Garretson Enterprises’ 911 Engine Overhaul Class

The Tips and Tricks that Separate the Pros from the Amateurs

By Greg Raven
Photos by Jelly Bean the Clown
VW&Porsche magazine

With the meticulous design and craftsmanship found in the 911 engine it in some ways resembles a work of art. It is true that form follows function, however, and taking artistic license when overhauling the 911 motor can prove expensive.

Just as expensive is on-the-job training, sometimes known as the trial-and-error method. It doesn’t take very much of an oversight to create thousands of dollar’s worth of damaged parts.

A far less expensive alternative for those who plan on becoming Porsche mechanics (or on learning all the intimate details of the 911 motor) is to enroll in Garretson Enterprises’ 911 engine rebuild class. Garretson’s qualifications to hold such a class are impeccable. They have won Pike’s Peak twice (1976 and 1981), the IMSA GTU Championship (1977), the IMSA GT Championship (1980), the Porsche Cup (1980), the FIA World Endurance Drivers Championship (1981), and the Porsche Team Cup (1981). With this string of successes behind them they modestly bill themselves as the best private Porsche team in the world.

Aside from the racing aspect, participants in Garretson’s overhaul class get the benefit of both the knowledge Garretson has gained in the 20 years they have been in the Porsche repair business and from the collection of parts they have amassed. Street and race, factory and aftermarket, common and rare, all components are laid out for perusal. This in itself is valuable when attempting to understand the 911 engine.

The class starts out with a short slide presentation that touches on some of the high points of Garretson’s involvement with Porsches, and then plunges into component identification. After the slide show the instructor launches into what is the start of the three days of intense examination of the 911 engine.

Instead of using the same bench-worn motor for each class, Garretson opens up a new motor that is in need of a rebuild. And just like the motor most people will eventually find themselves working on, it too is covered with caked-on oil and dirt. This grab-bag approach also lends an air of excitement to the proceedings, as no one knows until after the case is split what the full extent of the internal wear is going to be. Not that it matters, though, as Garretson is fully equipped to deal with virtually anything that might come up.

Although the course covers a lot of ground, students are allowed breaks once in awhile. The two most popular recess activities seemed to be pumping the instructor for more information and looking at the collection of cars Garretson had there for service. When we went through the class the selection included his and hers 944 Turbos, the last 935 ever built, a 934, and an assortment of high performance street machines. Additionally, students are always welcome to take a quick spin in the 1977 934 ½ that Garretson prepared for Dick Barber; the keys are in the ignition for anyone who dares.

Course materials are handed out to each student, but it is highly recommended that you be prepared to take notes. Photos are encouraged, as well, and with all the information presented in the span of three days a visual reminder will prove helpful.

Some of the topics covered include: modifying pre-1975 cases to accept the late model oil pump, other things to consider when rebuilding the motor, how to get the most from the Carrera-style chain tensioners, how to check chains for stretch, what sealants to use and where to use them, modifying the inter-cylinder sheet metal for better cooling, and how to handle a cracked crankshaft or case.

In addition to the 911 engine class, Garretson also conducts tune-up seminars for the 911, 914, and 924/944, and Porsche transmission overhaul seminars. To sign up for any of these classes, contact Garretson at 1932 Old Middlefield Way, Dept VWP, Mountain View, California, 94043, telephone (415) 967-2858.