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.