Your plan should begin with considering what skills, tools, and equipment you have available. You need to decide if you will buy, rent equipment, or send the work out. Do you have a paint and body shop that you feel comfortable with? Will you be doing your own bodywork and paint?
Types of Restoration
You also need to determine whether you will do a body-on or body-off restoration. If you are on a tight budget, you should consider doing a body-on restoration. Although you may have the skills to do a body-off restoration, you need to consider this cost before taking the plunge. Body-off restorations are at higher level altogether and usually leave no area untouched. When finished, the entire project is brought back to like-new condition.
The problem with doing a body-on restoration is that a very important part is left out of the project: properly inspecting the top of the chassis frame rails and the birdcage C-channels; to clean and preserve the frame and C-channels, you must remove the body.
Savvy potential buyers can spot a body-on restoration, and the value can be diminished. Many vehicles are body- on restored to save money and labor, which I can appreciate. The task does not seem nearly as daunting as a body- off project. Choosing a body-off option and taking the entire Midyear down to the last nut and bolt can sound so good. Be prepared, though, as there is no turning back once you start a body-off restoration. The reward will be great, however, when the final phases are completed and you can show off all your hard work.
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Also, the 1964 to 1967 Corvettes have body-to-frame cushions made of rubber with steel sleeves. This makes a strong case for lifting the body to replace the deteriorated rubber cushions. Rubber dries out and deteriorates over time, no matter how well it is treated. As the rubber cushions age, they lose their shape and become compressed. Steel sleeves that back up the rubber cushions corrode and further deform the rubber, causing the body to sag in places. Body cushions can be replaced without removing the body, although the labor is considerable, requiring some body lifting for cushion access.
Another consideration is that your Midyear Corvette project may be clean enough to do a body-on restoration if it has been restored in the recent past. A thorough inspection of the frame and body underside determines if this is feasible. Decent body mounts with minimal to no corrosion should allow you to per- form a body-on restoration (and avoid a body-off restoration). Remember that down the road, a potential buyer will easily spot deteriorated body cushions. This could negatively affect the resale value, considering the labor cost to replace the cushions.
Once the project is at your work place, a proper plan provides goals and mile- stones to keep things going smoothly. While you are putting the plan together, you should order a GM factory service manual and assembly manual. Have a dedicated clipboard with legal pad handy to write notes as you scrutinize the project requirements. At the end of the week, it is a good idea to transcribe your lists to a computer document. Be sure to back up photos, parts lists, and labor operations on a DVD for your records.
Before any parts are removed, take photos of each assembly at multiple angles. No matter how good your recall is you’ll need a refresher when it comes time to put it all back together. Also photograph the work as you progress through each phase of disassembly, for future reference.
Remember to take photos of all the casting and date codes. This can save plenty of effort down the road for many purposes. Photos are good insurance verification and if you decide to sell you can show them to potential buyers. Keeping records of any new-old-stock (NOS) or original pieces installed can also add value.
One absolutely essential piece of advice: Do not discard any part until you are finished with the project. Even then, carefully consider whether or not it is worth saving.
If you do a body-off restoration, you really need three garage spaces: one is for enough room to do the actual work, one is where you put the body after you remove it, and one is for parts storage and paint preparation. Even then, the area is tight, but the project is doable within that space. Careful planning is the key.
As you remove parts and pieces, safely store them. Care needs to be taken to preserve them. Whether you use the parts again or sell them, these need to be stored safely away. If you do not take the proper steps, mistakes happen and pieces can be easily damaged by weather or improper handling. In many cases, these parts are valuable as good reference material, so treat them with care. In other words, do not lay engine cylinder heads on the door panels out in the driveway even if you plan on replacing them. Surprisingly, people do this frequently with- out even thinking about it. Likewise, trim pieces are very delicate and in some cases irreplaceable. They should be put in a safe place as soon as they are removed.
