It’s definitely winter here in the Great White North, as attested to by the -20+ temperatures and the fact that my dog doesn’t want to spend much time out on the deck! One of the benefits of the long winter though is that at least it gives you time to do some update projects without having to sacrifice seat time.
At the moment projects are somewhat problematic. My garage isn’t built yet; I had hoped to get it done last year, but that was taken up almost entirely by wedding plans and preparation, leaving virtually no time for anything else (including driving the vette!). So, at the moment, the car is tucked away in a friend’s heated garage (thanks Ted!).
This is a great improvement on the first winter of having the car (I still have nightmares about putting the car in storage the way I had to then), but it also provides limited access and space for working on any projects. Reviewing the work I would like to do on The Dragon, it’s clear that most of it requires long hours of access not available without my own garage.
Two projects stick out as possibilities that I can make progress on without a great deal of access to the car: upgrading the brakes and (somewhat related) adding brake cooling ducts.
The aim with the braking system upgrade is two-fold: first, increase the stopping capability and fade resistance beyond the performance of the standard ZR-1 brakes, and secondly, to improve the appearance. Although I intend to get some track time (this year I hope!), I have no plans to seriously race so the basic motivation is mostly from a personalising perspective rather than any lack with the standard brakes.
Similarly with the ducting, the desire is to (subtly) change the appearance and make the car more mine – I don’t have any cooling issues with the standard set up. The benefit of both of these jobs is that I can do most of the preparation ‘offline’ and do the final installation fairly easily when Spring comes.
The brake update is one that several people have done successfully before me, so there’s a fair amount of information I can draw on. Basically I am going to replace the existing front brakes with C5 brake calipers and rotors. The C5 set-up has better leverage and a bigger pad surface area, increasing braking by around 30%; plus I like the idea of ‘keeping it Corvette’. I am also going to have the brakes powder coated to add that extra ‘polish’ and the rotors will be drilled and grooved to give the package that ‘pro’ look.
On the C4, there’s not a lot you can do with the back brakes without spending a lot of money, which really doesn’t make sense as I’m not seriously racing. So here I will use the stock calipers, but powder-coated, and with drilled rotors (again for looks) and better pads (undecided as yet). In order to maintain the original pieces unmolested, I found a set of rear calipers on E-bay and will get these powder-coated and the originals will go into storage.
I picked up the front calipers from another friend who had just upgraded his C5 and was happy to let me have them for free (Thanks Ron!). These too will be powder-coated and rebuilt entirely. The rotors (both C4 and C5) came from Ebay and are genuine GM performance parts. I didn’t want to take any chances on such a vital component; when they arrived they were somewhat heavy but sure look nice. A switch to something like Baer Eradispeeds would provide lighter weight and may be a further enhancement down the road (pun intended!).
I was hoping to get the rotors zinc washed or otherwise coated to ward off corrosion, but have been unable to find an aftermarket source for this as yet. If anyone knows a place (preferably in Ontario!) drop me a line.
To use the C5 calipers on the C4 requires a set of adapter brackets and getting hold of these proved to be more difficult than I had imagined. My first port of call was Jeff from Pacific Northwest ZR-1 who frequents the ZR-1 registry, providing copious help and advice to the members there. The problem was that his machinist was no longer making the adapters and he was looking for alternative sources.
After waiting a fair while, I saw a set of adapters on Ebay from Exotic Muscle and, being somewhat impatient, I ordered them. When they arrived I wasn’t dissapointed, the machining was excellent and well executed and they certainly looked hardy enough for the application. Imagine my dilemma when the adapters from Jeff arrived a few weeks later!
If the Exotic Muscle adapters were stout, the ones from Jeff were like a work of art; every curve was beautifully radiused and machined – these were adapters worthy of displaying in an art gallery dedicated to fine engineering: definitely the adapters of choice for The Dragon.
I sourced the brake duct kit from Corvette Central and frankly it’s rather dissappointing. The spoiler assemblies seem to be of reasonable quality, but the intake ducts are cheap plastic and not sized properly for the supplied tube. The tube itself is also very poor quality and doesn’t look like it is really fit for purpose (I have reservations on it surviving the heat and conditions it is likely to find itself in), and is also supposed to be fitted in place using just a few cable ties – hardly the kind of elegance fit for a King.
To this end I am now looking at finding some better tube and some proper mounting/dispersion type fitments for the brake end of the ducting. Some of the performance shops online carry such, so I will hopefully be able to assemble a more elegant solution.
I was hoping to get the powder-coating done locally. There is a company listed in Sudbury, but calls to the phone number were not picked up and bizarrely there wasn’t a way of leaving a message; businesses certainly have some strange ideas around here!
Again the ZR-1 members came to the rescue and Blackjack in Montreal (who I met at the end of our road trip around New England) has said he can get them done through his supplier.
So those are the plans; I’ll be adding more as things progress.