Spring is HERE!

Hey all,

Winter was a very busy time for me and I didn’t have much time to write in my blog. I’m so sorry about this. It’s still good to see you’ve been visiting me and plenty of e-mails have popped in during this time despite the lack of new posts.

But finally, Spring is here! We are all just SO happy about this since this Winter was extremely painful. There was so much snow, a lot of cold and that means a lot of pain in the a** for just about everyone living here. Cars don’t work too well in such conditions, on newer cars it’s easy to break the bottom frame protection plastic with the snow and so on. Those of you who don’t see Winter very often and are jealous at us – don’t be! Really, it’s not as good as you might think. Yes, there is snow. I think I can still find it from somewhere and I can send it over to Abu Dhabi in a box if you wanna see it so much :) Everyone should experience snow in their life just to see what it’s like and experience the winter “pleasures” like skiing and such. But having all that junk for almost half a year is NO GOOD. Alright, enough of this snow talk.

So, how did our cars live through the Winter? Well, first of all the Vette was ofcourse in the garage so she didn’t really mind. It was cold, yes, but what harm does that really do… However, the Audi and also Suburban were in constant use (especially Audi) and these did experience a few issues.  I can remember that in the beginning of Winter Audi showed its battery light and after some while the systems began messing up and everything died quite suddenly. All the electronic systems inside began to switch off one by one like in a crashing jetliner (yea, it was night in my case, too!) and soon even the transmission and engine began acting real weird. They are completely electronically controlled so what else would you expect… Anyway, I recharged the 110 Amp battery and drove it to service the next day. I first thought that the battery had finally died down in the cold and the systems didn’t want to charge it anymore. However, it wasn’t the case. In fact, the alternator brushes were gone so they had to replace those.

We also cracked the bottom protection a bit and managed to hit an ice ball so hard that a bit of the front bumper paint came off from one place. Should have it fixed soon I guess…  Although that didn’t break anything, I once drove off the road into the snow on a street simply because it was a curve, suddenly such a huge cloud of snow came at night during snowstorm that it just blocked my view completely and since I saw lights of another car coming towards me, I decided to keep to the right and that’s when I hit the snow wall. And there was no help of the Quattro there! We were so stuck that I asked a plow truck driving by to pull us out and he broke his towing rope. Then soon a Dodge RAM passed by who was gladly willing to help us and pulled us out with no big effort. The next time (well, 20 minutes later) I got stuck while just driving in the middle of the country road. The snow had blowed onto the road so much that it got really tough there. Ofcourse I didn’t push the ESP OFF button soon enough so the traction control didn’t let me push gas anymore which brought the situation to a stuck end. There was absolutely no way to get out of there by ourselves since the Audi was sitting completely on its bottom. Soon enough a tractor drove by and although we didn’t have a rope, he drove to the next fuel station, bought a rope for us and came back to pull us out. There are some nice people left in this world, huh?

We didn’t get stuck much more but it was just a lot of pain all the time trying to live your life normally.

But anyway, the spring!!! It’s here, just like I said. As you see, I can’t be happy enough about this fact. It’s a very important milestone this year, I’d say :)

Corvette C3 Daytime Running Lights LED

The Corvette is out of the garage and just before I took it out, I installed the high quality LED daytime running light bars to the front. They are invisible when they are off and nicely glow under the grilles in the nose during the daytime. Although the law requires them to switch on and off automatically depending on the headlight switch setting, I decided to wire them through a separate switch in the “cockpit” so I can always decide myself when I want them on. Interestingly, there is a feature on these lights which automatically dims the lights by about 50% if you shoot 12 Volts to one of the additional wires. S

 

o, I decided to configure them in an interesting manner somewhat resembling the new Audis. Whenever the turn signal is blinking, the LED light dims to 50% while the turn signal lamp is glowing. It’s a really nice effect and probably also adds a lot to safety. I’ll try

to get a video of that for you in a short while.Corvette C3 Daytime Running Lights LED with Sidemarkers

The Vette passed the technical inspection without issues and we’ve been driving it around for a couple of weeks now. The radiator was leaking from last Autumn so I had that repaired and the driver’s side electrical window had lost the last teeth from the moving mechanism so it wouldn’t move totally up and instead made terrible noises. The teeth were repaired and now everything is OK. Ofcourse I’ve been also configuring the carburetor but seems like I can never get it perfect…

The Suburban decided to fail big time… Driving it a week ago we noticed there was something dripping to the asphalt all the way behind our route and I figured out it was coolant. Firstly I thought that it could be the rear heating system pipes since the leak seemed to be near that area. However, it happened to be the typical Vortec engine issue instead – the intake manifold gasket. G

ot it from the shop yesterday and now it’s OK.