Designate an area for small and large pieces. For large pieces, 2-foot-deep shelves 4 feet wide by 24 inches high will hold most of the pieces as they are removed. I designate a category for each shelf: front suspension, rear suspension, and interior for example. Organization saves money and time and minimizes the stress of keeping track of so many pieces.
I designate two areas during disassembly for restorable pieces and pieces to be replaced. Once all the pieces have been separated, I can carefully make a list of replacement pieces I require. Few things are worse than getting started on restoring a sub-assembly to find out that the parts were not ordered and work grinds to a halt. Sub-assemblies are con- sidered the carburetor, power steering pump, alternator, etc.
When parts arrive, unpack them care- fully then check them for accuracy and quality as soon as possible. Notify the supplier immediately of any problems and keep a log of any pending issues that need to be resolved. Once the parts have been verified, place them with the sub- assembly to be restored. Fasteners and small hardware should be placed in good- quality plastic bags with notes on each bag indicating where they came from. You can go one step further and place each bag with that particular assembly.
If you’re modifying your Corvette (which is outside the scope of this book), you need to take appropriate steps for parts storage. You need to safely store many pieces, if you plan on being able to transform your custom project back to original-equipment standards in the future. Storing parts for an indefinite time is much more difficult than you may think because each one must be carefully wrapped to prevent corrosion or breakage.
Greasy, rusty parts require cleaning for any restoration project. Properly cleaning pieces takes time and it’s a dirty job. You should clean as many parts as possible during disassembly with mineral spirits. All the oil and grease needs to be completely removed for best results. When bead blasting, grease and oil contaminate the blasting agent, plus it forces the contamination into the pieces. I use older mineral-spirits-based wash tanks with recycling capabilities.
You need a variety of cleaning brushes. Nylon-bristle brushes work well to loosen grease and built-up dirt. Then the correct metal-bristle brush does the final corrosion removal and cleaning. Stainless-steel brushes work great on aluminum surfaces to remove corrosion and baked-on grease. Carbon-steel brushes work well on iron castings and all internal iron engine pieces, such as engine blocks, cylinder heads, connecting rods, etc. Brass brushes work best on bronze or brass fittings. (Note that brass brushes transfer brass from the bristles to aluminum and iron when scrubbing pieces.)
Once the parts have been cleaned, you should have a dedicated area to hang each piece after prepping. Your painting area should be large enough that you can prep enough parts to do one phase of the assembly at a time. The goal may be to clean, prep, and paint the components for the chassis assembly in one batch. This is a tough proposition because of the amount of pieces in multiple colors. Plan to paint as many pieces as possible in one particular color that you plan on assembling first. This is the frame and major suspension components, for example. The painted pieces are setup for assembly out of the first batch. While you are assembling the major components, another batch of pieces is in the next paint phase. Pieces like the brake backing plates and other silver items are the next paint batch. Jumping from one area to another doing a little assembly on each usually leaves bolts, nuts, or screws loose. Plus, the painted pieces have less chance of finish damage if they are bolted in place rather than being laid down on any surface.
You need a clean area and some time to do the prep work. You need to wear nitrile or latex gloves to keep the parts as clean as possible. Folding tables or ply- wood on sawhorses works well for paint prep areas. You need to keep contaminants off the prepped pieces. You have one chance to do the prep correctly. If the parts are contaminated, the paint may come off or “fisheye.” Fisheyes go down to the undercoat and occur from contamination (usually oil) that prevents the paint from sticking.
After the pieces have been prepped, the parts need to be painted. We prefer to use professional paint spray equipment for a durable smooth finish on all parts. Potential buyers and judges can usually detect the use of spray can applied paints. This could possibly hurt the value of the car and receiving a higher status certificate. A spay gun allows quicker, smoother, and heavier paint application than a rattle-can paint. In addition, gloss finishes are much deeper, uniform, and durable than any rattle can paint. Also, professional paint spray equipment is available at very reasonable costs. Imported paint spray equipment does a decent job, especially for component refinishing.
