Back from Germany...Here's a recent picture taken in Maryland. Following the four year restoration and an over-seas journey from Germany, the car sits at its new home in Maryland. We figured we'd give you an after shot before listing the details. The next pictures will surely lead you into the inner realms of what restorations really mean for the guys doing them. The finished product will never tell the story. The rest will be a "first person" account of the restoration from the words of the guy that did it.......me! This should keep things fairly straight forward. Hope ya like what we came up with....
One of my helpers....This also shows the Pearl Metallic paint on a late afternoon sunset.
I'm still working on getting these with the hood on. Installing your hood is a scary thing after a paint job. Don't ever take a chance! Get three people for this job. 1 each to hold the hood. You direct them and install the hardware. Always assure that the front edge of the hood doesn't contact the edge of the front end when closing. Tighten the hardware only enough to keep the hood from sliding freely on the mounts. By doing this you can make final adjustments by pushing, pulling or whatever is necessary to get it centered. (Open it slightly, holding onto the rear center and one side. From hear you should have enough leverage to gently move it to the right position.) After getting it into the right position, open it as far as you need to to tighten the bolts the rest of the way. Remember, the bolts should only be tight enough to prevent the hood from sliding freely when the weight of the hood (While open) shifts. You may want to completely tighten the bolts that attach the hinges to the fender skirts before doing this. If this doesn't give you enough adjustment, then you'll have to play with all four sets of bolts.....on the fender skirts and on the hood. After everything is aligned, you can mark the hinges by tracing a line around the hinge plates. You can do this in any number of ways. Your main concern is that you can return the hood to its original position should you have to remove it for some reason in the future.
Shiny paint....huh. Courtesy of Peter and his crew at: E&S GmbH Autolackierrere Auto-Hobby-Gelnhausen - Lagerhausstrasse 19 - 63571 Gelnhausen - Tel (01149)6051-740240 - FAX: 01149-6051-740244.
This wasn't a very convenient restoration. Everything you'll see was done in a small single car garage. Being in Europe definitely had its disadvantages. No "Track Auto" or "Pep Boys" to run down and pick up familiar supplies and hardware. Everything, including the one piece front end was mail ordered and shipped to Germany.
The Garage. Tiled (carpet in the winter), heater, refrigerator and stereo. I managed to build an "I" beam support with a hoist for the engine removal. I bolted a boat winch in the front of the garage to pull the car up the steep driveway. It was a challenge just making sure I didn't accidentally let the car "ghost ride" down the driveway, through the gate, across the street , down a cliff and.....into the lake below the house. Notice the 4x4's in front of the wheels in some of the pictures. Anyway, I managed not to 'space out' on this one for nearly four years. This may have been the biggest challenge of the entire job.
Well, we'll start with this one. Vette's don't like Mercedes. For all you show offs, this was the end result of a GI joy ride which ended sideways at full throttle. "Yeah, that Mercedes just jumped out of his parking place and hit us!" The German Polizei didn't buy it. Anyway, this is what I ended up with. The question was....do I get rid of it....or do I fix it?
Thinking I was in for a front end job I figured I'd be down for at least 6-9 months and $5000.00. As some of you may know, once you have a car like this you'll never want to give it up. I knew I'd have to fix it. I just didn't know exactly how. Whatever your decision is in the beginning of a major repair or restoration, be ready to spend a lot more than you expect before it's all finished. I had no idea what I was about to take on. Neither did my wallet.
As you can see, things were a mess. It looks worse here because I had just finished sawing the front of the nose off! I didn't have a clue as to how this car was put together. I didn't have the slightest clue of what was missing and what needed to be ordered. The rest was in a few boxes labeled "accident - Vette". It was obvious that I would have to break things down and come up with a method of identifying what was good and what needed to be replaced. This required the purchase of an assembly manual. Another useful source of information are the Vette parts vendor catalogs. They work great for breaking down parts and finding their locations. In many cases they are more clearly illustrated than the Chevrolet assembly manual. Secondly, I knew I'd have to start a collection of photographs for future reference. This is a VERY IMPORTANT step if you plan on doing something like this yourself. Don't skip it. Drop what your doing, get out from under the car, grab your camera and take a shot of every area you plan to work in. Before and after! Don't get lazy. You'll wish you had them later. They document your restoration, serve as references and give you something to show off later on. Its worth it.