A year ago I had the starter and flywheel replaced on the Chevy. However, where I had that job done the guys apparently didn’t know how to properly install the starter on this car and by now the flywheel looks a bit like an elderly grandma with not much left of her teeth anymore. That was found out yesterday in the shop, as well. I was really mad about this because now I need to replace the flywheel AGAIN. And probably from my own pocket. At least I won’t take any of my cars to that shop from now, that’s a FACT. It was close to my home so it was always comfortable to take the cars there, but their job quality is now beginning to show itself. When fixing the starter a year ago they also managed to mess up the distributor clamps which hold the distributor cap in place. They had fixed that with a pair of cable straints and called it done. Now the distributor housing probably needs replacing, too. How can someone work like this? And how could I be so stupid not to act on these things earlier? Should have complained about their distributor solution at least!

Anyway, a  couple of photos from weeks ago of the Vette with the new lights installed :)

Oh, and a little Winter memory from a couple of months ago…

Estonian Winter Road

How’s the Corvette doing…

Alright, I’m ready to share some updates on the progress of restoring the floor pans and carpeting in my ’79 Corvette. Things have been speeding up in my garage again after a pause of a couple of months due to cold weather. After cleaning the floor pans, I went through the whole process of POR-15 protection. It means that I cleaned the pans with Marine Clean, then applied Metal Ready, cleaned it up and finally painted two coats of POR-15 black rust preventive paint. Now these floor pans should be good to go for at least several years to come and they fortunately hadn’t caught any serious rust damage before I began the restoration.

Here you can see some photos of the floor pans after being painted with POR-15. I must say that painting the pans was basically very enjoyable as a job and certainly nicer to do than cleaning the pans with wire brush which I did some time ago throughout several evenings.

floorpans_1

floorpans_2

floorpans_3

As you can see on the second photo, the bird cage part behind the floor pans is a bit uneven on the lower side, but this is not bad painting or rust – it’s some kind of compound used between the floor pan and the bird cage. I’m not sure if this was the method used in the factory or if the floor pans have been replaced at some point in the hands of the previous owners, but such kind of compound sealing is visible also in other parts of the floor area. Since the bird cage was already painted with some good rust protection paint and in the areas where the old paint had come loose I didn’t notice any sort of rust damage to the bird cage at all (it was shiny metal), I decided to paint over it and consider it good. The old paint was still so good in most places that I didn’t feel like brushing it all off and doing the same job again. Since the car has been restored approximately 10 years ago, I think this is one area which was certainly taken care of.

Since people have been complaining in the forums that the floors are transferring a lot of heat into the cabin thanks to the exhaust pipes running underneath them, I decided to completely heat-protect the floors. I used a certain kind of heat/sound insulation material which I bought from a car audio store. It came with its own glue already on the mats so it was a rather comfortable job to make the mats fit and glue them to the floors. In some places their own glue wasn’t enough so I used a spray glue especially made for such purposes. Helped a lot indeed! I was told by certain experts that it’s not necessary to COMPLETELY cover all the surfaces of the interior in order to repell heat and noise. It’s ok to install the mats in pieces, too, so that’s the method I used in more difficult areas like the transmission housing. Should keep most of the heat away.

I wasn’t too critical about sound insulation and didn’t buy extremely expensive mats for this purpose, because it’s NOT my intention to make this car a subwoofer-hut and I want to keep it closer to the state it came from the factory while also taking into consideration certain personal wishes of mine. It’s a hobby sports car which I take out on sunny summer days and I want to enjoy the V8 rumble.

floorpans_4

floorpans_5

floorpans_6

I must say that although the carpet is already in the car and almost completely installed, I don’t have any pictures to show as of yet. I want to finish the interior completely before showing new pictures. I’m hoping to get the car ready tomorrow but my time schedule hasn’t really been very accurate the last days.

carpeting_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and remember this center console piece which I had professionally leather-covered?

brake_console_leather_1

The grey color is somewhat off and doesn’t fit the seats or the whole interior. I sent it back to the shop for re-painting and I will receive it tomorrow. It should be an exact match with my white leather seats and I’m very anxious to see the result.

