words and photos by pablo deferrari

Well, sooner or later I knew I'd have to bite the bullet and spend some paper on the infamous front and rear cam belt covers that are nearly impossible to find used, and brutally expensive for the genuine article.

But I got very lucky a couple of days ago...
You see, beginning with Porsche's first production 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine in the 944S all the way up until the last iteration of this head in the 968, Porsche decided to use magnesium to cast these parts. No stranger to the material since it was used to manufacture the 2.7 liter case halves for 911s, Porsche, it seems, had a very good reason to choose magnesium over aluminum with the 944 16-valve...this is all, of course, my take on the matter.

Magnesium has lots of advantages over aluminum. It's lighter, around 30%, it has somewhat better resistance to corrosion, superior strength to weight ratio, and from a financial point, it's cheaper to produce.

With lower working temperatures (melts at 1202 °F), but a high solidification rate, it basically sets faster than aluminum. This means that it requires high shot pressure when injected into the die to work with this property. Another advantage is a shorter eject time from the mold, much more so than aluminum, along with shorter dwelling and lubrication times.

From a money standpoint, it's an easier metal to machine, the dies used in manufacturing components last longer, and it requires less energy to produce. The best bit? It has lower environmental hazards.
What the hell does all this talk about magnesium have to do with Ian? Nothing in particular. I merely wanted you to understand why the covers on your 16-valve head seem to be disintegrating into what looks like coarse gunpowder...that's what magnesium tends to do over time.

So here I was, faced with this problem, and there was no way around it. The rear portion of the cover on the 968, part # 944 105 179 10, was deforming and breaking into bits with evidence of prior repair by means of gluing. The short of it is that it had to go.

Knowing damn well just how much this part goes for with a Porsche label on it, I decided to foolishly think that I could find one used. Bullshit.

I called two places and was told to keep shopping and that's when I came to my senses. Why on earth would I buy a used one that probably has the same vintage as the one I had knowing that within days, months, maybe years, I'd be faced with the same shit.

Makes no sense.

This is where Ian comes in. Now, I knew that years ago Ian's place, 944online, had them "rebuilt" by means of welding, which if properly done would require a 50/50 argon/helium mix. When I went on his site to see of they were still available, they weren't. But he did have a Porsche original, at a testicle-scrunching USD$1100.

I took a good pull of beer before the realization set in that I had to part with this sort of cash...no other choice.
So, taking the suggestion of "speaking to a real human" tag at the bottom of his website, I placed a call. I was pleasantly surprised...

It was Ian who answered the call. Now, I've heard LOADS of great things about him and his business through flüssig's own Jason Gonzalez, owner of Maniac Racing and R7 Restoration, so with the man himself on the other line, it was kinda like speaking to a rock star.

Now, it isn't to often you get to speak to the owner of a place like this, so this was pleasant surprise. I explained to Ian my problem and and his debonair English accent explained to me that, yes, he had offered refurbished covers, but they didn't really perform well over time so he stopped selling them. 

Then he gives me two options, he had a set of front and rear covers in aluminum that I believe were made in China, or, for the same price, I can have the rear piece I needed made by Porsche in aluminum...his last one. And let me tell you, Ian's price was insanely cheap; Porsche wants USD$1100 for this part—I paid nowhere near that.

I was thrilled, but before I snatched it from him, I wanted to make sure that the old one couldn't be repaired. It wasn't worth trying, so I called Ian back and made the deal.

So, in the end, not only did I get the genuine article, I met a passionate guy who's been selling Porsche parts longer than I've been alive and was only too eager to help me out. Ian knows the 924S, 944, and 968 models like no one else I've ever talked to in the business. If you have one of these models, give him shout and see for yourself how impressive he and his business are.

Thanks Ian, our tribe is very lucky to have the likes of you to help us out.

highball!

Ian's website, click the banner for a visit...there's even a forum you can join:
 


Comments

06/03/2014 23:16

So where do we go if (when?) we need these now?

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Jaeme
06/04/2014 02:01

rennbay has just started selling them made from aircraft grade ali. I don't need one yet but it's nice to know there's options.

Reply
Noah Walt
06/04/2014 21:40

Hahaha... a good read. Damn straight, Ian & his crew are awesome.

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