Answer: Wonderful question, Lance. History has always been a favorite subject of mine, and the history of the Corvette emblem is quite entertaining. In the case of the original "Waldorf" Corvette, a man named Robert Bartholomew designed the emblems that adorned the hood and the center of the steering wheel. But his first design-which featured a checkered flag on the right side crossed with an American flag on the left-was never seen by the public. At the last minute, someone on the legal staff at GM halted the unveiling, stating, "You can't use the American flag on a commercial product."
This decision created an urgent need to create a new emblem design in a matter of hours, since the car it was going on was already in New York. Bartholomew tried to contact the Chevrolet family, to obtain a copy of the family crest, but he was unsuccessful. Then he had an epiphany. "Chevrolet is a French name," he thought, "and the fleur-de-lis seems very French to me." He then created a flag that combined a blue Chevrolet Bow Tie and a fleur-de-lis crossing staffs with a checkered flag. With the aid of a plastics shop in Detroit, he created the emblems and had them sent to New York, where they were installed just in time for the unveiling of Chevy's new sports car. One of the original emblems was saved and is currently on display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Question: I own a '64 Corvette that has a modern drivetrain but retains the factory body appearance. After the car was last painted, in 1990, the seams where the panels were bonded together became visible. About five years later, small cracks appeared where the seams are. Now I'm planning to have the car painted again. The body shop I'm using said they would apply some body filler to these locations, but that with time, the car would crack again. Is this true, or can I repair this problem before the paint is sprayed?
Via the Internet
Answer: First off, find a different body shop! You need one whose techs are accustomed to dealing with Corvettes and their unique problems.
Let's run through the steps for permanently filling the bonding seams. Note that this is a messy job that can cause skin irritation. Remember to wear safety goggles and gloves any time you work with fiberglass or resins.
The surface should be clean of all waxes and grease. You can use a pre-cleaner for this purpose.
The areas to be repaired should be dish-ground (concave) with a 24- or 36-grit sanding disc until deep enough to allow for the application of three layers of fiberglass mat. Fiberglass cloth should not be used, since the woven texture has a tendency to show in the finished product.
After grinding, blow away any residue with clean, dry (oil-free) compressed air. Solvents should not be used, since they can soak into the raw fiberglass and affect bonding or cause a solvent "pop" in the paint at a later time.
Cut your fiberglass mat into three different widths. You'll be applying these to the dished area, starting with the widest one on the bottom. After cutting the mat, pull some of the material off of the cut edges to fray them. This will allow for better bonding and prevent sharp edges.
When mixing the fiberglass resin, only mix the amount you'll use in a 10-minute span. After that, the resin will begin to harden. Note that the working time will vary with ambient temperature and amount of hardener you mix in. Follow the guidelines below, and remember to work only one panel at a time.
Brush the prepared area with resin.
Lay the fiberglass mat in the prepared area and thoroughly brush the resin into the mat.
Use a fiberglass roller to apply the resin-mat mixture to your Corvette. The roller will help force any air bubbles and excess resin out of the material, allowing for greater strength.
Once you've finished applying the first layer of fiberglass, immediately apply the second layer.
After you've finished applying the second layer of fiberglass, immediately apply the third layer.
Got a question for our Tech Corner expert? Just jot it down on a paper towel or a lightly soiled shop rag and send it to us at VETTE Magazine, Attn: Tech Corner, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619. Alternatively, you can submit your question via the Web, by emailing it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put "Tech Corner" in the subject line.