| '53-'62 Corvettes ( Solid Axle ).
Hard steering, or binding: Most of the time due to lack of lubrication in the steering box causing wear to the steering gears, as shown in this sector gear. This wear causes loose, or sloppy steering, which is usually compensated for, at some point, by over-tightening the sector adjustment screw. We see a lot of steering boxes that are void of lubricant and have moisture present.
Lack of lubrication in the kingpin assemblies is the second leading cause of hard steering. Steel kingpins "float" within bronze bushings, which must be regularly lubricated. We have installed many kingpin kits due to the originals failing, from lack of maintenance. These two spindle assemblies have been restored, and are ready for re-installation.
Hard to push, or binding clutch pedal: Maintenance seems to be the key to avoiding many of the issues illustrated here, and this is no exception. This photo shows a clutch cross shaft from a '60, with a hole worn into the tube from the frame stud ( ball ). Each time the clutch pedal is depressed, the cross shaft rotates on two fixed balls: one mounted on the bellhousing bracket, and the other on the frame. Without proper lubrication, friction will eventually wear a hole in the cross shaft, as shown here.
Intermittent, or failed electrical systems: Sometimes we're still amazed that some of the Corvettes that make it into our shop, made it, on the wiring they have. This first photo shows some wiring that came out of a '60, that drove in. A 14ga. wire within this harness shorted and got so hot that it melted its insulation and the vinyl wrap of the harness too. Inspection of the rest of the wiring showed corroded connectors, brittle insulation and tired ends. The solution: Throw this wiring harness away and replace with all new. The photo at right shows a new dash main wiring harness during installation in this '60 Corvette, as viewed from behind the gauge cluster. Notice the new bulb sockets and accurately colored wires.
Speaking of wiring: Many reports have been filed, and there has been much discussion on the judging fields about early ( solid axle ) Corvettes burning to the ground while in storage. The problem with these early wiring harnesses is that there are too many circuits that are not fused. I wrote an article that was published in the Spring '94 issue of The Corvette Restorer Magazine ( Vol. 20, number 4 ) with the solution. This is something that we perform on a regular basis at The Restoration Station. Two fuses placed inline at two different locations will give your car a huge dose of protection, and some added peace-of-mind for you.
First of all, fuse the clock. The clock has no fuse protection whatsoever with the factory wiring harness. Battery voltage fed from the amp gauge winds the clock periodically, when the internal points close. The points immediately release to the open position, then slowly move together again as the clock ticks away. The points come together, completing the electrical circuit and the process is repeated. Here's the problem: As the clock mechanism ages, the points begin to stick when the clock "winds down" . If the points stick together without releasing, the coil within the clock overheats from the amperage load, which causes wiring to overheat, melting insulation and starting fires. The red arrow in the photo is pointing to a simple fuse holder wired into the battery ( red ) wire of the clock of a '60 Corvette. Place a 10 amp fuse in this holder to protect the circuit.
Your second fuse installation is more of an "overall" protector of the rest of the circuits. Here's a quick explanation: The wiring for your classic Corvette starts at the terminal of the starter solenoid - the same terminal that your positive battery cable attaches to. This wire is generally a 10ga. black wire with a white tracer, on the early Corvettes. It is here, at the beginning of the harness, that you will splice in another inline fuse holder and place a 30 amp fuse within it. Solder a 3/8" ring terminal at the end of the wire and reconnect it to the starter stud. This photo shows one of our harnesses with the added fuse holder, soldered ring terminal and nice insulator over the soldered connection, ready for reinstallation to the starter.
My car doesn't run well on today's gas : The 1990 upgrade to the Federal Clean Air Act has mandated the reformulation of gasoline as we know it. Today's gasoline is blended differently according to the season as well as the area of the country. It is more evaporative than ever, especially the cold weather blend with higher Reid Vapor Pressure. It has a lower boiling point, and replacement ( and corrosive ) oxygenates such as ethanol since the phase-out of M.T.B.E. This is all aside from the fact that there is no more lead content in the fuel to ward off exhaust valve seat recession. Bottom line: Today's gasoline is not much like the gasoline your Corvette was designed to run on. The corrosiveness of ethanol blends will eat the zinc plating off your fuel tank and the cadmium plating out of your carburetor fuel bowl.
