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Information on Corvette parts/Upgrades

I’ve been readying my ZR-1 for summer as the weather has been getting (very slowly) warmer and removed one of the front wheels a few days ago. I’d picked up a slow puncture and wanted to get it fixed ahead of getting on the road again.

There are various restrictions about getting tires plugged:

  • The hole can be no bigger than 6mm
  • the plug can’t be within the sidewall area
  • The hole must be “clean” with no wire reinforcing showing
  • No more than three plugs per tire

A lot of the time I think that these limits (which are set by the tire manufacturers…) are designed simply to achieve more tire sales, but that said Continue reading

The C4 Corvette was a big step up from earlier generations but one area that always seemed a little weak was the lighting. Even when first introduced, the lights were probably best described as “adequate.” With the great innovations seen in auto lighting in the twenty plus years since, it all looks just a little bit meager.

Luckily most of the lighting technology updates are now available as retrofit items and prices are dropping all the time, making this a relatively painless and inexpensive upgrade that can improve the appearance, functionality and safety of your vehicle.

The three main areas I am interested in are:

  • Daytime visibility
  • Night driving illumination and
  • Efficiency.

The need for daytime visibility is Continue reading

In my earlier post I discussed tackling the under-plenum updates. Here I cover the drivetrain updates which turned out to be more significant and challenging in unexpected ways. Early on Sunday we were back at Jim’s for the drive-train work. Again the WAZOO guys were in full attendance. Darrin was back too to help the transmission pull – this after working all night at his “day’ job.

Jobs for this day included: Continue reading

After the drive down to Baltimore and meeting up with David (including a fun visit to the local Tilted Kilt) we were ready to get stuck into the job at hand: updating the Dragon.

DSCF6040Saturday was warm and sunny, almost a shame to waste it on the WMD (Westminster Maintenance Day), but the WAZOO guys are dedicated to building bigger and better ZR-1s and I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to complete several of the jobs that had been on my “to do” list for far too long.

Jim’s place (the then ZR-1 Registry president) is the garage a lot of people dream of having – me included. Spacious, a  four post lift, hydraulic bridge jacks to lift one end of the car up in seconds. What else could you ask for? 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

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

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

 

My goal for this weekend was to swap the amplifiers in my ‘vette and thereby restore the functionality of the stereo system. The 90’s Bose system is somewhat notorious for failure; some of the capacitors were of dubious quality and basically turn to powder with age. This leaves you with a system that howls like a banshee, brays like a donkey and squeals like a 5 year old on acid – often all at the same time!

The choices are simple. Buy a set of new amps from Bose, or one of the Corvette parts suppliers – this costs between $125 and $150 per amp. As there are four of them altogether this gets to be a pretty expensive solution.

The other option is to keep an eye out for a good deal on Ebay, which is what I did; a complete set of amps, tested working, for $100 – less than a quarter of the new cost. That had to be a bargain.

Removal of the speakers to access the amps is fairly straightforward, though requires a certain element of contortionist skills in places – especially when removing the front speakers. Despite this I had the two back speakers out in about an hour (mostly because I was deliberately working slowly to avoid any problems).

The two front speakers, well they took about an hour and a half, due to the aforementioned contortion issues. The driver’s side came out easily once all the trim was removed, the passenger side… well that was a little different.

Though removing the passenger side speaker was actually slightly easier than its mirror twin, as I pulled the unit out it snagged the carpet slightly and this was enough to tear off two of the plastic ‘tabs’ where the screws go to hold it in place.

You often hear about plastic becoming brittle with age, but this was ridiculous. There’s always something to bite you when you least expect it!

So… a quick trip to the local parts store for a number of alternative possible fixes, including some ‘plastic weld’. I tried this first and to my complete surprise it made a strong fix that was perfectly usable.

I was a little cautious re-installing the speaker unit, half expecting the weld to fail and the tabs to fall off again; but it worked perfectly and in about another thirty minutes everything was back reinstalled.

A quick test showed the amps to be doing their job perfectly and ‘The Dragon’ now has his voice back! How’s that for a successful weekend?

Now? It’s Miller Time!

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. Continue reading

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