Tech Tips: Shop Floor Wisdom for Your GM Muscle Car Part 5

Click Here to Begin Slideshow Welcome back to our gig-enormous (!) 88 restoration, maintenance and performance tech tip series for GM musclecars. This time around (the second last in the countdown), we’ll look at everything from thermostat housing bolts to dead dash lamps and little of everything in between. Like previous installments (one, two, three and four), some of the tips deal with repairs and maintenance, while others deal with reproduction parts that fill the gap when original components are long gone. Those quality reproduction parts are available from Classic Industries (18460 Gothard Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92647; PH: 800-854-1280; Website: www.classicindustries.com). For a closer look at the fifth part of our series, scroll down. Check it out: 58. PHILLIPS FIX: Phillips head screws are found in myriad locations on a typical car (musclecar or otherwise). They can sometimes be next to impossible to remove, particularly if they haven't been touched for four, five or more decades. Here’s what we do: Insert the screwdriver into the screw head. Before trying to turn the stubborn screw, give the end of the screwdriver a quick tap with a small hammer. This dislodges any corrosion and at the same time, makes the screwdriver fit the head of the screw perfectly. It works almost every time. After you've perused these tips check out our last installment: 6.

Tech Tips: Shop Floor Wisdom for Your GM Muscle Car Part 5

Click Here to Begin Slideshow

Welcome back to our gig-enormous (!) 88 restoration, maintenance and performance tech tip series for GM musclecars. This time around (the second last in the countdown), we’ll look at everything from thermostat housing bolts to dead dash lamps and little of everything in between. Like previous installments (one, two, three and four), some of the tips deal with repairs and maintenance, while others deal with reproduction parts that fill the gap when original components are long gone. Those quality reproduction parts are available from Classic Industries (18460 Gothard Street, Huntington Beach, CA 92647; PH: 800-854-1280; Website: www.classicindustries.com). For a closer look at the fifth part of our series, scroll down. Check it out:

58. PHILLIPS FIX: Phillips head screws are found in myriad locations on a typical car (musclecar or otherwise). They can sometimes be next to impossible to remove, particularly if they haven't been touched for four, five or more decades. Here’s what we do: Insert the screwdriver into the screw head. Before trying to turn the stubborn screw, give the end of the screwdriver a quick tap with a small hammer. This dislodges any corrosion and at the same time, makes the screwdriver fit the head of the screw perfectly. It works almost every time.

After you've perused these tips check out our last installment: 6.

59. THERMOSTAT HOUSING BOLTS

Restoring a vintage Chevy engine? You’ll need a number of “correct” fasteners. One thing that shows up right away when you pop the hood is the thermostat housing (water neck) and on a Chevy musclecar, that piece is held in check by a couple of different length bolts. The correct bolts have 3/8-inch coarse threads – one is 1-1/8 inches long; the other is 2-1/8 inches long. Small blocks from ’68-’74 had one bolt with a stud on one end; however, both ends were threaded 3/8-inch coarse. Classic Industries stocks these fasteners complete with the appropriate head markings.

60. DEAD DASH LIGHTS

Dash lights don't work on your car? The first thing to do is check the tail lamp circuits and fuses. If the dash lights blink and go out, it could be caused by the rheostat resistor that controls the dimming function of the dash lights (there’s a good chance it’s corroded).

61. SWAP SHOP

When Chevy installed the big block in the Camaro in 1967, the heater hose location changed. A new heater core was designed with reversed inlet/outlet hose fittings. They were placed near the inner fender. Six cylinder and SBC cars have identical heater assemblies with hose locations closer to the engine centerline. Classic Industries sells these reproduction pieces to facilitate a big block swap.

62. CORRECTNESS

If you’re searching for correctness when installing that heater box cover, this mount kit is right up your alley. It includes the same fasteners Chevy used to install heaters on a wide range of Camaros and Novas.

63. ELECTROLYSIS

If at all possible, don't use spark plug wires with brass terminals along with a distributor cap with aluminum inserts (normally a cheap cap). Why not? Moisture will create corrosion. The result will be poor spark and even worse performance. FYI, this photo shows all components with brass terminals.

