Corvette Weekend Projects 2010

It's time to head out to the garage again and get started on some projects

Tom Benford Mar 17, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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Over the winter months, many folks get cabin fever-the all-but-unbearable feeling of being cooped up inside and not being able to travel or go about your business freely due to temperature and/or weather constraints. But not me-no, sir. Instead, I get Corvette fever-the all-but-unbearable feeling of not being able to open the hood up or get underneath my Corvette(s) to get my hands-on garage time in. To while away those long winter hours, I think of things that need to be done to my rides or projects I want to do to improve them or personalize them in some way. And, inevitably, by the time that Spring thaw rolls around, I have a pretty long laundry list of things to do.

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Another winter-time activity of mine is getting my tools, gear, and equipment ready for work as soon as the weather breaks. That usually entails making sure all my sockets are properly sorted and in their respective places in trays or holders; I've found that there are precious few things more annoying or frustrating than needing a certain tool-a socket, for instance-and not finding it where it's supposed to be. And unless you share your tools with somebody else, there's nobody else to blame for this but yourself for not putting it back where it belongs when you last finished using it.

I always like to give my wrenches, sockets, ratchets, and extensions a good wipe-down with a shop rag while I'm at it to remove any grease, grime, or gunk that may be on them, although I'm usually pretty good about cleaning my tools after each project before stowing them.

I frequently use air tools, so lubricating them with air tool oil is another good "keep-busy" winter task, as well as organizing all those essential garage chemicals like carb and choke cleaner, WD-40, naptha, denatured alcohol, and such. I also have a "utility tray" that contains other essentials like nitrile gloves, a utility knife, safety glasses, shop rags, an LED flashlight, ink marker, tape measure, and other indispensable miscellaneous implements that I know I'll usually need at some point during various projects.

So, after all these months of getting everything ready, I can't wait to jump right in and begin. So, let's do just that right now!

Project 1: Radiator Replacement
Applicable Years: C3
Skill level: 2 Wrenches
Tools required: sockets, ratchet, wrenches, catch basin, screwdrivers, pliers
Time required: 4-5 hours
Parts source: DeWitts Reproductions

Some of the radiator seams on my '76 Shark were starting to show tell-tale stains from dried antifreeze in a couple of spots, telling me this radiator was ready to pop the next time I had to sit in traffic on a 90-degree day. Owing to some engine performance work, it runs a bit on the warm side, so I decided to replace the stock radiator with an all-aluminum racing unit from DeWitt's Reproductions. Since this car also has factory air, there were a couple of extra steps you won't have to perform on a non-A/C car. Either way, it's not terribly difficult, but it is a bit involved and will take up the better part of a Saturday when you do it.

Project 2: Thermostat & Housing Replacement
Applicable Years: C1, C2, C3
Skill level: 1 Wrench
Tools required: sockets, ratchet, razor scraper, screwdriver
Time required: 1 hour
Parts source: Paragon Reproductions

The thermostat housing on my '67 big-block was looking a bit shoddy, and the old warhorse has a tendency to run hot in summer traffic, so I thought it would be a good idea to replace the stock thermostat with a 160-degree unit when I put a new housing on the engine. This is an easy project that will help your engine to run cooler and make the engine look nicer-especially if you're doing some additional cleanup and detailing while you're at it, as I did.

Project 3: Retro Fuel Rail Covers
Applicable Years: C5
Skill level: 1 Wrench
Tools required: none
Time required: 15 minutes
Parts source: Advanced Automotive Technologies

If you have a C5 and you'd like to get a little of that "retro look" under the hood to remind onlookers of your Corvette's 50-plus-year heritage, then these fuel rail covers from Advanced Automotive Technologies are your ticket. Made of the same composite material as the stock factory covers, these units are molded and painted to be reminiscent of the old finned valve covers from the '50s and '60s. Installation is a snap-literally-since no tools are needed and in well under a half-hour you can give your modern-era C5 a real nostalgic, classic look.

Project 4: Door Sill Panel Mount Hole Repair
Applicable Years: C2, C3
Skill level: 1 Wrench
Tools required: rivet nut thread setter kit with inserts, drill, screwdriver
Time required: 1/2-1 hour
Parts source: The Eastwood Company

When redoing a Midyear or Shark interior, it's not uncommon to find bad sill panel mounting holes when you take the old panels off; this can be caused by rusting, the old screws not coming out and requiring drilling or just having stripped threads. Regardless of the cause, you'll have to repair the holes before you can properly install new sill panels, and inserting new thread inserts is an excellent solution. Here's how to do it.

Project 5: Air Filter Cleaning
Applicable Years: C5 or any year using a non-disposable filter
Skill level: 1 Wrench
Tools required: compressed air/blower nozzle, stiff brush, screwdriver
Time required: 1 hour
Parts source: SLP Performance Parts

I have an SLP Blackwing Cold Air Induction system on my C5, and after many miles and several months, it was time to clean the filter, so I got a cleaning/servicing kit from SLP to do the job. It takes less than an hour and you don't need any tools other than a brush, some air pressure, and a screwdriver.

Project 6: Engine Appearance Freshening
Applicable Years: C1, C2, C3
Skill level: 1 Wrench
Tools required: wire brushes, engine paint and disposable brush, steel wool, nitrile gloves, WD-40, compressed air, masking tape, misc. hand tools
Time required: 1-4 hours
Parts source: Paragon Reproductions

Over time your engine will acquire a coating of dirt, dust, road grime, and grease, and some parts will become discolored due to oxidation or gasoline/oil seepage. An hour or two (or three or four, if it's really bad) is time well-spent with the improvement you'll see when the job is done. So roll up your sleeves and let's get started.

Conclusion
Well, that wraps it up for this year's Weekend Projects issue. But, if you're like me, there are still plenty of other things that need to be done. See you same time next year!

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