C3 corvette body mount locations

C3 corvette body mount locations DEFAULT

Whether you are doing a frame off or partially restoring a Shark, the body mounts should be replaced. All rubber products degrade as they age, dry out, and crack. Moisture causes corrosion, eventually tearing the rubber apart as the body mount steel reinforcement sleeves grow larger. Deteriorated body mounts affect door alignment and will eventually this will cause stress cracks and deformed body panels.

Replacing body mounts is not fun, but with patience and finesse even stubborn corroded bolts can be loosened. Body mount bolts are corroded by a slurry of dirt and water. In the northern climates, salt makes removal even more difficult. It’s often a surprise to find Florida-based Shark, relocated beach cars, and displaced Canadian Corvettes with severe corrosion.

We are working on a Corvette that spent its early life in Canada. It doesn’t show many ill effects from the short time it was there, at least not until we decide to replace the body mounts.

Since the rear mounts exhibit torn rubber, we want to make sure the body panels aren’t under stress before painting the exterior. We can reposition the door hinges to make up for body mount sag if there is enough adjustment available. Of course, the door hinge pins wear and sag but the body pillar needs to be in the correct place for proper alignment.

Severe corrosion is confined to the driver’s side so we have no intentions of removing the body. We will be extra careful not to damage the frame mounted cage nuts during disassembly.

Once the bolts start breaking, there’s no turning back. It’s best to avoid breaking bolts, but if they’re breaking easily then the frame is probably in rough shape. Now’s the time to determine if body mount replacement is possible without total body removal. Look at all the body mounting pads on the frame for severe corrosion. If you find heavy scale and deep red rust streaming off the mounting pads, body removal may be necessary. Extensive frame repair may be necessary, requiring welding and fitting of many pieces.

To minimize damage, don’t attempt to finish this job in one weekend. Soak all body mount bolts for a week or more in PB Blaster or a similar product before attempting to remove the first bolt. Once the exterior pieces are out of the way, soak all bolts and nuts again. If you get all bolts loose in one weekend that’s a great start.

Our Corvette is slated for a complete paint job so we remove the front and rear bumpers first. Changing body mounts on Corvettes without removing the bumpers is difficult, but not impossible. Urethane bumpers have enough flex to allow raising the body enough to just get mounts in and out.

Fiberglass bumper retrofitted Sharks are a little tighter and can be damaged if the body is lifted high enough to get the mounts out. We usually remove the fiberglass rear bumper while leaving the front bumper in place. This allows just enough working room. We lift at the rear of the body on the C-channel to access the mounts.

Chrome bumper Sharks require rear bumper and bracket removal plus removal of the front bumper brackets from the frame bolts. The front bumper can stay in place as long as the brackets are not bolted to the frame. All Sharks require core support mounting bolt removal and steering column disconnection. The steering column can be disconnected at the coupler (rag joint). Be sure to watch the positioning of the coupler when the body is set back in place.

Record the amount of shims and their placement during removal for ease of reassembly. Once the new mounts are in place with new shims, most doors are back in alignment where they need to be. We check the shim placement if the doors don’t align, then adjust the number of shims accordingly at the number two post mount to raise or lower the front of the door. Once door position is established, the other mounting areas are raised or lowered for correct seam fit. It takes some practice to install shims correctly. Always have the car on level ground with the wheels loaded; never check door fit with the car on jack stands or a lift.

As you can see, the 35 year-old body mounts are cracked and dry rotted. Soak the body mount bolts for a few days at least…the longer, the better. We use PB Blaster to douse the bolts because it has capillary action which draws the penetrant into the bolt and nut threads.

The rear speaker or filler panels cover up the rear body mount caged nuts. In a perfect world, the speakers could stay in place, but the caged nuts always spin inside the cage. Plus, you need to apply the penetrant from the top to let it work into the threads.

This is what we found when we removed the speakers. From the look of the bolt threads, we won’t be unscrewing that bolt. We gave it a healthy dose of penetrant anyway. The nut has a cage like the rest of the body mount nuts, except this one is riveted to the fiberglass floor pan. A small amount of force is capable of ripping the cage loose. Plus, most of the cages are rotted badly so they tear apart. We usually can grab the nut during disassembly with a crescent wrench unless it’s badly seized.

The wheel well cover plate in the front of the rear tires must be removed. The body mount bolts sit in the recess and can be difficult to grasp. If the wrench slips, the fiberglass can be damaged. When the cover is replaced, be sure to apply strip caulk to seal the panel or the body mount bolt will begin corroding.

You must remove many goodies to access the body mounts. The lower valance panel screws were replaced with Allen head screws in place of Phillips. The lower valance screws were difficult to remove due to corrosion, so we applied PB Blaster to the threads by spraying between the valance panel and frame.