Rattle-can spray paint can produce good results, but it isn’t the best method. Seymour, Krylon, and Plasti-coat are very good durable spray paint products. Cast- iron and semi-flat finishes work best when using rattle paints. Uniform high-gloss finishes are tough to apply unless the ambient temperature is around 75 degrees F and humidity is low. The rattle paint tends to dry too quickly in high temperatures, leaving orange peel or tiger stripes. Cold, humid days usually leave cloudy or hazy areas on large flat pieces. Spray- can etch prime and primer are available to ensure good top-coat adhesion and one of these should always be used. Cast-iron, aluminum, and stainless-steel coat spray paint products are used for factory look- alike finishes. These spray-can specialty coatings can be used for NCRS or Bloomington Gold restoration projects. Clear coat is available in spray cans and should be applied as the final top coat for good durability. You may want to consider the cost of the rattle paint because it adds up quickly. If done properly, you need quite a few cans to apply enough paint to give all the pieces a good even coating.
An air compressor is necessary for many phases of the project when using air-powered tools for disassembly/assembly, cleaning tools, and painting. You need air to sand components or to use cut-off saws that make the tasks much easier. Air compressors are rated in standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM). You can get away with a low-SCFM model if you use it primarily for air impact tools. Air-powered cut-off tools, sanders, and bead blast cabinets, however, use a considerable amount of air per minute.
A popular home workshop compressor with 5 peak hp and a 20-gallon tank requires 120 volts at 15 amps for proper power input. The minimum amount of air required to use multiple high-volume air tools at the same time is 10 SCFM. You need 230 volts at 15 amps to power the larger 5-hp model, but it works much less. Upright compressors take up much less room and make the most sense in tight work areas.
A high-quality set of hand tools (more on this below) and a 5-hp 20-gallon-tank air compressor are necessary to take apart all the major assemblies. Removing the body requires either a sling or lift to get it off the chassis. You can get all your buddies over for the body removal but when it comes time to install the body, you may want to consider another plan to slowly ease the body into position.
I have used an engine lift (“cherry picker”) to remove and install bodies. You can rent one; or, if you want to own one, Harbor Freight collapsible models are good to free up garage floor space.
I prefer to remove the body then the engine and transmission as an assembly. The engine lift comes in handy a number of times during the project, so it may pay to own one.
Good Tools Versus Cheap Tools
I am an advocate of buying good hand tools, especially wrenches and sockets. Over a lifetime, they are used numerous times. Cheap wrenches and sockets can break or create extra work when the bolts you want to remove round off.
Ratchets and extensions of low quality may break, and they hurt you, not the fasteners. You should have a full assortment of 1/2-, 3/8-, and 1/4-inch sockets, ratchets, and extensions from Craftsman, Husky, Rigid, Snap-On, Mac, or others. The set should include combination wrenches from 5/16 to 1 inch.
You need a few extra large wrenches for A/C-equipped cars: 11⁄16, 11⁄8, 11⁄4 inch. These large wrenches work best in open end offset for the tight areas they are used in.
Specialtywrenches in 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, 9/16, and 5/8 inch take care of all the brake and fuel steel lines. There is no substitution for line wrenches if you want to properly tighten and loosen hard lines. Some of the interior switches require special wrenches to remove them without damaging them. Corvette Central has all the specialty wrenches to easily remove the switch nuts.
Propane torches should be considered for your tool box. They can help remove stubborn fasteners and possibly prevent the need for component replacement.
As I mentioned earlier, it is best to order the GM service and assembly manual before you remove the first bolt or nut. You also need to think about finding a GM parts manual, preferably an early- edition 1953–1982 version. As General Motors revised its parts manual, early parts tended to disappear along with the illustrations. Finding a 1953–1970s GM parts manual yields the best part number and photographic details for a Mid- year project. This allows you to figure out what the original GM part numbers were and the illustrations are sometimes good enough to help with assembly. Companies, such as Corvette Central, have a part number conversion service that cross references the GM part to its number, which is helpful when you are having a hard time finding an obscure, small part.