There isn't much we can do about the make-up of today's gasoline, but we can help it a little. First and foremost: If your Corvette is going to sit for an extended period of time, add fuel stabilizer to the tank. This will slow the negative effects of today's reformulated fuels. If your engine is stock, and doesn't have hardened exhaust seats or stellite-faced exhaust valves, it is susceptible to exhaust seat recession. Leaded racing gasoline as well as packaged Tetra-ethyl lead with a petroleum carrier are available from various vendors. The addition of these will give you similar results to pulling up to the pump in 1970. One thing to remember: Do not let these additives sit in your tank or carburetor bowl for extended periods of time. The addition of lead to today's gas doesn't seem to blend as it did in the 'old' days, and will tend to separate and clog carburetor jets or fuel injection nozzles if the car just sits for extended periods. Wean your fuel system off of these products before winter storage, and fill your tank with the highest octane pump gas you can get. Before you pull the cover over your car for a long winter's rest, add fuel stabilizer to the tank and run the car long enough to draw some into the carburetor. The best suggestion I can give to my clientele is not to put their cars up for the winter. Rather, run them periodically, or better yet, drive them when you can.
If your car has the original gas tank and has been in storage for more than 5 years, plan on replacing the gas tank, tank sender, pickup screen, fuel pump, and have the carburetor overhauled. In addition, your fuel lines will likely need to be replaced. The fuel tank and sender, as shown in the photo at left, are standard fare for the restorations in our shop.
My convertible top doesn't fit well: Here's the dilemma: The convertible top material is assembled onto the framework in stages. The inner pads, viewed from the inside of the car, are stretched tightly and screwed, or stapled ( or both ) to the framework bows. The outer material, which makes up the majority of the top, is glued and stapled to the header and the rear bow, and stapled to a third bow above the rear window. It is also glued, and held in place beneath weatherstrips on the vertical rail just behind the side windows. With the top latched at the front and rear, this material should be nicely taut, but not overly stretched. If there are gaps in the fit of the top, the framework can be adjusted, to some degree, to close these gaps- if the soft top material will allow it. Remember, the material is stretched, then glued, stapled and screwed to the bows. By the time the material is installed, it is too late for much adjustment in most cases.
The correct time to adjust the soft top frame to the car is before any material is attached. In our shop we perform a full alignment of the soft top frame long before we ever think about installing the material. We will start by aligning the framework to the closure of the door glass. The next step is to adjust the length of the side rails, and latch the header to the windshield frame. Lastly, we adjust the travel of the deck latches and secure the rear bow to the deck. When the fit has been "dialed in", the material can then be installed. The result is a properly-fitting top that seals as nicely as it was designed to.
On a full restoration, we disassemble the framework, strip and refinish all parts, then replace the hardware. The results are stunning.
Occasionally, brake lights only work on one side: While this can be an intermittent brake wiring problem, it usually isn't. What we normally see is a failure of the turn signal canceling cam to re-center after a turn. You may be wondering what a turn signal canceling cam has to do with your brake lights....well, your brake light power runs through your turn signal switch. It gets a little technical here, but briefly, this is how the brake light power can be interrupted by the flasher in case you have your turn signal indicator "on" while your foot is on the brake. If your turn signal canceling cam, or more correctly, your turn signal switch isn't centered, it will not direct power to one side of the brake light system. It is the job of the canceling cam to make sure the switch is centered.
Once you remove your steering wheel you can see the parts that come into play, as shown in the photo. They are the spring steel plate, identified by the red circle, two cast pins of the canceling cam that rest against the steel plate, a third pin beneath the canceling cam, which is under the area of the green arrow, and the turn signal switch, beneath the canceling cam in the area of the green arrow. Time and space will not permit a dissertation on the entire theory of operation or a complete listing of all potential failures. But for the purposes of this article, we wanted to show what is the "norm" of this common solid axle Corvette condition. Things that will disallow the turn signal canceling cam to re-center, which in turn places the turn signal switch on a bias to one side or the other, include broken or worn casting pins, broken spring plate or worn casting that holds the spring plate, loose turn signal bowl, misaligned turn signal switch, worn canceling cam "locators", or simply lack of lubrication of all moving parts. Corrections need to be made according to pertinent conditions.
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