CORVETTE RESTORATION UPDATES

DECEMBER 28, 2008 - FIREWALL REASSEMBLY

 

 

 

 

   

Continuing from the last restoration update, progress continues as the many small parts and pieces needing to be reattached to the firewall are cleaned, painted, and installed.

To start the pedal assembly was given a final coat of paint and the trim pieces polished followed by reassembly of the entire system. I was pleased that after bit of polishing the trim around the pedals shined up quite nicely.

Although the pedal assembly is now complete, I plan to wait until the firewall is back on the car before installing it. This will keep the firewall light making it easier to manage when it's reinstalled on the car.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

With the pedals completed, the numerous small metal parts for the firewall were then cleaned and painted.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

In addition, replacement grommets, gaskets, and J-clips were bought to replace the old deteriorated ones. After 30+ years of service the majority of them were in real need for replacement. Reuse of the old ones would have certainly led to unwanted water leaks.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

On the firewall there are several clips - large ones that secure the vacuum lines, and small J-clips that secure electrical lines. The small J-clips can be bought inexpensively, but at approximately $5 a piece, the large ones were a different story. Since I want everything to look nice under the hood, I decided to refinish the large clips and purchase some replacement J-clips.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

To refinish the large clips, they were first bent straight and the old rubber coating was stripped off. With the rubber coating removed the metal strips were thoroughly wire brushed to remove any old paint, rust, and remaining bits rubber.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Next, the strips were reformed by bending them around a 3/8" socket extension. This allowed the original shape and dimensions of the clips to be recreated pretty accurately.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

With the clips bent into their final shape, the top 3/4" of the clips received a coat of primer and satin black paint (Note: In hindsight, the ends of the clips would have been easier to paint before they were bent, but for whatever reason that just didn't occur to me before the clips were being bent).

With the ends painted, the clips were dipped in 'Color Guard', a rubber coating product made by Loctite. A 14.5 ounce can costs about $10 (a lot less than buying a bunch of new clips) and gave pretty good results.

In total, each clip was dipped three times to build the rubber coating up to the proper thickness.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

After drying overnight, the clips were finished and ready for reinstallation. Overall I was pleased with the outcome. Although I'm not sure how durable the rubber coating will turn out to be, they look great now and the coating seems to be pretty tough when tugged at with a figernail.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

With the large clips restored, it was time to start reinstalling the small components on the firewall. For this task a large pop riveter was used to install new 3/16" aluminum rivets. One thing is for sure, installing all the rivets necessary gives your forearms a pretty good workout.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Generally, the process of installing pop rivets is straightforward. I quickly learned that the rivet tool had a tendency to 'jump' a bit when the rivet popped, dinging the surface of the finished firewall. To avoid this, right when the rivet was about to pop I pulled gently upward on the rivet tool so that when it did pop, the tool rebounded upward and away from any finished surfaces.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

After the riveting was completed, new grommets, seals, and miscellaneous brackets were installed.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Next the windshield wiper brackets were tackled. Much like the inside of the wiper tub, they too were covered in a layer of old asphalt waterproofing, paint overspray, and rust. Not real attractive to say the least.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

After a good deal of cleaning and wire brushing, the pieces were primed, painted, and ready for installation back on the firewall.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Originally the inside of the wiper tub was smeared with an asphalt waterproofing material similar to roofing tar. Although relatively effective, the finished product wasn't real attractive. For my project, I've decided to take a different approach. Rather than blindly smearing everything in sealant after assembly, I've decided to seal each penetration through the wiper tub as the various parts and pieces are installed. This will ultimately give a more professional appearance while being equally effective.

To seal the firewall a tube of polyurethane roof and flashing sealant was purchased from the local home improvement store. This stuff is pretty rugged and will hold up well over time.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Using a caulking gun, a small bead of sealant was applied around each of the four bolt holes used to secure the windshield wiper brackets to the inside of the wiper tub. Once the sealant was applied, the brackets were quickly positioned and fastened in place.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Instead of reusing the original nuts and bolts to reattach the wiper bracket, I sprung for some new stainless steel bolts and self locking nuts. With everything in place, the finished product came out pretty nicely. Considering all of the work that's gone into cleaning up the wiper tub it's a shame that almost nobody will see the it once the wiper door is reinstalled!  

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

As reassembly of the miscellaneous firewall components neared completion, the final task was to clean and reassemble the air conditioning plenum valve and air conditioning side shroud vacuum control. After cleaning the actuators and plastic pieces, followed by fresh paint on the metal components, each assembly was put back together. The actuators were also checked to ensure they worked properly and had no leaks.

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

First the side shroud vacuum control was finished. Because this control requires the firewall to be mounted to the frame before installation, the assembled control was set aside for installation at a later date. 

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

Next the air conditioning plenum valve was reassembled...

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

and then mounted to the firewall in the proper location (near the passenger side of the windshield wiper tub). 

Copyright - Tim Cote 2007

With the firewall brought to this point it will be reinstalled on the car before the remaining hardware such as the wiper motor, windshield wiper door actuator, and other hardware are installed. Doing so will keep the firewall light during reassembly, ultimately making the process a bit easier.

However, reinstallation of the firewall will need to wait a while. First, I want to tackle the rear clip. By doing so, the firewall can be set aside and safely stored while repair work on the rear clip proceeds. Once the rough body work is completed, the firewall and front clip will be reinstalled so the final body work can be completed.

Next step, a bit more paint stripping and the start of some body work. Stay tuned!

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Total time spent on restoration to date:

682 HOURS

JUMP TO THE NEXT UPDATE -  REAR CLIP PAINT REMOVAL

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