It's time to move ahead with Project Shark Attack. While we were running around on the Hot Rod Power Tour and the Bloomington Gold show, the components we ordered in Part 2 of this series came pouring in.
Now we can remove some pieces and see if this '79 Corvette is what we thought it would be. The plan is to completely disassemble the rear suspension and differential. Once all the pieces are cleaned and inspected, they'll be sent out for bead-blasting and powdercoating.
At the start of the project, we checked the underside and sprayed all the fasteners with P-Blaster rust penetrant, allowing it to soak for a long time. The penetrant helps the parts-removal process and sometimes the flame wrench (torch) isn't necessary. As we disassembled the rear suspension, the bolts came out easily and had minimum corrosion.
We discovered some interesting things during disassembly. Differential gear oil was dribbling out from the inner right-side bolt hole of the rear-spring retainer plate, which was probably caused by a bolt that was too long.
The driver-side axleshaft had a replacement U-joint, and we wondered why someone would replace only one. We removed the U-joint and found the replacement was in worse shape than the originals with at least 124,000 miles. It most likely was never greased.
The strut rod stud/shock mounts came out with minimal hammer blows. The trailing-arm pivot bolts could be pushed out easily. All the original rubber suspension bushings were worn, cracked, and ready for replacement, not surprising after 25 years.
The trailing arms were in fair shape and the spindle bearings sounded OK while rotating the spindle. There are a couple of options when it comes to the trailing arms. You can buy completely rebuilt assemblies, partial assemblies with bearing housing available, or rebuild your original one. We decided to rebuild the original trailing arms since we have the special tools required for the job. The tools are available from Corvette Central, but are costly for one-time use.
Once all the subassemblies are removed, put the pieces on a sturdy workbench. Remove the heavy road grime and greasy buildup before component disassembly. Use latex or vinyl gloves during disassembly, as differential fluid and grease can stay with you for days.
It's important to keep all parts until the job is done. Put the ones you're replacing in one area to review after disassembly, which makes it easier to order the additional parts not on the original list. Now the disassembly of major components can begin, then an evaluation of their condition after cleaning.
Now that the project is underway and there have been no major surprises, we can consider some upgrades. Replacing the transmission with a five-speed overdrive unit so a 3.70:1 ring-and-pinion can be installed in the differential should liven things up a bit. Until the OD transmission is installed, the 3.70-ratio will be fun on Saturday night cruises. The strut-rod assembly will be replaced with Vette Brakes & Products smart struts, which change the strut-rod angle for better rear camber control. The steel spring will be replaced with a TRW fiberglass mono-spring for ride quality and durability. The U-joints will be Brute Force heavy-duty pieces from Advance Discount Auto Parts. We still don't know what brake calipers we'll use, but it isn't an issue until we work on the front suspension.