Thursday, December 28, 2017

C3 Corvette: Manual Headlight Assembly Operation

If your C3's headlight assemblies fail to go up and down when you operate the headlight switch, there's a simple workaround. Corvette engineers designed the system to be operated manually in case of a vacuum or actuator failure.

It's not a difficult procedure, although based on the terrain your vehicle may be parked on, as well as how dirty the assemblies may be (remember, these things are exposed to weather and road grime), you may get a little dirty. Also, try to protect your eyes somehow in order to prevent injury by falling debris.

Above: You don't have to "wink" at everyone if one of the actuators is inop.

Above: Red arrow points to the exact place you want to push or pull to raise or collapse the headlights.

I made a short YouTube video that shows you exactly how this works.

So now you know how to manually operate the headlight assemblies in case you wanted to drive your Vette at night but the assemblies would not open. Plus, being able to manually operate the headlights allows you to work on the system without having to use the bypass switch under the dash.

Besides, as a C3 owner, you need to know these little tricks.

Needless to say, you may want to get the system working properly in order to avoid having to resort to manual operation, but first, you have to figure out what's causing the problem.

If it's something simple you may get away with a repair that does not require having to remove the hood and/or the headlamp assemblies, which may be the case if you have to replace one or both of the actuators, for example.

And so you know, in many cases you can repair the original vacuum actuators by using a repair kit that provides new seals. I believe headlamp assembly actuators were identical for 1968 through 1982 models.

If the headlight problem is caused by a faulty headlight switch, you will have to (at minimum) loosen the driver's side of the dashboard in order to be able to remove the switch, which—by the way—has a little release button that must be pressed in order for the switch stem to be removed.

If you are replacing the headlight switch, make sure you get the correct one for your car as I believe there are differences between some of the year models, and also take photos or make a diagram as to how to reconnect the vacuum hoses so the headlamp assemblies operate correctly.

Above: Many switches have been destroyed by failing to press the stem release button.

You must press and hold that button (see red arrow in photo above) as you pull the knob all the way out in order to release it from the assembly itself, then you can remove the switch by unscrewing the collar that secures it to the dash. And be careful as you work in this area as many of the plastic parts get brittle with age, and the last thing you want to do is break parts that are, otherwise, perfectly okay.

If you need to remove and replace the headlamp system vacuum hoses, there are plenty of routing diagrams available online. And you want to get the correct set of hoses for your model year.

Hope this helps, and thanks for following my blog!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Product Review: RhinoRamps by FloTool

Crawling under a slightly lowered C3 is nearly impossible unless you're ultra thin. But even if you were, it would be of little benefit as there's no room to do anything under the car if you were able to squeeze your body under it. I weigh in at a buck seventy, so I'm not heavy by any stretch of the imagination, and can barely get my head and one arm under my Corvette when it's flat on the ground.

A floor jack is one of those must-have tools for the do-it-yourselfer mechanic, but if you're going to crawl under a vehicle, you will also need jack stands, which means you will spend time looking for stuff and then setting it up. So that's where car ramps prove their worth. You set them up, roll your car onto them, do whatever it is you're trying to get accomplished, and when you're done you simply roll your car off. Done!

Above: Product number 11909ABMI.
Most ramps tend to be a bit on the high side for sports cars, so I did not really consider them for my Corvette until I saw a set of RhinoRamps by FloTool advertised on Amazon. They seemed they would work fine since they were designed for wide tire width, low-clearance vehicles, according to the manufacturer.

For $29.98 they were more than reasonable and as an Amazon Prime customer, I would have them in my hands in two days. Best of all, if—for whatever reason—I did not like them or if they didn't work as advertised, I would be able to return them.

I did get them delivered early Sunday morning (thanks, Amazon and U.S. Post Office), and immediately put them to good use.

Now, to be clear, my garage setup will most likely differ from yours, so this product review is based on my garage layout as well as my 1976 Corvette. Of course, since you're reading my blog (and I thank you for that), chances are you also own a C3 Corvette, so that's not the problem. My caveat has to do with how I secured the ramps as I rolled my car onto them.