This is an important ground strap that should be removed to prevent stretching during mount replacement. The strap supplies a ground to the instrument cluster and interior compartment. Be sure to reinstall it with clean hardware. The opening between frame and lower valance will be covered with splash shields we removed earlier.

The core support bolts must be removed no matter the Shark year. In many cases, the core support brackets have shims. Make sure to record their position and reinstall them. The core support keeps fenders in position and must be shimmed high enough to keep a correct door-to-fender gap.

We are finally ready to remove the position two body mount bolt from the kick panel area. This is the passenger side position two-bolt and it came out easily using the air impact wrench. Impact wrenches can be very helpful because of their hammering action as long as you slowly apply force; don’t start by holding the trigger wide open. The slow hammering action loosens the corrosion from the threads.

There is no particular sequence to bolt removal; however, we usually do interior bolts first so we don’t have to open the doors once we have supported the body for mount replacement. This is the number three body mount bolt on the passenger side, which also came out easily. When you have the socket on the body mount bolt, apply steady pressure before putting a lot of force on the ratchet. If the bolt has slack before a high load is applied, the caged nuts may slip.

Now we move to the driver’s side. The number one body mount nut and bolt will not loosen no matter how long we soak it. This is a precursor of more difficult things to become. Applying heat with an acetylene torch isn’t my favorite way to get things loose but it’s effective. We apply heat to the nut (no bolts were harmed in this photo). Beware torch placement! There is a fuel vapor canister above the frame rail near the mount, which is just one of many pieces that could cause big trouble if direct flame touches them.

The number three body mount bolt is seized to the caged nut, causing it to spin in the cage. We modify a piece of steel then force it into the frame mount and caged nut to securely grab the nut. It works and we are able to remove the bolt with careful, smooth applications of force on the ratchet wrench.

This is our very effective caveman-style wedge made from a piece of 5/8” rebar approximately 14 inches long with two flat ends ground at the tip. The cages used on the frame mounts are heavy gauge steel so the wedge must be stout enough to apply great force.

After sitting for days, the number four body mount bolt cannot be removed, even after applying moderate heat to the nut. We don’t want to bring the acetylene torch in the car so we opt to cut the bolt with a sawzall. Peculiarly, every bolt on the driver’s side was difficult to remove while the passenger side bolts came out with minimal effort. Was it due to the early years spent in Canadian winters?

Once we have our number four-bolt cut out, heat is applied to the caged square nut so the remaining bolt can be twisted out. We clean the threads with a 7/ thread tap and reuse the nut.

With the Corvette on a lift, we install the new mount. The body is evenly raised by a screw jack placed on the C-channel near the rear of the channel. Be sure the body is secure before putting your hands in harm’s way.

The supplied bolts are ready to go in. We coat all the body mount hardware and sleeves with zinc-chromate primer to prevent corrosion, at least for a few years. We also coat the new rubber mounts with silicone inside and out to keep them from drying out prematurely. This is not “factory correct” but why allow corrosion to start when we can control it now?

Here is a trick we found that works well. Once the body mounts are in place, we tap all threads in the frame’s caged nuts. We tape the 12 point socket to the tap to keep from dropping it into the frame, and use our ¼” air ratchet to run the tap in and out. Go slow and back the tap out frequently or you may break the tap off in the caged nut. The only way to proceed then is to raise the body enough to access the tap and remove it.

Once all the body mounts are in place, a ½” diameter bar is placed in the frame rail through the hole in the C-channel on each side of the body. When the line-up bar goes straight through both holes, the body is aligned to the frame.


Story and photos courtesy Chris Petris

Sours: https://tech.corvettecentral.com//01/shark-body-mount-installation/

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Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide

The rebuilding of your Corvette’s critical components has been a long process. After the body was repaired, painted, and sprayed with clear coat, the new paint was wet sanded and buffed with compound. The entire interior was cleaned and refitted with its new interior. Once the work was finished the completed body was stored in a safe, low-traffic area. You properly supported the body to avoid putting any unnecessary stress on it and cracking any of its fiberglass body panels. You left the completed and painted body on a dolly because that provides the most secure support.

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You are now ready to place the body onto the refurbished frame.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 1

Once the body has been painted and the trim has been reinstalled, it is time to reunite it with your restored frame. Be very careful when you mount the body on a lift and make sure you leave plenty of room to lower it onto the frame rails. Be patient as you are getting close to completing your project.


Power Brake Booster Installation

The power brake booster is mounted onto the firewall on Corvettes equipped with this option. Four nuts hold the booster in place and the master cylinder is attached to the front of the booster.


Master Cylinder Installation

Bench bleed the master cylinder before installing it to the firewall. First clamp the cylinder to a vise by using one of the two ears that are used to attach the unit to the firewall. Then remove the cover and fill it with clean brake fluid. Work the pushrod back and forth to force air from the outlets. Be careful not to damage the piston during this operation.

