Tips for Working on your C3 Corvette
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I have recovered 4 sets of seat over the years and had had it with the hog rings. I tried one seat using strong tie wraps ( zip ties ) instead of the hog rings wherever the hog rings were used. Pulling the tie wrap through the same area the hog ring would go and then leaving them slightly loose but ” connected” When you get the rest of the seat done, all with tie wraps, you then snug the tie wraps to get a nice tight fit where you want it. Then snug all the ties and snip off the loose ends. I did my first set that way about 5 years ago and they hold just fine. It goes nice and easy, hold fine and you can really adjust the fit of the seat covers.
Use Anti-Seize Lubricant
On every car I buy new or used I take off one lug nut at a time & put ANTI-SEIZE LUBRICANT (some of this stuff will handle 2000 degrees F) on the threads then re- torque to specs. You will never have problems with lug nuts again. Also use it on spark plugs and it really helps with aluminum heads. Use it on any nut or bolt you plan on removing in the future.
Installing the Distributor
After using the timing marks on the front engine pulley to bring #1 piston to top-dead-center, when re-setting the distributor back in on a 350 Chevy motor, a very handy little trick is to look down into the hole where the distributor shaft goes and with a long screw driver, turn the slot in the bottom directly towards the number one cylinder/plug and set your distributor the same. It will either be exactly 180 degrees off or it will be almost dead on the timing mark when you fire the engine back up. If it just turns over and never fires up, take the distributor back out and turn it 180 degrees and reset the distributor and it should fire up with almost no re-adjusting of the timing. You will be very, very, close and a big time saver.
Clutch Linkage Failure
If you have a manual shift corvette C-2 or C-3 keep a hitch pin in your car somewhere. I was out driving one day and the “j” clip on the clutch linkage disintegrated, I used the hitch pin as an emergency repair and slid it on from the top down indexed along the clutch pedal arm to hold all the linkage together and not damage any of the wiring, this proved to be a great and very easy fix in case of emergency.
Horn Retainer Fix
Here is my tip for fixing the horn retainer by eliminating the horn contact post and replacing it with a spring and wire. Yes, it is only a $20.00 item but any place you can save and fix it your self is a good thing. The horn cap retainer is a weak design, held together with plastic rivets. The key to this repair is the plastic bushings that can be found at any Ace Hardware store. I made a new insulator gasket out of plain gasket material as the old insulator usually is broken or missing. I guess the temperature spikes has a lot to do with it coming apart. I have used screws and nuts with locktite to hold it all together but have found pop rivets to be a lot cleaner. I have also eliminated the post and spring with a wire and spring. The pictures below will hopefully help with your repair.
TRW spring, Bilstein shock, adjustable strut installation
whole job took me about 7 hours to do. If you follow the instructions I've
laid out, it will save you about three hours of work time, providing it is your
first time to attempt this. I've learned several shortcuts and things NOT
to do by trial and error. Should only take 3-4 hours now. Bear in mind
that in addition to what I did, since most have the rear exhaust and tire cover,
the exhaust will have to be dropped and tire tub and tire removed. I have
the hooker side-pipes and my tire cover assembly has been long removed.
Here is what it looks like after I took the spring bolt out. Quite a drop.
Next, I loosened the 4 big bolts holding the spring to the rear end.
The Spring is out! It is heavy too!
Okay, now it was time to remove the L-shape bolt holding both the shock and strut.
After loosening that bolt, I removed the top shock bolt in order to remove the bottom L-shaped bolt holding the shock/strut.
Here is what that L-shape bolt looks like that holds the shock & strut.
Next I went over and removed the bolt holding the strut to the strut bracket.
Yay! I am now halfway as I got the spring, shocks and struts off.
Big difference between the stock strut and adjustable strut.
It took me about three
hours to remove the parts that I am replacing. Next on installing the new TRW
spring, Bilstein shocks & adjustable struts.
Next I installed the aluminum spacer that goes between the strut bracket and differential, (RED arrows).
The cam bolt is suppose to be set at 6 o'clock. The left is correct, but I have to set the drivers side.
Here is what it looks like so far... with TRW spring on the ground waiting to be put in.
Okay, wrap-up time...
(with exception of having to get two 10" spring bolts to replace the 8" ones).
If you decide you need the 10" bolts, several Corvette vendors have them.
