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Unread 03-14-2008, 11:30 AM   #1
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Default Chevrolet Corvette Maintenance - Weekend Projects 2008

Chevrolet Corvette Maintenance - Weekend Projects 2008
Well, spring is in the air and here we are again with another bevy of weekend projects for you and your Corvette. I, for one, have had cabin fever here in New Jersey, and I am raring to get started on some projects that I've been planning during the winter months, so why don't you join me? Nothing listed here is rocket science, and you don't need an extensive tool collection, either. The main elements are care, patience, and a sincere interest in doing the job right. In addition to making some worthwhile improvements and doing some preventative and appearance maintenance, you get to spend some quality one-on-one time with your Corvette.
Regardless of which of these projects you do on your Corvette, there are a few items that will serve you well. I recommend that you have these on hand: disposable nitrile gloves to keep your paws clean; WD-40 for penetrating rusted fasteners, cleaning paint off your hands, and a plethora of other uses; some aerosol carb and choke cleaner for dissolving and removing grease and engine muck; a razor blade scraper and a utility knife; a workbench; and a stool or bench to sit on. For the projects where you'll need to elevate your Corvette, a good hydraulic trolley jack, a pair of sturdy jackstands, and a creeper or mat for your back are also items you'll need.
As far as tools go, you'll need a basic complement that includes screwdrivers and nutdrivers, wrenches, sockets, and ratchets; ASA standard if you're working on C1, C2, or C3 Corvettes and metric standard for C4s, C5s, and C6s.
I also highly recommend you have a service manual available for your particular year/model Corvette, as it contains a lot of valuable information such as fluid capacities, electrical measurements, torque specifications, and so on. The best ones are the actual factory service manuals produced by GM and used by Chevrolet service technicians; however, Chilton, Motorbooks, and other publishers also publish excellent service manuals.
Speaking of torque, if you're doing any projects that are torque-sensitive (e.g., replacing the intake manifold bolts) be sure to look up the specific torque specs for your Corvette in the service manual and use a good torque wrench to tighten the bolts to these specs.
You may also want to consider having a radio, CD player, or iPod to provide some "working" music and bottled water or other non-alcoholic beverages to wet your whistle (definitely lay off the beers until the work is done). I think that pretty well covers all the preliminary stuff, so let's get started.
DIFFICULTY INDEX ANYONE’S PROJECT | no tools required I BEGINNER | basic tools II EXPERIENCED | special tools III ACCOMPLISHED | special tools and outside help IIII PROFESSIONALS ONLY | send this work out IIIII

