June 8, 2021

Engine Bay Restoration

Rather than leave the Corvette at the mechanics workshop when the engine came out in October 2020, I had it picked up on a flatbed and brought it back to my car park for safe storage. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, there wasn't a lot to do in Sydney, so it was a good chance to do a few jobs on the car.

I planned to do a few touch-ups on the frame in the engine bay. With the engine out, it was possible to get to some areas that would be inaccessible normally. The leaking steering box had damaged the paint on the frame, so I cleaned up that area using a wire brush and red scotch-brite, covered the car in plastic (to prevent any overspray) and painted that section of the frame with Eastwood Extreme Chassis Black Primer followed by Eastwood Extreme Chassis Black Satin. Job done.

The repainted areas of the frame looked good, but now everything else looked tired by comparison. I decided to paint the frame on both sides of the engine bay, as well as the cross-member. To paint the cross-member you need to remove the fan shroud rubber seal, and to do that you really need to remove the fan shroud. Can you see where this is going?

Before long I had taken everything out of the engine bay, including the wiper motor, wiring loom, expansion tank and radiator. I also wanted to repaint the black bars on the grille, so this required removal of the bumpers and the bumper irons.

It's actually much easier to restore parts when they're out of the car, it's so much easier than trying to mask things off and paint around them. If I learned anything from this it's that you really need to think about the scope of the work you want to do before you start, it's going to save a lot of time and definitely produce a more professional result.

Over the next 4 months I slowly worked my way through cleaning, restoring or replacing everything I could. The list below doesn't do justice to the time spent, it was a lot or work but immensely satisfying when completed.

Here's the list of everything I did in the engine bay:

  • Some minor panel-beating on the fan shroud to straighten out the lower flange and remove a small dent before sending off for media blasting, zinc coating and then powder-coating in satin black.
  • Brake lines and fuel line were polished with the Dremel then clear-coated to keep them shiny.
  • Battery support was removed, striped and painted, as was the battery hold-down clamp.
  • Steering damper was removed for repainting. When I was sanding it I found traces of the original Delco grey paint (the same colour used on the original shock absorbers) so I repainted it using gloss engine enamel (a Ford blue-grey that's a great match for the Delco colour).
  • All the bumper brackets (6 is total, 3 on each side) were removed, stripped to bare metal and repainted. When I was stripping them I found that someone had painted these brackets red at some point, that would have looked terrible!
  • Horns removed, stripped and repainted.
  • Inner and Outer Splash Shields removed, stripped and repainted. New stainless staples were used to reattach the rubber edge seals.
  • Front anti-roll bar removed, stripped and repainted (Eastwood Steel Grey). Anti-roll bar brackets were stripped and repainted.
  • The expansion tank had a sharp dent on the face, so this was removed (carefully and slowly) and the tank polished.
  • The wiper motor was throughly cleaned and polished.
  • Firewall cleaned, some unused holes filled and then repainted matt black. I made sure to only paint the top section of the firewall that was already blacked-out, leaving the lower section in raw fiberglass with original markings intact.
  • Core support repainted satin black.
  • Inner fenders sanded smooth and repainted satin black.
  • Horn relay cleaned and polished.
  • Accelerator linkage removed and cleaned.
  • Regulator housing sanded and repainted satin black.

When everything went back together:

  • New, correct fasteners for all the bumper support brackets.
  • New, correct fasteners for the fan shroud and radiator support bracket.
  • New fan shroud lower seal with new staples.
  • New A-arm dust shields with new staples.
  • New cushions for the radiator.
  • New fasteners for the horns.
  • New grille mount screws.
  • New, correct regulator mount kit fitted.
  • New, correct fasteners for inner and outer splash shields.
  • New fasteners for anti-roll bar brackets.
  • New bushings (15/16") and end links for the anti-roll bar.
  • New wiper motor to firewall seal fitted.

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From Top: 1: No more fiddling around — it's a lot easier to restore the engine bay with everything out of the way. Blue tape is to protect paint when removing the grille (which has a lot of sharp edges). 2: Grill, horns and radiator out. All bumper supports removed. 3: Inner guards were wet-sanded smooth before repainting in satin black. 4: Firewall repainted flat black — note the wiper motor now cleaned and polished.

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