Corvette Maintenance - Weekend Projects 2008
It's Time To Get Out In The Garage And Make Some Noise with These Six Weekend Projects For Your Corvette.
From the February, 2009 issue of Corvette Fever
By Tom Benford
Photography by Tom Benford
Well, spring is in the air and here we are again with another bevy of weekend projects for you and your Corvette. I, for one, have had cabin fever here in New Jersey, and I am raring to get started on some projects that I've been planning during the winter months, so why don't you join me? Nothing listed here is rocket science, and you don't need an extensive tool collection, either. The main elements are care, patience, and a sincere interest in doing the job right. In addition to making some worthwhile improvements and doing some preventative and appearance maintenance, you get to spend some quality one-on-one time with your Corvette.
Regardless of which of these projects you do on your Corvette, there are a few items that will serve you well. I recommend that you have these on hand: disposable nitrile gloves to keep your paws clean; WD-40 for penetrating rusted fasteners, cleaning paint off your hands, and a plethora of other uses; some aerosol carb and choke cleaner for dissolving and removing grease and engine muck; a razor blade scraper and a utility knife; a workbench; and a stool or bench to sit on. For the projects where you'll need to elevate your Corvette, a good hydraulic trolley jack, a pair of sturdy jackstands, and a creeper or mat for your back are also items you'll need.
As far as tools go, you'll need a basic complement that includes screwdrivers and nutdrivers, wrenches, sockets, and ratchets; ASA standard if you're working on C1, C2, or C3 Corvettes and metric standard for C4s, C5s, and C6s.
This is a ratchet/socket adjusting...
This is a ratchet/socket adjusting a rocker arm on a big-block.
Having the appropriate manuals...
Having the appropriate manuals with all the relevant specs and capacities for reference is a must for working on your Corvette.
I also highly recommend you have a service manual available for your particular year/model Corvette, as it contains a lot of valuable information such as fluid capacities, electrical measurements, torque specifications, and so on. The best ones are the actual factory service manuals produced by GM and used by Chevrolet service technicians; however, Chilton, Motorbooks, and other publishers also publish excellent service manuals.
Speaking of torque, if you're doing any projects that are torque-sensitive (e.g., replacing the intake manifold bolts) be sure to look up the specific torque specs for your Corvette in the service manual and use a good torque wrench to tighten the bolts to these specs.
You may also want to consider having a radio, CD player, or iPod to provide some "working" music and bottled water or other non-alcoholic beverages to wet your whistle (definitely lay off the beers until the work is done). I think that pretty well covers all the preliminary stuff, so let's get started.
|DIFFICULTY INDEX |
|ANYONE’S PROJECT | no tools required ||I |
|BEGINNER | basic tools ||II |
|EXPERIENCED | special tools ||III |
|ACCOMPLISHED | special tools and outside help ||IIII |
|PROFESSIONALS ONLY | send this work out ||IIIII |
Stainless Intake Manifold Bolt Replacement
Applicable Years: C1, C2, C3
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Appropriate sockets, torque wrench, wrenches; factory service manual or correct torque specs for your engine year/model; new stainless steel bolts and washers
Time Required: 1-2 hours
Parts Source: www.boltdepot.com, local hardware, fastener supply, or home improvement center
Be sure to remove a single...
Be sure to remove a single bolt at a time, then replace and tighten it to the correct torque with the stainless parts. This will minimize the chances for coolant leakage and manifold warping.
As you can see, the manifold...
As you can see, the manifold and thermostat housing bolts aren't exactly what you'd call show quality thanks to rust and oxidation. Replacing them is an easy and quick affair.
Though they aren't correct...
Though they aren't correct by NCRS standards, these stainless steel bolts and companion stainless steel washers are a decided appearance improvement over the stock steel bolt, shown above on the upper left.
There's a lot of moisture and humidity in the part of the country where I live, and this makes keeping up with and ahead of rust a constant challenge, especially when it comes to the engine bolts on my Corvettes. I've always been a big fan of stainless steel fasteners because they don't rust and always maintain a nice appearance. I also should mention that I don't enter my cars in judged shows, so I'm not really concerned about correctness. That being said, I decided to replace all the intake manifold bolts on my '67 big-block coupe with spiffy stainless fasteners. This is an easy project to do, but you want to make sure you only remove one bolt at a time, and insert and tighten the stainless replacement to the correct torque before removing the next one. This is done for two reasons: First, it minimizes the chance for any coolant leakage, and second, this won't create any great disturbance in the overall torque of the manifold so there won't be any warping.
