The Red Devil Project Page Two-2020
One thing I have strongly disliked on this car, from the very beginning, was the piss-poor rear-view mirrors the factory installed. Whenever I would back into my driveway, I could barely see out the back, so much so, that when I would back in through the gate, I would pop the rear hatch in order to see better. Many times, I came very close to hitting the gate posts. So, to start the 2020 Wrenching Season, I decided that I was going to rectify that problem. I looked around at all the aftermarket mirrors I could find, but for one reason or another, nothing was right. Then I took a look at the C6 Corvette mirrors, and decided to install a set. They sit up higher, so you have a better view over the ass of the car, and they extend out further from the body so you have a wider view. And, they have a larger mirror glass, so you get a bigger view. We had an early warm day, in early March, so I took advantage of it and installed the mirrors.
As soon as the weather improved enough to resume working on the car, my floor jack gave up the ghost and it’s seals blew out. So, off to Harbor Freight to buy one of their Daytona 3-ton Super Duty floor jacks. I will be doing a lot of work under the car this season, so a good floor jack is critical! I had planned to buy some of their new red 6-ton jack stands, but they were sold out, so I decided to keep using my old jack stands, and make myself some wooden car cribs later. Some of my plans under the car this season are a new set of Hedman headers with dual exhaust and an X-pipe, as well as replacing the transmission filter/fluid. I plan for a few other changes, but I will keep those under my hat for the time being. The new jack is a monster compared to my old one! It weighs probably four times as much, and reaches a maximum height of just over 23 inches! I shopped around a lot, and really, it was the best buy I could find, and comes with a 3-yr warranty. I’m loving it so far!
It took five pumps on the new jack to get the car high enough for my jack stand to fit under the car. It took ten pumps to get the car high enough for the jack stand to reach its maximum height. When the weather warms up some more, I will make my 2×4 car cribs to put under it for even more stability.
I got some new vented driving light body pieces to add to the car. They are supposed to be mounted with silicone, but I think I will screw them in place instead. Today, I did a mock-up trial fit with them just sitting in place. I really like the look!
My door handles are in pretty rough shape. The idiot previous owner tried messing with them, and on the driver side he did something, so when you put the key in to unlock the door, the lock turns with the key. After 36 years, the door handles themselves are pretty boogered up. So, I will be replacing those with some new fancy chrome handles I got. Not sure yet if I will like the chrome after they are installed, but I will decide then whether to keep them or not. There is not much chrome on this car now, since I got rid of the Chevy emblems.
Today, I began the process of stripping out the cooling system and air conditioning/air pump from the car. What a mess! Most of this stuff has never been out of the car since it was built!
I got the A-Pillar gauge pod and my oil and tranny temp gauges today. They are going to work perfect when I get the oil cooler and tranny cooler installed!
Next day, I removed the AC compressor and the smog pump, as well as a bunch of small stuff.
I begin removing the water pump, because it will be replaced with a high volume aluminum pump.
For a long time, I have believed that the engine had been souped up a little, because it didn’t run like your average factory 350 engine, but ran like a scalded dog. It doesn’t have a heavy lope like a big cam, so I am guessing a mild cam and maybe bored out some. I didn’t have any proof that it was anything but a stock engine, but rather it was more a gut feeling that something had been done based on it running much hotter than a vanilla 350 (and I have driven many of them over the decades). Today, when I pulled the water pump, what do I find but a chrome timing chain cover. That didn’t come from the Chevy factory, and the engine had to have been pulled to install it. The engine block numbers match the factory engine, so I am guessing the engine was rebuilt, and based on how old the timing cover and water pump looked, I’d say it was 20-25 years ago. Next step will be to degrease the hell out of the engine.
8 15oz cans of degreaser, allowed to soak good between coats, and a good rinsing, and I am beginning to see some progress in making this pig of an engine less horrible. Going to rain again tonight and all day tomorrow, but come Saturday, I plan to start removing the exhaust and intake manifolds/valve covers. Once I have the engine stripped down some more, I will go back to degreasing with another 18 cans.
After a day off due to rain, today it was time to get back to work on the Red Devil. First order of business was removing the exhaust manifolds. With the passenger side being the hardest, I started there. Removing the bolts holding the exhaust pipes to the manifolds was first. My Milwaukee impact wrench was a blessing there! Those bolts didn’t look like they’d been messed with since the car was new. They were REALLY rusted! To my surprise, I only broke one. Then it came time to get the passenger side upper manifold bolts, spark plugs and misc. BS out. The bolts were tight, as were the ancient plugs. One plug was fouled with wet oil, which may be a bad valve seal, or possibly a bad oil ring. The other plugs were just very old with normal carbon fouling for their age.
Then it was on to the driver side. Here, the upper manifold bolts were just hand tight, which explained the exhaust leak I had. The plugs on that side were just old with normal carbon fouling for their age.