Stripping things down...You'll never believe how ugly things can be until you get to this point. You'll ask yourself.."How can this be worth what I paid?". This was under a $13,000.00 price tag. (Before the accident)
The picture above shows the interior after a little work on the floor boards. Vette interiors are a nightmare to deal with. Access is tight and proper re-assembly is difficult. Remember to LABEL everything so you know where the pieces go. When you get to this point, go through the entire wiring Harness to check for damaged wires etc. Clean the wires, label them and leave them alone. Also, it's very important to leave the bends and natural shape of the wires as they are when you remove them. This will help you when you reinstall them later. They will tend to point themselves in the right direction.
HERE ARE SOME PICTURES OF THE GAUGE BEZEL AND INTERIOR COMPONENTS.
The gauge bezel was fabricated by cutting Balsa pieces to conform to the transition between the gauge bezel and the shifter console. The goal was to avoid drilling holes or cutting anything for placement of the added gauges. After the Balsa was cut the new bezel was pieced together in place. All the building and assembly was done from the drivers seat. After the final assembly was finished, it was removed and sheeted with Aluminum. First the pieces were measured and bent on a sheet metal break. (A hole cutter was used to cut the required size holes). They were then polished and bonded to the Balsa. The side (Ears) pieces were cut out separately and glued to the sides. The transition between the pieces of aluminum were painted black to match the interior lines. (Thats a MSD timing module screwed to the corner)
GM left a neat little surprise under the surface of your center gauge bezel and the shift console. They are chromed under the black paint. If you use Acetone you can remove the paint and clean up the chrome for a nice effect. You can paint the areas you want left black and then use a razor blade to carefully shave the UNCURED paint of the raised numbers, lines and letters. Let the paint dry enough to avoid making a mess. When it is still a bit soft, shave the paint off as you like......
Although not shown, the stereo system is another project in itself. Realizing that I couldn't get a stereo to mount in the stock location, I figured I'd have to come up with a solution. As much as any V-8 guy, I'm more likely to leave the tunes off and stomp the throttle for the bass......but I do like an occasional Thoroughgood tune. I began with the thought of mounting the stereo deck in the back compartment but was concerned about how I'd control it. Also, I didn't want to cut any holes in anything. Here's what I did... I purchased a SONY Mobile ES deck with a wired remote. I mounted the wired remote in the forward right side of an after market armrest which sits on the emergency brake console. With quick removal in mind, I decided to mount the deck in a thin briefcase. Power etc was supplied via a six pin quick disconnect mounted at the back of the case. A cutout for the face of the deck was incorporated at the front of the case where the two halves join. The case can be opened and closed, leaving only the face visible at the front behind the carrying handle.
Also included in the system was a SONY 10 pack CD changer and an American Acoustics 4050 amp, both bolted to the back wall of the rear compartment. (This car isn't driven in the rain) Sound is routed via two Infinity crossovers mounted under the seats to a set of 6" Infinity Kappa component speakers at the left and right kick panels. Bass is provided by a Bazooka tube strapped to its mounts just behind the battery compartment. (Facing the rear) All this and a Nitrous bottle fit under the convertible top with room to spare. The tube in the back provides excellent bass because of the size of the rear compartment. With the deck closed, it's perfect.....and all removable. I still rarely use it.
Beginning the Scoop:
The hood scoop in the beginning:
After searching everywhere I finally decided that the 427 style hood scoop looked better than any of the after market scoops available. I guess I could have just bought one but I felt that it needed some minor changes before it would look right on a 70'. With the experience I gained in model design and a background in aviation composites I decided I'd model my own scoop using Balsa wood and fiberglass. Not only was this fun, it gave me the opportunity to do it how I wanted. It wasn't really that difficult.
Anyone can build a shell out of Balsa wood. Use pins and super glue to build the basic structure. 5 Min Epoxy the heavier stuff. To apply the sheeting over curved surfaces, use water (in a spray bottle) to bend it.. Spray a little on, rub it into the shape you want. Apply the glue. (Elmers wood glue if wood is wet) then pin it down and let it dry. Use woven glass cloth on interior structures requiring strength. Use Matt Mold glass for the surfaces being finish sanded. The woven cloth is less likely to chip but will leave a nasty weave pattern under your paint finish.....no matter how smooth you sand it. When done, fuel proof the entire thing by painting all the nooks and crannies with resin. This includes any of the balsa exposed after doing the glass work.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend that anyone start doing something like this unless they are confident that they know the basics of fiberglass work. In addition to this, they should have other alternatives if it just doesn't work out!
