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As anyone with a vette will understand, part of the fun is updating the car. Some people like to add Plenty O’Bling (I think she was in a Bond movie), while others just want to improve performance and quality. Personally I like a little of both. The problem I have is limited facilities (no garage at the moment). As a result my backlog of projects has grown. When I had a chance to visit the WAZOO (Washington Area ZR-1 Owners Organization) I grabbed it – what could be better than meeting other owners and also getting some work done. Perfect!

The first part of my trip Continue reading

Okay, so the first stumbling block on my replacement head project arrived in the form of the Metra wiring guide (Metra 70-1857 Bose Integration Tuner Bypass) . First off, instructions are non existent with this product, which isn’t very comforting for a novice (like me!). There’s some general information and a wiring guide on the back of the pack and a tiny note inside the bag telling you where your amp’s located (which I knew).

To make things worse the bag the harness came in had been torn and taped back together, right through the wiring guide! I went to the Metra site expecting to find further help and at least wiring information (it says on the bag “for further information…”). I’m always too optimistic it seems and not only was there no further information online – there was NO information at all! With patience and help from my wife in translating the Spanish, I managed to decipher it. Just in case anyone else has a similar problem, I’ve reproduced the chart below: Continue reading

I had hoped that my stereo woes would have ended after replacing the Bose speaker/amplifiers. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and when I woke the Dragon from his slumber this year the stereo system failed to work. The unit lit up but is completely non-functional.

I do like music when I am traveling, especially on longer journeys. So I’m at the point where I want to address this. I have some longer term plans in this area, but for now I just want to do something relatively simple and cheap that will get me by.

I’d heard from a number of sources that it was possible to swap out the head unit and Continue reading

I visited Niagara a couple of weekends ago. The plan was to meet up with some ZR-1 friends from Southern Ontario also David, President of the ZR-1 Registry, was coming up to visit from Baltimore. We got together on Friday night and had a nice dinner at The Keg in St. Catharines.

On Saturday we dropped my wife off at the Pen Center to do some shopping while me and David went to get the cars cleaned. Finding somewhere turned out to be more challenging than you’d imagine, but eventually we found Superior Car Wash & Express Detailing who helped us clear the hundreds of kilometers of dirt off the ZR-1s. Continue reading

As I was coming back from St. Catharines earlier this year I picked up a noise from the front passenger side wheel area. It was a metal on metal rubbing sound – not the kind of thing you really want to hear on any car let alone your precious Corvette. It was hard to pin it down but there were really only a few possible suspects – I just hoped it wasn’t one of the more expensive ones.

Once home, I jacked up the car, put stands underneath to make everything safe and took the wheels off. One of the advantages of the C4 clam-shell hood design is it gives you great access to the front wheel area. Initial visual inspection didn’t really tell me anything but turning the hub allowed me to better pinpoint the sound. It was definitely coming from the caliper/rotor area. Continue reading

Last time I was looking at the following updates over winter:

  • C5 Brake upgrade
  • Header installation
  • Catback Installation

Those are still on the cards, it’s warmed up a little but not enough to progress very far, but I have got the header fresh air tube welded up and it can now be sent for the ceramic coating.

Due to changes in circumstances I am now going to go down to Bowling Green for the 2012 ZR-1 Gathering. I’ll be taking a rather odd route as I am going to Washington D.C. first to meet up with the WAZOO guys. This has been a long standing invitation and while down there they are going to help me take care of some of the projects that have been hanging around for a while. This will include:

  • Fidanza Clutch installation
  • New Pressure Plate installation
  • Hurst Short Shifter installation
  • C-Beam plate installation
  • RC Injector installation
  • Under plenum service – seals, coil packs, plug leads, PCV hoses etc.

These are all jobs that have been hanging around a while but I haven’t had time or facilities to tackle them.

Many of the jobs have been delayed this year by my attempts at kitchen renovation/installation and the fact that I have been asked to redevelop the ZR-1 Net Registry website. The website is great fun but time-consuming, the kitchen is hell and time-consuming…

I’ve also received the leather trim from RedLine and hope to get that installed before the Gathering.

