Archive for May, 2010

An appearances thing

Monday, May 17th, 2010
Glen Looper with my RENU repaired gas tank

Glenn Looper with the Corvette gas tank

What do you do when the best looking thing from your car is your fuel tank?  That is my temporary problem.  I picked up my “RENU”ed tank from Looper Servicenter in Rockville, MD – http://www.loopersc.com/ – on Friday and it is embarrassingly fine looking.  All of the rust holes have been repaired, the inside and outside has been AL oxide blasted, and all has been coated with “RENU” formulated polyvinyl coatings and lifetime guaranteed.  Working with the owner, Glenn Looper was a great and informative experience.  He possesses many years of automotive repair experience and was full of great tips and links to other resources.  Glen also takes the time to make sure you fully understand the repair process, and he keeps you informed throughout the process, so you can make do or not do decisions along the way.  He even took the time to video tape the leak test so I could appreciate how many holes I actually had in the tank.  He takes in work from all over the country and has lots of experience with classic cars.  Bring a fat wallet, but expect to get a first class job.

Readers of my previous blog entries know that I have been obsessing about “originality”.  This seems to be a Corvette owner thing, fostered by obsessive attention to “numbers matching” and all sorts of other unhealthy for your driving “bones” attitudes.  The deeper I climb into the Corvette rehab the more apparent it becomes that I can have either a driver or a show car, with no middle ground.  I believe that committing to the RENU repair on the gas tank was enough to get me past the ambiguity and commit me to the driver path; so good news there.

The other thing that the “clean enough to swill beer from” tank does is increase my incentive to get on with the clean up and repair.  The rest of the car can definitely look this good.  The fuel lines are currently soaking with carburetor cleaner.  Next I will blow them out and then replace all of the flexible lines and the fuel pump.  Even though the car has not run since I rebuilt the carburetor, I think I will pull it apart and replace all of the gaskets and diaphragms, just to ensure that all of the degradable parts in the fuel system are brand new.  Check out below to appreciate the kind of gunk that collects in old fuel lines.

Fuel line gunk

Fuel line gunk

FROM THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Is there a Survivor in there?

I have been congratulating myself for resisting the temptation to “over restore” the Corvette, and rather to make it a real “driver”.  I do not want to end up with a “garage queen”, too nice and too costly to drive and not friendly enough to sleep with.  As I have been getting into making the car roadworthy, I have also reminded myself that it is pretty original, given that I bought the car new.  So I know exactly how few things have been changed out in my 40 plus years of ownership.  Enter the “Survivor” concept.

Survivor is a category of classic car ownership that defines a car that is nearly completely unchanged from the day of delivery: original driveline, paint, interior, etc.  Sounds pretty simple and my car is pretty original.  So I had begun to think, why not try to maintain that survivor status as I get the car back on the road.  Both NCRS  http://www.ncrs.org/ (National Corvette Restorers Society) and Bloomington Gold http://www.bloomingtongold.com/ (the premier Corvette show and judging organization) have “Survivor” categories.  (Bloomington Gold has a copyright on the term and claims to have invented the category).

My last blog entry talked about the build sheet I found on the gas tank, and that prompted some research.  And that’s where I nearly jumped from the frying pan of over restoration into the fire of change nothing “Survivor” status.  Along with other research, I had an illuminating and scary email conversation with Dave Burroughs, the Bloomington Gold Survivor guru.  The bottom line Survivor repair/restoration philosophy is “don’t do anything!”; although somehow the car needs to be returned to running condition.  Do no painting, remove no torn decals or build sheets, replace no parts, don’t even wire brush the rust.  Yikes, another “garage queen”, but one that looks and drives like a car that hasn’t been touched in 40 years; because that is exactly what it would be.

So, here I am, suspended somewhere between the frying pan and the fire.  But what the heck, that is exactly where I want to be.  If I want to mount new, softer shock absorbers, or a lifetime stainless steel exhaust, or clean and paint the engine compartment,  or mount tires that provide decent traction, I’m going to do it.  This driver is for getting my “Yeee Ha” on!

Provenance

Monday, May 10th, 2010
Vehicle build sheet

Vehicle build sheet

I discovered a fortunate historical footnote when I dropped the gas tank on the Vette.  A copy of the original build sheet was attached to the top side of the tank.  I felt a bit like an archaeologist breaking open an old Egyptain wine vessel and discovering an ancient papyrus.  GM used some darn good glue to attach the sheet to the tank; all my efforts to remove the sheet without destroying it were unsuccessful and I’m guessing the Smithsonian would laugh me out of the building if I took the tank to them and asked them to remove it.  Well, at least I have some clear pictures of the sheet, and the data certainly corresponds to equipment on the car.

Replacement of the entire fuel line is not going to happen.  GM cleverly routed a large part of the line inside of the boxed frame rail.  Great for off road excursions, but impossible to replace, short of a “body off” restoration.  Fortunately that line is in very good shape.  So, only the flexible lines and the fuel pump will be getting replaced.

Two questions for knowledgable readers:  Does anyone know of a trustworthy, within driving distance, cleaner/restorer of fuel tanks?  And can anyone recommend a powerful solvent that works well for cleaning “in place” fuel lines?

Toxic Waste

Thursday, May 6th, 2010
Gas Tank with the fabled ADAnderson stamp

Gas Tank with the fabled ADAnderson stamp

Thanks for all of those reminders folks.  I really have worked on the Vette, but have not stopped to blog.

A special thanks to Marty T.  He not only reminded me, he also showed up to share my beer and take away any excuse not to be in the garage working on the Vette.

The good news appears to be that the tank may be salvageable.  After dropping the spare tire and carrier, my first view of the bottom of the tank  revealed that its pretty clean; the ADAnderson logo (proving an original item) was even visible.  The inside of the tank is a different matter.  The inside of the gas cap had a strange white growth, reminiscent of something one might find in that plastic container at the back of a bachelor’s refrigerator.  And the syrupy liquid I extracted from the tank neither smelled or looked like gasoline.  Don’t think I’ll subject it to the flame test though.

Once I get the tank out I will need to decide whether to have it cleaned, or whether I will replace it.  It’s nice to have an option.  Got me thinking though about the rest of the fuel system, and given what I see in the tank, it might be smart to replace all of the lines.  The great thing about old Vettes is that all of this stuff is available.  Hope I don’t want to change my mind after I see the prices!

Finally; remember my raves about Never-Seez?  It definitely proved it’s worth on the exhaust system.  I had assembled it probably 20 years ago using Never-Seez and all of the bolts came off like they were brand new.  No hack saw needed.  I did saw thru one of the exhaust pipes to ease removal around the suspension and reminded myself how easy life has become with portable tools like a reciprocating saw.  Sure beats the old hand held hack saw.

Check out this original equipment spare.  Never touched the road.  And it was still fully inflated.

Check out this original equipment spare. Never touched the road. And it was still fully inflated.