Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cars & Coffee @ Gateway Classic Cars Orlando 9/24/2016

This morning I drove the Vette down to Lake Mary for the monthly Cars & Coffee at Gateway Classic Cars of Orlando.

Great attendance as usual and here are a few pics of today's event.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The $10 Restoration

You don't need to look at the whole car when you think about restoration. A car is nothing more than the sum of thousands of parts and, sometimes, breaking it down to small components is the smart thing to do.

Of course, a frame-off restoration is what we all want, and according to most current reality-TV shows, it can be done in a matter of weeks (if not days). Well, some of those shows really qualify as science fiction, but I digress.

I can promise you one thing, though; if a project is small enough, you can do it in a matter of hours.

Take my '76 Corvette hood hardware, for example.

I started with some tired-looking hardware that required a thorough cleaning, sanding, and fresh paint.

After a good detailing, I chose to spray the pieces with cast paint. Originally they were black, but I wanted them to stand out a bit and look new, and the cast paint worked excellent for this purpose.

The right-side latch also had a small spring, and I painted that one black for contrast. When you're not concerned about NCRS standards, you can do whatever you please.

And, as you can see, I even cleaned and painted the bolts.

But a few days ago, after getting my Vette back from the shop that installed the rebuilt motor which had over a hundred bucks worth of new Grade 8 hardware, things such as the bolts holding latches and hood hinges looked pretty ratty, so I had to do something about that.

The solution, of course, was a quick trip to the local ACE Hardware store to buy a few Grade 8 bolts to replace the original items.

You always have the option to buy Grade 5 nuts and bolts, which are automotive grade and perfectly suited for this project. But I really like the look of the cadmium plated Grade 8 hardware, so for a little more money, I chose those.

And, as previously mentioned, I also replaced the hood support and hinge bolts.

It really is all about the small details when it comes to a restoration, regardless of its complexity. And, as in this case, for less than $10 I purchased brand new hardware that makes these components look a hundred times better.

Needless to say, this is a very easy and quick project that anyone can do in a matter of hours, and one that will make your car look that much better.

Thanks for following.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rebuilding and Upgrading the Corvette L-48 Engine | Part 6

Took my Vette out yesterday (Sunday) for a longer test drive of approximately 30 miles.

The car performed beautifully although the idle seems to be a bit on the high side for my taste. That, of course, can be easily corrected so it's not a big deal.

Since I was told by Mark at Sunrise Automotive not to exceed 3000 rpm, I drove the car gently making sure the tach did not go over 2500 rpm. And everything was fine. That is until I was about a mile from home.

As I came to a stop behind another car at a traffic light, I thought that the car in front of me was making a lot of noise. But, as I made the right-hand turn to come home, I realized it was my car making the racket, which really sounded like a lifter gone bad.

At the next traffic light I also noticed the car was running very rough and threatening to stall and die, so I made sure it kept running since I was less than a 1/4 mile from my house.

I finally made it home and parked it in the garage. I also opened the hood to allow it to cool off a bit faster.

After a few hours, I walked back out to the garage to find a puddle of fluid under the car. It appeared to be coolant so I checked the radiator only to find out it was pretty much full. The radiator overflow tank also had the normal amount of fluid so not sure what to make of it.

I texted Mark, owner of Sunrise Automotive, and he replied not to worry and that he would have Billy, one of his mechanics, stop by my house tomorrow to assess the issue.

This morning, I decided to have a better look under the hood and found at least one coolant hose that had a hole in it.

I trimmed the hose about an inch since there was enough of it to do so. I then reinstalled it and secured the clamp properly in order to avoid another failure. I also replaced a clamp they had used for the radiator overflow hose since it kept the radiator cap from seating correctly.

Plus I checked the oil level which was fine, so I then removed the valve covers in order to inspect the rockers, hoping one of then would be the culprit.

No such luck as all of them seemed to be okay. Well, I have to admit that my "inspection" was a waste of time since I did not bump the motor in order to check things properly.

By mid-morning, Billy arrived and after he looked things over—I had left the valve covers off—he said that we should button it up so we could start it. After doing so, I cranked the car and it struggled a bit but it finally started. It ran a bit better than yesterday but still very noisy. So Billy used a long screwdriver in order to listen to the motor to try to pinpoint which lifter was making all the racket. After a minute or so, he said he thinks he is pretty sure it is one of the front lifters on the left side of the motor.

Since I am not one to leave things alone for long, after lunch I decided to see if I could diagnose the problem a little more specifically, so I removed the valve covers yet again, but this time I bumped the engine a few times while checking the rockers.

After a few tries, this is what I found ...

So Billy came back after work and helped me test all the rockers and set the lash. After that, I reinstalled the valve covers and air cleaner and started the Corvette.

Happy to report that it's back to normal and sounds great and healthy again.

Just a small hiccup which happens when you rebuild things. After the 1,000-mile break-in period, I will bring it back to Sunrise Automotive for an oil change and a thorough check out.