I began by purchasing a "Box of Balsa" from Tower Hobbies. It includes various sizes of balsa ranging from 3/32 to 1/2" sticks, several sheets of 3/32 sheeting and a few blocks. It goes for about $20.00 at Tower. In addition to this I purchased a few extra 3/32 sheets for additional sheeting.
After measuring the differences of the distances to the centerline of the engine, I transferred markings to the hood top using a white Testors paint pen. (The centerline of the engine is not exactly in the middle of the car) After assuring the markings were correct I made a circular cutout in the hood using a jig saw. (Keep the piece for the future. It can be reinstalled/bonded should you wish to go back to original and not buy a hood.)
Starting with the hood installed and aligned, I built the wooden structure directly on the hood. I actually super glued the bottom longerons (Lft & Rht) so the assembly wouldn't slip as I worked. I left it here until it was completely sheeted. This is necessary to avoid warping the assembly during the sheeting process.
Back side showing air dam which was later drilled with 3/8 holes to prevent excessive pressure in scoop. This helped to get the cool air down around the carb as well as allow excess heat to escape from under the hood. It seems to work fine. This inner structure was also glassed for strength. Although there are numerous sections of balsa making up the initial structure of the scoop, much of it was sanded out after the shell of fiberglass hardened. Following this, the entire inner sections were coated with resin to prevent fuel/oil contamination
This shows the scoop before final "eyeball trimming". It was cut down considerably before it looked right. Using a 90 deg. sander and a razor knife, I trimmed the leading edges to resemble an intake similar to that of the 427 style but rounded a little more......
The yellow is Epoxy Polyamide primer. This is an aerospace epoxy used on airframe parts. It has excellent adhesion, flexibility and toughness. Perfect for places that get warm or suffer from moisture and possible corrosion. I used it on the engine, inner doors, frame, rear end differential and several other parts. After 61 hours of engine runs, 600 miles of driving and opening and closing the hood, it still hasn't cracked.
This is the final product. Similar to a 427 Vette scoop but shaped a little softer for the 70'.
Here's the engine block with the epoxy primer. The brake calipers were also done with the same primer. The primer can be prepared to have a smooth finish which is easy to clean later......
This is the block after the Polyurethane "Mars Red" coating. Nothings better than a polyurethane finish over epoxy for the engine block. It lasts and won't discolor. Before applying this type of primer, it is absolutely essential that the surfaces be free of contaminants
Shown here are the ARP head studs and the hand polished Performer manifold. (Runners and sides only)
Polished beams, balanced and ready for installation - Forged Chevy/Keith Black Hyper. pistons w/ Speed Pro rings. Rod bolts are ARP.
The Edelbrock 'Triangle' air cleaner was 86'd for a billet Edelbrock w/fins and a K&N. This little air cleaner doesn't have adequate retention of the foam element. The sides suck in, allowing junk to go directly down the carb.
Keeping the engine compartment simple just didn't work out. Although there seems to be a lot here, it's all very reliable, quick to dismantle.....and ultra clean. All the wire bundles are neatly tied at 3" intervals with wax string instead of plastic tie straps. Extra effort was also made to assure that the vacuum system lines ran with there colors up.
My first engine stand.....Not recommended!.....Anybody make a driveshaft and motor mounts for this combination?
After sandblasting and corrosion treating the frame, it was coated with 2 part, semi gloss coat of polyurethane frame paint. All the bushings were replaced with an Energy Suspensions kit for the 1970. All the front end components, to include the ball joints, idler arm, steering box etc. were replaced. (New).
Beginning with the crashed front end, the decision was made to cut the entire nose off with a saw, keeping the pieces attached to their stock locations. This made access and picture taking easier. It also gave me a better idea of exactly where things were...
The photos above show what lies forward of the inner fender skirts. Notice the heavy duty staples holding the rubber seals on the inner fender skirt. These staples can be ordered too. To install them, it's necessary to drill individual holes for each leg. Then, using needle nose pliers, insert the staple and bend over the legs. Also, the mount brackets which support the front end can be seen. These tie the front end to the inner fender skirts on both sides. Don't drill the holes for these through the inner fender skirts until you're sure the front end rests in the proper position. The bolts go vertically through the mount and into the nose reinforcement which is bonded/riveted under the nose.
Looking across the front from right - to - Left, you'll see the front end Reinforcement which is bolted to the forward cross member which is also bolted to the frame. Your front bumper bolts directly to this with two large bolts....right behind the very tip of the bumper. The fiberglass piece shows additional fiberglass reinforcements which are bonded adjacent to each headlight opening. These need to be removed and bonded in the same location on the new front end. The two holes are for the cross flag emblem on the nose.
