Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rebuilding and Upgrading the Corvette L-48 Engine | Part 4

Even though Sunrise Automotive is closed on weekends, Mark (the shop's owner), decided to come in on Saturday for a few hours in order to start installing some of the parts that were powder coated by Topp Coat in Orange City, Florida.

He called me Saturday afternoon and asked me to come in to see something. Of course, my first question was, "What's wrong?" Well, thankfully nothing was wrong, but Mark felt that the a/c brackets looked horrible next to freshly powder coated parts. And they did.

After I left Sunrise Automotive, I stopped by Topp Coat and, luckily, John was there, so I explained that I'd have a few more parts needing gloss black powder coating on Monday. And of course, this would be a rush job since Mark wants the car to be done by mid week. John said that he'd do his best, and I am confident he can deliver.

Fast-forward to Tuesday and, after dropping off the a/c brackets yesterday, John called me today to let me know they were done. How's that for super-fast service!

I rushed them to Sunrise Automotive and John and Billy wasted no time getting them on the motor, and what a sight that motor is.

Above: Freshly powder coated a/c brackets are on the left side.

Above: The alternator fan, pulley and nut also received fresh powder coating.

Above (2 photos): Spark plug wire shields were powder coated gloss black.
Exh. manifolds look great in "cast" ceramic coat finish. Notice the fresh Grade 8 hardware. 

Above: The fuel line was powder coated a while ago.

Above: Topp Coat Powdercoating of Orange City, Florida did an incredible job.

Billy got the new exhaust manifold studs installed after drilling out a couple that snapped off. I am sure that was no fun. He's also been busy prepping the a/c compressor for paint, which will receive a fresh coat of semi-gloss black VHT paint.

Mark also called earlier today to suggest we replace the spark plug wires, so I ordered a set from Eckler's Corvette, and they should be in tomorrow. At this point, there's no way I am going to try to save a few bucks by not ordering parts that should be replaced now. The spark plug wires run behind heat shields I had powder coated, so this is the perfect opportunity to get that job done. I am pretty sure the wires on the car are the original ones, and after 40 years they are due to be replaced.

I have a big trip coming up in a few days and I am not sure if the car will be taken to the shop before or after that, so stay tuned for the next update.

Thanks for following my 1976 Corvette blog.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Blue Persuasion

With seductive paint names including LeMans, International, Mulsanne, Bridgehampton, Targa and Bryar Blue Metallic—to name a few of the many blue paint shades available on 1968 through 1982 Corvettes—I had to include a selection of beautiful blue C3s that I've collected while web surfing.

Even though my '76 is red, blue has been one of my favorite colors for a long time and I've owned blue 1968 and 1971 Corvettes as well as a Medium Dark Royal blue 1984 Trans Am. My daily driver is a 2006 Dodge Ram 1500, that I purchased because I loved the Atlantic Blue Pearl paint it came with from the factory.

This is my way to pay homage to blue C3 Corvettes.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Painting the Water Pump Chevy Orange

About a year-and-a-half ago I had the water pump replaced, but it recently developed a tiny seepage, so my mechanic recommended I get a new one.

Since this one came from Napa, it had a lifetime warranty, so today I got a brand new water pump. I had painted the previous one with cast metal paint which looks sort of okay. But now, since I want the rebuilt motor to look correct, I decided to paint it Chevy Orange.

First, I gave it a coat of VHT (Very High Temperature) primer followed by a couple of coats of VHT Chevy Orange. Once the last coat was dry, I gave it a final coat of VHT glossy clear, which matches the finish of the ceramic paint the shop used for the engine.

VHT primer and paint dries very fast, which is a good thing when you have to paint outdoors. Today Mother Nature did not make things easy for me since the wind was blowing quite a bit and, for a second, a rogue cloud sprinkled a few raindrops which forced me to take the freshly painted water pump back in the garage. It only sprinkled for about 10 seconds. Go figure.

I also gave it a thick coat of VHT glossy clear which really brought it to life.

Tomorrow I will drop it off at the mechanic's so they can have the motor ready for Monday next week. They tell me my car should be ready by mid week.


So stay tuned for more updates and the upcoming test drive in a few days.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The "Made In China" Syndrome

A few weeks ago I installed a new coolant overflow tank and cap since the original parts were definitely showing their age. I also felt that a freshly rebuilt engine, along with a detailed firewall, justified a few new complementary parts.

So I installed the new tank and cap, as well as the necessary hoses.

Well, as I was looking under the hood today, I noticed that the overflow nipple had failed, even though there was no pressure applied to the cap or hose. My guess is that "strain" caused by the hose—as it angles down to drain excess coolant—caused the part to fail.

Fortunately, I had saved the old coolant tank and cap, so I decided to clean the original part to see if I could reuse it.

Four decades of heat from the coolant and engine, plus dirt and radiator fluid turned the once clean and clear cap into a drab shade of brown. In an attempt to clean it, a soaked it overnight in a 50/50 mix of bleach and water, but that did little to bring it back to life.

So the next best solution was to paint it white. I know, not the ideal solution but frankly, I do not feel motivated to spend additional money on a Made In China piece that will last only a few weeks. What's the point in that?

So I purchased a can of Krylon Fusion white paint for plastic and gave it a few coats.

I will allow the paint to cure for a couple of days before I reinstall the cap on the tank, and hopefully, it will look better than the yellow/brown finish.

 And here are the original and aftermarket caps side-by-side. The repro part looks fine, and it would've worked fine if the materials they used were up to par.

And that's the kind of problems we experience with parts that are not made in the U.S. Production and quality standards are not even close to those we have here, and at the end of the day, all the vendors accomplish by carrying sub-par parts and accessories is upset their customers.

Given the alternative, I much rather pay a higher but fair price for a component that was made in this country and to our standards, instead of wasting time and money on junk that only looks right. Makes you shudder when you wonder what other sub-standard parts are being used when you take your vehicle to a shop to have the brakes done, for example.

I always hear talk about the U.S. being a "throw away" society, and when you buy anything made in China—or other third world countries, for that matter—we throw our money away for sure, in more ways than one.

End of rant!

Thanks for following.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Real Flame Job

The video—captured by a bystander in Encino, California—shows a C1 Corvette being devoured by flames, and is guaranteed to break any Corvette lover's heart.

Video sent by R.G. Lowell to ABC7.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rebuilding and Upgrading the Corvette L-48 Engine | Part 3

Mark at Sunrise Automotive called me this morning to let me know that the engine was back from the machine shop, in case I wanted to snap a few pics before they started spraying Eastwood Ceramic Chevy Orange on it.

I did, and glad I got to see it before paint, as the motor looked squeaky clean with new water plugs and hardware. Mark—wanting to get it done—had already masked it so it was ready for paint.

I hung around for a little while since Billy, one of the mechanics at Sunrise, was ready to give the motor and clutch bellhousing a tack coat of Chevy Orange. I helped Mark cover the engine hoist with a tarp and masking paper, and the first coat of paint went on.

Before I left, I asked Mark how many coats of paint it would take to get good coverage, and he told me that three coats would do it. Well, when he called me a few hours later to ask me to drop by again to see the finished product, he told me it took four coats of paint, but the engine and clutch bellhousing look gorgeous.

He's going to let the paint cure over the weekend and then the car will be back at his shop on Wednesday. He hopes to have it running and all buttoned up by early the following week.

According to the engine builder, the motor is now rated at 310 hp at the crank, for an estimated 260 at the wheels. Sounds about right, but I may have it dynoed sometime in the future to get the actual number.

Can hardly wait to test drive this baby.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next update.