When shopping for parts, find a supplier that understands Corvettes. Corvette Central, for example, has a great catalog with exploded views. Many times, cheap parts may save you a few bucks initially but are likely to fail quickly. If you are lucky enough to get the project completed before the discount parts fail, they may leave you stranded by the side of the road in the future.
Restoring Corvettes has become a cottage industry because of all the components that require specialized attention. Corvette suppliers, such as Stainless Steel Brakes Corporation and Vette Brakes and Products, sell specialized products. These same products are available through Corvette Central, Mid America, and Zip Products, making these large Corvette parts retailers a true one- stop shopping experience. You can spend plenty of extra time hunting the parts from individual suppliers. Either way, keep a journal to document where and when to expect the parts.
OEM Versus Reproduction Parts
Many reproduction parts are available for Midyear Corvettes. Many of the components are good quality, but some are not. Many NCRS and Bloomington Gold restorers avoid reproduction parts if at all possible. Using original parts costs more because of limited availability, but the resale value is often greater. Use a reputable and established Corvette parts vendor.
Corvette Central not only sells parts, but researches and checks as many as possible. Zip Products, Mid-America, and Eck- ler’s are household names in the Corvette parts industry. Corvette Central, Crane Corvette Supply, Paragon, and Zip Products have a limited supply of NOS, original, and good used pieces for the NCRS or Bloomington Gold restorer. Also, Long Island Corvette Supply has been around almost 30 years and has dedicated an entire parts line to the Midyear Corvette.
Ebay, Craigslist, and swap meets are other sources for the pieces you need. Be wary, though because purchasing Cor- vette parts via the Internet can be risky. What “excellent,” “good,” and “poor” quality means to one person may not be the same to another. Ask for plenty of photos, especially of casting and part numbers because if you buy it from a private party often you cannot return it.
You can source parts from some Corvette events. Corvettes at Carlisle is a three-day event that starts on Friday for attendees. You can find anything Corvette related that your heart desires. Bloomington Gold is another must- attend event. Swap meet vendors are plentiful with all the major Corvette sup- pliers in one place. Many of the suppliers offer special deals for event attendees, including free shipping. Depending on the scope of your project, free shipping could add up to big savings. Local events may also have swap meet vendors who could have that difficult-to-find part.
Building an NCRS-judged car requires finding original parts from whatever source you can find. When you find a highly sought after part, you need to act quickly. In the time it takes to research whether the deal is good or not, someone else has scooped it up. Waiting until the last day of an event to purchase a tough-to-find part is not smart.
Do your homework and know what numbers to look for and the typical sell- ing price before you leave home. Make a cheat sheet that you can refer to while you are on the hunt. This can be an enjoyable part of the project if you are well prepared. Happy hunting!
Disassembly can begin once you have your secure storage area and documentation essentials ready. For this project, I am performing a body-off restoration and installing a new frame. I soak all the fasteners with rust penetrant before turning the first wrench. The longer you wait, the better; let the penetrant do its job. Many applications of rust penetrant are best. While the rust penetrant is at work, I strip the interior.
My project had no engine or trans- mission, which does not affect the body lift. I prefer to remove the engine and transmission after the body is lifted because you have easier access. I treat the frame, engine, transmission, and driveline as an assembly, calling it the “chassis assembly.” It is much easier to disassemble the chassis once the body has been lifted. (Remember to use jack stands or sturdy ramps and always be extremely careful when working under the car.)
You may be wondering why I just dove in and disassembled the entire car or almost the entire car. Preservation is the best reason. When the bodywork begins, dust, debris, and stuff that does not wash off can end up on just about every piece. Removing pieces and properly storing them provides essential protection and keeps them cleaner. You would be surprised how much extra time can be spent cleaning what was left behind from the clean-up and bodywork. “Work smarter, not harder,” says Austin, my friend who has helped throughout the project, and it really makes good sense.