Thanks for following my 1976 Corvette blog, and stay tuned for Part 7.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Rebuilding and Upgrading the Corvette L-48 Engine | Part 5


Finally! After a few weeks of preparation and one delay (I was out of town for one week), my 1976 Corvette Stingray is back at Sunrise Automotive and the freshly rebuilt V8 is back home in the engine bay.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that I connected everything correctly when I detailed the wiring harness, and that my steering column rebuild is up to the task. Especially the ignition switch harmonica connector swap I was forced to do so everything would plug in with the factory wiring harness.

I do know that the turn signal canceling cam is not operating as I think it should, and that may be related to the steering shaft alignment at the rag joint, so I will have to address that issue when the car is back home. It is more of a PITA than anything else, but we'll see what needs to be done to correct any issues.


I stopped by the shop today to see what kind of progress they've made, and things are looking really good. Billy, one of the mechanics, was wrenching away at it and had the tranny back in along with the exhaust and much more.

We did see some seepage from the power steering so they'll keep an eye on it. If it has to be replaced I guess that's that, but hope it's just a matter of tightening one of the hoses. We'll see.

I am very pleased with my decision to use as much new Grade 8 hardware as possible since now was the time to do this. An added expense that makes a huge difference. Also, glad Billy was able to remove the old rusty exhaust studs and install the new ones I bought.


My truck's air conditioning was showing signs of low Freon gas, so I stopped by the shop this afternoon and Mark hooked up the machine to see what the problem was.

While that was taking place, I helped Billy for a little while since he was ready to install the carb and a few other pieces, which we did. He then topped off the fluids and checked things over. My suspicion about the power steering pump being shot was, unfortunately, correct. So they will order a new replacement tomorrow and take care of it.

After all the fluids were topped off, I did the honors and fired up the engine for the first time after the rebuild! When it roared to life, it was an amazing feeling and it immediately settled into a smooth idle.

But since by then it was closing time, we decided to quit on that high note and the guys will be back at it tomorrow morning.

Happy to report that my steering column and ignition switch worked flawlessly. Well, except for the horn contact which I will need to address since the horn is not working correctly. That's a tiny detail, though, and I shall fix that problem as soon as the car is back in my garage,


Another milestone achieved today. The 20-minute stationary break-in period was conducted without any problems.

First, we adjusted the idle to 1500 rpm, and after a few minutes running it increased to about 2100 rpm. Also, a couple of the lifters got a little noisy for a while, but the motor quieted down after about 15 minutes. At that point, Mark dropped the rpm to around 800 and we allowed it to run for another 10 minutes or so.

The water temperature gauge indicated a steady 210° once the motor got to operating temp, which is great considering this was a stationary test. I am guesstimating water temps should be in the 180° to 190° range in driving conditions.

Mark did spot a tiny coolant leak from one of the water pump bolts, but they will address that issue after the engine has cooled down. And the new power-steering pump is in, so that issue has been resolved as well.


I stopped by Sunrise Automotive again after lunch as they were reinstalling the hood, which took a few tweaks so it would line up right. When that was done, Mark and Billy made sure everything was tight under the hood as well as under the car.

Even though they recharged the a/c system which, after they tightened a few fittings that were loose and ensured it was holding pressure, the system would not come on at all. It could be something as simple as a blown fuse or it could be something more serious, but that's a project for some other time.

After everything looked okay, Billy and I went for a short test drive after Mark gave me precise instructions not to go over 3000 rpm and basically baby the motor, something I have to do for the first 1k miles.

I only drove it for about five miles since it was a shakedown test drive to make sure everything looked okay. The motor seems to run a bit hotter than before since temperature stays at around 210° versus the previous 180°-190° before the rebuild. Mark attributes that to the fact that everything is tight and new, so temp may come down after a while. Not a big deal either way, but it was something I noticed.

Oil pressure also reads a lot higher, as well as steadier, than before. And that's a good thing.

After the first test drive, I took Mark for one and he said that he felt my car was performing like a new Corvette.

The tranny shifts beautifully although we were having a little difficulty getting it to shift into reverse at first. The guys felt the fresh gear oil needed to circulate a bit since the transmission shop had it completely apart in order to inspect it and install all new seals. After a while, it seemed to be going into reverse a lot easier, but they told me to just drive the car for a while and, if the issue persists, they would adjust it a bit.

So I have my car back in my garage wth a freshly rebuilt engine and much more. I have to say that it felt strange not to have the gasoline and burnt oil stench I was accustomed to every time I closed the garage door. And a quick check under the car only revealed a clean floor instead of the typical fluid spots.

Needless to say, I gave the car a quick detail and plan to do more of that over the weekend.

The whole process took roughly two months, from start to finish, which is not bad in my opinion considering that I was out of town for a week toward the end of the process, and taking into account weekends and Labor Day.

I will be very diligent during the 1000-mile break-in process and then will have the car serviced to make sure everything looks good. At that point, I will also have it dynoed to see what the real numbers are, and plan to have a complete report along with detailed engine specs.

In the meantime, stay tuned for the next update.

Thanks for following.