Here you can see that my exhaust leak was coming from the center bank of exhaust ports, as evidenced by the scorching to the bottom of that exhaust gasket.
Next, came removal of the passenger side valve cover. To my shock, the rockers and underside of the valve cover were very clean.
In order to get the driver side valve cover off, I needed to disconnect the battery and remove the alternator. This side was also pretty clean for its age.
Next, came removal of the intake manifold. Because more rain was incoming, I only got the top half of the rat’s next off. It’s gasket was very loose too, so I was undoubtedly losing vacuum there. Tomorrow, I will get back to work!
Today, I got the distributor and intake out, as well as the exhaust system! Under the intake, the engine was amazingly clean. Afterwards, I soaked the engine, transmission and underside of the car in another six cans of degreaser. Twelve more cans of degreaser to go yet! Note how much of the intake manifold’s ports were blocked off by Chevy, compared to the ports in the heads. That Crossfire Fuel Injection could have been so much better if they’d allowed it to reach its full potential. Needless to say, I have an extremely low opinion of Chevy engineers! The story goes that they did so to gain fuel mileage and reduce emissions. Nobody buys a Corvette for its gas mileage!
20 cans of degreaser, and six to go. I scraped off the heads real good, and was ready to install the intake manifold, but needed to get some gasket sealer. Just to give myself some inspiration, I dusted off the intake, carb and valve covers I have been holding back for a couple years, and set them on the engine to see how they’d look. Needless to say, I was very inspired! Tonight, I got some gasket sealer, so tomorrow, more progress!
I have been stockpiling parts for the Red Devil for a couple years now. Today, was the day for bringing them out of the basement and giving them all a trial fit, and get a sense of how well they will work together. I emptied a lot of boxes. Many of the items were set in place. All the miscellaneous small parts that go with the major parts got stuffed in the back of the car so as to be handy when I start installing them. I sure freed up a lot of space in the basement!! First to get tried, is the air cleaner.
Next, was my Canton aluminum radiator overflow tank!
Next, is my aluminum high-flow water pump compared to my old one.
Next, is my 3-row aluminum racing radiator.
Next, is my chromed cooling fans that will push air through the oil cooler and radiator.
Next, is my new Accel HEI distributor.
Next, is my oil cooler.
Next, is my aluminum transmission fluid pan.
An overall look. I will need to modify the base of the air cleaner, so it clears the distributor. It will clear the hood.
Next, is my badass Derale transmission cooler!
And a look at my mini C4 parts warehouse for all the small odds and ends that go with the above parts. The only major mechanical parts still in the basement, are my Hedman Headers and my Melrose Corvette exhaust. Before I can install the headers, I need to wrap them with the Titanium header wrap I bought to reduce heat in the engine bay. Tomorrow, I start installing some of these cool parts!
Yesterday, I installed the hi-flow water pump and the belt tensioner. I then installed the Edelbrock Performer intake manifold. Yes, I know that I used too much Permatex Blue sealer on the manifold. My main concern was making sure there will be no leaks. After it is fully cured, I plan to go back with a razor blade and trim away the excess.
A better look at my Canton radiator overflow tank, not installed, but just sitting in place.
Today was headers day! I wanted to get them in place before I install the valve covers, so I have as much working space as possible. Before I could install the Hedman Headers, I needed to wrap them in Lava Rock heat wrap. The wrap reduces heat in the engine bay, but also helps combustion by retaining heat in the headers themselves. Wrapping was an all day job. It is best to soak the wrap in a bucket of water before working with it. Doing so reduces fraying and reduces the fibers getting stuck in your skin. The metal zip ties that come with the wrap are junk. It works better with hose clamps. As I was doing the driver side headers near the end of the day, the clamps I had on hand were not big enough to reach around the header. My brilliant wife suggested I connect two clamps together. I thought it was crazy, but by God it worked! I ended the day with both headers wrapped and hanging in place in the car, ready to be installed with gaskets and proper header bolts next. The passenger side header got double-wrapped down at the bottom to protect my starter from heat.
When I began to bolt up the headers, I discovered a big problem which was twofold. When Hedman made the headers, they made some of the tubes sweep backwards way too soon, so they interfere with being able to get a wrench onto the bolts. Secondly, they made the bolt holes for a couple tubes too close to the tube on each header. The solution was to widen out the problem holes, and rather than use my Allen-head header bolts in those holes, I had to use short hex-head bolts, then thread them in enough to catch the threads in the heads, then use open-end hand wrenches to draw the header in with the two hex bolts. After that, getting the Allen-head header bolts in was a breeze. However, before that could even begin, I had to remove the ground effects, the fender, the heater motor, the washer-fluid reservoir/pump, wheel well, and the AC evaporator. The reason for this, was the header was right up next to the evaporator, and I could not get my hands or a wrench into that last rear header bolt. It was just as well, because I had planned to remove the evaporator later anyway, so while it frustrated me to have to take time to do that right away, I was also glad, because doing so really opened up a lot of space for working on the header. I ended the day with the passenger side header all bolted up tight to the engine!