 

 

 

I’m replacing the stock ZR-1 front brakes with an updated design from a C5 ‘vette. The C5 calipers are stiffer and better at heat management, they also have a bigger pad area and so provide an increase in braking of around %30. Pretty good for a cheap upgrade. The calipers came from my good friend, Ron, for free. I just need some rebuild kits – seals and so on to make them as good as new.

I’ve looked at various options for updating the brakes. There are a number of systems available but the prices are high – anything from $2k and up! If this were a track car I’d certainly be looking at these alternatives but it’s basically a cruiser, so the C5 is a good cost-effective upgrade.

I’m going to finish them with caliper paint from G2. This is a high ceramic, high temperature paint especially designed for this application. Many people get their calipers powder coated but I don’t have anyone who can do this for me locally so the paint looks like a good option. The G2 system has great reviews from lot’s of people so I’m confident it will work.( Just as a note, this isn’t the caliper paint you can buy in places like Canadian Tire – their’s is a much less durable, lower ceramic content paint that get’s pretty awful reviews.) I had to order the G2 specially, using good old E-Bay.

The C5 calipers had already been painted but not with G2, so the first job is to get this off. I tried various wire brushes and so on but they weren’t very effective. So my next approach is going to be chemical; acrylic thinners to break down the paint and strip it from the metal.

This is the new C5 front caliper:

Dirty C5 Z06 Front Caliper

Pretty dirty right now, Hopefully stripping will take care of that.

This is the C4 rear, also looking pretty rough:

Dirty C4 rear brake caliper

My plan right now is to swap the rear caliper, these are some used ones I picked up. The aluminium is fairly deteriorated though so I may just use the existing ones on the car instead. I’ll decide once I’ve cleaned them up some more.

Here’s the C5 Abutment bracket also in the rough, these are going to be painted in black:

Unpainted C5 Abutment Bracket

 

And finally, the conversion brackets that make it all possible. I’m going to hit these with the black also:

C5 Conversion Brackets

 

Enduring the winter off season is never easy for anyone as crazy about driving his Corvette as I am. This year is particularly hard because of the problems with getting my garage done last year. That means that the Dragon is sleeping in a temporary garage in the cold. Not my idea of ideal.

Despite this I have a list of tasks that I am determined to try and get done for 2012. Some of these have been hanging over me for a while. At least having the car on site it means that I can get some jobs done as soon as the weather breaks in Spring and it get’s warm enough to work on.

The upgrades are:

  • C5 Brake upgrade
  • Header installation
  • Catback Installation
  • Top end porting and polishing

All of these jobs will be done by me with the exception of the porting and polishing. That I will have to send out as I don’t have the tools or experience for that kind of work. Another job that will have to be sent out is ceramic coating for the headers – again a specialized job that I can’t do.

As I work through these I’ll write them up and take photos to show progress.

I’ve known about the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask!) ‘Gatherings’ for several years, even before I bought my ZR-1 and it has always been my intention to make the trip at one point or another. 2009 was a possibility but I wasn’t sure I’d want to go two years in a row and so we postponed until this year. This also coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the ZR-1’s ‘birth’ which made it even more special.

The drive down was through some terrible weather, rainstorms beat around our ears all the way and the Dragon looked almost as bad as when he’d been delivered to us in the middle of winter – despite having done an extremely thorough detailing job over the weeks before setting out.

The Gathering always has lots going on and the anniversary version no less so. There were presentations, Q & A sessions and the opportunity to meet some of the most famous people in the history of the Corvette and in-particular the ZR-1. It made choosing what to sign up for very hard – simply not enough hours in the day.

Our first event was a guided trip through the Kentucky back-roads by no other than Jim ‘Jingles’ Ingle himself. Jim was one of the original drivers at the ZR-1 press launches and entertained the crowd with his tire shredding ‘grenade’ exercises. Not only that, but Jim was in charge of the test drive and quality check program that GM put the ZR-1s through.

Jim’s quiet exterior is at complete odds with what he can do behind the wheel. On the first leg of the journey there were a few grumbles about ‘not going fast enough’ – but with a dozen or so ZR-1s travelling in convoy we were a rather conspicuous group! On the second leg, Jim turned his 2010 ZR1 up a notch to power through the gorgeous and challenging Kentucky roads, which quickly silenced everyone. Certainly no-one was complaining at the speed at our second stop!