Next was to install the spring bolts. These were tricky and I can save you about an hour of time with the shortcut I learned. Only run the 4 bolts in the center (last pix above) about halfway in so you can jiggle the outer spring a tad in order to get the long spring bolt in the top AND the spring (two red arrows). I tried it with the 4 center bolts all the way in and an hour later still couldn't get that bolt in. I did the other side this way and it only took 10 minutes! You also have to use a jack to move the spring up in order to get the bolt through (bottom red arrow). Be sure NOT to slip the jack off the metal tip or else you'll ruin the spring!
The struts are very easy to adjust. Just use a level on the wheels and turn the two outer nuts on the strut bar (red arrow) and twist the knurled part of bar (yellow arrow) until you get the wheel/tire perpendicular.
and AFTER. Not bad, not bad at all!
The TRW spring came
with a longer than stock bolts at 9" while others come with the 10" ones.
Boy was I wrong. When I measured the two bolts, the stock one was 7", TRW was
7-1/2" and the other one was 8". No good. I'm still at least 2" too
high (4.5" from fender-lip to top-tire). I'm going to get 10" bolts.
I will drive it around a bit and see if it settles some first.
NOTE: I did not get the 10" bolts and decided to drive it awhile first. It did settle to the height I wanted perfectly after a month of driving.
C3 Gas Mileage Tip
Although I don't think anyone out there would need this tip by now, but if there is a new C3 owner out there like me this could solve a fuel/performance issue with the 1981 L-81 engine. My car was shipped up to Canada by truck and while yes, I did go stateside to view and drive it, I guess I just didn't drive it long enough for the problem to present itself. The problem was this: While the car was cold, it ran perfectly. However, after 45 minutes or so into the ride, it would choke up, hesitate and it almost felt like a spark plug or spark plug wire break down. The car would also start to shift gears (auto) between first and second at the wrong times. Go around a corner, it would drop to first when it didn't need to and then right away shift back up to second with a slight clunk. The car was also burning a huge amount of fuel. I was getting from a very full tank of gas about 45 miles to the first 1/4 mark on the gas gauge.
recommended carburetor mechanic did the following: (Remember that this
carburetor has a primitive little computer control system designed to regulate
the air/fuel mixtures for minimum emissions and best performance.)
Rocker Channel Repair
From Rear -
1.) The rear bumpers and support brackets
2.) License plate bezel and exhaust bezels
3.) Valence panel
4.) Ground strap from antenna
5.) Gas tank ground and sending unit wire
From Front -
1.) Valence panel and air dam
2.) Unbolt nose support from frame (will stay with body)
3.) Starter wires
4.) Ground straps (more than one place)
5.) Carbon can vacuum line
6.) Oil pressure gage line from motor
7.) Throttle cable from motor
8.) Coil wires
9.) Heater and A/C hoses from motor
10.) Alternator wires and temperature sending unit wire
11.) Radiator hose and transmission cooling lines (radiator should be removed or it will stay with the body)
From Center -
1.) Parking brake cable and brackets from under seat area
2.) Shifter cable and down shift wire (automatic) and speedometer cable
3.) Battery ground strap from frame
4.) Rocker moldings
5.) Seats (to lessen the weight)
Remove Rear Bumpers
Remove Bumper Support Rods
Remove Bumper Adjustment Brackets
Attaching the lift straps - The straps have hooks that must catch the rocker channels just in front of the doors and at the rear of the doors. Make sure the rocker channels are not too rusty to hold up the weight. Support the nose with a second come-a-long attached to the bumper beam.
Slowly start lifting the body. Keep checking to make sure everything is free from the frame.
Lift the body enough to roll the chassis out from under it requires about 28 inches for the gas tank to clear.
Set the body down on something that will hold the weight and allow room to work on it.
Now the work begins:
This is looking at the inside of the #3 mount once the access cover is removed.
This is the area where the #2 mount attaches under the windshield after the kick panel is removed.
This is the “Bird Cage” that supports the body to the frame.
Here are the rotten rocker channels that support the body.
The replacement rocker channels and inserts need to be welded together.
Check the frame for rot in front of the rear wheels.
The new rocker channels are then fitted up inside the post and welded in place.
Remove the gas tank and check it for leaks. Then clean up the frame with a wire wheel and power washer.
Chassis saver paint is applied and the stainless steel fuel and brake lines installed.
The body is back on the frame where it belongs.