I remove the interior first because it lightens the load for the body lift and allows me to store the pieces safely. The first interior pieces to remove are the door panels because these are easy to damage during disassembly. Seats can easily tear up the door panels, so I leave the seats in place and cover them for protection as I disassemble the dash.
The glove box door/liner assembly comes out next, and then the steering column. The “rag joint” or steering shaft coupler must be unbolted from under the hood. A few 1/2-inch hex-head bolts, along with the lower trim Phillips-head screws, and the column is ready to come out. Properly store the column because teak steering wheels can be easily dam- aged. I always have a designated place for the column to be stored. The steering wheel is removed and boxed up.
I completely disassemble the doors and all hardware for the door glass. Locks and latches are also removed. Removing and replacing all the door glass sealing pieces is very important for like-new window operation. Additionally, the paint job is so much nicer when the edges of the doors do not have paint buildup. Coupe door glass removal is not too difficult, but convertible door glass is easier.
Both require the same procedure: The glass rides in a rear vertical glass run to control tilt position; this rear vertical glass run has to be removed to free up the glass for removal. Two large Phillips- head screws at the top and bottom of the latch side of the door hold the glass run in place. Two 7/16-inch nuts (one at the front; one at the rear) hold the glass on the horizontal regulator track. At that point, the convertible glass can be removed.
On coupes, the vent window frame screws are removed to allow the frame to be moved out of the way. It is common to find that the glass has come loose from the lift bracket because the glass is held in a rubberized-cloth like strip. When you pull the window, make sure the lift bracket is tight on the glass to avoid having to take things apart again.
Once the glass is out of the way, all the remaining hardware can be removed from the doors. Just remove the nuts and screws holding everything in place. Protect the power window regulator during disassembly. The power window motor keeps the window regulator in control. Once the motor has been removed from the regulator, unleash the lift-assist spring. There is a provision to install a bolt into the regulator to capture the regulator arms, so make sure you install the bolt. Manual window regulators are not a problem due to the fact that the lift-assist spring is captured at all times.
The Midyear’s door-lock latch assembly wears and the door becomes harder and harder to open until it finally does not open. Zip Products sells door-lock latch rebuild kits, and you should rebuild both lock latches.
Early wax-based lubricants leave behind a waxy residue, which makes the linkages difficult to operate. Remove all of the lock-latch hardware for cleaning and lubing to restore like-new operation.
I detach the rear valance panel first, to ease rear bumper bracket removal. Once the bumpers are off, only the bum- per brackets and braces remain. Front bumper brackets are adjustable, while the rear brackets use shims to adjust the fit to the body.
Bumper bracket shim position and quantity should be recorded to aid later installation. Knowing where they should be placed during assembly can save your freshly painted fiberglass. Keep in mind that replacing the frame or major body reconstruction can change the shim requirements.
One side of my rocker moldings was gone and the other rough, so I put them on my parts list.
The emblems are all dated and looking faded, requiring replacement. Emergency brake cables and master cylinder brake lines require removal while working on the underside and underhood areas. I usually remove the master cylinder and let it hang on the lines to avoid brake fluid spillage. Drain pans can be placed in the proper locations when the body is out of the way for brake line removal.
Ground cables are placed at the driver-side rear frame, near the antenna and at the driver-side number-one body mount. All of the grounds, which are easy to miss during preparation, must be removed. Preserving pieces needs to be a top priority, and in many situations, the pieces get damaged from improper handling more so than from multiple years of use.
The engine harness temperature and ignition wiring is disconnected from the engine. You do not have to remove any of the wiring from the firewall bulk- head. The alternator wiring must be dis-connected and tucked out of the way. I remove the throttle linkage and ground cable at the lever on the firewall so that it’s out of the way for the body lift. There is no need to remove any of the other cooling system hoses.
I take one last, comprehensive look at everything for any missed wires or cables that should be disconnected and then the body mount bolts can be removed.
