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