Here are two shots of the Relay valves and the horns. Also visible is the headlight door supports. On the left picture in the upper left corner, you'll see two bolt heads sitting near the horn on the left. These hold the pivot bearings for the headlight doors. By loosening them on each side of the lights, you can make adjustments to center the headlight assembly in the opening. The relay valves shown above are talked about in the "Vacuum" section on the "Motor - Tech" page. This is what they look like. They control the direction of vacuum for each headlight.
The headlight door frames are bolted to the steel reinforcement which is riveted/bonded to the underside of the nose just forward of the hood front edge. They serve to support the headlight doors.
There are mount points which accept each shaft of the headlight door. Actually, the shafts slide through plastic bearings which are pressed into a three-legged mount which is bolted to the headlight frame with 1/2 inch body bolts. This mount (mentioned above as a pivot bearing) is what's moved to adjust spacing of the headlight door. A VERY IMPORTANT STEP WHEN REPLACING THE FRONT END IS TO NOT LOOSE OR FORGET THE SPACERS WHICH GO BETWEEN THE FORWARD MOST FEET OF THE HEADLIGHT DOOR FRAME AND THE STEEL NOSE REINFORCEMENT. THESE ARE 1/4 - 3/8 SOLID STEEL SHIMS WHICH ARE NEEDED TO PROPERLY POSITION THE HEADLIGHT DOOR ASSEMBLY. THIS IS DEPENDANT ON THE YEAR OF THE CAR. I had to use them as outlined in the instructions included with the headlight door frames.
These frames were cast from aluminum and are notorious for rotting out. Intergranular corrosion destroyed these frames at the mount holes. Intergranular corrosion penetrates deep into the aluminum, often dissolving it into a powdery substance. In this case, both were replaced.
Here are some pictures of the restored frame and suspension. Suspension rebuild kit with polyurethane bushings from Energy suspension, new steering box, rebuilt power steering unit and cylinder, heavy duty idler arm and Steel braided brake lines. Pretty much stock except for the colors of the springs and brake calipers. All of the frame components were sandblasted and treated prior to the epoxy primer and semi-gloss polyurethane finish.
Here are some shots of the inner fender skirts before and after trimming, drilling and placement of vacuum lines and wiring harness. All of this has to be done prior to mounting of the front end. The inner fender skirts that I purchased from Ecklers had dimples at most of the locations for the primary mount holes. This includes the radiator support itself. Before using these pre-existing dimples/pilot holes, make sure they are right for your particular car. Slight differences in factory assembly may require that you drill them at a slightly different location.
This is early on. The inner fender skirts haven't been completely trimmed or fitted. In fact, there was months spent drilling, trimming and making adjustments before the front end was ready for bonding. If you ever get into something like this, try to get as much information and hints from the experts. There are no manuals which adequately explain how to get things right. Its up to the person doing the work. Go piece by piece and make sure you trial fit EVERYTHING! Radiator support, hood hinges, seals, hood, light assemblies, chrome, cross member, cable harness, vacuum tank,etc...etc...all have to be fitted or simulated until you are certain that they won't interfere or cause permanent problems after final bonding of the front end.
Whatever the year..make sure you put in the hardware for the side vents. Also, make sure they fit before you bond the front on. There may be some work left which could prove to be difficult after the front clip is in place. These are the 1970-72 louvers being fitted. In order to assure proper placement, the fiberglass reinforcement, holding the nut plates for the upper screws in the vent, had to be attached to the vent first. (This is the fiberglass "L" bonded to the inside of the clip above the louver) After the surfaces were prepared, adhesive was applied to the bonding points before the vent was finally set in place. After the adhesive cured the screws and louvers were removed. The "L" remains in its permanent position. The little metal plate which engages the stud on the vent is also installed.
Some people like to paint their side louvers on the 70-72 Vettes. I had them re-chromed and then decided to mask them off as shown. Whatever you decide is up to you. If you do decide to paint them you can use pin striping to mask off the highlighted chrome sections. (Blue). Do not attempt to use masking tape by cutting it along the highlighted areas. Remnants of glue will remain making a rough edge which will be noticeable later. The large areas can be done with masking tape but the fine lines can be done with the pin striping tape. The surface getting the paint will have to be prepared by roughing it up a bit with 400 grit sand paper. This is very tedious and has to be done carefully to avoid scratching the adjacent chromed surface. Cover the areas with masking tape to help avoid the scratches.
