Friday, January 29, 2016

DeLand Car Cruise - Jan 29, 2016

This evening, I took my 76 to the local weekly car show for a couple of hours, and got a parking spot right next to a 75 convertible. In addition to that C3, I also saw another 75 at the show. It's kind of rare to see that many C3s in one place, so that was cool.

Here are a few photos of the cars. And I had to throw in one of a C4 that was also there.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

1976 Corvette Steering Column and the "Vega" Wheel - Part Three

One of the reasons I decided to venture out to the 2016 NCRS meet in Lakeland, in spite of questionable weather conditions, was the fact that I really wanted to find a few parts for the 78 steering column I bought with hopes to do a swap for my 76 Corvette.

I really lucked out as I found most of the pieces I was searching for, and for reasonable prices.

A couple of pieces, such as the telescoping lever, will have to be painted black and I am still debating whether I should go with a textured finish for the steering column, as I think it not only looks cool but it also would help hide small imperfections on some of the plastic column covers.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

38th Annual NCRS Winter Regional — Lakeland, FL (Part 2)

Cold weather (at least by Florida standards), wind and even a little rain did little to motivate vendors and spectators alike to attend the last day of the NCRS 38th Annual Winter Regional at Linder Field, in Lakeland.

And the fact that the event is held at an airfield means that wind will quickly turn to gusts which had vendors scrambling to keep their canopies attached to the ground. It was not "sun n fun" if you get the pun.

So, upon arriving at Linder Airport, I quickly made my way to the NCRS judging hangar. Temperature at 9:20 a.m. was 42° according to my truck's thermometer, and the windchill and overcast probably put the actual temp in the mid to high 30s. Brr.

Friday, January 22, 2016

38th Annual NCRS Winter Regional — Lakeland, FL (Part 1)

I took the day off on Thursday, January 21st 2016, to attend the second day of the 38th Annual NCRS Winter Regional held at Linder Field in Lakeland.

After running a few errands earlier in the morning, I took the 1½-hour drive down to Lakeland thinking parking was going to be an issue since I would arrive by noon. I was wrong. Parking was no problem whatsoever and the "crowds" were anything but.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Door Weatherstripping Replacement

We really don't think much about car doors, weatherstripping or the locking/unlocking mechanisms; that is until something goes wrong and you are unable to open the door.

Been there, done that.

In order to prevent that from happening, and at the same time ensure that road debris and water stay outside of your Corvette, you have to remove the door panel and replace the weatherstripping.

Not a difficult task and certainly one that can be done by the average do-it-yourselfer with a few basic tools and the right supplies.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Rear Suspension and Differential

Several months ago, I decided to have the differential inspected as there was a tiny leak that, I assumed, was coming from the cover gasket. Besides, I was sure that after almost 40 years, the differential oil was ready to be replaced with a fresh and better quality lubricant.

But it never fails; you start doing one thing and end up with one of those situations where you think, "well, since we're doing this we should also address..." Yes, the "While I was there" syndrome.

For some of these types of repairs, I usually rely on mechanics. I don't have the tools, or a lift at home—and frankly—nor the energy to tackle major projects.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Painting the "Bumperettes"

Bumperettes, as they are called, provide no protection in case of a collision, and I can only guess that they were intended as a design element. Big FAIL there.

I do not particularly care for the looks of them, but I do not necessarily hate them either. What I really dislike though, is when they are painted to match the color of the car. To me that indicates that a car has been repainted and they seem to be even more visible when color coordinated.

Since my Corvette was painted a darker shade of red at some point by the second owner (it was originally silver metallic), the bumperettes were also painted red, and I had to do something about that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Edelbrock Pro-Flo Series Air Cleaner Modification

Even though the hood closed without trouble, I felt that the new air cleaner was too close to the underside of the hood and the liner, for comfort.

My plan is, sometime in the future, to install an aftermarket L-88 hood which should give plenty of clearance.

But in the meantime, I felt I had to do something in order to give the carb a bit more breathing room.

My solution was to remove about 5/8" from the bottom of the base plate, the area where it contacts the carb horn.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Gas Leaks: Scary and Dangerous Stuff!

When I first got my Corvette, the smell of gasoline was too strong to ignore. And I could smell gas whether I was driving the car or as it sat in my garage.

Potentially, this was a serious problem, and one that needed immediate attention.

So I took the car to my mechanic to see if he could find the issue. Once the car was up on the lift, locating the problem took less than a minute, and our findings were frightening.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Door Latch Striker Bolts. Restore or Replace?

Old door latch striker bolts, are one of those pieces that immediately jump out and rear their ugly heads the moment you open one of the doors.

