Tech Tips: Shop Floor Wisdom for Your GM Muscle Car Part 1

Click Here to Begin Slideshow Working on a vintage musclecar project (restoration, performance or street-strip) can become downright trying - particularly if you’re forced to do something several times over just to get it right or if you have to eventually pay someone big dollars to get it right for you. On the other hand, finishing a task properly without any accompanying aggravation provides a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction that’s almost always tough to beat. Sometimes, it's not a case of actually doing something wrong; it's just a matter of finding a better (and easier) way to accomplish the job. Yours truly has done it both ways (fixed something successfully and, on other occasions, accomplished the task with plenty of trepidation). And with a little help from our friends at Classic Industries (18460 Gothard Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92647; PH: 800-854-1280; Website: www.classicindustries.com) - they manufacture and/or sell many of the products shown in the accompanying tip series - we’ll share many of those successes and failures with you, along with the countless shortcuts to success. What follows over the next few issues are a whopping eighty-eight of those mechanical shortcuts. Here are the first of them. Check them out. 1. BOILED BATTERIES: One of the first things to go bad on a vintage car of any sort is the battery box or tray. Many of those old cars never came with sealed batteries and it was a matter of time before there was an acid spill or battery boil over. Of course, the pieces that took the brunt of the damage included the battery tray, the battery clamp and the battery bolt. Classic Industries offers replacements for many applications in their catalogs. The setup shown is for a vintage Nova.

Tech Tips: Shop Floor Wisdom for Your GM Muscle Car Part 1

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Working on a vintage musclecar project (restoration, performance or street-strip) can become downright trying - particularly if you’re forced to do something several times over just to get it right or if you have to eventually pay someone big dollars to get it right for you. On the other hand, finishing a task properly without any accompanying aggravation provides a feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction that’s almost always tough to beat. Sometimes, it's not a case of actually doing something wrong; it's just a matter of finding a better (and easier) way to accomplish the job. Yours truly has done it both ways (fixed something successfully and, on other occasions, accomplished the task with plenty of trepidation). And with a little help from our friends at Classic Industries (18460 Gothard Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92647; PH: 800-854-1280; Website: www.classicindustries.com) - they manufacture and/or sell many of the products shown in the accompanying tip series - we’ll share many of those successes and failures with you, along with the countless shortcuts to success. What follows over the next few issues are a whopping eighty-eight of those mechanical shortcuts. Here are the first of them. Check them out.

1. BOILED BATTERIES: One of the first things to go bad on a vintage car of any sort is the battery box or tray. Many of those old cars never came with sealed batteries and it was a matter of time before there was an acid spill or battery boil over. Of course, the pieces that took the brunt of the damage included the battery tray, the battery clamp and the battery bolt. Classic Industries offers replacements for many applications in their catalogs. The setup shown is for a vintage Nova.

2. GREASE TRICKS

Grease can be used in more places than just wheel bearings and suspension parts: It works very well as a sealer for carb gaskets. If you use a very small amount of grease on the gasket(s), it can be re-used a number of times and it won’t stick to either the carb or the intake manifold.

3. COOL RUNNING

Running a car without a fan shroud gets old in a hurry. Finding them used is pretty much impossible. Ditto with things like the shroud mount bracket. Fortunately, the aftermarket has tooled up for replacements for even the most obscure applications. The example shown here is a big block Nova setup from Classic Industries.

4. SLOW LEAK

If you have a situation where a battery regularly goes dead while the car is parked, try this: Disconnect the ground cable to the battery and wire a test light between the battery post and the ground. If something is causing a draw, the light will light. Begin disconnecting circuits or fuses until the light goes out. Whatever circuit turns the light out is the one that is draining the battery. Fix the suspect circuit by putting it on the ignition or other switch, and your problem is solved.

5. MOLDING MANIA

If you have a GM car and you're cursing those #"&$%@? windshield moldings, try using one of these little molding tools (available from a number of different body shop supply vendors). They slide under the molding, hook the clip and release it cleanly without damage to the glass, the molding or the surrounding paint.

6. WIDE OPEN

Figuring out how to work out a throttle cable system for various cars can be troubling – often the cable brackets are cobbled together or even missing (and a cable bracket is another next to impossible to find piece). This setup is a reproduction of a GM part by Classic Industries.

7. SHIM COUNTER

When disassembling steering and suspension components, mark and label all shims with regard to their location (for example, passenger side control arm – upper, bolt at nose = 3-shims). It’s not going to preclude the need for a wheel alignment, but you won’t smoke the rubber off the tires on the way to the alignment shop.

8. CABLE CONNECTION

When restoring or rebuilding a vintage car, the need for fresh battery cables arises with regularity. Older cables tend to be brittle and they’re often cracked. Terminal ends can be heavily corroded too. Most often, they’ve been replaced with generic “fits all” pieces. Those replacements from the local auto parts store really don’t look right. The reproductions (as shown here) do, though, and they fit just like stock.

9. MORE CABLE DETAILS

A lot of Chevys have had their engines replaced over the years. Popular performance platforms like Novas, Camaros and Chevelles likely rotated a number of engines through their bays over time. A number of items regularly go missing during these engine changes, and that includes the battery cable clip on the oil pan (for the positive cable) and the clip that affixes the negative cable to the alternator bracket (1969 and later cars). This Classic Industries repro is exactly what is needed.

10. SIMPLY SHOCKING

When switching a Camaro or Nova from mono-leaf springs to multi-leaf springs, you’ll find the lower shock mount plates are different. The OEM mono leaf set up did not use locator pins on the topside of the springs, nor are there any holes in the housing perches. The rear was simply located to the springs by way of the lower shock plate. The way it was designed, the spring had a locating pin on the bottom that fit into a metal cup molded into the bottom rubber pad. In order to save a bunch of head scratching it’s best to simply replace them. Case-in-point are these reproduction multi-leaf spring shock plates. They’re inexpensive and readily available.

11. HEAT TREAT

Carb heat shields were big back in the ‘70s. Holley, Mr. Gasket and even Chevrolet sold them. They work fabulously on vacuum secondary carbs. When working with the Chevy jobs (available as a reproduction shown here), you’ll find they don’t exactly fit with double pumper carbs. The reason is the secondary pump cam arm smacks the heat shield as it goes through its travel. Essentially, this will bind the works, but the fix is relatively simple: You can either stack gaskets on the carburetor side or simply notch the heat shield for the secondary accelerator pump linkage. It’s cleaner than using a bunch of gaskets, and probably a bunch safer when it comes to potentially warping or breaking off a carb baseplate mounting ear.

12. GETTING THE BOOT

If you ever have to remove a spindle and steering arm on a car, there’s a good chance you’ll have to remove the tie rod ends. Once that job comes up, you can be quite sure that the boots will be destroyed. For years, you couldn’t buy stock style tie rod boots without getting a complete new tie rod end, but that’s all changed. Classic Industries offers these for Camaros/Novas/Chevelles and other similar GM products.

13. PEDAL PUSHER

When installing a new set of pedal pads (brake and/or clutch), consider adding a dab of silicone to the backside of the pad. Why? Because new pads are squeaky clean (and slippery), there’s a good chance the pad will slide off right off the pedal. This can happen at the most inopportune moment too.

14. SQUEAL STOPPER

Don’t you just hate a squealing fan belt? If the belts on your car are tight and still squeal, try this: Buff the inside of the pulleys with good old-fashioned Scotchbrite®. The abrasive pad gives the fan belt a more positive surface and should eliminate the noise. It’s also a good idea to use a new belt once the pulleys are “de-glazed.”

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