I ordered the replacement bolts from www.boltdepot.com, but you can also get them from the local fastener supply, a well-stocked hardware store, or a home improvement center such as Home Depot or Lowes. Replacing all the bolts should take about an hour on most models, although it may take a little longer on some (e.g., tri-powers) if there is more plumbing to contend with. It really dresses up the engine, and it eliminates rusty-bolt syndrome for good.
Cargo Bay Organizer Installation
Applicable Years: C4, C5
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Drill, 5/64-inch bit, No. 1 Phillips screwdriver
Time Required: 1/2-hour
Parts Source: Mid America Motorworks
This is the C5 Cargo Bay Organizer....
This is the C5 Cargo Bay Organizer. It's made of a nice, durable Naughayde-like material with three roomy compartments that use Velcro to keep their flaps closed. The organizer mounts using snaps so it can be detached easily and quickly. The small packet contains the snaps and mounting hardware.
The four snaps can be mounted...
The four snaps can be mounted using either the supplied nuts, flat washers, and bolts or screws. I opted to use the screws. A 5/64-inch drill bit will be required for boring starter holes.
After carefully measuring...
After carefully measuring the side-to-side distance and then marking the positions of the holes for the snap-mounting screws, the drill is used to make the starter holes. As with everything, measure twice, drill once.
I keep a lot of small, miscellaneous stuff in the trunk of our C5 -CDs, a baseball cap, extra sunglasses, a pack of Kleenex, maps, and so on, and this stuff tends to bounce around the trunk while I'm driving. It also creates an unsightly clutter when the trunk is open.
I decided to do something about it, so I procured a C5 Cargo Bay Organizer from Mid America Motorworks (MAM), without realizing at the time that it was meant to be installed in C5 coupes, not convertibles like mine. So when it arrived, I did some quick thinking "outside the box" and realized that by mounting it on the transverse aluminum upper deck support it would not only work just fine, but would also serve as a "separator" to hide (for the most part) the ragtop when it was in the down position (which it is for the entire winter, since we have an auxiliary hardtop that stays on for the colder months).
Use a No. 1 Phillips screwdriver...
Use a No. 1 Phillips screwdriver to secure the snaps to the aluminum upper deck support on a convertible, or to the rear window bulkhead on a coupe.
Here's the finished installation...
Here's the finished installation of the Cargo Bay Organizer ready to be stuffed with the items that usually clutter my trunk. Now all I have to do is give the trunk a good vacuuming.
The installation we're showing here is basically the same as it would be for a coupe, except the organizer would mount to the rear bulkhead beneath the rear window on a coupe. MAM also supplies bolts, nuts, and washers should you decide to fasten the mounting snaps with these items rather than the supplied screws. Be advised, however, that it may be necessary to remove the panel you are mounting it to should you decide to use the nuts-and-bolts mounting method.
This is another easy project to do, but be sure to measure and mark exactly where you want the snap-mounting holes to be before you drill.
Spark Plug Pull & Check
Applicable Years: C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Spark plug socket, ratchet, plug boot pliers
Time Required: 1 hour
Parts Source: Favorite Corvette parts/accessory supplier, local auto parts store, or auto department of a mass merchandiser
A pair of plug boot puller...
A pair of plug boot puller pliers is a good investment. They're designed specifically for pulling plug boots without damaging the plug wires, and they're insulated in the event you have to pull a plug wire while the engine is running for some reason.
The spark plugs are more accessible...
The spark plugs are more accessible on some years and models than others. A ratchet with a slightly offset handle comes in handy for removing the plugs from a big-block midyear like this one.
The heavy black carbon deposits...
The heavy black carbon deposits on this midyear plug indicates the big-block bad boy is running very rich. In addition to adjusting the carburetor to lean it out a bit, we also replaced the plugs with a new set of E3 high-energy plugs (www.e3sparkplugs.com) that don't require any gapping.