Most garages will not have a conveniently located ledge or step up as mine does. My garage is longer than average and includes the laundry room at the very back. So I used the ledge to act as a stop for the ramps, which means I did not test them to see if they would slide away as you roll the vehicle onto them. That may be a test I perform in the future, but not this time around.

Above: RhinoRamps are nicely made and light so they are easy to handle.
Once the ramps were butted securely against the ledge and aligned with the front wheels of the car, I slowly drove the car onto them, carefully listening for any scraping noises. None occurred and the car stopped its forward motion once the tires reached the ramp stops.

Above: The ledge separating the garage area from the laundry room provided the perfect stop for the ramps.

Above: The height of the ledge is perfect so the ramps stay firmly in place.
After the car was up on the ramps, I left it in gear, engaged the emergency brake, and chocked one of the rear wheels. I have two solid rubber wheel chocks which add an extra layer of safety when used on concrete and/or painted floors like mine. In a pinch, a 2x4 scrap or even a brick will do the job, but I don't trust those on a slick surface.

Above: No scraping as the car is rolled onto the ramps. Not sure if that'll be the case
if I ever add a front Pace Car spoiler.

Above: At 12 inches RhinoRamps are the perfect width for my 235/60/15 tires.

Above: Good wheel chocks are inexpensive must-haves for do-it-yourselfers.
I allowed my Corvette to cool down for a few minutes since I needed to work in close proximity to one of the exhaust pipes, but once I got under the car I was able to get the work done safely and (somewhat) in comfort.

Above: RhinoRamps are stackable which makes them easier to store.

Above: Thanks to their small footprint, ramps can be stored out of the way in a corner of the shop.
According to the FloTool, these ramps can hold vehicles up to 12,000 lbs. so they are strong enough for the average C3 Corvette. They certainly performed well in my case without any signs of buckling under pressure, so I consider them a great buy and I'm keeping them. They sure will come in handy next time I need to crawl under my Vette.

So if you're looking for car ramps for your C3, give RhinoRamps by FloTool a try. I think you'll be pleased with them. They are available from Amazon, Advance Auto, Walmart, The Home Depot, and Tractor Supply, to mention a few. Retail prices, of course, vary.

And something worth noting, these ramps are Made in the U.S.A!

Thanks for following my 1976 Corvette blog!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

New Digs for Me and My 1976 Corvette

Back in October, I closed on a house I purchased in DeBary, conveniently located only a few miles away from the rental apartment I had been living in for the past year. And even though the house needed some remodeling in order to bring it into the 21st century and only had a one-car garage, the price, overall condition, and central location, made it a good buy.

Above: My Vette at the house for the first time.
Having owned homes with two- and three-car garages in the past made downsizing to a one-car garage tough, but having an enclosed place to safely park my Vette was a must. I say enclosed since many older houses in Florida have carports which although they provide a roof over a vehicle, offer no additional protection and also make the car easily accessible for anyone who wants to get close to it. So a carport definitely was a deal breaker for me.

The first thing I did, once I took possession of the property, was to remove the old and dirty popcorn ceiling... not only in the garage but throughout most of the house. And if I never have to do such a job again, I will not be sad.

Above: Removing popcorn finish gets old fast. But it was well worth the many hours and effort.
Once the new "knockdown" texture had been applied and the drywall repaired, I had the painter clean and then epoxy the cement floor with paint formulated specifically for concrete floors. I've used stain in the past but was not completely satisfied with the look. I've also used vinyl tiles but those tend to crack or get otherwise damaged when you do heavy wrenching in the garage. So epoxy was my choice for this garage.

Above: The ceiling only needed light repairs and joint tape before the knockdown finish was applied.

Above: Part of the garage serves as the laundry area. I had this portion of the floor tiled.

Above: A clean and up-to-date ceiling thanks to fresh knockdown texture finish and paint.

Above: The painter adds decorative chips to the freshly applied epoxy paint.

