Anyone who has ever driven a big-block C2 roadster will tell you there'snothing like being pinned to the seat, rowing the gears with the windblowing through your hair. Owning and driving one of these beasts is alove-hate relationship. We all love the thrill of the power, but we hatethe heat and road noise.
This is where the folks from Thermo-Tec came to our rescue with a newproduct from their Cool-It line. The new product-- Thermo-Tec'sSuppressor Acoustical & Heat Control Mat--is no more than three-eighthsof an inch thick, dramatically reduces radiant heat, and providesexcellent acoustical control. Consisting of a densely woven proprietyfabric bonded to a foil backing, the mat is recommended for floors,firewalls, and doors. Just what the doctor ordered for our car.
Once the interior was stripped from our prize '65 396 roadster, we wentto work preparing the floor and transmission tunnel for application ofthe Thermo-Tec mat. Even though the carpet and jute have been replacedseveral times through our Corvette's 40-plus years, clean up and surfaceprep is always a messy job. We suggest wearing work gloves, face mask,and safety glasses. We started the job with scrapers to get the bigpieces off, employing a wire brush and a cup brush on a grinder, whichwas followed with 60-grit sandpaper and a scotch-bright pad for finalclean up. A little more effort with a shop-vac and some compressed airyielded a nice clean floor ready to accept the Thermo-Tec mat.
This is also the time to replace all the rubber floor plugs that haveturned to stone through the years and replace any rusted or compromisedseat and seatbelt mounts. It's a good idea to chase the treads in themounting nuts for the accelerator peddle and seatbelt mounts, andinspect the condition of the dimmer switch. Everything you'll need isavailable from the better Corvette mail-order companies.
Since Thermo-Tec is sold in rolls of various sizes, we opted for two36x60-inch rolls (PN 14620). We also purchased a few cans of Thermo-Tecaerosol spray adhesive.
To ensure the most efficient utilization of the product, we cut thelargest sections first, keeping every odd-shaped piece of scrap to fillin where an unusual piece might be needed. We were able to utilize mostof the scraps like the pieces of a puzzle.
We measured and cut the piece for the rear cargo area and bulkhead asone unit. After test fitting and trimming it to the exact size, we wereready for adhesive. We again dry fitted the mat into position. Workingfrom front to back, we lifted the mat to the midpoint of the cargo floorand applied a 4-inch band of adhesive between the rear wheelhouses.Since this stuff is contact cement, we decided to start with a smallstrip just to make sure we had everything properly positioned before weattached the entire piece. Like most spray adhesives, the Thermo-Tecspray is easy to use. You just need to coat one of the mating surfaces,let it tack for a few seconds, and working from the center out, pressand smooth the mat into position. Remember, with contact cement, youonly get one chance to do it right!
Continuing with the back half of the car, we began working on thewheelhouses. Our first attempt was to cut one large section to cover thewheelhouse, but there were too many different surfaces and complexangles for that idea to work, so we decided to cut pieces to fit eachindividual surface. This plan worked much better, allowing us to fit theThermo-Tec mat neatly and smoothly. While the wheelhouse is complicatedin design, you can save some time by cutting a mirror image of eachpiece for use on the opposite side of the car. In our case, the factoryinstalled insulation on the relief for the framerails was in excellentcondition, so we decided to leave it in place. Again, each piece was dryfitted and then spray tacked in the center prior to being completelyattached.
One of the nice things about the foil backing was it allowed you to markthe mat precisely by simply creasing it with your finger while the roughcut piece was held into place. We found it best to make all thenecessary cuts with heavy-duty scissors prior to installation. Try aswe might, we couldn't penetrate the Thermo-Tec mat with a razor knife.
Moving forward to the driver's compartment, we once again opted fortailoring several pieces to each surface rather than trying to cover theentire footwell. We began with the vertical pieces along the outer edgeof the footwell, followed by the sides of the transmission tunnel. Welearned the hard way that unlike the back of the car, the left and rightfootwells are not a mirror image of each other. The dimmer switch,accelerator peddle, seat mounts, and seatbelt attaching points were allcut with the scissors prior to the mat installation.
By now, we had our system down, and we were able to work veryefficiently--measure, rough cut, dry fit, trim to the exact size, andapply a small amount of adhesive for final fitment prior to completelyattaching the piece.
Once the footwells were completed, we used the scraps to fill in aroundthe shifter and ashtray, under the center armrest, and on top of thetransmission tunnel behind the radio. We even covered the jack and toolstowage areas.
The next step was the carpet installation. The molded carpet from ZIPProducts is very nice, and each section we installed made the interiorlook much better. The molded carpet isn't as forgiving as theinsulation, and a wrong cut can be very difficult to hide, so take yourtime, measure twice and cut once.
When we unpacked the carpet, we noticed that some of the pieces hadfinished bound edges, and some were rough cut. We installed therough-cut pieces first and trimmed them to fit. We found that exposingthe back side of the carpet to the sun softened the molded areas andmade the carpet much easier to work with.
Again, we started in the rear of the car, but this time the wheelhousewas covered first. The molded carpet was oversized, allowing a perfecttrim-to-fit installation. After several attempts, we decided to affixthe carpet to the framerail relief first. Working vertically up thecenter of the wheelhouse, we fitted the carpet over each surface,trimming and fitting the top edge last. Once the majority of thewheelhouse was covered, we focused our attention rearward, trimming andfitting the carpet around the cowl-support springs. Moving forward, wethen cut a relief for the rear trim panel attaching bracket. Bystretching the carpet over the bracket and rapping the carpet with aclean rubber mallet, we were able to make an exact cut in the perfectlocation. The carpet slipped down around the bracket with no wrinkles orbumps. Once we trimmed and glued the carpet around the jack-stowagearea, the wheelhouse was completed and looked original. The cargo floorcarpet was cut to fit from Zip Products and fit perfectly, with nothingmore than minor trimming around the jack-stowage compartment.
Next, the center bulkhead, separating the seats from the rear, receivedcarpet. As simple as this piece looks, it actually took some finesse toget the carpet to lie properly on both sides. We began on the frontside, working up over the top and down the back side into thejack-stowage area. Spray contact adhesive is the key for attaching thecarpet to the rear side of the bulkhead. Allowing the adhesive to tackwill allow you to press and smooth the carpet exactly where you want it.Work from the top down to avoid wrinkles.
The footwells were pretty straightforward. We found that using the sillplates as an anchor for the footwell carpet gave us a good place tostart. We were able to attach the carpet here without using adhesive. Aword of caution--when trimming around the console, trim as little carpetas possible because the console doesn't cover as much carpet as youmight think. As before, the molded carpet needed a little finesse toconform to all the angles and surfaces, but with patience, a perfect fitwas achieved.
The kick panels and jack-stowage cover were a piece of cake, justposition and glue. With the seats now in place, and the arm rest andconsole installed, our Corvette interior looks original, but withexcessive heat and road noise a thing of the past.