Remove all of the air before installing it into the car; using vacuum is the most effective way to do this. You can buy a master cylinder bleeder tool at your local auto parts store. With your tool in hand remove about 2 tablespoons of brake fluid from one of the discharge ports. Be sure to keep the reservoir full during this operation. When you are finished, seal off the ports with a cap or bolt to keep dirt out and fluid in during installation.

Mount the master cylinder onto the brake booster. If you do not have power brakes attach the master cylinder directly to the firewall.

The master cylinder is operated when the brake pedal is pushed. Force is transferred via a pushrod to the master cylinder piston, which moves forward. This force is applied to the primary piston spring, which moves a secondary piston forward at the same time. When these pistons move forward they cover the bypass holes and hydraulic pressure builds up actuating the pistons in the brake calipers. When the brakes are released the piston return springs force the fluid back through the brake lines into the master cylinder. At the end of the brake release excess brake fluid is returned to the reservoir through the bypass ports inside the master cylinder.

Steel lines connect the brass block to both sides of the master cylinder. A distribution block is not a proportioning valve; its function is to distribute the master cylinder fluid to all four wheels. It also measures line pressure difference under braking conditions to two separate braking systems. A warning light is connected to the block that illuminates a warning lamp on the dash if one of the braking systems fails.


Body and Frame Preparation

The frame has now been completely repaired and is free of damage and rust. The powdercoat finish will keep it this way for many miles. The suspension, brakes, and driveline components have all received attention and have been refurbished or replaced. All of the brake and fuel lines are new. With proper care, such as yearly flushing, they should provide excellent service. The gas tank and steering system have been installed, which completes the frame preparation process.

The frame is now ready for its Corvette body. This is where the industrial steel casters that were installed onto the dolly pay off. They rotate degrees and make moving the body a breeze.

If you don’t have a lift, it is time to get some friends to help maneuver the body. One person at each corner of the car should have enough muscle power to lift the body and guide it into the correct position on the frame.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 2

Work on the body, engine, frame, suspension, and paint on this Corvette has been completed. While the frame was being restored, the body was repaired, sanded, and given a new paint job. After the trim and interior were reinstalled the body was stored on a floor dolly. Great care was taken to support the long nose to avoid putting it under stress.

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 3

The frame measurements Were checked to make sure it meets factory specifications. All rust and road damage was fixed. After the frame was powder coated, new or refurbished suspension components were installed. The frame received all new brake and fuel lines. The front and rear suspensions were completely refurbished. The original engine and automatic transmission on this car were in excellent mechanical condition. Both were returned to the frame without any service. The gas tank was inspected and no rust or damage was found so it was reinstalled. The completed unit is now ready to accept the body installation. It will be removed from the lift area and set aside until the body is in place and secured onto the lift.


As I mentioned, both the coupe and convertible bodies are fitted with a steel frame called the birdcage. The fiberglass body panels are attached to this frame. The coupe is more rigid because a steel hoop is installed behind the passenger compartment that is secured to the windshield frame with a center steel support. This support is used to attach the twin roof panels.

Convertibles do not have this feature and great care must be taken when lifting these bodies. Having the doors installed on a convertible does provide some additional body support, but it’s best to take extra care.

At Van Steel the body was rolled into the lift area to begin the reassembly of the body to the frame. We used a four-point lift to complete this procedure. The four pads on the lift provide enough support to the birdcage to safely raise the body high enough to roll the frame under it.

It’s very important to position the lift pads on the very outside edges of the birdcage because there must be enough room for the frame rails to fit when the body is lowered onto the frame. Once the body is firmly resting on the lift pads, slowly lift it off its dolly. At this time, closely inspect the body to make sure it is sitting securely on the lift. If it is not secure, lower it back onto the dolly and reposition the lift pads until you are satisfied that it is secure.

After the dolly has been removed, roll the completed frame under the body. Double-check to make sure it is lined up correctly as you do not want to damage the newly painted fiberglass during the lowering procedure. Once the frame is in its correct position, place the body mount doughnuts into their correct location onto the frame.


Step Move Body into Assembly Area

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 1The steel casters that support the car are very maneuverable. It is always good to have friends on alert during your restoration process because you may need some help from time to time. Make sure the body is properly positioned and equally balanced on the dolly. Carefully and cautiously move the body across the shop floor on the dolly; everyone needs to work as a team. Be sure that the body does not slip off the dolly because you would not want to damage the body and crack the body work or the paint surface. Use extreme caution when using this method because of safety concerns.


Step Locate Lift Arms

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 2If using a lift, place the four lift arms onto the steel birdcage that surround the body. This birdcage is strong enough to support the body as long as the lift arms are placed correctly. It is important to lift the body evenly to eliminate any stress to the body panels during this procedure.


