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Chevrolet Corvette Maintenance - Corvette Weekend Projects 2009

Isn't it about time to head out to the garage and get your hands dirty?

Tom Benford Mar 22, 2009
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Hopefully, you've all thawed out successfully and are itching to roll up your sleeves and start working on your Corvettes--I know I certainly am!

To borrow the motto of the Boy Scouts of America, "be prepared," which translates to having some essential items ready for use before you begin working on your Vette. These are what I consider to be essentials: disposable nitrile gloves to keep your meat-hooks clean; WD-40 for penetrating rusted fasteners, cleaning paint off your hands, and a plethora of other uses; 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 on which to sit. A good torque wrench is also mandatory equipment if you're doing any projects that require specific torque for the bolts, such as heads and intake manifolds.

If you'll be doing any projects where elevating your Corvette is involved, you'll need a good hydraulic trolley jack, wheel chocks, a pair of sturdy jackstands, and a creeper or mat for your back. You'll also need a basic arsenal of tools that has a good assortment of screwdrivers, nut drivers, wrenches, sockets, and ratchets. The tools will be ASA standard if you're working on C1, C2, or C3 Corvettes and metric standard for C4s, C5s, and C6s.

Service, shop, and/or assembly manuals are always good to have on hand for your particular year/model Corvette(s); they contain pertinent data such as fluid capacities, electrical measurements, torque specs, and so forth. 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 as well.

You'll do your best work and be most efficient if you wear comfortable clothing; perhaps have the radio, CD, player or iPod on to give you some pleasant tunes; and have bottled water or other soft drinks available to quench your thirst.

Lastly, always work safely, because it's no fun to get cut, bruised, burned, or sustain any other injuries while working on your Corvette. Make sure you have plenty of time to complete any project you start, since rushing things invariably leads to carelessness and accidents; the old adage "haste makes waste" is a true one. I know it's been said before, but safety is no accident--literally!

Well, that should keep you out of trouble for a while. Hope you have fun doing these projects--see you next year, same time, same issue, with a bunch of new Corvette weekend projects.

Project 1 - Alternator Detailing/Replacement
Applicable Years: C2, C3
Skill Level: 2 Wrenches
Tools required: Sockets, ratchet, wrenches, screwdriver, wire brush or steel wool, magnet (optional), prybar, black spray paint
Time required: 1-2 hours
Parts source: Mid America Motorworks

Cast-aluminum parts such as alternator housings oxidize and become dull over time, particularly in damp or humid environments. If allowed to progress, this oxidation eventually causes pitting in the metal, too. Removing the oxidation and restoring the original patina of the cast-aluminum alternator housing isn't difficult, but it's much easier to do if you remove the alternator from the engine first. If your alternator needs replacing, these procedures are identical for that chore as well. However, if you're doing a replacement, you might want to consider a nice chrome-plated high-output alternator such as those offered by Mid America Motorworks. Whether you're detailing or replacing your alternator, here's what to do.

Project 2 - Corvette Rear-Letter Installation
Applicable Years: C4, C5, C6
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools required: None
Time required: Less than 1/2 hour
Parts source: Mid America Motorworks

If the brass-embossed word "Corvette" at the rear of your C4/C5, or the lack of it altogether on your C6, is a bit too subtle for you, you may want to add some eye-catching stainless or colored letters to the rear of your Vette to give things a bit more pop.

This is an easy installation that requires no tools at all. The letters are precut and come with a peel-and-stick backing that's easy to apply after a little surface prep and cleaning. Once you're satisfied with their positioning, just press on them a little harder to bond securely. The C6 letters also fit perfectly on the passenger-side dash, too.

Project 3 - Nose Mask Installation
Applicable Years: C5, C6
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools required: 10mm socket, ratchet, No. 2 Phillips screwdriver
Time required: 1/2 hour
Parts source: Mid America Motorworks

Chips on the nose of your Corvette caused by pebbles and other debris hitting it at highway speeds are unsightly and a constant problem if you do a lot of throughway driving. Installing a nose mask is an easy and cost-effective means of preventing new chips from occurring as well as covering up existing ones, plus it gives the nose of your Corvette a sporty Euro-look.

All you'll need to do this installation is a 10mm socket, ratchet, Phillips screwdriver, and about a half hour.

Project 4 - Hood Struts Replacement
Applicable Years: C5
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools required: Flat-blade screwdriver
Time required: 1/2 hour
Parts source: Mid America Motorworks

When the hood of your C5 won't stay in the up position or gradually loses altitude when in the open position, that's an indication of hood struts that need replacement. Or, if you just want to add a little extra underhood sparkle, replacing the stock black struts with bright stainless units is easy to do as well. Either way, here's all it takes to replace those C5 hood struts, and the only tool you'll need is a flat-blade screwdriver.

Project 5 - Rocker Panel Mount Repair
Applicable Years: C3
Skill Level: 2 Wrenches
Tools required: Sockets, ratchet, wrenches, screwdrivers, drill, mini die-grinder
Time required: 2 hours
Parts source: Corvette Central

The rattle of loose rocker-panel moldings on '70-'82 Corvettes is a problem that can be really annoying due to the noise it creates on these C3s. Corvette Central offers an inexpensive (less than $30) and effective repair kit that cures this problem and is so simple to do that even the mechanically inept can make this repair successfully. The project car is my '74 driver and, since this car has Hooker headers with bundle-of-snakes sidepipes, it will serve well as a worst-case scenario. Start to finish, it shouldn't take you more than two hours to do this project.

Project 6 - Wiper Motor Replacement
Applicable Years: C3
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools required: Sockets, ratchet, wrenches, screwdriver
Time required: 1 hour
Parts source: Corvette Central

Replacing a dead windshield-wiper motor on a Shark is a fairly simple matter. It should take you well under an hour and no special skills are required. Here's how to do it.



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