Thursday, April 7, 2016

"B" Pillar Weatherstrip Replacement

Like anything made out of rubber, the B pillar weather seals do not age gracefully.

The rubber hardens and as the photo on the right shows, mine has developed a couple of wrinkles that look horrible.

After four decades—as it is the case with my '76 Vette—it is a good idea to replace all weatherstripping, something that I've been doing one section at a time.

I started by purchasing door weatherstripping about a year ago, and took care of the passenger's side door. But as with many other projects, it quickly succumbed to the "While I Was There" syndrome which involved paint touch-up, cleaning and detailing, lubricating and adding sound/heat insulating material to the door.

Needless to say, these type of projects take a lot longer than anticipated, and I have yet to tackle the driver's side door.

However, the B pillar seals, also referred to as Door/Window Rear Vertical Weatherstrips, are a straight-forward deal, and when you have new replacement pieces and a tube of fresh weatherstrip glue, the job can be done in a matter of a couple of hours or less.

Here's a close-up of the driver's side seal that shows how the rubber looks after forty years. The shiny surface is an indicator of hard rubber which not only deforms but also keeps the window from sealing properly.

You can also see how the surface has deteriorated. Once the rubber seal hardens, it may also shrink and no longer fit properly. 

New weatherstrips will be pliable will look fresh. Also keep in mind that as you shop around for new weather seals, you will be faced with several options such as different brands as well as country of origin. If given the option, always buy products manufactured in the U.S. as the quality will be superior and the materials used will also be better. Having said that, if your only option is a new part made in China or another county, it will be better than an old, brittle seal.

Before you start gluing new weatherstripping on your Corvette, it is a good idea to prep the pieces so a good seal is achieved. The first thing I do is to lightly sand the contact surface so the glue will have a better "bite." I also like to wipe it down after sanding with a generous amount of Goof Off which softens the substrate which ensures good adhesion.

After the new B pillar seals are prepped, proceed to remove the old weatherstrips from the car and clean the contact surfaces.

As the picture below shows, it seems that originally there was a screw at the bottom of the seal. I can only assume that at some point the previous owner replaced these seals and failed to reinstall the screws. Since the holes are stripped and enlarged to the point of needing repair, I decided to forgo screws and, instead, I will use a generous amount of weatherstrip adhesive to ensure they'll stay put.

It is also obvious that when the car was repainted, they taped the seals since you can see the original silver paint when you pull them off.

You must remove as much of the old adhesive as possible. In order to do this, I used a thin chisel which worked perfectly to remove the old dried up glue from this area. I also wiped the area with Goof Off.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the old and new seals (driver's side window). As you can see, the original seal shrunk quite a bit over the years.

And here's the B pillar channel ready for the new weather seal. As a side note, it is a good idea to do a dry fit of the new piece to make sure it fits well. When you're happy with it, you can start applying weatherstrip adhesive to both channel and seal.

Since I like to use 3M Black Super Weatherstrip Adhesive, I have to work fast and had no time to snap pics of the process. Suffice it to say that the stuff is excellent and it dries fast, so you cannot lollygag while doing this.

I also painted the trim piece since it had a lot of scratches. Wish it was easy to remove, since I would've liked to use texture paint.

Replacing the B pillar weatherstrips is an easy project and one that will improve the looks and weathertightness of your Vette. For a small investment between parts, adhesive and time, it's a must-do!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Remanufactured Rochester Quadrajet Carburetor

A few weeks ago I shipped my Corvette's original Quadrajet to All American Carburetors in Jacksonville, Florida.

I was using a new Edelbrock 1406 that I purchased online, and while I finally got it to run properly and to my liking, I did not care of the limitations it imposed as far as not being able to use the OEM air cleaner assembly.

I considered buying a new L88-style hood in order to have the clearance required for a different air cleaner, but that would've been a costly solution to my dilemma.

While researching having the Quadrajet rebuilt, I had gotten a very expensive quote from a specialty shop, so it made more sense to get the Edelbrock carb instead. It was only after I'd made the purchase that I heard about All American Carburetor in Jacksonville so I called them to find out what they did and what the cost would be.

The first thing they explained was that they remanufactured carburetors versus simply rebuilding them. This meant my Quadrajet would be completely disassembled, media-blasted, polished and re-colored to factory-original condition.

The restoration process also included a zinc-dichromate process to protect all steel parts. They would then reassemble the carb with ethanol-resistant parts, the throttle shafts would also be checked and new bushing installed in order to prevent vacuum leaks.

The final part of the process consisted of a live engine test of the carburetor on a Chevy 350 to ensure proper operation.

While I talked to one of the reps on the phone, I asked about having them add an electric choke. For only $25 it would've been absurd not to get that done. So I went ahead and sent my carb in. It took about five weeks to get it back, but the wait was worth it.

Here are a few Before & After photos. And keep in mind that All American Carburetor restores the carb you send in. This in not a different part but the original carburetor that came with my '76 Corvette.



As promised by All American Carburetor, the only adjustment required after re-installing the Quadrajet on my car, was to the idle screw. They had it idling at 700 rpm, but I dropped it to 600 rpm. The car starts easily and runs beautifully, and the original air cleaner and carburetor sit proudly upon the motor with no clearance issues, even with an Edelbrock Performer intake manifold.

Needless to say, the air cleaner assembly looks better than new since I had it powder coated. I also refinished the air intake plenum that sits above the radiator core support. Since it is a plastic piece and had age discoloration as well as a few scratches, I refinished it with bedliner paint, and it looks great.

Maybe I should have a new decal made that reads: "Keep your GM car mostly GM."

And this is the air intake plenum with the textured finish. It looks great!

In sum, as well as hindsight, now I wish I had avoided all the headaches of trying to get the Edelbrock carb running properly, as it would've saved me time and money. Guess I have to keep learning things the hard way.

Having All American Carburetors restore the original carburetor your car came with is one of the best investments you can make. Yes, it takes several weeks of downtime, but after seeing the amount of work they do when remanufacturing them, it makes sense to be patient. You'll save money by going this route, too.

Thank you for reading.