Finally a video clip for you. I just wanted to start up the car too much and couldn’t wait till it’s all done. So I put the driver seat loosely into the car and started up the engine. I must say that it cranked up almost like new, although it hadn’t been started since late Autumn 2008. Hopefully the engine won’t give me any troubles when the time is ready to go driving.

Managed to drive the Vette again!!

Hi everyone,

Late Monday evening after coming home from work I decided to assemble the dash together (I’m waiting for new parts to fix the dash lighting) and go for a drive. I had the insurance still valid for a couple of days, the snow was mostly melted and the streets were completely dry. It was about 9.30 pm when I reversed it out from the garage, me and my friend took it to the gas station to add about 20 liters and I think we drove 2-3 hours around the city. It was a truly enjoyable time and I’m extremely glad the weather turned out to be so fine during the wintertime. I even managed to take the car out on Tuesday morning for an hour until some light snowing started and I had to drive home again.

Some bad news too :( As you remember I used to have a problem with the cooling system and I replaced the radiator cap. It seems like the problem is now gone but Tuesday morning I still decided to take a container of anti-freeze with me. It was half-full but I tightened it strong and even put it inside a plastic bag. Suddenly while stopping at a red light, I noticed pink fluid floating over the rear carpet and I was so mad at myself… There was quite a lot of fluid on the carpet and I just drove quickly home to clean it all up. I think I spent hours on it with different carpet cleaning foams but I still haven’t gotten it completely off. Now my options are to try some more inside the car, remove the carpet and take it to chemical cleaning or just replace the carpet.

NEVER CARRY CAR FLUID CONTAINERS IN YOUR CAR WITHOUT PUTTING THEM IN A FULLY SEALED BAG!!! At least not in your classic hobby car…

Funnily, I never needed the anti-freeze and it just caused me a lot of trouble.

———————

Currently I’m waiting several parts and items for the Corvette that I’ve ordered from different U.S. shops. A parcel is coming with the headlight switch, main instruments printed circuit and main instruments lens. I’m also waiting for the Shop Manual, Owner’s Manual and a 1979 C3 Sales Brochure :)

How to remove 1979 Corvette C3 headlight switch

Here’s my first contribution to the do-it-yourself guys who are not so familiar with their Corvettes yet and want to fix the typical things. I am now going to explain how to remove the push-pull type light switch that controls headlights and dims the dash lights. It’s a fairly easy job. My car doesn’t have the driver-side heat duct installed which goes above the feet so I don’t know how to remove it. I’ve read it’s quite simple to remove and if you can’t figure it out, try searching Corvette Forums.

Disconnect the battery!

1) Firstly you need to open the screws which attach the front gauge plate to the dashboard. They go around the lens and all of them need to be removed.

2) Now reach under the dash and find the large plug that goes into the instruments block. There are locker buttons on both ends of it, try to squeeze them and then pull the plug out. In case you can’t do it right now, wait until you have pulled the instruments out from the dash a bit. Might be easier to reach then.

3) You need to remove the speedometer cable. It goes into the middle of the speedometer and there is a knob that has to be pressed in while pulling it out. You need to do this with one hand and this is one of the most annoying things in this process. You will feel the moving tab above the cable and push it fully in. Now pull the cable out. You may have to rock it slightly but too much force is not necessary.

4) Go under the dash again and find the two big bolts which hold up the steering column. Remove those to lower the steering column a bit. Don’t worry, it will not fall when the bolts come off. It just drops down by an inch or so.

5) Now start pulling the instruments block out from the dash. It slides straight towards you, skidding a bit on the steering column. In case you haven’t disconnected the electrical plug yet, now is the right time to do it. You will probably find that the instruments will get a bit stuck at the steering column and you will have trouble getting it out from there. I managed it by pushing the steering column downwards with just gentle force so it lowered enough to get the instruments out.

6) You will be able to see the light switch through the dash hole. In order to get the switch off from the dash plate, you must pull out the knob to its fully open position. Now put your finger under the light switch inside the dash and try to find a small round button. It has to be pushed up (towards the roof of the car) and while holding it in, you can fully pull the light knob out and remove it.

7) You can now use a big flat screwdriver to open the bolt that can be seen from the front side of the dash and light switch area. The switch will come loose.

8) There is a huge white plug connected to the switch with a bunch of wires going into it. Gently disconnect it by applying nearly equal force to the opposite sides of the plug.

9) There are two vacuum pipes going to the right side of the switch. Pull those off. Make sure you mark them somehow in order to correctly connect them back later.