Step Position Body Over Chassis

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 3The bottom of the Corvette’s steel birdcage is under a lower panel that is usually covered with a trim piece or side pipes. This panel must be removed prior to lifting the body back onto the frame. Notice how close to the edge of the birdcage the lifting pads are placed. This was done to leave enough room to allow the body to be lowered onto the frame. If the pads are moved too far inward they hit the frame and have to be repositioned.



Step Check Body Position

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 4Make a final check to ensure that the body does not shift when it is lifted and to leave enough room to roll the frame under it. Once you are satisfied, roll the completed chassis into place beneath the body.




Body Installation

Confirm the body is securely sitting on the lift pads and then slowly raise the body high enough to clear the frame. Position the frame under the body and make sure all of the wires are out of the way. If a wire gets snagged, reassembly becomes more troublesome as you try to locate the broken connection. Make sure the body-mount doughnuts are still in the correct location. After this has been rechecked and everything is in order you can start lowering the body onto the frame.


Step Identify Body Mounts

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 1This diagram explains where each individual C3 body mount is fitted on all coupes. (Convertibles have an additional connection between mount No. 2 and No. 3 that is indicated by View A on the drawing.) Pay close attention to how the doughnuts and shims are located as each one is slightly different. The correct torque specifications are also indicated here. (Photo Courtesy Van Steel)


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 01This – Van Steel body mount kit includes all necessary parts and instructions to safely secure the body to the frame. Van Steel also offers a – body mount kit.






Step Connect Electrical Wires

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 2It is very important to follow the GM body diagram when placing the mounts into their correct location on the frame. Some have their washers on the top while others do not. It all depends on the location. All of them must be installed onto the frame correctly prior to lowering the body. This body mount is fitted to the driver-side front bracket located under the front door. The attachment bolt is installed inside the body foot well where it is secured to the frame bracket after the body is lowered onto the frame. During the lowering process it is a good idea to routinely check to make sure that these doughnuts have not shifted. If they do, raise the body and reset the doughnuts. The left center body mount is identical to the one that is located in front of the door. If you have a convertible you need to install one additional doughnut on the frame. This one is located under the center of the door between mounts #2 and #3. Review Step No. 1 on page


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 02When the frame is in the correct location, lower the body slowly onto the frame. Only lift the body high enough to clear the highest obstacle on the frame to minimize the risk of the body falling off the lift pads.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide As the body is being lowered onto the frame pay particular attention to the clearance in the engine compartment. The engine compartment on this generation Corvette is a very tight fit and any contact with an inner fender or firewall could cause extensive damage. Make sure no wires are hanging or have gotten caught on something that might rip or tear them from their mountings. We used a long-handle broom to snag the transmission shift cable that was laying underneath the car. We wanted to make sure it was on the driver’s side of the transmission as the body was lowered onto the frame. Failure to do this can crush or bend the cable so it is unusable. Do not be in a rush to complete this step. It is a good idea to lower the body a few inches and then stop to make sure the wiring and mechanical parts are clear.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide Make room in the tight engine compartment by removing the air cleaner assembly. If you do, make sure the air intake on the carburetor is sealed so no stray part falls into it. This would be costly and time consuming to fix.


Connect the Steering

As the body is lowered onto the frame, pay particular attention to installing the steering column flexible coupling onto the steering gear. When the steering column reaches the steering gear, stop the drop while you line up each end of the steering column and the steering gear.

The shaft on the steering gear has a fl at flange on one side. It must be lined up to the flange inside the flexible coupling on the steering column. Work the two flanges back and forth until they are matched. Use a small hammer to gently tap the steering gear flange onto the steering gear shaft. When both units are coupled correctly tighten the bolts and resume lowering the body onto the frame.


Step Align Steering Collar to Spline

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 01Line up the steering column collar so it can be attached to the steering box spline. In addition position the brake lines to be installed onto the master cylinder.





Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 1It helps to have two people working on this task. One can turn the steering wheel while the other lines up the steering box with the steering column. These two parts need to be matched up as the body is being lowered onto the frame. The steering box spline has a fl at spot that helps it line up with the steering column collar.




Step Seat Column on Spline

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 2Once everything is lined up correctly, lightly tap on the steering column to seat it on the steering box spline. Make sure the fl at spot on the steering box spline is lined up correctly with the steering box collar before tightening the four bolts. These are point 7/inch bolts that require the use of a point socket to tighten them. Turn them until they stop. You want them tight, but be careful to not snap the heads off the bolts.


Install the Headlight Doors

Every C3 Corvette utilizes vacuum-operated headlight doors that retract into the nose when they are not in use. The engine provides pressure to the actuators. A manual override system is located underneath the steering column and the doors can be kept in the open position at the driver’s command. The vacuum system requires many lengthy rubber hoses to operate and a cracked or broken hose or connector can cause a vacuum leak in the engine.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 8

This exploded view diagram shows the headlight actuator system. (Photo Courtesy Lonestar Caliper Co.)