Removing body mount bolts can be difficult unless you find a Midyear that has been in a dry environment and never driven in wet weather. At this stage, you can become very frustrated. Remember that the less damage you do now saves more time and expense in the long run. Torching the bolts is an option, but the fiberglass can be easily damaged. Hopefully you have soaked the body mount bolts with rust penetrant for days or weeks.
I had to think about my situation before proceeding because my plan was to have Lucky’s Customs do my body- work and paint. Once the body is off the frame, it must be properly supported or severe fiberglass damage can occur. Should I lift the body at my shop and try to set it up for transport? Another option was to head over to Lucky’s Customs for a body dolly, but that was a three-hour drive. My decision was to have the body ready for the lift and then carefully strap the body and chassis down for the ride to Lucky’s Customs.
To lift the body, I recommend using one of three options. Option one: Convince your buddies that they need to be a part of this monumental occasion, so that they can manhandle the body off the chassis.
Option two: Use a specific sling assembly that grabs the Midyear’s C-channel in the front and rear. A cherry- picker or chain fall can then be used to pick up the body with the sling in place.
Option three (the preferred method): Use a two-post automotive lift to pick up the body at the C-channel. The lift allows for a smooth, equal lift at a slow enough speed to make sure nothing gets damaged.
If something was missed during preparation for the lift, you can identify the issue and remove the fastener before body damage occurs. No matter how careful you are, it is possible to forget a cable or wire that could damage a lot more than just the cable or wire.
It is hard for people to manually lift a body off any chassis and avoid damaging it. Using a sling to lift the body is fine, as long as there are three or more helpers to keep the body level as it lifts upward. No matter how you choose to make the lift happen, everyone has to diligently keep watch as it progresses. The corners of the body can catch on the rear body mounts, damaging the fiberglass in seconds.
I use a simple fixture to keep the body supported properly. My body dolly uses each of the original body mounting points to rest on. The dolly is carefully positioned under the body, then the body is lowered onto the mounting points.
Even with careful planning, there is sure to be surprises. Inspect the condition of the C-channels and the bird- cage. You can see hidden areas of the fiberglass panels and possibly any patch-work. Do not be in a hurry to move forward because this is a critical stage. You need to make notes on any obvious body damage that might have been missed. Using paint or a marker, indicate any suspect areas where damage may be present. Whether you do the body work or send it out, identifying potential problems saves wasted effort. If you plan to do the bodywork yourself, this is a good time to bring in your expert to consult with you on the best plan of attack.
Step-1: Remove Steering Column
First, remove a couple of Phillips head screws holding the column trim, and take off four 1/2-inch hex bolts and nuts. Then the column comes out. I did go out under the hood first and remove the 7/16-inch 12-point bolt holding the steering coupler to the steering shaft. This gives me plenty of room to work in the interior.
Step-2: Disconnect Gauge Cables
To help the removal of the dash cluster, disconnect the speedometer cable, tachometer cable, and oil pressure copper hard line from under the hood first. This allows the dash cluster to come out farther for bulb removal. I usually remove the wiper switch from the cluster, rather than removing the wiring connector. Invariably, if you tug on the wiper switch connector, it pulls the switch apart. The dash cluster in all Midyears is old-school, and therefore it has multiple plug-in bulbs with separate connectors for each gauge. The main dash harness has two plastic retaining clips with tabs that spring outward when they are pushed into the back of the cluster. If you plan on using the original dash harness, handle the clips with care. Cut the harness tape holding the clips into the harness, then the clips can be easily removed when the dash cluster is disassembled. The clips keep the harness from lying on the top of the speedometer and tachometer cables.
Step-3: Remove Stereo Speaker
Take off the 3/8-inch hex nuts to remove the speaker grille and speaker. I commonly see the speaker grille pulled away from the top of the dash slightly because some are unaware that the hex nuts must be removed. Most likely a screwdriver was used in an attempt to pry the grille out. The speaker grille can be tweaked back into shape so that it fits tightly against the dash again. I caution you, though, because the outer circumference of the grille is made of pot-metal that can break easily if pushed too far.