Before buying these Hedman headers, I did a lot of reading, and they seemed to be a great fit for my 84 Corvette Gen 1 SBC. Ordered a pair, and yes, they fit between the engine and car real nice, but the problem is the bolt holes where they connect to the engine. They make the tubes sweep backward so drastically close to the flanges, that on the passenger side, I could not use two of my short Allen head header bolts, nor a hex-head bolt with a washer. I had to use plain hex-head short bolts with no washer, and even those were so close to the tubes that the points on the bolts rubbed against the tube every time you turned it, and I could only use those by drilling out the bolt holes in the header flange! Hedman should have made the tubes go straight out more before sweeping back, or squeezed the tube inward a little to clear the bolts, or put extensions on the flange like factory manifolds so the bolt sits out further from the engine. On the driver side, I had three bolt holes with the same problem. I won’t be buying Hedman Headers again! This is ridiculous! I did finally get the driver side header installed, but don’t know if it will leak or not yet. Afterward, I installed the valve covers, thermostat & housing, distributor and temporarily installed the carb. I installed the spark plugs, but one almost touches the header, so I will need to get some Accel Shorty plugs #8199.
I got the shorty plugs today, and the solved my problem of clearing the headers. I also drained the transmission pan. The fluid was red (not burnt brown) and there was just some light black soot streaks in the bottom of the pan, and nothing chunky!
Today, I got the fuel line and fuel pressure gauge hooked up to the carb. I also installed the stainless steel manifold heater hose fittings. I then pulled the torque converter cover pan off the transmission, and got the old nasty starter out of the car. I am pretty sure it was the original. Getting it out from between the header and the engine block was a pain in the ass!
I got everything ready to install the new starter, but discovered that I ordered the wrong one. The one I got was for a 168 tooth flywheel, and I needed the one that fits both the 153 and 168 tooth flywheel. So, I will have to send this one back. The good news, is that they are the same size, just a different mounting block. Look at the size difference between the original starter and the mini-starter! The new one is half the size, but ten times the power and torque, and should last forever with its gear-reduction design!
I sent the starter back, and the new one arrived today and I got it installed. I had to shim it with the round shim they include to pull the motor away from the flywheel (a.k.a. flexplate). The shim moved the pinion gear back from the flywheel just the perfect amount of space. I may need to shim the top of the starter later, but for now, my battery is dead, and I need power to check how the pinion gear meshes with the flywheel.
Next order of today’s business was installing the “breadbox delete” in the dash that replaces the stupid bread-box shaped cushion on the passenger side that was supposed to protect the passenger in case of a collision. All it was, was a hunk of foam covered in vinyl, so it didn’t provide any real protection. I’d painted the breadbox delete panel, but wasn’t happy with the way it turned out, so I wrapped it in some carbon-fiber vinyl wrap. After installing it, I applied my trademark skull & crossbones emblem that I am replacing all the Chevy emblems with. I also applied a Bettie Page Red Devil decal.
Last but not least on today’s work agenda, was removing the transmission TV cable, and installing the new Monster Transmission adjustable TV cable. Installing the cable with the tranny out of the car would be easy. Installing it in the tranny while the tranny is in the car, is an exercise in frustration due to the cramped space. You have to hook the end of the cable onto a hooked wire in the tranny, and being able to see, and manipulate them is a challenge. I ended up using a pair of hemostats to lock the wire in the up position and then getting the cable end on was much easier.
Today, I installed my 700R4 transmission Overdrive Lock-up kit from Monster Transmissions. Since I am eliminating the computer on this car, and one of the things the computer did, was to control when the transmission shifted into overdrive, I needed a way to control that manually. The kit from Monster was a great solution. First thing, is to unplug the four-plug that the computer used, and replace it with the one from Monster that actually just has two white wires coming from it. One is a ground, one crosses over the transmission to the other side, and connects to the pressure switch they provide. You unscrew the plug on the passenger side that covers the 4th gear control circuit. You then screw in the pressure switch they provide, and hook the non-ground white wire from the other side’s four-plug onto the pressure switch. In my case, I could not ground the other white wire to anything nearby, so I added wire to it and ran it, and the black control wire ) which also plugs into the other terminal of the pressure switch, up to the engine bay, and through the firewall to inside the car. All that remains now, is to wire up the switch they provide to a power source, and run the black control wire to my old (now unused) cruise control switch, and then on to the toggle switch, and of course, ground the ground wire. The way it works, let’s say you get on the highway, and reach 4th gear. You flip the toggle switch, and that engages the overdrive lock-up. Should you have to stop, or pull off an exit ramp, applying the brakes breaks the circuit and your lock-up disengages. Pretty slick idea!
