We recently sent all of our 1968 Corvette chrome pieces off to Advanced Plating in Nashville for some of their gorgeous chrome work. The pieces were restored to perfection prior to the actual custom plating.
Speaking of restored to perfection, the team at Hot Rods by Dean were busy restoring our 1968 Corvette roadster to perfection and then laying down the gorgeous PPG Corvette Bronze paintjob. Our Corvette restoration is really moving along. Of course, as anyone who has ever done a full restoration knows, the closer you get to finishing the car, the slower things go. That is caused by one simple fact, as each finished piece is installed on the car you have to be extra careful not to damage the work you just completed. All that fresh paint, newly chromed pieces and brand-new emblems and weatherstripping all must be installed carefully and that takes time.
Your finished Corvette is only as good as the parts used in the assembly process. To that end, buy quality reproduction parts, use a high-quality chrome plating shop, and have the body and paint work done by someone with good references, using the best quality paint and bodywork materials available. Will it cost you more money? Certainly. However, in the end it is well worth the extra expense to have a superior car.
We all have our own bag of tips and tricks to ensure the restoration project keeps moving without damage but we thought it would be interesting to share a handful of tips that will make the job easier and hopefully completed without causing any problems. Of course, the pros at Hot Rods by Dean do this daily so they have a bit of an edge over weekend warriors like us, but assembling an early Corvette is still well within reach of the enthusiast. We can tell you this much, assembling a freshly painted car requires patience, and proceeding with caution and at a slow and steady pace is still the best advice we can share. But once you begin the assembly process some of these tips may help you get the job done. Vette
1. After the car was painted and buffed and the chrome plating came back from Advanced Plating, Paul Taylor has the daunting task of assembling the car without damaging any of the final finishes.
2. Work begins by unwrapping the freshly chrome plated bumpers and having an appropriate soft towel on hand. While this may be stating the obvious, Hot Rods by Dean knows that having a clean/clear work area goes a long way toward a successful final assembly.
3. It is fun to pretend you will remember exactly how your Corvette goes back together, but chances are after a few months you will be referring to a factory assembly manual. These invaluable manuals are available from Corvette America.
4. It pays to take the extra time to run a tap through all the threads. The bolts will be easier to start and the bolts will torque smoother and more accurately.
5. Whenever possible, Hot Rods by Dean prefers to use new hardware. However, for an accurate restoration some bolts must be reused for the proper “head marking”. When reusing vintage bolts, clean the threads using the proper die. We also use ARP antiseize and assembly lube on all bolts.
6. It is much easier to apply protective tape to a freshly painted body than it is to touch up a metallic red paint. With that thought in mind, generous amounts of tape were applied prior to installing the bumper.
7. The freshly plated bumpers are held in place with new hardware. Also in this photo you can see the flawless chrome on the license plate surround and the new plastic screw inserts on that frame. These small details make a big difference.
8. Here’s a neat tip. Before installing emblems on fresh paint use a tapered reamer to remove paint from the holes. Gently rotating the reamer returns the hole to factory size and eliminates the chance of the emblem stud cracking the fresh paint.
9. Our new emblems are manufactured by Trim Parts and they will give our car a factory fresh appearance. Note the emblems come complete with the proper speed-nut fasteners.
10. Okay, you’ve heard us sing this song before, but honestly folks, you’ll be amazed at what you can learn by reading the instructions before you begin the installation of any part.
11. We’ve been using this little trick for a long time. When threading a bolt into a “blind location nut” behind a panel, sticking the nut to your finger with a bit of weatherstrip adhesive enables you to hold the nut in position and “feel” the bolt as it threads in place.
12. Another method to hold a nut up inside a panel while threading a bolt is to simply tape the nut inside a box or open end wrench. After the bolt is threaded into the nut simply remove the wrench and the tape comes with it.
13. With both speed nuts snugged down the front center emblem is in place. The speed nuts only need to be snug, over-tightening can break the stud and or mar the paint.
14. Crossed flags have long been the seen on Corvettes and our ’68 C3 Corvette displays another set of flags (Trim Parts) on the gas filler door. Installation of this emblem is unique (we know because we read the instructions).
15. After attaching the cover to the freshly plated hinge mechanism, we gently reamed the holes before pushing the emblem studs through the holes. The assembly was then placed on a piece of wood covered with a soft towel.
16. Here’s the tricky part, the emblem is held in place by expanding the emblem studs with a center punch. A series of firm taps expands the studs and holds the emblem firmly in place.
17. The gas fill door was then bolted in place around the fill cap on the rear decklid. We had the hinge assembly chrome plated by Advanced Plating, although it only shows when the door is open. This is factory correct for a ’68 Corvette.
18. The gas filler door fits perfectly with even gaps and the new emblem from Corvette America gives the rear of the car a factory-fresh appearance. Of course the modern paint from Hot Rods by Dean is far superior to any GM sprayed in 1968.
19. Final assembly of any car requires patience, thought and proper tools. There are “gentle tools” available, like this aluminum adjustable wrench from Summit Racing and sometimes simply wrapping that socket with masking tape will soften it enough to prevent scratching fresh paint or chrome.
20. Work continues on our project 1968 Corvette and by the time you read this the team at Hot Rods by Dean will have all of our fresh chrome and new emblems in place on the body.