Above: Close-up of the color chips.
Storage is always an important consideration, and luckily I had saved enough heavy-duty shelving units I'd purchased years earlier which allowed me to utilize the vertical space to the max. I even modified a couple of them to serve as a workbench while allowing easy access to the electrical panel which is located in the garage.

Installation took a couple of days since I was working by myself and had to cut each upright down to size so they would clear the garage door tracks and look even.

Above: To add a finished look to the laundry room, I glued a 4.25" rubber base border.

Above: Garage ready for shelving units to be installed.

Above: One shelf done, many more to go.

Above: I had to shim some of the shelving to compensate for the sloping garage floor.

Above: I secured the shelves to the walls with heavy-duty wall anchors for good measure.

Above: One side finished. The workbench area has proven to be a great idea.
I considered adding a smaller workbench to the other side of the garage since that wall has a window in it. But as luck would have it, something much better and useful was in my future.

During one of my trips to the local Lowe's, I found a beautiful tool cart they had marked down considerably since it had been dented. After measuring it I realized it would fit perfectly in front of the window while allowing some daylight in and also add a bit of privacy since it would cover part of the window. So I bought it along with the matching tool chest since the manager offered me an additional discount.

Above: Shelving for the other side of the garage started.

Above: The bottom right drawer has a big dent, but otherwise works perfectly.

Above: The other side of the garage with the built-in toolbox I bought at Lowe's.

Above: Snug as a bug at home.
Even though I measured the parking area as well as my car many times, I was concerned that the Vette was going to be a tight fit in the garage, but it actually fits very well and I have plenty of room to walk around it comfortably.

I also used small mats under the car to prevent paint from lifting due to hot tires. I found those at Home Depot and they are regular doormats, but they are black and were only $3 each.

I also have a parking mat I bought from Amazon years ago to ensure the car stops at the right spot every time.

Fortunately, my garage parking area is long enough even for my truck if I ever needed to park it in there, so the car stays clear of the laundry room portion, especially considering there is a step up, but that is not a problem at all.

Above: I still have to organize the shelves, but the car is safely parked in its new home.
There's no doubt that having a two-car garage allows for easier wrenching, especially when you need to have both doors fully open, but thanks to the pleasant Central Florida weather I can roll the car out at any time and work outside, so the smaller garage is not a problem, especially with all the nice shelving and other finishes.

I recently replaced the single-bulb fixture with a fluorescent light and what a difference it makes. I still have two additional fluorescent fixtures to install. You cannot have too much light in the workshop area. And I still have a ton of boxes of tools and other stuff to go through and store properly on the shelves.

And since my floor jack failed a while back—thankfully not while I was under the car—I will get a new one, but in the meantime, I have ordered a couple of RhinoRamps which, according to the manufacturer, are low enough for low-clearance vehicles. In addition to that, they have a non-skid base so I'll find out in a couple of days if they will work for my Vette. I may write an article about them in order to share my experience.

I hope my article inspires you to get out there and clean your garage, maybe epoxy the floor or get some shelving units to help you organize your Corvette parts, tools, and other stuff.

Thank you for following!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday... C3 Corvette Style

What better way to celebrate a day of cultural and moral decline than by showing a collection of black C3 Corvettes?

If your idea of automotive debauchery revolves around Corvettes (especially of the third generation vintage), you're in the right place.

Thank you for following my blog!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

To Each His Own — Custom and Strange C3 Corvettes

Photos of modified Corvettes that make you say, WTF?!?!
From mild to wild... OK, mostly wild.

These are photos I've found online while looking for Corvette-related info.

 Above: Not sure the custom camper is good for this Vette's suspension.
Add a couple of adults and you're going to need new spring and shocks!

Above: This Corvette limousine is an interesting idea nicely executed.
Too bad that an early C3 had to be sacrificed.

 Above: Garden art? Storage unit? What a shame. 

 Above: I am out of words when it comes to this aberration!

 Above: It never ceases to amaze me that people take the time and money
to customize C3s to the point of ridiculousness.

 Above: Another Corvette limo. Those sidepipes can burn several legs
at the same time, and on both sides of the vehicle.

 Above: Seriously?

Thanks for following my '76 Corvette Stingray blog.