Step-4: Remove Pot-Metal Speaker Grille
The reason to make a big deal about this grille is late-model dashes have plastic speaker grilles snapped in place. Prying this fragile metal grille up distorts it. If you do this, you have a difficult time making it lay flat against the dash. The speaker grille frame is made from pot-metal, meaning they break if you try to modify their shape. There is some shaping (very little, though) or snap.
Step-5: Remove Radio Head Unit
When the dash is installed, radio removal is cramped and difficult. For A/C-equipped cars, it’s very tight and particularly difficult to remove the head unit. Try not to bang up the face or radio shafts during the removal. The head unit is valuable, so whether you use it or not someone most likely would like to have it. Radio removal begins with complete console plate removal. The rear of the radio is moved to the driver’s side with the bottom of the radio coming out first. Carefully work the radio out past the parking brake handle; it is tight but it is possible to do without damaging it.
Step-6: Remove Clock
Clocks are held in place with these retaining clips that require a downward push near the retainer stud. Pull outward on the retainer clip while pushing downward. The electrical connectors and lamps can be removed once the clock has been removed from the dash.
Step-7: Remove Dash Control Knobs
Old school knob removal requires a small flathead screwdriver to loosen the set screw. Once the set screw has been loosened, turn the knob counterclockwise to unscrew. Most of the knobs have these set screws at the bottom of the knob when the switch is turned off. If there is no screw present the knob twists off counterclockwise. A pair of pliers is some- times required to hold onto the cable’s shaft.
Step-8: Remove Retaining Nuts for Headlight and Wiper Switch
This Corvette Central special tool (PN 251004) makes removing and tightening the special cable retaining nuts easy, and it works on the headlight and wiper switches. Two ignition-switch nut wrenches are available (PN 251003 for 1960 to 1965 Corvettes and PN 252001 for 1966-1967 Corvettes). I see ignition switch bezel nuts scarred up all the time from “Mr Goodpliers” at work.
Step-9: Remove Pedal Assembly
The pedal assembly has been removed for restoration. All too often, this assembly is left in place and cleaned as well as possible. Both the clutch and brake pedal pivots ride on plastic bushings that wear out. Clutch pedals wear from the extreme pressures, and many times crack near the pivot point. Remove the pedal assembly and put it in your sub-assembly restoration pile. The pedal assembly has two 5/16-inch screws holding it to the dash support. Two studs on the pedal assembly pass through the firewall that mount the brake booster or master cylinder to the firewall. The other two studs are held on the firewall with two 3/8 nuts.
Step-10: Drain Radiator and Remove Hoses
You need to drain the cooling system at the radiator and then go under the hood to remove the heater core. Next, carefully remove the heater hoses to avoid heater core damage. I usually slice the hoses along the heater core tube and peel it away. You should never tug on any heater hose at the core to remove it. Once the hoses are taken off, remove the 7/16-inch hex nuts from around the perimeter of the outside plenum cover.
Step-11: Remove Inner Assembly
Once the cover has been removed, the inner assembly is ready to come down and out. The inner plenum has the defroster, heater, and temperature control cables attached to the controls. I remove the cables at the plenum assembly and the blower resistor wiring connector for the removal of the assembly out of the dash. Each control cable has a push-on retaining clip that goes on easily. Taking them off requires a pair of needle-nose pliers to grasp the clip and wiggle it upward. With careful removal the clips can be used again.
Door Glass Removal
Step-1: Remove Door Latch Linkage
Use a small screwdriver to release the retainer clip as you remove the door latch linkages from the latch assembly. The clip has a tab that must be pried out of the hole then pushed toward the linkage. The linkage then easily comes out, and it doesn’t require prying on everything in the door to get the linkage out.
Step-2: Remove Screws Under Weatherstripping
When you are ready to remove the vent glass assemblies, use a screwdriver to loosen and remove the screws, which are hidden under the weather- strip at the door pillar. You can see the remnants of the weatherstrip adhesive near the screw heads. Dig out the adhesive so you get a good bite in the screw head before trying to remove them.