During decades of service, they take quite a beating (literally), and they also get their fair share of exposure to water as well as dirt.

The combination of these elements causes surface oxidation which makes them look bad, even though they may still work well.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Edelbrock Valve Covers and Pro-Flo Air Cleaner

Cheap parts end up costing a whole bunch of money at the end, when you finally come to your senses and purchase the products you should've bought in the first place.

The valve covers were no exception as I learned (again) that off-brand stuff is not worth the money, time or effort.

Even though they looked nice and appeared to be built properly, the aftermarket valve covers I got from an eBay seller were not sealing properly.

This meant going through three sets of valve cover gaskets, with the last one being thick cork-material gaskets.

Friday, January 8, 2016

1976 Corvette Firewall Detailing

After spending countless hours restoring the wiper bay or compartment area, as well as the hood surround lip on my Corvette to better-than-new condition, the visible top portion of the firewall looked horrible.

Faded paint and areas where the gray fiberglass showed through made the engine bay look old and tired.

Not only that, but the previous owner, at some point, detailed the engine bay by spraying paint around the area, including wiring and other components.

The whole area looked bad.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lowering the Front End by Cutting the Coil Springs

My Corvette's front end looked like a 4x4 truck, and I hated it.

I searched online in order to find a set of lowering coil springs, but came back empty-handed, so the only other option was to cut the springs in order to drop it a bit.

After reading lots of forum posts on the advantages and disadvantages of this approach, I decided to go ahead and cut away.

My reasoning was that if it did not work, I could always buy a new set of coil springs and go back to the four-wheeler front end look.

But frankly, I wanted this to work.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Dual Exhaust System for my 76 Corvette

The original exhaust system was ready to be retired.

The pipes were rusty and dented, and the gigantic muffler cans looked like someone had stuffed a pair of water heaters under the rear of the car.

Even though it looked like it had double exhaust, it was not a true dual exhaust system.

Pipes from the exhaust manifolds made a "Y" under the car, with one pipe cutting across and under the oil pan, continued back to an area right past the passenger seat where they split again into two pipes all the way to the mufflers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Restoring Factory Exhaust Manifolds

The OEM cast exhaust manifolds on my car had seen better days. And although the engine and engine bay looked nice, it seems the first thing people noticed was the rusty exhaust manifolds whenever I opened the hood at car shows.

Something had to be done!

Monday, January 4, 2016

1976 Corvette Steering Column and the "Vega" Wheel
Part Two

Jim Shea mentions—in one of his C3 steering column articles—that the 1978-1982 T&T (Tilt and Telescoping) column shroud, must be trimmed so it will fit the instrument panel of 1976 and earlier Corvettes.

So I decided to go ahead and get this out of the way, thinking it would be an easy and quick project.

It was neither.

I started by measuring the 2.2" down from the shroud's lip (approximately 2-3/16 inches), made several markings around the shroud, and then used masking tape to have a straight reference line.

I was planning to use a Dremel tool to cut the plastic, but since I was worried it may melt some of it, I opted to use a hand saw.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Cleaning and Polishing the Reverse Light Lenses

The backup light lenses on my Vette looked horrible after almost 40 years of exposure to the elements, so I searched online for replacement parts. I found several vendors offering new GM-licensed reproduction lenses.

They looked great, but at close to $100 for a pair of lenses, I decided first to try to clean mine before spending that kind of money on new parts.

The reverse (white) lenses on mine had yellowed enough to make them look bad. I try not to drive my Corvette at night, so this was mainly a cosmetic issue.

The chrome beauty rings were also dull, so I would take this opportunity to polish them as well.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Restoring the Spare Wheel Carrier

I think if Rodney Dangerfield had owned a C3 Corvette, he would've said, "Corvette spare wheel carriers get no respect." And the one on my car was no different. I was scratched and, at some point in the past, it was spray-bombed silver, V-strap and all.

I am guessing the previous owner thought that a thin layer of spray paint would conceal dirt and scratches, plus it would also match the mufflers. In reality, it just looked awful.

Friday, January 1, 2016

1976 Corvette Steering Column and the "Vega" Wheel
Part One

1976 Corvettes sported a new steering wheel that year, which was the same one used in Camaros and the infamous Vega, hence the moniker "Vega steering wheel."

Either you love it or you hate it, but the biggest challenge for those who want to change it in favor of a smaller-diameter wheel, is having to, basically, re-engineer the telescoping components of the column, since the design of the steering wheel incorporates those as part of it.

In other words, you cannot simply remove the steering wheel and place an aftermarket (or another Corvette wheel, for that matter) on the hub, since there is no way to secure it.

Thanks, Chevrolet engineers!