We can anticipate the upcoming road test causing a bit of excitement anddisappointment, knowing the engine is a worn-out, gutless slug. But thetight suspension and handling will make up for the lack of power, atleast for a little while. We also haven't had a manual transmission toplay with for a while. The beauty of this project is, after thesuspension and brakes are completed the car can be driven between theremaining phases. This keeps the adrenaline flowing and commitment tofinishing the project top priority.
Now we move on to front suspension overhaul. We'll remove all suspensioncomponents, upper and lower control arms, spindles, steering box,steering linkage, power-steering cylinder, power-steering control valve,and sway bar.
The upper control arms will be replaced with Vette Brakes & Productstubular pieces to increase positive caster, allowing better road feel.Positive caster occurs when the weight of the vehicle is placed on therear of the spindle. If you were to draw a vertical line starting at thelower ball joint to the upper ball joint, the upper ball joint would betoward the rear of the car.
Positive caster biases the front wheels to straight-line driving. Duringcornering, the vehicle's weight must be lifted slightly due to thepositive angle placed on the spindle. This makes steering effortslightly harder but pays off in tighter handling, especially at higherspeeds. The wheels inherently return to center after cornering.
Typically, a minimum of 4 degrees positive caster is required for goodhigh-speed road feel. If possible, 6 degrees positive is preferred foreven better feel at speed. At this point, you should understand casterand handling at high speed.
Negative caster causes a nervous feel--any rut or raised line can pitchyour car from side to side. A shopping cart is a good example ofnegative caster. As you push the cart, the front wheels flutter back andforth. This makes for quick, easy turns when loaded, but it doesn't gostraight.
Caster also controls front-end pull right or left. When aligning thefront end, caster can be offset with one side a little higher tocompensate for the crown of the road or steering-wheel pull. Castershould be kept within 0.50 degree (side to side) during alignment. Lowtire pressure and dragging brake pads can also cause a pull.
The '63-'82 Corvette chassis is susceptible to sagging, causingalignment concerns. When sag occurs, the chassis prevents correct casterand camber adjustments. A dead giveaway is the absence of shims in theupper-control-arm shafts at the alignment bolts. If the alignment shopcannot attain enough caster or camber adjustment, offsetupper-control-arm shafts with rubber bushings are available fromCorvette Central in kit form. Make sure the offset shaft is positionedtoward the outside of the car.
The steering box, often neglected, sits next to the exhaust manifold,cooking the lubricant, especially in big-block cars. The lack of goodlubrication causes drag and eventually bearing failure. The steeringcoupling (or rag joint) can appear to be tight when it's causing a lotof steering-wheel play. We will overhaul the steering box and replacethe coupling for tight steering and control.
While the front suspension is being serviced, the radiator and shroudwill be replaced. The radiator shroud interferes with theupper-control-arm removal process, so this is the time to multitask. Theradiator will be an aluminum replacement and the shroud goes away.
We do not want an engine-driven fan. They rob horsepower and work bestwhen they're needed least. It takes awhile for the A/C temperature torise with an electric fan, but engine-driven fans can't keep up withelectric fans. We're thinking about modifying a '90-'96 Corvettedual-cooling-fan assembly for use with the aluminum radiator. That's inthe next phase, though.