Step-3: Remove Door Glass
You need to correctly position the front door glass so you are able use the access hole for fastener removal. To remove the front 7/16 hex nut that retains the door glass, move the glass to the correct height then a socket can be used for removal.
Step-4: Remove Door Glass (Continued)
The rear door glass retaining 7/16-inch hex nut is accessed in the same way. You can see there is some tape and caulking over the hole that must be removed.
Step-5: Check Door Glass Bracket
The door glass rear vertical run track has been removed, and the vent window is out of the way for door glass removal. Check the bond on the door glass to the lift channel bracket. I often find the brackets loose on the glass, as the factory used a rubberized cloth tape to install them. Corroded tracks often break the bond so check them and replace the tape if there is any doubt.
Step-6: Remove Glass Adjuster Screws
The vent window has the door glass vertical run channel attached to it with an adjuster screw to control glass in and out angle. It takes some twisting and finagling to remove the vertical run channel with the adjuster screw in place from the door, but it is well worth the additional effort. Typically the adjuster screw is corroded to the run channel making it much smarter to take the assembly out and free up the adjuster screw while it is on the bench to avoid breaking pieces.
Step-1: Remove Valance Panel
The rear valance panel must be removed for the body lift. The license plate frame has nuts on the screws holding the lamp assembly in place. It is easier to access the license plate frame upper nuts after the valance panel is removed. The valance panel is removed first after the 7/16 inch hex screws are removed. The upper license plate frame screws have 3/8 inch hex nuts that the Phillips-head screw into. A small box-end wrench holds the nuts while a Phillips-head screwdriver removes the screws.
Step-2: Remove Bumper Bolts
Use an air impact wrench when removing stubborn bumper bolts. Original head marking bumper bolts are available, so it’s not worth it to save the old ones. Use a propane torch to heat them if necessary, but be careful around the fiberglass.
Step-3: Remove Corrosion-Damaged Bolt Head
The bolt head was corroded so badly no socket could grab it. Rather than use a cutting torch to remove the remaining bolt head in a tight fiberglass pocket, I used a high-speed grinder to grind off the remaining bolt head. You may run into the same situation at the front when it comes time to remove the radiator core support bolts. There are two 5/8 hex bolts that retain the core support to the radiator. Make sure you remove them.
Step-4: Remove Number-2 Body Bolt
On the 1963 coupe, the number-2 body mount is hidden under the sill plate. To my amazement the 5/8-inch hex head bolt came out easily, which happens every once in a while. The impact wrench can apply a hammering action to loosen stubborn bolts. It’s best to let the impact hammer on the bolts for a few seconds at low speed. Holding the impacts trigger wide open could break the bolt or round off the bolt’s head.
Step-5: Remove Rear Body Mount Bolts
Remove the body mount bolts at the rear of the interior. These caged body mount nuts are in the back corner on both sides. General Motors used a light-gauge metal cage riveted to the fiberglass to keep the nut in check during body bolt installation. After years of water and dirt exposure, the caged nut is impossible to remove easily. With a helper on the underside, I held the nut and luckily the bolt snapped. Both sides were nice enough to break like this one did.
Step-1: Lift Body Off Frame
Body lifting with this two-post lift is easy and you have plenty of control. Keep an eye on the rear fenders as the body rises because they tend to come very close to the rearmost body mount stanchions. Look frequently to make sure there are no wires, cables, or hoses that should have been disconnected.
Step-2: Inspect for Damage and Previous Repairs
After the body had been lifted off, I found one of the worst problems. Look at this patch at the rear body mount. Instead of repairing the fiberglass, this filler was smeared onto the broken fiberglass area.
Step-3: Evaluate C-Channel Damage
After the body was lifted, I found the worst of the C-channel damage. A fabricated steel plate is welded into the driver-side number-3 body mount to reinforce the channel. This corrosion damage is very minor, especially considering the condition of the chassis it was sitting on.
Written by Chris Petris and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks