In our last issue we started our 88 restoration, maintenance and performance-tip countdown for GM musclecars. The tips are generally things you can perform in your own garage with simple, readily available tools. Some of the tips are the result of making mistakes and fixing them (what’s that old saying about nothing is worth doing unless you do it twice?!). Some of the others, along with most of the components shown in the accompanying photos, came from the brain trust at Classic Industries (18460 Gothard Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92647; PH: 800-854-1280; Website: www.classicindustries.com). Here’s our second batch of tips. Check ‘em out and stay tuned; the countdown has just begun!
After you've perused these tips, check out our next installments: 3, 4, 5 and 6.
15. ALTERNATE BELTS
Yes, you can still buy good old-fashioned fan belts is you look hard enough (Gates and Goodyear still offer v-belts). But if you’re looking for an exact reproduction, these belts are right on target. You can get them for a wide range of GM musclecars.
16. BOLT SELECTOR
This is one of our favorite kits when rebuilding a car: It’s a complete set of correct fasteners for the chassis of the car. Pretty much everything you need for hardware underneath the car is included in the comprehensive kits. AMK makes them in the USA and Classic Industries distributes them.
17. BOLT SELECTOR PART DEUX
Not only does AMK manufacture great undercarriage fastener kits, they also manufacturer comprehensive “body” kits. With this kit, the focus is upon things like sheet metal, bezels, grille installation and so on. Again, it’s the full meal deal and everything is like GM produced it. Classic Industries distributes these too.
18. COLOR CODED
Upholstery manufacturers do the best they can to match OE colors exactly, but given changes in formulation between dye lots and even differences in the material, sometimes things aren’t a perfect match. Whenever possible, purchase all of your interior upholstery from the same vendor/manufacturer to ensure color consistency. For example, Classic Industries carries reproduction upholstery for many classic GM vehicles and can also provide samples of their material at no charge so that you can compare to your original upholstery to their reproductions and find the perfect match for your interior. Simply call their customer service department for details.
19. NOT SO BASIC BOLTS
If you look closely at a stock production line starter bolt for a vintage GM car, you’ll find these are no ordinary fasteners. The shoulders are serrated, which in turn allows the bolt to lock into the body of the starter nosepiece. The problem is, they’re not easy to find locally. Classic Industries offers these examples. And while you’re at, check out their OEM style shim kits too. They’re all correct in terms of appearance.
20. WIRE RETAINER
Something else common on a vintage Chevy and often missing is this: It’s a starter wire retainer. The purpose is to keep the associated wires from the starter harness in place. If they’re loose, there’s a chance they can contact the exhaust manifold (or headers) and burn.
21. STUCK ON YOU
When it comes time to install soft trim such as carpet, firewall insulation, package shelves, headliners and so on, you’ll need something to hold the pieces together. Pro upholsterers use a high quality spray adhesive manufactured by 3M. The 3M glue is specifically designed for use on soft trim. It dries quickly and becomes tacky in seconds. As a result, there’s little need to hold the pieces together while waiting for the glue to dry. When installing a new interior in a car, we can assure you, there’s a need for quite a bit of adhesive. Keep in mind that new spray adhesive and old dry adhesive do not mix. If the two are mixed, there’s a good chance the new glue will never dry. If this happens it will prove impossible to get your fabrics to stick where they need to stick. What’s the solution? Use something like 3M’s adhesive remover. Once you’ve sprayed the surface, give it some time to work, and then simply wipe off. Both products are magic when working with interior software.
22. CAULKING GUN ALTERNATIVE
There a lot of places on a car where seams or panels are caulked to prevent leaks. Some can be sealed with a good old-fashioned caulking gun, but in other locations (particularly horizontal spots), you should try this. It’s strip caulk. We use it in several locations, including when sealing the heater box. Bottom line here is, it’s not as messy as using a caulking gun.
23. FLUTTERING TACH
If your electronic tach flutters or takes wild swings regularly, it could be a simple problem with radio noise suppression. In most cases, the culprit is a tach trigger lead that's positioned too close to the coil wire or is resting near a spark plug wire. Isolate the wire. The tach will almost always settle down to normal once this is done.
24. THE BIG EASY
Armrest pads take a beating in any car and in the case of a vintage machine, expect them to be torn and tattered, even in lower mileage examples. Until recently, there were no really good options for repairing them (aside from finding some with decent foam and then attempting to track down the correct vinyl). These are the latest reproductions from Classic Industries and they’re a great solution. Everything is done for you and you just bolt them on. The colors match perfectly in our case and the parts look like New Old Stock. Score!
25. RELEASE ME
Take a look at the lowly park brake release handle. Most are dingy and beat up. For the most part, they’re out of sight, but open the door and the handle is front row center. In most cases, the park brake release handle will be faded, will feature yellowed lettering or will be cracked (often all three). The cost for replacement is minimal and installation is simple: Unscrew the original article and replace it. And by the way, keep vinyl protectants away from these pieces - it yellows the lettering.
GM typically used one u-bolt per axle side on their leaf spring cars. The second means of anchoring the housing to the springs was a flimsy “T” bolt. To make matters worse, the OEM pieces are only 7/16-inch in diameter. The solution to solidly anchor the housing is to switch to these ½-inch diameter u-bolts. Classic Industries offers them in kit form, complete with extra deep nuts.
27. RATTLE TRAP
Nothing can drive you insane quicker than a couple of metal-to-metal rattles inside your Chevy. Checking for loose screws definitely helps, but often the problem is caused by various dash bumpers becoming brittle or falling out entirely. Replacing glove box and ashtray door bumpers with fresh rubber can do wonders when it comes to reducing the squeak and rattle cacophony.
28. GETTING HOSED
Something that's really tough to find at the local auto parts store is a restoration correct heater hose fitting. The fittings we’re discussing are the jobs with a hex on the end along with a hose nipple. They’re found on both intake manifolds and on water pumps. Fortunately, the aftermarket has filled the void. These examples came from Classic Industries’ stockpile.
29. SURFACE VAPOR
If a section of bare metal is going to be exposed on a car for any length of time, it’s not uncommon to spray a fine mist of WD-40 over the surface. The oil (obviously) inhibits rust. Simple enough, but there’s a catch: Never spray WD-40 where it can come in contact with fillers or primed surfaces, as they tend to soak up the oil.