A spark plug is one of those parts that most folks scarcely give any thought to . . . until their engine starts missing, running rough, or develops some unhealthy symptoms. That's why it's a good idea to pull and check your spark plugs at regular intervals-for example, with every third oil change. Checking your plugs is not hard to do, although it's a tad more difficult on some Corvettes than on others due to plug location, exhaust headers, and/or other obstacles that may make them hard to reach and remove.
Start by pulling the plug wire off at the boot (investing in a pair of plug boot pliers is a good idea to avoid damaging the wires or the boots as they're made specifically for this purpose). After the plug wire is off, use the ratchet and socket to remove the plug and inspect it. Check the plug to make sure the electrode isn't burned away, that there's no cracking of the ceramic body, and that the color of the center electrode looks good (optimally, the electrode should be a tan color). Black indicates the engine is running too rich, thus producing a lot of carbon resulting from fuel that isn't burning properly, and a whitish color denotes the engine is running too lean. If the plug indicates you're running either rich or lean, some adjustments should be made to correct the situation and a full tune-up wouldn't be a bad idea.
If everything looks fine, just replace the plugs and push the plug wire boots on all the way. While the plugs are out of the engine, it's a good time to replace them with new ones, perhaps an upgraded plug such as the ones from E3 that don't require any gapping. If you're replacing your plugs with conventional ones, be sure to gap them correctly according to the specs in your Corvette service manual.
Shift console prep & paint
Applicable Years: C2
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Masking tape, spray paint, screwdrivers
Time Required: 4 hours over 2 days
Parts Source: Zip Products
Here's the original console on the left, and the new, unpainted unit from Zip Products on the right. The shifter diagram, ashtray door, and door sliders have already been removed from the old console.>
The lower shifter console in my '67 coupe had seen better days. The paint is peeling off in several places, and it has acquired numerous scratches over the last 41 years, so when I redid my interior, the console was on the "makeover" list as well. Zip Products offers a console either completely finished or unpainted-the only difference is the price, about $160 between the two. So if you're industrious and want to save some significant change, here's how to finish the bare console yourself.
You'll also need a roll of...
You'll also need a roll of 1/2-inch-wide masking tape. I found that McDonald's coffee stirrers are ideal for burnishing down the edges of the tape for a clean paint line.
If you're going with an unpainted...
If you're going with an unpainted console, then you'll need to purchase the console repair kit, which has everything you'll need to finish off your console once it's painted; the pre-painted consoles come with all this stuff already installed.
I used Eastwood's black Self-Etching...
I used Eastwood's black Self-Etching Primer and Black Wrinkle Finish paints on my console. The trigger spray can handles, also from Eastwood, make directing the spray easier and a lot less fatiguing on the wrist and thumb.
Carefully mask off the chrome...
Carefully mask off the chrome areas of the console that are not to be painted, then burnish the edges of the tape down thoroughly. A little more time spent with the masking will save a lot of time and grief later when you have to do a lot of touching up and/or cleaning up the chrome.
Here the console is totally...
Here the console is totally masked and ready for paint. Again, double-check to ensure your masking lines are straight and the edges are burnished down thoroughly for the best results.
Spray on two to three light...
Spray on two to three light coats of primer, letting each coat dry thoroughly (about an hour) before applying the next one. I prefer Eastwood Self Etching Primer because it "bites" into the metal for an extremely good bond, which is what you want on the chrome surface.
I used the disassembled box...
I used the disassembled box the console was shipped to me in as a makeshift spray booth, and it worked well. Here the console is drying between coats of primer.
I let the Wrinkle Black dry...
I let the Wrinkle Black dry for several hours in between each of the three light coats. After the last coat, the console was left to dry for 24 full hours in a warm environment to give the paint a chance to dry, cure, and harden thoroughly. After that, the masking tape can be removed. When taking the tape off, pull up and away from the painted area. If you did a good job of masking, you'll have straight, clean edges separating the painted and chrome areas.
Here's a detail shot of the...
Here's a detail shot of the finished console, ready to go back in the car. Looks good, doesn't it? And I saved about $140 to boot by doing it myself.