Don't forget to do the lights. You'll wish you did later. Although all those springs and mechanisms look complicated, don't worry. Take them apart, clean them up, replace the worn plastic sleeves and guides and reassemble them as units. It takes a few extra days to rebuild these....on spare time. Its all well worth it in the end.
The final result
Placement of the front end clip:
You can drill holes at various places so that duplication of your front end placement can be done quickly during the gluing process. What this means is this....Once you are 1000% sure that everything is in the right place, drill a series of holes at different locations. You will drill these directly through the front end and into the various bonding points (flanges). Then, when you're ready to glue the front on, lay your bead of glue according to the instructions in assembly manual/instruction sheet. ( Have two people mix duplicate batches of glue/adhesive and apply them.) Now, have your helper assist you in getting the front end assembly in place. You should already be well aware of exactly how it slips over the fender skirts and into its final place. Get it there and fasten it in place by screwing it down with sheet metal screws through the holes you drilled. Now, attach the most critical pieces to the front end. This should include the bumper, hood and critical chrome pieces. Check everything ....on...the...fly! Do this before the glue dries. You won't have very long to make adjustments. Let it dry if everything looks good. Now, get ready to glue inside the fender wells. This can be done at a more convenient pace. Again, check as you go making sure that you make adjustments prior to letting things dry. THE TWO MOST CRITICAL STEPS ARE:
1. MAKE SURE YOU ARE ABLE TO QUICKLY TRIAL FIT THE FRONT END TO ITS EXACT LOCATION SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE YOU ACTUALLY BOND IT. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT...AND WHAT MAY SLOW YOU DOWN.
2. DON'T TIGHTEN THE SCREWS DOWN TOO MUCH. 1 SCREW WILL DEFORM THE CURVATURE OF THAT AREA. ONLY SCREW IT DOWN ENOUGH TO KEEP IT IN PLACE. BE ESPECIALLY CONSCIOUS ALONG THE DOOR JAM.(ADJACENT TO IT.) IF YOU EVER HAVE QUESTIONS ON THIS PROCESS, WRITE US A QUICK E-MAIL. WE'LL BE HAPPY TO TALK IT THROUGH WITH YOU.
Then Comes the Glue....This is the bead of glue needed to bond the front end. In addition to this, you'll need to run a bead along the inside of the fender wells once the front end is in place.
T-Tops and Convertibles
The window frame area can be a nightmare. If yours is like mine was, you're in for about 2 months of free time work. I had to rebuild the entire frame. The corners were rotted out to the point that I had to weld new sections in. (They sell them by section). Following this I reinforced/weather proofed the entire frame by encasing it in a polyester/fiberglass cast. I then had to re-drill ALL the mounting holes and re-shape the various areas were clearance was needed for the molding. The work extended all the way down to the metal cap above the hood release inside the car. I had to cut out the fiberglass structure and bonding flange/strip to gain access. I kept the piece and re-bonded it back in its original place once the work was completed. I'll try to get some more pictures of this later. I have plenty!
Water which seeps through and underneath the chrome and stainless windshield molding can really become a problem. If you are planning on buying a Corvette, try to make an effort at checking this area. None of the damage you see here could be seen from the outside. Disassembling the molding is not a big deal but does require a little time. Access for inspection shouldn't take more than 15 minutes or so. Beginning at the upper corner, remove the pressed in molding strip running from left to right across the top of the windshield. Rusted molding clips etc. are signs that further inspection needs to accomplished. Continue by removing the corner pieces. Whatever you do, make sure that you see enough to be satisfied. Sections of the windshield frame can be purchased from some of the major Corvette parts houses.
Picture one shows the windshield frame and the extent of the damage. Picture 2 was taken about a month later after the welding and fiberglass/sealing work. Following this, all the various contours and shapes required for the windshield and molding had to be done by hand. Each piece had to be re-aligned in order to find the right locations for the mounting holes. After welding in the corner pieces the entire window frame was glassed with 4 layers of heavy woven cloth and then sealed after final shaping. Following the contour work and drilling, the frame was sealed and primed.
Looking at picture three you can see the piece with the "X" written in chalk. This is a portion of the bonding strip which was cut out to gain access further down the windshield post.
WIPER DOOR AREA:
FULL OF JUNK....Prior to actual disassembly, it appeared that repairs would have to be made to the wiper trough. After scraping all the sealant, leaves and other debris from this area, it was actually found to be in perfect condition. Just to make sure, I decided to re-seal the seams as shown in picture three. The tan color is the sealant. I'll post the final (Finish) picture as soon as I find it.
CONTINUED LATER................... J.M.
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