.

Front and rear calipers are held on in the same fashion, but the rears are longer, having the emergency brake attached.  There are no extra bolts on the emergency brake, but you do have to dis-attach the the cable before removing the calipers.  This is held on with a pin and cotter pin.


If you still have them, the heat shields must be removed.  This is pretty straight forward, unless you make a bonehead move like me.  The rear bolt for the lower shield is buried into an indentation in the shield, which makes it almost impossible to get a wrench on and when you do, the sucker will not turn!  I experimented for quite a while; trying various ways to get significant torque on it without stripping the corners off the head.  After a long frustrating time, I took a look at the solid block of dirt and grease that was on the back of the mounting plate.  Scraping away the crap revealed a nut attached to the bolt I was trying to unscrew.  Doh!  Removing this nut allowed me to push the nut right out.  It was much easier the second time...

brake4.JPGWith an impact wrench to loosen the bolts, the discs came right off.  I originally tried using a ratchet wrench, but the disk just spun.  The impact wrench took them off immediately, with no fuss.  By the way, once the disc is off, you can push the bolts through and out on the front calipers.  However, in the rear, they hit a flange and won't come out.  The flange they hit is very rusty and looks like a pain to remove.  Looks like a project for another weekend.

General Overview of the Cars Condition

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    So let's take a look at her now.  Over the years, I have had the chance to remove a fair amount of the interior and fix a few of the mechanical bits.  Now is the time to remove all, clean and renovate, then put back.  But first, let's see what we have.

     Overall, the body is in good shape.  


    The car had a mediocre overspray to convert it from white to silver.  As you can see, the windows and most of the trim was not removed prior to painting.  Also, it looks like the original paint was not cleaned as well as it could be, so it is starting to crack.  As with most repaints, the previous owner did not bother to paint the dash.  This gives me a great sample of the original white to match when I get to painting the exterior.


    There is a little rust in the usual locations (bottom of the door and the floor pans), but as the car has never left California, it is not as bad as it could have been.  The Borrani's look healthy but very tarnished.  I do not trust moving the car on them until I have them fixed by an expert on wire wheels.  Looks like a visit with Cork Adams is in order.


    The leather is totally shot.  There are a few pieces that can be used as templates, but 10 years of baking in the California sun rendered the seats useless.  The previous owners son recovered the rear package panel and added his own details.  I don't know if this was appreciated or not, as when I got the car, this piece was covered with white shag carpet.  I recently found this in the garage rafters.


    I also need a headlight lens, a taillight lens (unique to the Series III), a frame for the drivers door kickplate, a new antenna, screws to attach the door latch strike plate and all the seal rubber, which is totally dried out.  In addition, it looks like welded on screws are broken on a headlight surround and the driver's side engine vent.


    The one major problem that I can see is that the frame is broken on the front passengers side.  It may be hard to see, but the nose of the car is a bit tweaked.  I think the car was once pulled into the garage a little too far.  The break is in front of the suspension, so is probably not dangerous.  In fact, it looks like the car was driven for quite a while after this occurred.  I, however, am not interested in driving it until this is fixed.  Now I have to find someone familiar with welding tubular frame elements.  Any suggestions???


    Overall though, the car is in great shape.  It was a daily driver until the previous owner passed, so all the parts are there and they did work once.  It is quite original.  Neither owner appeared to replace anything.  They either valued originality or were too cheap to replace things, so everything is there.  In fact, to date the only non-stock part I have found is the eight track player.  Fortunately, in the spirit of never throwing away anything useful, I found the original radio in the previous owners garage.

    In addition to the radio, I am lucky to have a few other items that will be the envy of other GTE owners.  First, in the glove box was the original owner's manual.  Second, for reasons that I cannot fathom, in the trunk is a spare windshield.  Also in the trunk was a full engine gasket set, in the original box.  I have no idea if this is still usable, but I like it!  I recently found in his garage a set of aftermarket headrests, in matching leather and in the original box.  They were never installed, but are fun to have.  Lastly, the car came with a moderately complete tool kit.  The tools were half Craftsman and half Ferrari.  I later went to the previous owners house and asked to look at his tool box.  As I suspected, it was half Craftsman, half Ferrari!  Now all I need is the Hub Puller (the only usable tool in the whole kit) and the lube gun extension to have a complete set.



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        Ok, enough about me.  Let's talk about the car. 

         Carrozzeria Ferina began construction of chassis number 2126 on November 23, 1962.  It was to be given a Coupe 2+2 body, painted Bianco (White) and fitted with a Pelle Rossa (Red) Connelley leather interior.  Soon thereafter, over in the Ferrari factory, work began on an engine that was to become number 4247.  It was fitted with three 36 DCL Carburetors, a model that was unusual for this car.  On February 15, 1963, shop foreman Franchini wrote "Montato sfiati sulla distribuzione" or "Mounted vents on the distribution," though I have no idea why.  The engine was completed by Sr. Taddei on the 19th, and tested by Sr. Ciocci the same day, On  February 25,1963, my car rolled out of the factory, a certified Ferrari; destined for the United States and Hollywood Sports Cars. 