Voltage Regulator Replacement
Applicable Years: C2, early C3
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Ratchet and sockets or nut drivers
Time Required: 1/2-hour
Parts Source: Corvette Central
Always use a cushioned fender apron when working under the hood of your Corvette to protect against scratches from belt buckles. The replacement voltage regulator is resting on the apron above the old one it will be replacing. The year 1968 was the last year the Corvette was equipped with an external discrete voltage regulator; GM switched to integrated units with the '69 model year.>
Replacing the voltage regulator is a very simple procedure on midyears and the '68 shark. (Starting with the '69 Corvette, GM switched to an internal voltage regulator that was integrated with the alternator).
The condenser is held to the...
The condenser is held to the side of the voltage regulator frame with a sheetmetal screw, and this is the first item to be removed. A nut driver or 1/4-inch-drive socket does the job nicely. Next, the regulator mounting screws come out.
Unsnap the harness connector,...
Unsnap the harness connector, then the condenser pigtail connector, and remove the old regulator. Installation of the new unit is the exact reversal of the removal procedures.
The new aftermarket voltage...
The new aftermarket voltage regulator is completely installed. A tip: If you're concerned about looking authentic, you can swap the top caps of the regulators so the new unit uses the original Delco Remy top from the old regulator. A light coat of satin black will make it look like an OEM replacement unit.
As always, whenever you're working on anything that has to do with the electrical system in your Corvette, be sure to disconnect the negative terminal of the battery before you do anything else. This will not only prevent you from getting a nasty shock, it will also prevent any damage to the electrical components as you work with them.
When all of those tasks are done, you can remove the old regulator and install the new one by reversing all the steps.
Valve Cover Replacement
Applicable Years: C1, C2, C3
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Sockets and ratchet, razor scraper, gasket sealant
Time Required: 1-2 hours
Parts Source: Paragon Reproductions
If ever a pair of valve covers...
If ever a pair of valve covers needed to replaced, these were indeed the pair.
A 7/16-inch socket does the...
A 7/16-inch socket does the trick for removing the seven bolts that hold the valve covers on each side of the engine. There are three on the top and four on the bottom of the cover. These valve cover reinforcements are not correct, and they'll also be replaced.
With all seven bolts out,...
With all seven bolts out, you should be able to lift the cover off easily, although you may have to pry the edges gently with a screwdriver if they're really sealed on. When you get them off, here's what you'll see. Well, OK, maybe not high-performance roller rockers like these, but it will look similar.
The aftermarket chrome valve covers on my '67 big-block looked nice when they were shiny and new, but that was a long, long time ago, and moisture and age have taken their toll. As part of my overall scheme for revitalizing the engine bay on the old warhorse, I sandblasted and refinished the original OEM valve covers (covered in a separate stand-alone article in another issue of CF), and now it was time to install them. A gasket set was procured from Paragon, along with the appropriate grommets and a new, correct black oil filler cap. This is not a difficult project and well worth the hour or two it will take you. These same procedures apply even if you just want to take your old covers off, clean them up, and give them a new coat of paint.
Use a razor scraper to remove...
Use a razor scraper to remove all remaining gasket debris from the edges of the head all the way around. It's important to get all this stuff off so there's a nice clean surface for the gasket to seal against.
Use a canned dust remover...
Use a canned dust remover or your compressor with a blower nozzle to blow away any cork/gasket debris that fell into the rocker box.
Here are the old and the new,...
Here are the old and the new, illustrating why this project was needed and undertaken. The chrome oil filler cap also wasn't correct. New grommets were ordered from Paragon, although the old ones were probably still serviceable.
So that should keep you busy for at least a few weekends. Keep watching Corvette Fever for more Corvette weekend projects!CF
A thin bead of Permatex gets...
A thin bead of Permatex gets applied to the inside of the valve cover to hold the new gasket in place, then a thin bead is applied to the perimeter of the cylinder head to ensure a nice, leak-free seal. The valve cover is then set in place and secured with the seven bolts removed earlier with cover reinforcements (the correct triangular ones this time, however).
And here's the finished installation...
And here's the finished installation after swapping the plastic wire guides from the old covers. A new air filter and air filter cap with correct decals from Zip Products added a sparkling finishing touch.