Someone recently posted here “how to find a good Corvette mechanic”. Unless you live near Duncanville, TX, (that is a plug for Dr. Joel….like he needs any plugs…sheeeesh) it is a hit and miss operation to find a good Corvette expert or just as difficult to find a good engine mechanic. Some may remember my post last May about the extreme oil usage on my ‘78 while attending the gathering in Charleston. When I called the mechanic I had been using, he was convinced that it was the rings and I needed a $4,000 - $5,000, complete engine re-build. He said he would not even waste my money with an engine compression check, because he just knew it was the rings. I found a mechanic that has been working on SBC for 40 years. 30 years as a side line business while his main job was a mechanic at a steel plant. At his day job, diagnosing the problem for of the utmost importance. Before you stop operations, you needed to be darned sure of what the problem was. He did what he called “a complete engine wellness check”. Here is some of what he found:
1. The ticking sound (which the two previous mechanics had said was a loose header bolt) was a loose rocker arm and a loose pushrod.
2. One previous mechanic had installed a chrome (my car is more for show, than go…although it does GO) fuel pump. The original fuel pump had a vapor return line attached to it. The new fuel pump had no provision to attach the vapor return line, so the previous mechanic abandoned the line where it was…left it just hanging in there.
3. Last spring, I had a different mechanic do a tune-up and replace the valve covers with matching PCV and crankcase breather. He put in expensive spark plugs. He said that is what a ZZ4 required…..WRONG. He put in spark plugs for a fuel injected ZZ4 which have shorter electrodes. A carbureted car needs the longer electrodes because the fuel delivery is not as precise as a fuel injected car (according to this new mechanic…Joel, was he correct…do you agree?). ALSO, these expensive spark plugs were CHINESE. He showed me how to tell the difference, and if anybody wants to know, I can tell them later. Because my car is driven mostly around town, he did install in the next hotter spark plugs. The mechanic that did the tune-up last spring must have plucked the spark plugs (the wrong ones) from the box and just slapped them in. The gapping was .038, .045, .045, .045, .045, .047, .048 & .058. The gap is suppose to be .045
4. Carburetor idle jet settings: right side was turned 2.625 turns and the right side was 1.5 turns. Now both are at 1.625.
5. Oil consumption was due to 5 valve seals. GM decided to use viton seals. There has since been a service bulletin on this. This new mechanic replaced the seals with the old style that will not dry out.
6. Compression check ranged from 200 to 207 (remember, previous mechanic just KNEW that the rings were bad) .
7. New polished aluminum PCV (to match new valve covers) was stuck shut….so pressurizing the crankcase a little bit, it is now working correctly (mechanic who installed this did NOT ckeck the operation of PCV).
8. The valves had never been hot lashed and were way off.
9. He replaced numerous other small items (frayed insulation on main wire from starter to fuse box...spliced in new piece, one new terminal to alternator, bad end on another wire, new flexible end on vacuum line leading to modulator on transmission (old one was about 1” long and would pop off when hard line moved from slightest touch, both previous mechanics missed this), etc.
So in conclusion, the complete engine wellness check, the repairs, AND the installation of a new chrome master brake cylinder cost me $739. OH….and he would call me daily with an update, which to me, was invaluable. I DID tip him. He will do all the non-Corvette related work on my car from now on! Next is new, polished Griffan radiator and then getting A/C working (triple black car in SC is almost as bad as that black Arizona C3). To someone like me who is so totally not mechanically gifted (I know most of you on here are mechanically gifted) this new guy was like a magician! So, I salute all of you out there who are mechanically gifted.
Sorry for the long post. I hope that some of this information will help others.
Walk in peace all you phun, phiberglass chariot drivers,
Warning: The surgeon general has declared that it is NOT unhealthy to smoke your competition AND I just discovered that my corvette is a hybred. It burns gas and rubber!