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denpo 02-06-2011 08:53 AM

My '76 restoration (long post)
Hi guys.
If you please I may share with you my still short but already rich experiences with those 4 wheels sharks we call C3's.

Bought my first vette Spring '10, a black on black '76. I got this car relatively cheap, but I bought it like a noob. You'll see later.
Those cars are so visually amazing, they make you go nuts.

Let's call it the First Vette buying Syndrome.

I never experienced such a powerfull car. I found stock vette to be severely under powered, I mean for a sport car,
but this one...holly shit..

Sure enough, the guys had poured a lot of money on the engine and trans... for drag racing.

Imagine that, I'm a french who lives in Quebec, grown up with sticks on small econo car. Not enough you discover car in the past has 350ci engine and 3 speed automatic (only 3 wtf), but this one comes with a shift kit, and a line lock. I can tell you, this a fucking culture shot.

Paint was so so, black but over a original corvette orange, there was no "spiderwebs", but crack at some random point of the body.
The interior was original but baked, a new carpet (not completely installed).

The engine was very clean, aledgedly no more than 5k miles, a 350 ci bored .30 with pretty much everything forged, hi perf head, High CR, agressive cam, carb 850 cfm, hi-flow oil pump, electric fan, alum radiator ... The usual for a drag setup.

The trans has been rebuilt 500bhp-capable.
The frame looked, from what a knew, pretty good, dirty but solid.
Some leaks in the steering.
All in all the car was a work in progress still drivable. I knew I could learn how to fix a steering leaks, so the car would keep on getting better.
So I bought it.

And started my weekend-by-weekend restoration job.
My first fix/mod was the electric headlight actuator conversion. I got inspiration from mcspeed design, but simpler

The rubber hoses looked aged, and with the timing of the cam, I was not sure I would even get enough vacuum.
And it was in sync with my conception of the C3's, a stunning look that need upgrades.

Salvaged a hydroboost at the scrapyard for pennies, because at idle there was not much vac for the brakes neither.

Installed a Borgeson/Cheroke steering box. The steering system was leaking from everywhere, since I had to put some money on it anyway I opted for an upgrade. Rack system was too expensive and radical for me at the time and would have immobilized the beast for too long.

I then start the interior restoration:

-rechecking all the wiring to figure out why I didn't have interior lights. -Brought the tach to live, changed dash lights to led.
-tin-soldered a lot of crappy connections.
Dismantled and cleaned he vent system (and yet another missing part here)
-Bought on ebay pretty much every trim, because everything was broken, bubba-repaired and was holding by a-screw-or-two.

Took me some time to realize that I may have overestimated the quality of the car.

The interior was coming along nicely, but the more I upgrade/repair the car, the more I discover the true state of the metal below the car. I had to get to the conclusion: the frame is shoot

After some time of discouragement, I decided to put the trigger : I'm gonna do a complete frame off restoration, in a 1 car wide, 1 3/4 car long garage, no less.

Bought a nice and cheap POR-15ed rust-free frame on Ebay, turned out this is from a forum member (thx again tsarno!)

put it in my garage:

yeah, I know the place is messy, but it's getting better

Then put two hoist on my not-that-high ceilling

No way I could use a single hoist setup of a engine hoist and still getting enough clearance below to dismantle the frame. I had to raise the car as high as possible.

Disconnected all that needed to be (their is a text file on the net/forums that list them all, invaluable)
Invited a couple of friends, and fucking did it!

You see the new frame a the bottom of the picture, you get a idea of the space, of lack of.

Watching your car separating itself in halves gives you a eery feeling.

Here is where I should have learn more about C3 before buying it.

On the other hand, the engine is cool

Then I started the rebuilt process with the front train.
Since you always forget something, I opted to restore one side at a time, a Frame swap is so much cooler than a frame resto for this.
So I would start dismantle one side, and upon reconstrution I would still have a mirror copy on the old frame. Even with the AIM I found this setup very handy.
-new moog balljoints
-VBP steering rebuilt
-Moog 470lbs coil spring, bilstein shock, poly bushings.
Everything have been grinded to metal/etched/POR15ed.
SS-sleeved O-ring calipers on their way.

