C3-Corvette Restoration

Restoration of a 1977 Corvette Stingray

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November 2007

Part 1



The Stripdown



The first step of the project was to remove the engine and gearbox from the car, normally a straight forward task, due to the size of the Corvette's front end, a standard engine hoist struggles to reach to the centre of gravity of the engine, this problem was compounded by the engine being seized due to standing for a long period, this meant the automatic gearbox couldnt be seperatated from the engine.



The heads, intake manifold, water pump and alternator were removed to lighten before removing/undoing wiring, hoses and other components linked to the engine.


To give us more room to manouver in the engine bay the radiator was removed but the rad support was left in place to add support when the body was lifted.



A checklist of components to remove/disconnect before removing the engine/gearbox can be found here. (add link)







Once the engine and gearbox were lifted clear of the body i had to find away of getting them across some rough ground to my shed, i lowered the load onto a sheet of timber which was used as a sledge to pull the load.



To remove the gearbox you have to be able to turn the engine over to rotate the crank to access all the bolts to the flexplate/torque converter.


To do this i had to remove the sump and disconnect the con rods, i could then tap the pistons through the bore to clear the crank before turning the crank to undo the bolts.


The rest of the engine strip down is straight forward, but you do need a good quality puller to remove the harmonic dampner.





With the engine stripped i turned my attention back to the car body, the next step was to strip the interior.




The seats, carpets, trim and dash came out quick and easy, the centre console and steering column were a little more tricky.


The windscreen was removed with great care, i read on a US forum that 6 in 10 break when removed due to the age and the brittleness of the old glass, not sure how true this is but i took no chances and carefully cut around the sealing compound with a razor blade before carefully pushing the top out and slowley cutting the rest free. One windscreen removed in one piece.


I took lots of photos and labled the wiring loom as i disconnected each connector, you'll be suprised how much wiring is there once you get the dash stripped out !




With the interior stripped i took a closer look at the door pillars and body mount 2.




As you can see from the photo's, the door pillars and mount locations are in very poor condition, this is a prime spot for rot on a corvette and should be check thoroughly before you purchase a car or start a renovation.




The small circle shape in the bottom of the drivers side door pillar is the remains of the mount, washer and bolt which secures the body to the chassis.




To investigate the condition of the rockers (sills) the fibreglass trims have to be removed, this will be done later.












Rot in this location means water has usually ingressed through the T tops, windscreen seals or from running down the windscreen and through the firewall (bulkhead). 




The offside door pillar was just as bad, the mount can just be made out in the cavity.




The windscreen frame was also showing signs of water ingress and rot, if the frame had rotted at this height, the door pillars were sure to be worse.





To investigate the full extent of the rot the front clip and firewall would have to be removed.




By cleaning away the paint, the seam of adhesive that bonds the front clip to the firewall can be seen clearly, some people use a paint stripping heat gun to warm the adhesive to make it more flexible and easier to cut through, i used a paint scraper with the edges sharpened, finding a week spot to start i slid the scraper into the joint and gentley worked my way up the seam.




Occasionally i found spots that were really well bonded, then i would move up or down and start again on an easier point until my confidence grew to tackle the harder spots. 

This part took me approximately 1 1/2 hours per side.




I found it better to work in quite surroundings for this part of the task as i could here the fibreglass crack if i applied to much pressure, it is not uncommon for people to damage/crack the clip while seperating the clip and firewall.






As you can see from the picture i stripped some paint from the area where the inner part of the firewall is bonded to the clip,

this area was stuck really well, by stripping the paint i could see if any fractures were appearing on the clip, fortunately this side also came off without damage.




With both sides free along the door pillar side of the clip i worked from inside the engine bay to cut the inner part of the clip from the firewall, once the edges were free i worked across the top of the firewall to release the 'strap' between the two sides.











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