Aftermarket Corvette suppliers, such as Lonestar Caliper Company, sell replacement headlight door parts.


Remove the Front Bumper Cover

If the bumper cover was installed onto your – car after it was painted to prevent it from wrinkling, remove it now. You need this extra working room to install the front bumper assembly that is hidden by this outside cover.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 9

If your car is a – model, remove the front rubber bumper cover and then remove the bumper bar that is secured to the sub frame. If you have painted the Corvette, leave the bumper covers off until the body has been attached to the frame. This bumper cover was left in place during storage so it would not distort. But now is a good time to remove it. Put the front bumper cover in a safe location until it is time to reinstall it. Keep this part away from any excessive heat because it might warp, making it difficult to reinstall.


This step is not necessary for – Corvettes as they are equipped with a small bolt-on chrome bumper that can be installed easily.


Align Frame to Body

The frame and body have holes that are located near body mount #2 (see step 1 on page ). To aid alignment place a rod through the hole in the lower door jamb and into the hole in the frame. This procedure keeps the body and frame in their correct front and rear locations. It also helps prevent any mechanical components from hitting various parts on the body as it is lowered onto the frame.

Once the body is on the frame measure the gap between the body and the frame. Both front and rear measurements should be the same on both sides of the car. You can shift the body by gently pushing on it until all of the measurements are the same.


Step Lower Body onto Frame

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 1Once the front bumper is removed, finish lowering the body onto the frame. Make sure that none of the rubber doughnuts have shifted out of place. If they have, slightly raise the body, readjust them, and lower the body back onto the frame.




Step Align Body and Frame

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 02Every frame has an alignment hole located behind mount #2 (see illustration on page ). Its purpose is to line up the body, front to the back. (It also enables the fan and gas tank to align correctly during the body installation.) When these holes cleanly align, the body is properly aligned. Insert a socket extension into the hole to move the body forward and back or left and right depending on the adjustment required.




Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 2Measure the body/frame gap behind each wheel on both sides of the car. This helps verify that the body is square on the frame. The right and left sides should have the same measurements. They do not have to be precise but they should be very close.



Front Bumper Installation

As federal crash standards became progressively more stringent during the s, Corvette engineers had to make the 5-mph crash bumper stronger. The – models are the lightest, while later models are stronger because they are fitted with more material.

The front bumper plays a vital role in securing the fiberglass nose to the frame. A metal support on the bumper is bolted to the nose on the underside of the body. This part of the front body is very heavy because it supports the weight of the headlights. The bumper brace helps to prevent cracks in the fiberglass. You might be tempted to omit this heavy metal part, but that is not recommended for street use as it does provide effective front-end protection in case of an accident.


Step Assemble Crash Bumper

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 1Corvettes built from to have some form of crash bumper attached to the front frame rails ahead of the engine and suspension. The bumper is concealed under a rubber cover. This Corvette uses a rubber egg crate material that serves as an energy absorption barrier in case of a sudden impact. It is attached to a steel frame with four bolts. Use a 5/8-inch socket to tighten and torque them to 60 ft-lbs. This unit bolts directly to the front of the frame to provide maximum strength. The center of the fiberglass nose is secured to the large black piece of metal in the center of the front bumper. Do not forget this bolt because the front overhang on these Corvettes is very long and breaks quickly if it is not attached to the bumper.


Step Position Front Bumper

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 2The bumper is an awkward component to install. It might be helpful to have a third person available to install the frame bolts while two people hold the bumper in place.






Step Attach Front Bumper Brackets

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide Secure the bumper brackets to the frame with six bolts; use a 3/4-inch socket to attach them.






Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 03Here, two of the three 3/4-inch bolts and nuts per side are installed into the front frame rail. The missing third bolt will be inserted into the round black hole. Each one should be torqued to 75 ft-lbs.





Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 3One bolt attaches to the front bumper bracket from beneath the nose of the car. Be sure to include the rubber doughnut on top and a washer under the bolt. This bolt is very important to install because it prevents the nose from shifting or sagging. Use a 5/8-inch socket to secure to the body and torque it to 60 ft-lbs.



Secure the Body

When the body is resting on the frame and you have confirmed that the alignment is correct, insert the body bolts. (See step 1 on page for the correct placements and torque specifications.) Before tightening them, it is a good idea to insert each one and turn it several times into the nut to make sure it lines up correctly. Once all bolts are started, tighten them beginning with No. 1 and moving toward the rear on each side of the car until they are all secured.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 10

This is what the passenger-side rear No. 3 mount bolt looks like prior to being tightened into the frame (see step 1 on page ). Torque each bolt to 45 ft-lbs.