Project 1
Stainless Intake Manifold Bolt Replacement
Applicable Years:
C1, C2, C3
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Appropriate sockets, torque wrench, wrenches; factory service manual or correct torque specs for your engine year/model; new stainless steel bolts and washers
Time Required: 1-2 hours
Parts Source:, local hardware, fastener supply, or home improvement center
There's a lot of moisture and humidity in the part of the country where I live, and this makes keeping up with and ahead of rust a constant challenge, especially when it comes to the engine bolts on my Corvettes. I've always been a big fan of stainless steel fasteners because they don't rust and always maintain a nice appearance. I also should mention that I don't enter my cars in judged shows, so I'm not really concerned about correctness. That being said, I decided to replace all the intake manifold bolts on my '67 big-block coupe with spiffy stainless fasteners. This is an easy project to do, but you want to make sure you only remove one bolt at a time, and insert and tighten the stainless replacement to the correct torque before removing the next one. This is done for two reasons: First, it minimizes the chance for any coolant leakage, and second, this won't create any great disturbance in the overall torque of the manifold so there won't be any warping.
I ordered the replacement bolts from, but you can also get them from the local fastener supply, a well-stocked hardware store, or a home improvement center such as Home Depot or Lowes. Replacing all the bolts should take about an hour on most models, although it may take a little longer on some (e.g., tri-powers) if there is more plumbing to contend with. It really dresses up the engine, and it eliminates rusty-bolt syndrome for good.
Project 2
Cargo Bay Organizer Installation
Applicable Years:
C4, C5
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Drill, 5/64-inch bit, No. 1 Phillips screwdriver
Time Required: 1/2-hour
Parts Source: Mid America Motorworks
I keep a lot of small, miscellaneous stuff in the trunk of our C5 -CDs, a baseball cap, extra sunglasses, a pack of Kleenex, maps, and so on, and this stuff tends to bounce around the trunk while I'm driving. It also creates an unsightly clutter when the trunk is open.
I decided to do something about it, so I procured a C5 Cargo Bay Organizer from Mid America Motorworks (MAM), without realizing at the time that it was meant to be installed in C5 coupes, not convertibles like mine. So when it arrived, I did some quick thinking "outside the box" and realized that by mounting it on the transverse aluminum upper deck support it would not only work just fine, but would also serve as a "separator" to hide (for the most part) the ragtop when it was in the down position (which it is for the entire winter, since we have an auxiliary hardtop that stays on for the colder months).
The installation we're showing here is basically the same as it would be for a coupe, except the organizer would mount to the rear bulkhead beneath the rear window on a coupe. MAM also supplies bolts, nuts, and washers should you decide to fasten the mounting snaps with these items rather than the supplied screws. Be advised, however, that it may be necessary to remove the panel you are mounting it to should you decide to use the nuts-and-bolts mounting method.
This is another easy project to do, but be sure to measure and mark exactly where you want the snap-mounting holes to be before you drill.
Project 3
Spark Plug Pull & Check
Applicable Years:
C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Spark plug socket, ratchet, plug boot pliers
Time Required: 1 hour
Parts Source: Favorite Corvette parts/accessory supplier, local auto parts store, or auto department of a mass merchandiser
A spark plug is one of those parts that most folks scarcely give any thought to . . . until their engine starts missing, running rough, or develops some unhealthy symptoms. That's why it's a good idea to pull and check your spark plugs at regular intervals-for example, with every third oil change. Checking your plugs is not hard to do, although it's a tad more difficult on some Corvettes than on others due to plug location, exhaust headers, and/or other obstacles that may make them hard to reach and remove.
Start by pulling the plug wire off at the boot (investing in a pair of plug boot pliers is a good idea to avoid damaging the wires or the boots as they're made specifically for this purpose). After the plug wire is off, use the ratchet and socket to remove the plug and inspect it. Check the plug to make sure the electrode isn't burned away, that there's no cracking of the ceramic body, and that the color of the center electrode looks good (optimally, the electrode should be a tan color). Black indicates the engine is running too rich, thus producing a lot of carbon resulting from fuel that isn't burning properly, and a whitish color denotes the engine is running too lean. If the plug indicates you're running either rich or lean, some adjustments should be made to correct the situation and a full tune-up wouldn't be a bad idea.
If everything looks fine, just replace the plugs and push the plug wire boots on all the way. While the plugs are out of the engine, it's a good time to replace them with new ones, perhaps an upgraded plug such as the ones from E3 that don't require any gapping. If you're replacing your plugs with conventional ones, be sure to gap them correctly according to the specs in your Corvette service manual.
Project 4
Shift console prep & paint
Applicable Years:
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Masking tape, spray paint, screwdrivers
Time Required: 4 hours over 2 days
Parts Source: Zip Products
Here's the original console on the left, and the new, unpainted unit from Zip Products on the right. The shifter diagram, ashtray door, and door sliders have already been removed from the old console.>
The lower shifter console in my '67 coupe had seen better days. The paint is peeling off in several places, and it has acquired numerous scratches over the last 41 years, so when I redid my interior, the console was on the "makeover" list as well. Zip Products offers a console either completely finished or unpainted-the only difference is the price, about $160 between the two. So if you're industrious and want to save some significant change, here's how to finish the bare console yourself.
Project 5
Voltage Regulator Replacement
Applicable Years:
C2, early C3
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Ratchet and sockets or nut drivers
Time Required: 1/2-hour
Parts Source: Corvette Central
Always use a cushioned fender apron when working under the hood of your Corvette to protect against scratches from belt buckles. The replacement voltage regulator is resting on the apron above the old one it will be replacing. The year 1968 was the last year the Corvette was equipped with an external discrete voltage regulator; GM switched to integrated units with the '69 model year.>
Replacing the voltage regulator is a very simple procedure on midyears and the '68 shark. (Starting with the '69 Corvette, GM switched to an internal voltage regulator that was integrated with the alternator).
As always, whenever you're working on anything that has to do with the electrical system in your Corvette, be sure to disconnect the negative terminal of the battery before you do anything else. This will not only prevent you from getting a nasty shock, it will also prevent any damage to the electrical components as you work with them.
When all of those tasks are done, you can remove the old regulator and install the new one by reversing all the steps.
Project 6
Valve Cover Replacement
Applicable Years:
C1, C2, C3
Skill Level: 1 Wrench
Tools Required: Sockets and ratchet, razor scraper, gasket sealant
Time Required: 1-2 hours
Parts Source: Paragon Reproductions
The aftermarket chrome valve covers on my '67 big-block looked nice when they were shiny and new, but that was a long, long time ago, and moisture and age have taken their toll. As part of my overall scheme for revitalizing the engine bay on the old warhorse, I sandblasted and refinished the original OEM valve covers (covered in a separate stand-alone article in another issue of CF), and now it was time to install them. A gasket set was procured from Paragon, along with the appropriate grommets and a new, correct black oil filler cap. This is not a difficult project and well worth the hour or two it will take you. These same procedures apply even if you just want to take your old covers off, clean them up, and give them a new coat of paint.
So that should keep you busy for at least a few weekends. Keep watching Corvette Fever for more Corvette weekend projects!CF

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