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Mark's Corner: Ken's 1974 2.0L 914

Tuesday, June 1, 2021 4:06 PM

As many of you know, I have a day job. The parts business is my passion project. I like to catch up with customers as I travel the country. Some have become good friends. It's always nice to see what they do with their cars and how they drive them.


An Afternoon with Ken in Hawaii



Ken is a recent customer who is currently working on his brakes. I mentioned that I would be on his Island in a week or so and that perhaps we could catch up. I knew I had found Ken's place because his 914 (74 2.0L with Carbs) was prominently parked in his driveway.


Ken_s_914_car_image_1

I noted the car was in primer and asked him about his paint plans. Ken's quite happy with it as it is given that he drives the car routinely, so it's not a big deal if he gets a scratch - its got that rat rod look.


Be Seen and Be Heard


The 5 lug Fuchs conversion and 2.0 L were what really made this car stand out for him. He also has 2 LED light strips mounted on the front bumper to use as running lights. Ken's currently finishing up the master cylinder and plans to upgrade the backlighting in the instrument gauge cluster to LEDs. Ken has added an extra pair of speakers directly to the longs as well as a sub-woofer in the front trunk. This helps hear the sound with the top off.


Ken_s_914_car_image_2

The 914 has some company. It's cousin, the 911, is fun to drive also but he really enjoys the 914 the most. It's more of a street legal go-cart. He actually gets more looks in the 914 as there aren't many on the island.


Ken_s_914_car_image_3

One of the most unique features of his growing Porsche stable is his security system. His attack tortoise fends of any would-be thieves. This is definitely a Hawaiian car.

Thanks for your hospitality Ken! Always nice to catch up with a fellow enthusiast. 

Mark's Corner: The 914Rubber Story

Thursday, June 3, 2021 4:26 PM

Many of you may know me as Mike or Mikey, but my name is actually Mark. Years ago I started a father-son project with my oldest son, Michael, rebuilding a 914 for him to daily drive. Seeking a website where I could find parts and information for his car I eventually joined 914Club (later renamed to 914World) under the username Mikey914, which has led to some confusion over the years. With that out of the way, I’d like to share how I ended up with my first 914 and what led me to found this company.


The 914Rubber Story

 

The first car I ever drove was my friend’s Camaro SS, the year was 1984 and I was a high schooler obsessed with speed. The Camaro was fast and had immediately ignited my passion for sports cars. Unfortunately, even in the ‘80s a solid project could cost anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 plus another $275/month for insurance. After I realized the Camaro was out of my budget I started looking around for another sports car. That’s when I found a Porsche 914 for $5,900.


Having no idea what this car was, I decided to go check it out. It was a completely restored 1973 Black 914 2.0 Appearance Group. The car looked like it had just rolled off the showroom floor and I took it for a test drive. I was hooked, but could I afford the insurance? I called my insurance agent and he quoted me only $63 a month! From their perspective it was just a Volkswagen that was made in the Karmann plant with the Porsche name on the front badge and grille.


I made an offer for $5,100, which they accepted, and bought the car on the spot. It was one of the most dependable cars I've owned. The only thing I ever had to do was change the oil. That's when my obsession began.


Fast forward back to the father-son project with Michael in 2006. I had found a 1975 Zambezi Green 914 at auction and bought it for $400. The paint was mostly new, and the interior was in great shape, but the engine was pretty much gone from a prior engine fire.


914_restoration_image_1

The hard work began when we removed the engine and started cleaning the engine compartment. We had bought a used 1.7 engine and started rewiring it by splicing in part of a used harness. As we were trying to source some seals, we found out that the engine compartment split Y seal was unavailable.




I started thinking there must be other 914 owners who needed this seal as badly as I did. I had a background in drafting and engineering tight tolerance aluminum extrusions through my side-business in aluminum railing. One day while I was picking up product, I showed my sales rep the burnt piece of split Y seal and explained how I wasn’t having any luck finding a replacement for it. He looked at me and said, "you know we extrude rubber too, right?"

