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The 1989 Corvette convertible restoration thread | Gatorchatter

The 1989 Corvette convertible restoration thread

Discussion in 'Home, Auto, and Computer Tech' started by oxrageous, Apr 24, 2015.

  1. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    ***OFFSEASON SPECIAL!*** In the sports forum for a limited time! Enjoy!


    For those few twerps who don't know, I recently bought a 1989 Corvette convertible that needed a pretty good amount of TLC. That was pretty much the point - I wanted something I could fiddle around with in my garage. So I'll be keeping the few people interested apprised of the ongoing progress of this beast.

    It has modern 18" Corvette rims on it and was repainted at some point over the last few years.

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  2. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    First off, the car needs some mechanical work. It misses a bit, like it's running short of a cylinder, and also blows some white smoke from time to time. It needs a good tune-up (spark plugs, wires) and the smoking is probably caused by bad valve stem seals. These will tackled a bit later, with help from a local mechanic.

    The first thing is to take on the interior, which is sun faded to pink and about as filthy as you can possibly imagine. The 80's-tastic digital gauges are all dead in the water, which is common on these cars. The power supply shorts out and the sun fades the lenses out. Hence, I had no speedometer, tachometer, temperature gauge, etc. That won't do at all. The first thing I did was remove these gauges and send them off to someone who will return to me a refurbished unit. I'll have a refurbished unit back next week.

    By the way, we're going from a red to a black conversion.

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  3. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    It was time to start taking the dash apart. In order to save as much money as possible, I'll be refurbishing every piece of plastic possible instead of buying new pieces. The disgusting sun visors came off first....they aren't salvageable. The dashboard comes off, and incredibly has no cracks. The plastic around the gauges, around the radio/HVAC, and the console around the shifter all come off and can be salvaged.

    Here are two dash pieces after scrubbing, sanding, and painting with multiple coats:

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    I had to clean the dash pad with lacquer thinner to get some old glue off that probably held a radar detector a quarter of a century ago. I couple of coats of vinyl and fabric paint make the sucker look brand spankin' new:

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  4. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    The center console surround needed more work. The glass sliver that shows the shift pattern was in shambles. Upon taking it apart, the metal beneath the glass was faded and rusty. A little sanding, priming, and painting did the trick there. The original leather shifter boot was trashed, so I've ordered a replacement. The plastic surround was pretty scratched up, so it needed a lot of sanding to get most of them out.

    Here is the piece before I did any work to it:

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    Here are the pieces that came off of it, in trashed condition:

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    Here it is cleaned up:

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    By the way, underneath this console are many more "treats". Rusty change, toothpicks, business cards, hair clips, etc. Ewwww.

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  5. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    The DIC/warning light unit was pulled out of the dash. It was filthy, with dirt stuffed into every crack. The metal surround was faded and rusty. The surround was removed, sanded, primed, and painted. The rest of the unit was cleaned up with q-tips and put back together.

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  6. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    It's time to start diving deeper into the passenger side. First, the extremely dirty, faded seat cushions come off the seat frame (they will be tossed). Underneath is a pile of dirt, leaves, and crap. Yuck.

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    The seat frame itself is then removed, vacuumed and cleaned out, and repainted.

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  7. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    The power seat mechanism under the seat frame is also removed from the floor board. The plastic piece to the left of the passenger seat along the transmission tunnel is removed and the old carpet peeled off it (it's glued). Since we're going from a red to a black conversion, I painted the exposed part of this trim black:

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    The plastic piece that makes up the center console and tray for the power seat buttons is the next thing that has to come out. It's absolutely disgusting. The power seat buttons are removed, and the power window and mirror switches have to come off:

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    Here's the piece after being cleaned up in the sink:

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    So here's where we are at the moment:

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  8. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    The radio and HVAC unit are also now out:

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  9. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    Pulled the carpet out of the rest of the passenger area. I should have been wearing a Hazmat suit. Also threw away a bunch of wiring under the seat that went to nowhere. Must have been a heck of an aftermarket stereo in it at some point, probably when I was in high school (91-94). Little damp there in the footwell, probably from the top leaking. Everything dried up fine and there's no rust.

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    New carpet (black) has arrived!

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  10. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    Time to remove the seat belt materials on the passenger side. Had to make a trip to Advance Auto to pick up a torx bit that big. Got everything off. Of course, gotta go from red to black! This thing was covered with some kind of sticky black substance. Lacquer thinner made quick work of it, and three coats of paint made it look new.

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  11. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    I don't think I'll have to replace too much, just some odds and ends. To answer your earlier question, I'll be getting new foam inserts with black leather which will snap right into the seat frames.

    The carpet replacement is going to be a major job.
     
  12. VulcanAlex

    VulcanAlex Senior Vulcan Cowboy

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    Great work and a different talent as well. Keep us informed.
     
  13. NavetG8r

    NavetG8r Stupid
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    I've always loved old cars but lacked the knowledge or drive to restore one myself so I'll enjoy watching your progress. If I understand correctly you're changing the interior to black but leaving the exterior red? People will make UGA jokes I'm sure and yeah of course I hate UGA, but to be completely honest I've always loved how red and black look together so I like your decision there.

    Good stuff Ox, thanks for sharing this with us.
     
  14. Swamp Donkey

    Swamp Donkey #mcelnussonabus imurgandfranksbitch
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    Seems like a black interior would be hot. I remember having a dark gray interior in a Del Sol Civic and it got brutally hot in the Florida sun.
     
  15. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    Black interior is hot, but the car will be garaged and will only be taken out during winter days or summer evenings.
     
  16. itsgr82bag8r

    itsgr82bag8r Political Forum Fire Starter
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    Nice start. You're almost motivating me to hunt down & restore a TR-7.... almost. This will be fun to watch.
     
  17. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    Busy day, and it's about 2,000 degrees in the garage. First, here's the transformation of the seat belt unit on the passenger side:

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  18. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    The faded crash pad on the passenger side would be one serious PITA to get out of there, so I went ahead and painted it while in the car. It also gave me a chance to use one of my wife's crappy celebrity magazines to mask everything off!

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    And here's the finished product:

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  19. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    The biggest project of the day was the door panel on the passenger side. Here's what it looks like:

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    Like everything else, upon taking it apart it was encrusted with filth. The door handle surround was broken in several places (it's a lost cause). The armrest comes off as well, and there was enough grease in there to slick my hair back. Here's what the door looks like with the panel removed:

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    Here's the panel in pieces:

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  20. oxrageous

    oxrageous American Hero
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    I attacked the armrest first, which was in good shape. Cleaned it and roughed it up with a sanding pad. Before:

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    After:

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    Cleaned up the light above the door handle. Surprise! It was extremely dirty:

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    After:

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    The speaker cover was scratched up and faded. Sanded it, painted it:

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