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Simple Weekend Corvette Projects

How to make your weekend a success with these simple Corvette projects

Cam Benty May 22, 2006

Last year, we ran an article on several projects for your Corvette that could be done easily over a weekend. Due to the popularity of that article, we have decided to add several more straightforward projects you can tack on to the original list. These projects will improve both the mechanical and appearance aspects of your Corvette. all the projects can be done with simple hand tools, and we have included a realistic timeframe to complete the project.

Spin City: A spin-on oil filter conversion makes your life easier

Those old filter cans were really a pain. Especially when you take the time to remove the oil filter, clean the surface of the oil-filter pad, dig out that old O-ring, and carefully reposition the new O-ring on the can, only to pump out five quarts of new oil on your garage floor upon start up. It's time to add a little new technology to that filter.

Starting in the mid-'60s, Chevrolet changed over to the spin-on-type oil filter, replacing the original steel-can type. The filter sealed much better and eliminated the O-rings that were often a source of problems.

A simple oil-filter adaptor was all that was required to make the change

After removing the oil-filter can, use a ratchet and remove the center oil-filter by-pass valve. Following the instructions that come with the adaptor, install the by-pass valve and conversion adaptor for the spin-on-type filter, torqueing it to the recommended specs. Spin on a new filter after oiling up the new rubber filter-mating surface. Restart the engine and recheck your oil level after one minute of operation.

Parts List

*15 minutes

* Socket wrench to remove oil filter center hub
* Wrenches to install new adaptor
* New oil and spin-on oil filter

Light my Fire: A midyear taillight and bezel replacement package

Midyear Corvette taillight bezels are notorious for pitting over the years, and those originally-stunning red lenses can dull with age. Simple fix-change them out. The hardest part is getting to the pal-nuts that hold them to the body. Removing the spare tire carrier can be helpful, but no matter what you do, the lower rear valance will have to be removed. The procedure involves sliding your hand up under the body between the mufflers, unless your car has sidepipes. We're here to tell you, it requires some gymnastic effort to reach those hidden interior nuts. Your assembly manual will give you a great deal of information about the taillight bezel-attachment logistics. Armed with a lay of the land, this job is not all that hard.

Once the attachment nuts have been removed, it is a good idea to run a sharp razorblade around the perimeter of the bezel on the outside of the car to make certain that it is not stuck to the paint. Often bezels are installed while the paint is still tacky, and over the years, they can become attached. With this simple trick, you can avoid repainting when all you really want to do in take out those old bezels and install new ones.

Parts List

*1 to 2 hours

* Assorted nut drivers or ratchets
* Assembly manual for your car
* Razorblade

Pump Me Up: A mechanical fuel pump replacement made easy

Replacing your fuel pump is not as common a weekend upgrade as it is a maintenance dilemma. Spots of fuel on the garage floor often mean that your fuel pump diaphragm is on the fritz. For some, fuel-pump replacement is a desire to increase the fuel flow to their engine. Either way, the change can be relatively simple if you have the right tools and a little patience.

The factory mechanical pump is located on the passenger side of the engine, mounted low up front. Remove anything that is in the way. The radiator and shroud need not come out in most cases. After unhooking the battery, to avoid any random accidental sparks, carefully break free the fuel lines. There are two located on most pumps, one in and one out. Remove them with the proper flare wrench, and pull them free of the pump being careful not to bend or kink the lines.

Next, remove the pump from the engine by removing the two bolts that hold it to the block. Once the pump is loose, remove it, making sure to catch the large, cylindrical pushrod behind the pump lever that activates the pump. Often it will fall out once the pump is out. A tip for installing the new pump: Clean off the pushrod, and coat it with white grease to keep it from slipping out of the engine. Remember to use a new clean gasket at the point where the pump meets the block. This will avoid any future oil drips.

Parts List

*1 to 4 hours

* Assorted sockets and ratchet
* Flare wrenches for use with flared fittings
* White grease to keep pushrod in place

Tuning You In: A quick Holley-carburetor tune is what the Doctor ordered

Tuning a Holley carburetor is a relatively simple operation. the better you get at it, the less messy it will become. The messiest part is setting the fuel-float levels. If your car stalls or leans out on hard starting or stopping, often the float levels are to blame. The key here is to try and let the least amount of gasoline escape from the carburetor-adjustment screw area. Excessive fuel can ignite and cause flamb of Corvette, and that would ruin your whole day.

Remove the fuel-bowl sight screw/plug from the primary fuel bowl. Bounce the fender of the car. If fuel slightly dribbles from the hole, you can skip this step. If you see either lots of fuel or nothing, it's time to set the float level. Using a box end wrench, loosen the lock nut that holds the adjustment screw, and then snug it back up to keep it from leaking. Start the engine. Place a rag under the carburetor to soak up the fuel. Turn the adjustment screw slowly after backing off the lock nut. Once fuel starts slowly draining from the sight hole, turn the lock nut and then replace the sight plug/screw. Be very careful with the fuel-soaked rags; they can ignite if they touch hot items like headers.

Next, hook up the dwell/tachometer to your ignition underhood. Start the engine. Using a small tuning screwdriver, turn the fuel/air screw located on the carburetor body (on engines where such adjustment is allowed). Work to find the peak idle rpm. Once you have located the highest rpm, you're finished. Adjust the idle speed to the recommended specs for your engine.