 

This changed everything. I made some modifications to the part which I thought would make it fit better than the factory version. I went home and posted what was to be my first Group Buy with this part on 914World. I got a lot of responses. Some groused about existing suppliers that take money upfront for poor quality parts later and others questioned who I was to be making parts in the first place. In the end, I was able to garner enough interest to pull the trigger on the tooling and make the first production run. I still remember one customer that told me the seal I made was too large and there’s no way it would fit! After I read that I worked with him to show him why the part was different and how I had installed mine. Not only did he change his opinion, but he also endorsed my part and began telling everyone it did fit better than the OEM seal. I had my first happy customer and proven product.


This company started with just me in my garage and has grown into multiple production bays with a team of employees who excel at fabrication, assembly, and customer service. I’ve never been prouder or more excited. 914Rubber has continued to provide high quality and affordable parts to the 914 community so that we can all restore the cars we love. Though I still have my day job as a pilot, my passion is using my engineering skills to redesign and produce parts that keep people driving. From the bottom of my heart I thank all of you for supporting us.

 

Sincerely,

Mark Whitesell

AKA Mikey914 on 914world

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Mark's Corner: The 914Rubber Main Targa Seal

Friday, June 4, 2021 2:37 PM

The 914Rubber Main Targa Seal was not always what you see today. In about 2012 the factory depleted their inventory on these and prices started going through the roof. When demand hit an all time high I remember seeing a N.O.S. part sell for over $1000. This month I will share some of the development history behind this crucial seal.



The Main Idea



The original part was anything but a simple extrusion. It consisted of the top section, 2 side sections, and 2 corner blocks which are all bonded together to make up the primary seal for the windscreen.



Initially, I offered only a replacement strip for the top section as I noticed it was the first failure point. You could cut the original seal at the corner blocks and glue the new strip in between them, then glue on a separate clip to make it fit snugly on the metal. It took some skill to install but was a reasonable alternative to a very expensive part.

 


Closeup of the early cut and glue repair seal.


For a few years this was the only option. I decided to take it to the next level and make the corner blocks and molded sides. This iteration was called the 3 Piece Main Targa Seal. I started making these by bonding each piece together after cutting to size by hand. It was a labor-intensive process but it allowed me to provide a complete seal at less than $200 per seal. The bonding process I was using at that time was adequate, but not as pretty as the factory part.

 
I eventually moved to a seal that I could mold together while still using a folded internal clip inside the seal. It allowed for a more factory looking part but it was very difficult to keep the internal clips at the right tolerance to properly hold the seal onto the body.

 
The second iteration of the 3 Piece Main targa seal with a separate metal clip channel.
 
While the previous version was fully functional, I am always looking to make improvements when I can. The folded metal clip was changed to an internal metal clip just like the factory. This is the version of the seal that I am currently producing. I am proud to say we still offer this seal for $179, which is a far cry from the $285 that the factory wanted when these were available in the mid 2000s.

 
The next logical step was to make the lower front targa seal. It’s the one you see from inside the car with the roof on. If you haven’t taken these out before you may think the 2 seals are actually one. Typically, the seal looks like it's still in one piece but it's actually riddled with small cracks that allow water to seep into the car and create rust. It is your interiors second line of defense and I highly recommend replacing both seals at the same time to keep you and your car dry.


Recently, I had a customer tell me he spent all day trying install this seal by pulling the side pieces down the tracks. This will not work and highlights how difficult this seal can be to install if you don’t know what to do. Click on the video below to watch Matt explain how to install the seal using his Bahia Red 1972 914.


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Introducing 914RR - 914 Rubber Resins


We have been dabbling in fiberglass for over 10 years now. The LE front spoilers, door cards, and door pockets were where we first dipped our toes into the water.  