64. BUMPER SHOT

When sliding behind the wheel of your vintage car, does the seat back angle too far rearward? Do you find it next to impossible finding a comfortable position in the seat? We suspect the seat back bumpers are either compressed and rock hard or missing entirely. They’re easy to replace. When installing fresh bumpers, keep in mind that you can actually set the seat back angle if you shim the bumper up slightly (a small flat washer or two works).

65. CORROSION CONCERNS

If you’re plagued with bulbs that constantly need attention, think about this: Is there corrosion at the base of light bulbs? If so, apply a wee bit of electrical grease to the bulb base. This goes for the prongs of blade fuses as well. Your problems should be solved.

66. NEW-OLD SOFTWARE

According to Classic Industries, one of the first questions they ask when a customer orders upholstery is: “Does your car have a deluxe or standard interior?” Most will answer without a second thought, but many owners are shocked to discover that the seats in their car aren’t original. Over the years, many previous owners swapped out their beat-up original seats for better condition seats from another year or trim level car, or worse, a different vehicle entirely. Because muscle cars were regularly hot-rodded, be sure that the seats in the car are correct for your model, year and trim level. If in doubt, Classic Industries’ tech department has the dimensions of seats available to help you figure out which set of upholstery to order for your seats.

67. CLEAR VISION

The vast majority of muscle cars come equipped with plastic instrument lenses. With the passing of time, they tend to scratch and become milky. Although there are a number of products on the market that can cure the "fog," you might first try using motorcycle windshield/helmet facemask polish (it’s a very gentle cleaner/polish). Most of these cleaner/polishes are inexpensive, readily available and work quickly. Better yet, some are available in simple-to-use aerosols that can be applied with the cluster intact.

68. GETTING THE BOOT

A part that regularly goes missing (or ends up beat beyond use) is the shifter boot, along with the boot retainer. These are the parts that keep debris and most of the fumes out of the cockpit. You’ll find there are a number of different combinations out there when it comes to a restoration. Camaros, Novas and Chevelles can be different, and there’s a difference between console and non-console cars too. The neat reproduction pieces shown here are for a Nova without a center console.

69. HOOD WINKED

Plenty of GM cars used a simple hood adjuster setup at the leading edge of the hood. It consisted of a special fastener and lock nut arrangement threaded into the rad support; each was topped with a rubber bumper. The idea here was to adjust the hood corner height. These adjusters are often damaged or the rubber bumpers are missing (or both). The reproductions here are from Classic Industries.

70. IN THE CLUTCHES

Big block first gen Camaros and Novas from ’68 to ‘70 used a clutch linkage arrangement that differed from the one installed in small block cars. The extra width of the big block causes some of the trouble, plus the fact that the rat motor was offset toward the passenger side. As a result of this, you can’t interchange clutch linkages from small to big block cars. Those parts are next to impossible to find used, however reproductions such as these (in the photo) save the day!

71. SHORT CIRCUIT

When troubleshooting an electrical system, check the battery first. Ensure the terminals are clean, the clamps are in good condition and the ground strap and primary wire are sized correctly. It’s also a good idea to wire brush the area where the ground strap bolts to the car.

72. STOCK (PULLEY) EXCHANGE

If you’re troubled by Chevy pulleys that don’t fit, ponder this: In 1969 Chevrolet changed the water pump design (it’s slightly more than one-inch longer than earlier examples). Because of this, there’s no interchange between most early and late pulleys. Additionally, pulleys for big blocks look similar to small blocks, but they’re not (the exception being the alternator pulley, which is the same). Good reproductions are available today. Case-in-point are these big block jobs from Classic Industries.

73. BRAKE CLEAN

When cleaning small brake parts, use brake fluid as the cleaning agent. If you use gasoline or other petroleum-based products as the cleaner, they can leave traces behind that will eventually lead to deterioration of the rubber parts inside the brake system. If that happens, never try to repair brake components, only replace them.

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