Here's the result:

A lot of these part have been bought from forum member, thanks a lot to them.

Here is a first draft spreader bar, not sure I won't have to change it.

Now I'm on the trailing arm, bitchy thing, lot of rust.
After screwing a couple of sawzall blade I took my grinder and cut both end of the T/A bolt, then drill out a couple of millimeter on the outer side. Then out can twist out the arm.
Will get the bearing setup rebuilt in the near future by a famous forum member while I'm installing the Johnny joint I bought.

Wow, and 6 month ago I didn't know shiat about cars... except which one is the sexiest.

Sidenote: A couple of things a newbie like me learned (sometimes the hard way):

-Join and use the vette forums
-Get the AIM!
-Get a impact wrench
-Get a torque wrench
-mark everything you remove from the car
-mark down every wire/cable you disconnect
- [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click Here To Register...]

Thanks for reading.
That's all for now, I'll keep updating with the progress.

denpo 02-06-2011 09:07 AM

Rust day! (have your tetanus shoots before reading)
Hi Everyone, here's some update.
This weekend have been very productive, apart from finishing my front and rear bumper assembly put back together, I managed to remove my second trailing arm. Since this operation is a major PITA, I thought I should document my method which is, IMHO, simpler and faster that the usual sawzall method.

Here the nasty bugger:

The cotter pin just felt into dust, the bolt came off gently, this will be the only one to collaborate :

Disclaimer : I'm not planning to reuse this frame, so I went a little berseck on it. I'm confident that you can operate with much less damages made to the frame itself.

The first step is to grind off both side of the TA bolt :

outer side

inner side

Then center punch and drill the outer side :

I first drilled with a small bit then when to bigger ones

The vibration of the drilling and a small crowbar allowed me to rotate the aligment shims. They eventually poped out.

Once you've drilled out the bit of the bolt that holds the TA to the frame, you just have to twist the arm, and it will come off easely.

denpo 02-06-2011 09:13 AM

Rust day, part 2: beware, gross
I'd like to share with you my experience of electrolytic derusting since I'm pretty happy with it.

Here's my trailing arm treatment:

The setup is ghetto, but you don't need to have it fancy, I will eventually get disgusting anyway.
Used a old laptop charger, the positive wire is tied to the metal bar, the negative wire to the part you want to treat.
In the bucket I have water and sodium carbonate (washing soda). 1 spoon per gallon of water.
If you don't have sodium carbonate, take sodium bicabonate (backing soda) and heat it in the oven at 200 F for one hour.
Before putting it into the bath I roughly cleaned it with a wire brush. The aim was not cleaning it, rather expose as much rust as possible.
If the electrolysis can reach the inner layer of rust, the crap that sits on it will go at the same time.

12h later :

Now that's what I call gross.
I ran the setup outside, I don't think that the quantity of hydrogen released by the process is enough to be a threat, but this is not a risk I want to take.
It's almost freezing outside, and surprisingly it didn't stopped the process. So far so good, I bet in the middle of the Quebec winter I won't be the same.

Here's the arm once washed :

The picture don't do justice to the result, the clear spot on the treated side of the arm are bare metal showing up. The black is
One dried, the treated part will re-rust in a matter of hour, I wire brush it quickly and treat it with phosphoric acid spray.

The good thing with this method is that is goes everywhere, the TA has a lot of unreachable areas, like the inner of it or all the gaps between the crappy point-welds. With elecrolysis ALL the rust will be eaten.

Disclaimer: this is not a actual guide, get yourself documented, I might be wrong.

mrvette 02-06-2011 10:10 AM

Well, not ALL hippies are lazy assed......

U did all that shit in just 6 months, and have a 40hrs/week job, I did a hell of a lot of work there in a very short time period....more than most guys by a wide margin.....:nuts::bounce:

1Michel 02-06-2011 12:00 PM


Originally Posted by mrvette (Post 80284)
Well, not ALL hippies are lazy assed......