We have now taken on the commitment to manufacture many new products after Jim Sheridan decided to step away from the 914-fiberglass business. We had the opportunity to purchase his hood molds, door skin molds, fender flare molds and more. The Sheridan hoods were known to be very spartan, perfect for race-specific applications that only required a skin.


We plan to take these products to the next level, starting with the hoods first. The first modification will involve producing an internal structure that will allow them to mount just like a factory hood. We will then offer 2 different types of fiberglass; a standard E-fiberglass (think Economy), and a more robust fiberglass commonly referred to as S-fiberglass (think Strong).


The S-fiberglass looks and feels exactly the same as E-fiberglass. However, it is made from a higher-strength glass fabric which gives it approximately 40% higher tensile strength, and a 20% higher modulus. This fiberglass has a greater strength and abrasion resistance when used as a composite reinforcement. Additionally, all of our S-fiberglass cloth feature an aerospace grade Silane finish. This helps create the most durable fiberglass option without the added expense of going to carbon fiber.


For those who do want carbon fiber, we will soon have the capability to produce these in carbon and even Kevlar fiber. Kevlar fiber will give more abrasion resistance while maintaining high tensile strength. We will be offering the carbon fiber in a clear gel coat and our standard primer gray gel coat.


These are just a few of the items coming soon. Look forward to seeing more information on these exciting new products in future newsletters and don't forget to checkout our LE Front Spoiler and Rear Valance.

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Mark's Corner: Interior & Resins Products

Monday, June 7, 2021 10:51 AM

I wanted to touch on 2 subjects for this newsletter to shed some light on what is really going on behind the scenes of our Interior program and the 914 Resins program.



Interiors



As many of you may or may not be aware, we started making door panels almost 7 years ago. We had backed off on production of these due to the amount of labor they took to construct and the need to harvest some of the existing hardware from the old door panels. I am pleased to announce this is no longer the case.


 

We now fabricate this hardware and it comes standard with all of our door panels, including the cage nuts. We have also included all 18 door panel clips needed to mount the new panels to the door frame.



Note that the holes necessary for mounting the door pockets and pull handles now come pre die-cut. These are also shipped with the door cups to make this ready to install out of the box. Our goal is to make installation as painless as possible. 







We are currently building up some back stock and will be relaunching these in the coming months. The new listing will also have a few “custom” options that will include plaid, houndstooth, and even GT door pulls. We had to slow down on production to get these back on line in a manner that yields a better product.



We have also just completed the upholstery mounting clip sets for the seats. These are critical for making the seat side bolsters and center sections stay in place. In most cases, many of these are completely rusted away or missing as they were never available directly from the factory for replacement.

These will be sold as a set per seat basis and will include the pop rivets necessary to mount the clips.



We are committed to providing you with what you need to make your car look good. We look forward to sharing more information about future items that will be available in this category soon.



Resins



We had the opportunity to mount the complete trunk assemblies for both the front and rear trunks lids. The front trunk springs really have more pressure than they need to open the hoods so we are actively sourcing a better option for use with the resin hoods.


 







Fitment is looking good currently but we are making some adjustments to the metal that gets embedded into the hoods to give them more strength.

 





The front hood with headlight delete should be ready this before August, the alignment is good and only needs some minor changes. A few of the molds have some imperfections in them that are minor, but keep them from being 100% perfect and ready to start using. There are some “hot spots” in the molds that will require glazing putty and some block sanding to remove. They are minor, but we believe in full disclosure. We are looking at the costs to finish them completely in house as an option.



Finally, we will also have replacement front valances available this month. The steel ones are hard to come by, so if yours is undamaged why risk it? 



Stay well and try to get in some quality 914 time, 'tis the season.




 Remembering Roxie

I’m sad to report that my faithful friend and frequent shop dog Roxie passed away this past Wednesday. She was with us for over 14 years, just last week we were commenting that she may have a few more years left with us because she seemed so healthy.



I'm glad she got to spend one last brisket filled holiday with the extended family this past 4th of July. We already miss you girl.

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