When it came time to confront the chore of keeping our 1960 Corvette project’s windshield clean during inclement weather, we quickly came up with four valid reasons to replace the factory system with an upgraded aftermarket system and they are as follows: cable stretch; old wiper transmissions; single-speed operation and a rather large, ugly lump on the firewall.
After much research we decided to go with the cable-drive system from Specialty Power Windows (SPW) and we came up with four valid reasons why and they are as follows: two-speed operation, no linkage arms and cables moving behind the dash, the drive unit mounts in an accessible yet hidden location and no ugly lump on the firewall. That’s a lot to gain and when you see the car from the outside you’d never suspect the wipers are not original as the factory wiper arm spacers and gaskets remain in service. We had Advanced Plating in Nashville refinish our original chrome spacers. Of course, with the hood open the firewall will be noticeably cleaner without the large factory wiper motor in place.
A quick phone call was all it took and by week’s end the wiper kit was on our workbench. The installation is quite simple, although working under the confines of the C1 Corvette dashboard will test your flexibility. Since our plans include installing Vintage Air A/C under the dash; the SPW wiper system was perfect as it consumes nearly no underdash space.
After we assembled the motor to the drive housing, we mounted the drive unit in the passenger-side kick panel area. We fabricated simple brackets for the drive unit and then routed the required tubing to the wiper transmissions. A single flare on the end of each tube makes the connection between the tube and the wiper transmissions.
The instructions are very good but pay close attention when installing the wiper transmissions to ensure the wiper blades move in the desired direction. The direction of wiper travel is controlled by the location of the tubing. Since the C1 Corvette wipers park in the middle and sweep outward, the flare slots on the passenger-side has the tubing on the bottom of the transmission, while the tubing slots on the driver-side will be on top. As we mentioned earlier, our replated factory wiper arm spacers and new gaskets were used to hold the new SPW units in place.
After the tubing was cut to size and installed it was a simple matter of installing the drive cable and cutting it to length. After the cable was cut to length it was coated with a heavy layer of grease and fed into the tubing for the last time. Likewise the cable-drive slider was heavily greased and the drive unit cover installed, completing the mechanical portion of the installation.
Of course, wipers can’t wipe if the motor doesn’t have electrical power and to that end we mounted the SPW-supplied switch in the original dash location. We had to do a little sanding on the backside of the reproduction plastic bezel that reads “Wiper,” but the original knob is installed with a single set screw. We used a reproduction knob from Corvette Central. When looking at the dash no one would think the wipers have been upgraded.
SPW also supplies the wiring for the back of the switch and we had that wired in short order. Since our car has not been completely rewired yet, we used a 12-volt battery for a temporary power source to check the operation. Rather than run dry wiper blades on a brand-new windshield, we used long tie-wraps on the windshield wiper transmissions to show us the sweep range.
The final step was to refinish our original Trico wiper arms. This involved the typical sanding and buffing of the stainless steel for a like-new finish. We bought a set of N.O.S. wiper blades at a swap meet to complete the wipers, wiper arms and blades are also available from your favorite Corvette parts house. We checked to be certain the wipers were in the proper “parked” position and pushed our reconditioned wipers onto the transmissions and the job was complete.
In the end we were more than pleased with our new wipers. The two-speed operation is a big plus and the system is smooth and quiet. Maintaining the original appearance was paramount and we were more than pleased with the end result. While we prefer to drive our collector cars on sunny days it is reassuring to know [should the rain begin] we have the proper equipment to maintain a clear windshield.
01. If the mechanical portion of the Specialty Power Windows (SPW) kit looks simple that’s because it really is an easy installation. Two new wiper transmissions, drive cable, electric motor and drive wheel complete the package.
02. The SPW kit is very complete, right down to supplying a wiring harness, wire ends and a switch that mounts in the stock location of our 1960 Corvette dash.
03. The first step is mounting the motor to the housing. Three bolts hold it in place and the motor can be rotated in any direction, making it very versatile when it comes time to mount it in the car.
04. The drive wheel is mounted to the motor with the drive link straight in the slider. Choosing different holes will give you a longer or shorter wiper sweep; each hole equals a 10-degree change in sweep.
05. We fabricated this simple bracket to hold the motor assembly in place. We chose to mount the motor in the passenger-side kick panel. Spacers on our bracket move the unit a bit deeper into the kick panel cavity.
06. For the top bracket we used these 10-24 speed nuts. This enables us to mount the brackets with a single wrench, and speed nuts are superior to sheetmetal screws.
07. After fabricating the upper bracket, the motor and drive unit are mounted in the kick panel. This location is hidden yet accessible. Four 10-24 SS button head screws hold the unit firmly in place.
08. The new wiper transmissions mount in the factory locations. The kit comes with a spacer that fits on the inside. We opted to fabricate a small piece of 1/8-inch aluminum to provide more bearing surface under the dash. This may be overkill but that’s how we operate.
09. After mounting the transmission, from the outside we put a small bead of black silicone around the base and then installed a new wiper spacer gasket. A drop of antiseize on the threads is a good idea, too.
10. The wiper nut has two small slots used to tighten the nut. We fabricated this simple tool for the job although there is a commercial tool available.
11. With the wiper nut tightened down, the new SPW transmission fit just like the originals for a complete factory appearance.
12. With both transmissions and the drive motor mounted it was time to route the aluminum tubing that will hold the drive cable. To that end we cut this slot in the dashboard brace for the tubing to pass through.
13. The kit comes with two 36-inch long pieces of aluminum tubing that must be cut to fit. The tubing is held in place with a single flare on each end (do not use double flares).
14. After loosening the nuts on the wiper transmission the tubing slips into place and the flare locks it in place. This is the end piece installed to illustrate the fit. Be certain the flare is in the slot.
15. While it is difficult to photograph, this shows the tubing in place from the wiper transmission. The good news is there are no exposed moving parts under the dash.
16. The square end of the drive cable accepts the pin on the drive link. The slide assembly and cable will be treated to a heavy coat of grease.
17. After all the tubing is installed, the drive cable is pushed into the tubing dry so it can be marked, removed and cut to length. De-burr the cut end to a smooth taper so it will slide easily through the tubing.
18. Here we see the aluminum tubing in place on the drive unit with the cable properly routed into the slide assembly. The drive link should be straight into the slide as shown. The cover was then bolted in place and the drive unit secured with the mounting brackets.
19. The SPW kit comes complete with a two-speed switch that mounts in the stock location on the 1960 Corvette dashboard.
20. The original wiper back plate has a raised portion on the backside to mount to the factory switch. We carefully removed that so the back plate was flat on the backside. After a fresh coat of black paint on the backside, the plate was glued to the dash with a small amount of black weatherstripping cement.
21. The original wiper knob is held in place with a single set screw, so it was just a matter of swapping the original knob onto the new switch. We opted for a new reproduction knob.
22. With the wiring complete we used two long tie wraps to simulate wiper arms as we didn’t want to risk scratching a new windshield with the actual wiper blades. The sweep and parking was spot on for our application.
23. The finishing touch comes in the form of two restored wiper arms and N.O.S. blades we purchased at a swap meet. We are now ready for inclement weather and the entire SPW kit can be installed in a day.