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 11

This body mount bolt can be reached through the removable panel inside the rear fenderwell. The mount should be torqued to 45 ft-lbs, which is enough to secure the body to the frame. This spec helps reduce body fl ex and minimize frame-to-body squeaks. All 8 coupe bolts (10 for convertibles) should be secured the same way.

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 12

A good time to check your notes is when you are filling fluids and hooking up vital components. Before proceeding check and double-check each item on your startup list, such as fluids and correct hose hookups.


Fluid Level Check

You want to add the right fluid/ oils to the radiator, power steering, engine, brakes, automatic or manual transmission, differential, etc. Make sure these are all filled to factory specifications before you attempt to start your engine. This is also a good time to revisit your checklist to verify that all hose attachments and electrical fittings are connected correctly.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 13

Start adding necessary fluids, such as coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid. This is also a good time to check the engine oil level to make sure none drained out during storage.


Brake Bleeding

The most common method to bleed your brakes is gravity (manual) bleeding. It is simple and effective but it requires two people.

The other method is pressure (or pedal) bleeding. This requires using diaphragm-type, mechanical pressure bleeding equipment that is usually found in repair shops.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 14

This exhaust features a catalytic converter for emissions control. The long tube is attached to the air pump in the engine compartment that blows air into the converter to make it more efficient. It’s a very restrictive system, but many states have emissions inspections and this equipment must be installed to pass the test. The exhaust is connected to the two front headers on the engine. The rear pipe is connected to a pipe that is routed to both mufflers.

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 15

Start the brake bleeding process by removing the brake master cylinder cover. Raise the car into the air and remove the wheels. Keep the fluid topped off during the procedure


All – Corvette are fitted with four-piston brake calipers that have bleeder valves on each side of the rear and one on the front caliper. Always be sure to use the correct brake fluid and never let the master cylinder run out of fluid or you will have to start the process all over again. When the system is finished bleeding, the pedal should be firm and not drop when you push it down.


Exhaust System Installation

All – Corvettes came from the factory with true dual exhausts. Each side of the engine had its own dedicated exhaust system that feeds into two large mufflers underneath the bumpers. Only Corvettes were available with the optional factory side-mounted exhaust system (N14) that exited under each door. Each of these pipes had a built-in muffler to help reduce the exhaust noise. You will know if sidepipes are installed on any other year except a ; they are not factory original. However, these pipes are very popular with C3 owners and a lot of cars have them installed. If the noise doesn’t bother you and your car is not being judged at an NCRS meet, enjoy them!

Corvettes built from to have two pipes that feed into one catalytic converter under the passenger compartment and then split back into two pipes that lead to the mufflers. These cars are equipped with an air pump that feeds air into the converter to help emissions. If you live in a state with emissions inspections, this system is necessary to pass the annual test.


Vacuum Line Connections

It is very important to carefully inspect every vacuum line that exits the engine. These lines should be soft and flexible when squeezed. If they are hard and brittle, they are old and prone to fail, so you need to replace them.

The basic system is fairly simple to troubleshoot. It uses vacuum from the engine to open and close the headlight doors. If your car is a to this system also operates the hideaway windshield wiper door.

Both doors actually have two subsystems: control and operating. After your car is reassembled and these systems do not work, troubleshoot each one separately. The control system opens and closes the headlight and windshield wiper door. The wiper door system (which was eliminated starting in ) contains the wiper door safety switch that is between the override and the wiper actuator relay. This relay prevents the door from closing until the wiper blades are in their parked position.


Wiper Doors

The wiper door system is very similar to headlight door operation. The main difference is that the headlight door system has two actuator relays and actuators compared to one for the wiper door. The other difference is that the headlight system does not need a safety switch to protect another system in case of failure.

Operation of the wiper system begins at the vacuum source, which is located on the intake manifold. The line goes through a filter and a check valve, then out of the lower fitting on the valve to the windshield wiper switch that is in the off position. When the wiper door is opened, vacuum is not allowed to reach the wiper actuator relay valve without vacuum present. A spring in the actuator valve pushes a diaphragm to open the wiper door. In effect all it is doing is routing the vacuum from the intake manifold to the actuators (vacuum motors) to open and close the doors.

If you have a vacuum leak that does not allow you to open your headlights or operate the wiper door your engine is probably running rough. You will have to find the leak and repair it.



This system consists of vacuum hoses, vacuum hose filter, one-way check valve, headlight switch, manual override switch under the steering wheel, vacuum accumulator (storage tank), relays, and two actuators (vacuum motors). You need a vacuum gauge to troubleshoot the system.