Parts List

Time*Less than 30 minutes

* Large flat-blade screwdriver
* Open-end wrench
* Tach/Dwell meter
* Small flat-blade screwdriver
* Rags to soak up fuel

Shocking News: A front-shock upgrade for your Corvette

Dead shocks not only make your Corvette ride poorly, they can be dangerous. In terms of danger, the only scary part about changing them is getting your car safely off the ground so you can work on it. With shock removal, however, you need to have enough clearance so the shock can exit the bottom of the car. Figuring that most shocks are slightly less than two feet long, the vehicle must be fairly high as well.

After removing the lower shock-mounting bolt, remove the two bolts that hold the upper shock-mount plate in place. Removing the old shock is literally impossible as long as the tie-rod is still attached to the A-arm. Tap the side of the A-arm with a mallet until the tie-rod end pops out. You can also use a pickle fork for removal, but make sure you don't damage the rubber boot or you'll be purchasing a new one. If you have an air wrench for this process, you're a lucky Corvette owner.

Remove the mounting plate from the old shock, and install it on the new Bilstein unit. Slide the shock in place, and secure the mounting plate with the two bolts removed earlier. Next, reattach the tie-rod to the A-arm, and use the impact wrench to tighten the securing bolt. Insert the lower shock-retaining bolt, and tighten the nut using the impact wrench. One more time on the other side, and you're done.

Parts List

*1 to 3 hours

* Assorted sockets and ratchets and combination wrenches
* Pickle fork
* Five-pound sledgehammer
* Blocks of 4x4-inch lumber
* Floor jack
* Equipment to safely raise and hold car 2 feet above ground

Bleeding Red: A simple master-cylinder replacement

Master cylinders wear out with time. Often they corrode from the inside due to moisture that leaks into the system. Regardless of the reason, changing them has become more common than most folks would believe. If your system has a soft brake-pedal feel and repeated bleedings don't supply a cure, a new master cylinder should be considered.

Start by removing as much fluid from the cylinder as you can. Label the brake lines exiting the cylinder with letters denoting where they go for replacement on the new cylinder. Using a flare wrench, remove the various lines from the cylinder, and then the cylinder itself from the power booster. Carefully slide the cylinder off the activation rod that exits the booster. Check with your assembly manual to make certain your cylinder can be removed in this manner.

Install the replacement cylinder in the reverse order, and firmly reattach the lines. Using a sealer on the lines is advisable to ensure that they seal well the first time. Fill the cylinder with fresh brake fluid (make sure it is the right type for GM cars) and bleed the system. Using a pressure bleeder is always advisable with Corvettes, which place a high demand on braking components. After you have finished, check the system with a short drive, and rebleed the system to remove all of the air. If you are not sure you have done this correctly, get expert help. Brakes that don't work will get you killed.

Parts List

*1 to 2 hours

* Assorted flare wrenches
* Ratchet and sockets
* Brake fluid
* Pressure-bleeding system

Exhausting Installation: Installing a new exhaust system is easier than you think

Our '01 Corvette convertible was happy with its new torque-converter swap ("Half-second C5 Corvette Improver," Mar. '06), but still wants more power and a better exhaust note. In speaking with Mid America Motorworks, we determined that a new exhaust was clearly in order. Their recommendation: a Random Technologies exhaust system (PN 622-917). In recent testing by one of Random's suppliers, they achieved 38 more rear-wheel horsepower when making the swap and using B & B mufflers and tips. Good enough for us. We thought this would make a dandy weekend swap.

The key to changing the exhaust is getting the car high enough to remove the factory exhaust and install the headers. At least two feet is required to slide the new headers in from below. Other than that, a few hand tools are all that is required. The Random Technologies exhaust fits neatly into the original exhaust location and does not require any wiring or O2-sensor rerouting. Another key is having an assistant to help hold the headers from the top once you feed them in from below.

The Random Technologies exhaust comes complete with everything you need except exhaust mufflers and tips. A call to Flowmaster products fixed that. We've always been a fan of the Flowmaster sound and know they deliver excellent low-backpressure performance. The new 80-series premium Corvette mufflers (PN 525802-R and PN 525802-L) are the perfect fit for our C5, and the single, round (oval is also available) stainless steel, 3-inch, rolled-end exhaust tips are very cool. Best of all, the level at idle is not too loud, but when you stab the throttle, it gives off a great sound, especially with the top down.

Parts List

*3-5 hours

* Assorted sockets and 31/48-inch ratchet
* Open wrenches for removal of the O2 sensors and other fittings
* Screwdriver or prybar to separate plumbing
* Jackstands

Catch me on the Autobahn: Installing C5 Euro taillights

We've always coveted those unique Euro taillights, the ones with the cool white or yellow section that gives an added exotic look. A new kit from Mid America Motorworks makes installing those cool taillights a relatively simple proposition. The kit (PN 612-221) comes with everything necessary to install either the yellow or white inset lights. Each light comes with a special clip, which allows you to connect to the OE-wiring harness, and does not require any special rear wiring-harness changeover. The hardest part of the installation is the wiring that is attached under the dashboard near the driver-side footwell. The new, small underdash harness is "plug and play." It's well thought-out, getting you back on the road in as little as a couple of hours, shorter if you understand electrons.

Parts List

*2 hours

* Open-end wrenches
* Flashlight


Mid America Motorworks
Effingham, IL
Zip Products
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
The Eastwood Company
Trim Parts
Stainless Steel Brake Corp.
Clarence, NY
Eckler's Corvette
Titusville, FL 32780
Willy's Carburetor and Dyno Shop
Mount Carmel, IL
Vette Brakes and Products



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