U did all that shit in just 6 months, and have a 40hrs/week job, I did a hell of a lot of work there in a very short time period....more than most guys by a wide margin.....:nuts::bounce:

Theres much more.
I'll tell you he aint lazy, pretty focused in gettting this car ready for summer.

denpo 02-06-2011 08:12 PM


Originally Posted by mrvette (Post 80284)
Well, not ALL hippies are lazy assed......

U did all that shit in just 6 months, and have a 40hrs/week job, I did a hell of a lot of work there in a very short time period....more than most guys by a wide margin.....:nuts::bounce:

Thanks Gene, what's posted here is work from august to october. I indeed have a 40h/week job, as a game programmer. The good think is it only drains the brain, but leave plenty of body energy.

denpo 02-06-2011 08:27 PM

Hi everyone.
I'm not posting updates as soon as I would like, but the thing is, the more time I spend posting, the less I spend working on the Vette
I've been progressing at a satisfying pace.
My trailing arm are now entirely dismantled and I sent to Gary "gtr1999" Ramadei what he need to machine the rear bearing assembly. Since I'm in Canada, we choosed the lightest setup possible. I only sent the spacers, the shims, the spindle housing and the flange.

Of course I will have to do the reassembly myself, but I didn't want to pay big bucks to send my complete trailing arm assembly. It only cost me 35$ to have them sent to CT, postal service rocks!

I the meantime I received the part I ordered, and started installing them :

Here are the all new parking brake assembled:

And the Stainless sleeved calipers, with brand new bleeders and o-ring pistons installed:

I took care of my fuel tank, which is still in very good shape. It only has light surface rust, and the inner parts in pristine shape.

I'm also starting to treat my header, just surface rust. They'll get some high temp paint and insultation wrapper is on its way.

Today two friends are coming to help me put down the differential-halfshaft/rear spring assembly. When it's done, only the motor remain on the old frame.

I've been waiting for weeks to secure a deal on borrowing a engine hoist and I'm starting to doubt I will ever happens.
So if you're in the Montreal area and you have one to lend for a couple of day, let me know.

denpo 02-06-2011 08:28 PM

Done, the differential has been removed thanks to helping hands from Christ and Sovan, my buddies and active restoration supporter

I'm glad I bought those car dollies ahead of need, they turned really helpfull for moving the tranny in the cramped area.
Since only the engine and the diffy remained on the frame, we decided to lower the back of the frame with the dollies already in place.
Once the diffy was landed, we unbolted it then jacked back in place the frame. The diffy detached itself with its own weight.
Once the engine it swapped I'm ready to let the frame go

By the way, If you're in Montreal and looking for a free frame, let me know. The kickup arches are rusted out and the body mount gone, but all the front is still nice and strong. I won't refuse a couple of used part in return

denpo 02-06-2011 08:30 PM

A milestone somehow
All in all it's been a very productive weekend.

One of the few thing the PO did right was to have the differencial rebuilt. It's not perfect, but still it's not a piece a rust so I decided last night to mount it back the way it is.

Here is it, with new poly bushing.

Spend the whole Sunday grinding my headers, what a PITA .
With some hi temps ceramic paint they now look much better. I hope I won't forget to "cook" the paint once the engine is running again, no way I could find oven big enough to fit those.

So yeah, some king of milestone, the old frame is now completly empty.

I now just hope I get a engine hoist quickly or I will be kinda stuck.

denpo 02-06-2011 08:38 PM

E day
Today was a big day, engine came for the old frame to the new frame.
Hopefully 1Michel came to the rescue, lending me his engine hoist for pretty much how long I want. Michel, you rocks :thumbs::thumbs::thumbs:
Quiet a challenge in the cramped garage.
Not been easy, but we made it.
Here the picture, made by Kouya, who has a prety good taste when it come to framing the moment.

Here are the heroes of the day :
Jeff, mustang lover
Sovan, who never missed a WE, my top notch restoration buddies
And your servitor

To come next: Tom's big big surprise.
Stay tune, thanks for watching.

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