Disconnect the headlight/wiper door vacuum line where it connects to the intake manifold with the engine running. Connect a vacuum gauge directly to the manifold outlet. The engine should produce 18 to 20 inches of mercury according to the gauge. If you discover a 2- to 3-inch drop anywhere in the system, you have a leaking hose. If your car has a high-performance cam with excessive valve overlap, your vacuum reading is much lower; as a result the headlights slowly open if they are working correctly.

If your lights or wiper door is not opening, isolate the system to find the leak. If you have both wiper and headlight systems unhook the wiper door circuit and plug it with a golf tee or something similar. If it is too hard to reach, lower the panel under your steering column and plug the wiper override hose by disconnecting it from the switch.

Be sure to check the amount of vacuum coming into and out of this switch before proceeding. Make sure there is only one path back to the source of the vacuum (intake manifold) when testing an individual line.

If a reading is within 2 to 3 inches, that particular vacuum line is fine. If there is a significant drop, troubleshoot that line to find the leak. If all the vacuum lines are close to specifications and the doors are staying open, it indicates that a diaphragm has a hole in it and is leaking.

The actuators have a springloaded diaphragm inside and operate with vacuum. If the actuator is not getting vacuum, that relay stays in the up position at all times. A C3 Corvette with one light up and the other one down has a leaking diaphragm.


Reservoir and Actuators

The reservoir is easy to test. Remove both of the lines that go to the actuators. Plug one of the outlets where you just removed the lines and put your vacuum gauge on the other side and check the reading. If it is below the normal operational range, the reservoir is leaking.

On all – Corvettes the vacuum reservoir is in the round cross member underneath the headlights. This cross member has three fittings: one on the driver’s side and two in the center to provide vacuum to the headlight relays.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 16

The included many of the power-operated features that were first installed onto the Mako Shark GM show car. This was the first car equipped with vacuumoperated headlights and wiper doors. Be prepared to replace these hoses because they cause rough idle and poorly operating equipment. (Drawing Courtesy Zip Products)

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 17

Here is the early system. (Drawing Courtesy Zip Products)

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 18

This is the late system, which used a different kind of actuator for the windshield wiper door. (Drawing Courtesy Zip Products)

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 19

The vacuum system stayed unchanged from to (Drawing Courtesy Zip Products)

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 20

A new hood design eliminated the need for a windshield wiper door in , much to the relief of Corvette mechanics and owners. The doors were prone to not opening on time and snagging the windshield wiper arms and burning out the motor. I always used the manual override that was located below the steering wheel to leave the door open if I saw any hint of rain. I never replaced a motor. This Corvette vacuum system remained unchanged from to (Drawing Courtesy Zip Products)

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 21

The simplest vacuum system installed on a C3 Corvette was used from to The engineers used a large fruit can to serve as a vacuum can to operate the lights and it proved to be pretty trouble free. (Drawing Courtesy Zip Products)


If the reservoir is within specification, check the two headlight actuators. Test them the same way you checked the rest of the system until the part that failed is located.


Air Conditioning System

If your car is equipped with air conditioning and no seals were broken during disassembly, return the compressor to its bracket on the engine. Take the system to a shop that specializes in air-conditioning services and repairs if you are not familiar with it.

Most of the parts are available from Corvette aftermarket supply houses. Many auto parts stores stock rebuilt compressors at a reduced price. You can even buy duplicate factory stickers to paste onto rebuilt compressors.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 22

This Corvette air conditioning system has been converted from R to R to comply with new environmental regulations.


C3 Corvettes were produced with two types of air conditioning systems. The original A6 compressor was an axial-flow unit that used R freon for refrigerant. R was banned due to environmental concerns and was replaced with R refrigerant.

Later C3 Corvettes began using a rotary A/C compressor that was lighter and more efficient but still used R as refrigerant. If the system was left intact when the car was dismantled, it can be quickly reinstalled onto the engine.

However, if the system was removed and has been open to the atmosphere for an extended time, a number of parts must be replaced before it is recharged. Some of these parts include the drier/accumulator, expansion valve, condenser, and maybe even the compressor. Older C3 Corvette A/C systems must be converted to use the new R refrigerant.


Odds and Ends

Now it is time to connect the battery and turn on the electrical system. It is a good idea to test anything that is powered by electricity by turning it on. This includes dash lights, interior lights, headlights, taillights, and radio. You need to make sure your tunes work.

Look closely at all hoses to make sure they are tight and all fluids are filled to factory specifications. Leave the hood off until you have run the engine for a while so you can check for leaks or loose connections.

Add some gasoline and turn the engine over a few times to make sure no gas is leaking anywhere.

The only remaining items to be installed are the rear bumper, hood, and the trim rings on the wheels.


T-Top Adjustments

C3 Corvette coupes were fitted with two removable T-tops. They were designed to be stored behind the seats or on an optional luggage rack. From to only fiberglass roof panels were available. In new laminated glass roof panels were introduced (option code CC1) and became a popular addition.