Congratulations! The switch is now removed. The easiest solution would be to replace it with a new one (priced around 50 US dollars). In my opinion this is the way to go and I’ll be doing it myself, too.

CORVETTE HAS ARRIVED!

Well, it’s not the best time of year to buy a sportscar in Estonia, but I did it! Just before the winter called in, I found the car I like and I closed the deal a couple of weeks ago. Winter is a good period to work on the car in the garage and prepare it for the upcoming driving season.

Although I had thoughts about importing the car from USA, I knew this would have been a risky business because I would have had to trust a lot of my money into a stranger’s hands without seeing what I get back for it. Pictures can be taken, indeed, but it’s still not the same as seeing by myself. There were three possibilities in Estonia to choose from – I wrote about them in a previous post. It was obvious that the black ’79 C3 sold by the private owner was the best way to go and one nice day a couple of weeks ago we made the deal. Hence the reason why I haven’t written here since then – I was just too busy with the car, either looking at it or driving it! I had the opportunity to enjoy it one full day before the snow came down and it was a cold, but beautiful sunny day with dry asphalt. That day alone was worth all the money! I just adored every second of driving the Vette.

Once I knew that the car was going to become mine, I had a really strange feeling inside. I was giving away a lot of money; the price of the car was just the beginning of the expenses; I was getting a classic car that needs a lot of care and good maintenance; I was going to get my dream car and the most beautiful car on Earth! :)) So, the Vette arrived in front of my house, driven by the previous owner for his last time and then I got the keys. I washed it, took a few test drives and in the evening I fitted it into the garage. It’s just the right size and there’s plenty of room to work around it, too. On that day I managed to capture a few photos of the car which I’m going to show you now:

Some details…

Year of production: 1979
Color: black
Interior: Oyster white
Engine: Chevy L-48 350 cid (5.7 litre) V8 in stock condition, producing roughly 200 hp
Carburetor: Rochester 4-barrel Q-Jet
Transmission: Warner 4-Speed Manual

Overall condition of the car is very good. The engine runs smooth and clean, no smoke from the exhaust. The paint is perfect from three steps away, minor scratches and problems can be found on closer look. The interior looks very good, the seats have brand new looking leather material on them. The carpet shows wear from the passenger floor and was a bit dirty on both side floors. I’ve cleaned it up by now and looks much better. The door panels are great, the grabbing handle on the driver side has a bit weak connection on one end though and it may come loose when pulling the door close. I have to fix it. Driving the Corvette, I didn’t notice anything that I could particularily complain about. The transmission feels nice, the clutch is heavy but I got used to it quickly, the steering is quite sharp and the brakes are better than I expected. Estonian roads are not in the best condition and when the asphalt has wheel track waves carved in by cars, the Vette tends to float on them and I need to correct with the wheel to keep it going straight. I guess that’s what I got to live with if I want to have 255’s around the alloys.

The previous owner who had the car in Estonia for 2 years put remarkable money into the car and some of the replaced items are: new radiator, KONI suspension, new steering damper, new roof sealings, chrome hubcaps. He recently changed all the oils and filters, as well. Together with the car he also gave me brand new Corvette America door seals, door hinge sticks and the cloth which needs to be installed under the carpet as a heat seal around the transmission.

Things wrong with the car at the time of purchase: speedo not working, dash illumination lights not working, license plate light not working, passenger floor carpet loose on the transmission side, problem with the floor and roof lights illuminating all the time, hence the bulbs taken out. There was also an issue with the cooling system – the big radiator hose jumped off the radiator a couple of times after an hour driving or so. I had it happen once. This particular problem takes a lot of time to write about in details so I will do it sometime soon. However, by now I have at least figured out that it’s not too serious and it might be as simple as installing a new radiator cap which I installed. I found that the engine didn’t release any coolant to the reservoir and therefore it simply got overpressurized. Some days ago I did the most important test: I measured the cooling system pressure with the special tool. The indication was absolutely okay and the needle was not jumping around at all, even when adding throttle, so a cylinder head or head gasket crack should be out of question as of now. Here’s a video I took:

I opened the cockpit panels around the “birdcage” to check for rust issues and I was happy to see that the condition is just fine, according to people from Corvette Forums. Some rust can be seen at times but it’s only on surface.

Now that the winter is here and the Corvette is garaged until Spring, I have time to fix its issues and keep you updated via this blog at the same time. I’ll do my best to share useful knowledge about performing different jobs on the Vette.

I have also opened a new page on my blog where I’m keeping live track of the jobs that must be done and what items I need to buy.