The trip itself was a delightful romp through the countryside to the Z06/ZR1 chassis assembly plant where we were treated to a guided tour of the amazing Dana plant. The painstaking attention to detail and the technology that goes into putting together the aluminium chassis is remarkable. I tried to persuade the Plant Manager that they out to put together an aluminium chassis for the C4 ZR-1, but unfortunately he seemed to think I was joking!

The next highlight of our trip was the special barbecue hosted by Jim Van Dorn at his Automasters shop just across from the museum. JVD is the man who put together the Corvette Pirate Racing team in the 90s and effectively served as the test-bed for what became the official Corvette racing team. Not only that but JVD’s outfit was one of only three teams to officially race the ZR-1.

Due to the late return of the Jingles Tour, we ended up getting to the barbecue late as well. This didn’t seem too significant until we queried the whereabouts of our specially ordered veggie-burgers. JVD takes regular burgers and cuts them into Chevy bowtie shape before barbecuing them to perfection. We’d requested veggie-burgers and arranged with Jim to have them there.

After a detailed investigation by the FBI, Secret Service and Sherlock Holmes it became clear that the burgers had been eaten by those nasty meat-eater types. Jim was appalled at this and more annoyed than we were!

At the barbecue Jim showed a video detailing the ZR-1 anniversary run, an amazing feat that still is unrivaled by any production car, what made it an even more incredible event was that in the audience were Dave McLellan, Tommy Morrison, John Heinricy, Stu Hayner, Jim Minneker and Hib Halverson the key men who were involved in the development of the ZR-1 and the record attempt.

After the video finished, all the people involved took part in an ‘after-hours’ discussion on the attempt and the car, led by Dave McLellan. In that they revealed a lot of fascinating new details about the car’s unique development, the battles with GM corporate to get the car out and insights into what had been planned for future development.

When the discussion stopped Jim held an auction in aid of soldiers on duty in Iraq and again the ‘celebs’ led the way, showing entertaining skills (Jim Minneker and Tommy Morrison could probably do a stand-up routine if they ever wanted to!) as auctioneers. I managed to snag an LT5 cam-cover and took it around to all the guests for their autographs – a ‘trophy’ that is now the pride of my ZR-1 memorabilia collection.

With more discussions and talks and side events than you could imagine it was impossible to see everything. I focused on the technical presentations and the talks with the former GM people gaining a huge amount of information and insight into the car’s development. Sadly that meant I missed seeing John Heinricy resoundingly taking first in the autocross event, but with so much going on how do you choose?

One of the best moments was taking around my copy of ‘Heart of the beast’ and getting each of the celebrities to sign their part of the book. It’s hard to believe that these people would spare so much of their own time to talk to an enthusiast like myself and yet they made me (and everyone) feel like old friends. At the Gathering dinner Dave McLellan actually asked everyone there to sign a commemorative poster for him as a memento!  It truly brought home the community feeling associated with the Corvette and the ZR-1 specifically.

The museum itself is amazing. The number and rarity of the cars on display is incredible. From details of the early designs and designers all the way up to the latest and greatest, the presentation is world-class. Cars that belonged to Harley Earl, Zora Duntov and Ed Cole nestle in-between displays of modern C6Rs and concept cars. In reality you probably have to go around a few times for everything to sink in properly.

For the Gathering a number of cars had been brought in specially to form a display in the Main Hall, this included Tommy Morrison’s race Corvettes, “Queenie” a prototype ZR-1 from 1988 that was crushed only to later rise from the grave, not to mention the world record running ZR-1s.

As we were reluctantly loading the car to return home we spotted a gold coloured ZR-1 sliding up beside us. To our amazement it turned out to be Tommy Morrison himself who had been staying at the same hotel, unknown to us. I paid complement to Tommy’s one-of-a-kind custom ZR-1 which has some incredible unique details and he returned the same about our car. The thing was you could genuinely feel that he meant it.

Going down I wasn’t sure if I would want to go twice in a row. Coming back I was sure I would!

 

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