The – T-tops had dual pull-down latches to hold them in place. One latch was located at the front of the top and one was at the rear. Two pins were inserted into the T-bar and the outside latches secured the tops to the birdcage. In the rear latch was eliminated and replaced with a movable pin that was part of the standard anti theft alarm system.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 23

Now it is time to reconnect the various wiring harnesses marked during disassembly with stickers or tape. By matching the numbers or writing on each side of the wiring harness the reconnection process should go very smoothly. Check each connector carefully to make sure none are missed during reassembly. Each connector plays a vital role in the smooth operation of your Corvette. Check and double-check this part of the installation.

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 24

Carefully check all of the various hoses to make sure they are not leaking before the engine is started.

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 25

With the hood off, start the engine and recheck all the hose connections. Leave the engine running for a few minutes to make sure nothing is leaking. Check all lights and accessories to be sure they operate normally.

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 26

The rear suspension on this Corvette has been completely refurbished. Some of the new parts include brakes, trailing arms, spring, universal joints, brake lines, strut rods, differential, and halfshafts.

Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 27

The back bumper has been reattached and adjusted to minimize the seam between the body and the bumper. The trim has been mounted on the wheels and the hood is the only remaining part that needs to be installed to complete this body/frame procedure. All of the mechanical and electrical checks were passed and after the hood is installed this Corvette will be road tested.


The roof panel gap (down the center of the T-bar) should be no more than 1/2 inch wide. The tops should sit 1/16 to 1/8 inch from the roof behind the seats. Loosen the retaining bolts and move both tops until you get the correct measurements. Tighten the attaching points with the roof in place.

The glass roofs are designed to sit 1/8 inch higher than the rear roof. They should not be adjusted lower than this as they might break from stress.

Use an 8 x inch sheet of paper to determine if your tops are fitting snugly onto their gaskets. Put the paper on the gasket and install the roof. If the paper slides out easily from between the two, the top needs adjustment. Repeat this process until the paper cannot easily be pulled out.


Road Test

Art Dorsett’s completed Corvette was given a minute road test to check its brakes and fluid levels, and to verify that the transmission shifts correctly. The engine temperatures and oil pressure were all normal. This car passed the road test successfully and it was sent to the alignment shop to receive a fourwheel alignment.


Final Cleaning

You are joining a unique club as a Corvette owner. The majority of owners take pride in how their car looks, and it is not unusual to see them cleaning their cars on a Saturday afternoon. Detailing your Corvette can be a very complex task, starting with deciding which products to use. There are a large number of brands being sold over the counter, and each one claims that it is the best on the market. The final decision on the best one to pick rests on you. Talk to your friends and other Corvette owners to get their opinion on the best products. Today simple waxes have expanded to glazes, cleaners, polishes, sealers, etc.


Body Installation: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide 28

The hood has been installed and the Corvette has passed its road test successfully. The completed car was sent to the alignment shop to have its suspension set to factory specifications. It is now ready to do what it was designed to do: put a smile on the owner’s face.


Written by Walt Thurn and Posted with Permission of CarTechBooks


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Filed Under: C3 Corvette Restoration Guide, Chevy Tech Tips

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C3 Corvette Project - Part 3
Not sure how much this will help, but I recently completed the body off resto on my 76 and my body mounts were darn near rotted away (although frame was in good shape).  There was little evidence of the shims left.  I had to repair all of the flanges by welding on big washers and some judicious grinding so the shim fit up would have been a problem anyway (even if I had known how many I needed).

I took a lot of careful measurements on height to take my best educated guess at the number of shims I needed and hoped it would be close.  That may have not been all that helpful as when I finally lowered the body back on - got the front and back bolted onto the frame - and installed all 8 mounts (torqued to spec), I was about 1/4 inch lower to the floor on the drivers side vs. the passenger.  

All the doors seemed to shut nicely and I sure did not want to lift the body back off, so I just loosened all the mounts and front and rear frame bolts and then jacked up the drivers side of the body carefully (with bottle jacks spread out near the #2 and #3 mount positions).  I fit one or two more shims into all the mounts on that side which seemed like the maximum I could fit, then lowered it back down and re-torqued all the mounts and front and rear bolts.  When I remeasured heights on each side, it was still slightly low on the drivers side, but much better so I called it good.  The front spring might be sagged a bit lower anyway since usually the car only has a driver in it.  I should have measured the frame to floor height to get a feel for that issue, but don't think I did at that time.

If you want to know exactly how many shims I used at each mount, I have that information somewhere (probably would be meaningless for you though).  

BTW - I went with poly mounts as I never wanted to do this again.  They give the car a really solid feel (more so than with rubber), but the car was never very soft in the butt area anyway. LOL

Hope that is somewhat helpful.

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Body locations mount corvette c3

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1979 corvette Part 1 body mount change with body on

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