         Tyler Gregory of Pasadena, California purchased my car some time in mid 1963.  As I was told by a business partner, Tyler Gregory was, by profession, a "sportsman."  That is, he played a lot of golf, raced motorcycles and power boats, had more than a few female friends and, in his spare time, owned Beverly Hills BMW.  He was quite a legend at work and the Annandale Country Club, where the white Ferrari was present in every story.

        In 1984, Tyler passed away and his widow sold the car to Charles Metcalf of Culver City, California.  Mrs. Metcalf told me that getting that Ferrari was one of the happiest days of Charles' life.  It became a daily driver for him and he loved to tinker with it on the weekends.  Charles did not like to spend money on the car; if an arm rest tore, duct tape did the trick.  If a gage malfunctioned, he cut the wire.  When the leather package shelf faded from the sun, white shag carpet was a fine replacement.  He did, however, have the exterior painted silver.  Fortunately, Charles was no slouch in the mechanical department.  He tuned the V-12 by ear and kept the car running smoothly until he passed away in the mid 1990's.  At that point, the car was put on blocks, covered with a tarp and left to sit for almost 10 years.


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        I first heard about the car at a local block party.  I told Mrs. Metcalf that the car should be sold, since the California sun would eventually destroy it.  Tom Shaughnessy was sniffing around for parts, but she would only consider selling to someone who loved the car as much as her husband.  I was not aware that Ferrari made such a car and under the assumption that I would be dealing with a Lusso, California, or dare I say it, a GTO, thought I could not afford the car.  Fortunately for me, it was a GTE and I could afford it.  So, in late 2001, for $15,000, the rental of a flat bed tow truck and a promise to let her daughter take a spin when it ran again, 250 Pinin Farina Coupe 2+2 number 4247 was mine.  It was one of the happiest days of my life.

Who Am I?

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        I guess I should start with who I am and why I am doing this.  My name is Tom Wilson and I purchased a Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Coupe 2+2 from a neighbor in 2001.  At that time, the car had not run in over 10 years and since then the longest trip it has taken was the 2 mile tow truck ride it took to get to my house.  Through this blog, I plan to document my journey towards getting this car back on the road where it belongs.

        I grew up loving cars.  Having been raised in West Los Angeles, I have had the opportunity to see wonderful examples of automotive exotica on the local streets and even in High School parking lots!  The first Ferrari to enter my life was that of Keith Richards, who moved into the neighborhood with his navy blue Dino.  I think I was more impressed by the car than the rock star!  My dirt biking friends and I hung out at Steve McQueen's house, so were always looking at his cars (though honestly, at that time I was more interested in his motorcycles).  Soon after that, Road & Track showed the new Berlinetta Boxer (yellow over black) and I knew it was only Ferraris for me.

        My biggest influence, however came from outside the Ferrari world.  When I was young, my minister, Paul Woudenberg was a restorer of Rolls Royce and Model A Fords.  Some of you may know him as the announcer at the Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance for the last 25 years or so and the author of the Illustrated Rolls-Royce, Bentley Buyer's Guide.  My brothers and I loved riding in his cars and talking with his neighbor, Phil Hill, about the cars in their garages.

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        Paul shaped my life in many ways; only one of which was in the area of cars.  I will always remember him showing me the difference between a real Rolls Royce Grill and a fake.  His passion for this piece of metal was infectious and I was intrigued by the idea that a single person lovingly made and "tuned" each vane, unlike the machine stamped vehicles that my family drove.  Paul instilled in me a lifelong appreciation for things that were built significantly better than they had to be.  One couldn't ask for a better mentor than that.

        Throughout the years, I have worked on my own cars to some extent, but have never had the opportunity to do a restoration.  I assumed I would start this hobby with something less than a Ferrari, but the opportunity arose so I grabbed it.  A block party conversation with a neighbor's mother led to my discovery of GTE # 4247 on blocks in her back yard.  Tom Shaughnessy had been nosing around, but she wanted to find someone who loved the car as much as her husband had.  She found me and I don't think that I have disappointed her!   

        My first call after finding the car was to Paul, who told me the car was not an easy introduction to this hobby, but if I did my homework and listened to others, I could do it. An internet search for GTE's lead me to, a wonderful site devoted to the restoration of vintage Ferraris.  Tom thought I could do it as well, so a 1963 Ferrari moved into my garage.  Since then, I have been absorbing information from Tom's site, reading anything I can get my hands on, meeting with other restorers and fixing some of the simpler things on the car.

        I am now at a place in my life where I feel I should begin the restoration in earnest.  I will photograph and write about my progress as I go along and will ask for advice frequently.  By doing so,  I hope to not only create a device for me to remember how to put the darn thing back together again, but also to create a tool that will help other people to restore their own cars. 

        So now, I guess it's time to jump into the pool and see if I can swim!