Today I replaced the old cooling fan motor with a new one. It was a perfect fit!
My brand new battery is dead, and needed to be put on the charger. Part of the problem was that since I have so many new electrical devices in the car now, with more on the way, the 36 year old alternator is not able to keep up with the drain. In order to take the battery out of the car, you have to take the vented side fender panel off, which also means lowering the ground effects molding on the side of the car. I have been wanting to remove everything on both sides that block those vents, and make them actually functional for a long time. On the passenger side, that means removing the wiper washer tank and pump, which I am replacing with a new, smaller one I will mount in the front corner. On the driver side, it means removing the battery and battery tray. I plan to relocate the battery to the back of the car, under the rear hatch anyway, to help with weight distribution. In the future, that will also make it quick and easy to jump-start or remove & replace the battery as well. The photo below shows the space that the battery and battery tray was blocking off before I removed them.
I got my LubeLocker transmission gasket, that a friend recommended. It has a metal core embedded with rubber and silicone. Supposedly, you don’t need to use gasket sealer with it. So, with it in hand, I installed the aluminum transmission pan at long last. That finishes off my work on the transmission, and all that remains is filling it with fluid, hooking up the transmission cooler, the TV cable, and finishing the wiring for the overdrive lock-up.
I also got the hardware to make up in-line oil temp & tranny fluid temp sensor Tee fittings so my gauges can monitor fluid temperatures.
Also, got the fuel hose barbs for the fuel pressure regulator
I installed the Edelbrock manual choke cable bracket on the carburetor.
I also installed the throttle and TV cable bracket to the carburetor.
Last to be installed today, was the throttle/TV cable alignment bracket.
I got my battery box, and discovered that whatever Chinese factory made it, did a shitty job spot-welding it, because the spot welds failed. It is complete junk. The seller offered me $20 to keep it, and I told him welders don’t work for chump change, and to go fuck off. I’ll send it back for a refund. I already ordered a Moroso race battery box. The Chinese box is made of thin aluminum, and they claim the battery cables they include are 2-gauge. WRONG! If you read the package, it clearly says for engines up to 2500 CC. For we Americans, that is 152.5594 Cubic Inches. At best, these cables are 6-8 gauge.
My Powermaster 37806 CS144 Style Alternator arrived today. Until now, I have had problems keeping my battery fully charged, and with adding more electrical devices, the demands on my battery will only increase. That means I needed to upgrade my electrical system, and this alternator will do just that! Besides being all pretty and shiny, notice the last photo of the results of the Dyno test that Powermaster does on each product!
I spent the remainder of the day pulling wiring from the engine bay. All of that fuel injection and computer crap will no longer be needed, and neither will the old battery and alternator cables. I had to disconnect the top bolt from the alternator to fish the old wire out from the bracket. When I was done, a whole lot of the wiring nightmare in this car was a hell of a lot less nightmarish.
Rainy day, so no real progress, but I did get my valve cover breathers that match my valve covers. New old stock still in the packaging for a bargain price!
Still waiting for the last of my electric system parts to arrive, which the postal service seems to be sending everywhere but to me. So, to make use of my time, and being fed up with the black primered hood being so ugly in its current form, I decided to paint it with the cheap red paint I special ordered. The paint is made by Rustoleum under the Quick Color label, and is an almost perfect color match for the 84 Corvette “Bright Red” the factory used. For $2 a can spray paint, it isn’t bad at all. I also pulled my rear spoiler and headlight housings to paint semi-gloss black. If time permits, I also want to paint the B-pillar black.
The remainder of my electrical parts arrived, finally. Most important, was my Flaming River remote kill switch for the electrical system. In the event of a crash, it allows you to shut off the electrical system and the car by a turn of the switch mounted on the back of the car. It also helps prevent auto-theft when in the off position, because you can padlock the switch in the off position. Switches like this are required by racing authorities when you are on the track, so emergency personnel can rescue you during a wreck. Also, I got a 300 Amp master fuse for the electrical system to prevent a fire from an overload.
I got the anchor holes and the cable holes drilled through the battery box and floor. I also got the hole drilled for the kill switch. I am now ready to start stringing cables and wire it up.
With such long battery/alternator cables as I will be running in the Red Devil, I didn’t want to take a chance on bad terminal crimps, so I got a hydraulic wire/cable crimper from Harbor Freight. Just tried my first crimp on some 2 gauge battery cable. This crimper does a famtastic job on this big ole cables!
Today, I got the positive battery cable ran from the starter back to the kill switch, and from the kill switch into the battery box. I also ran the ground cable from the battery box through the floor to the rear crossbeam for a ground. Now, I need to ground the kill switch relay and alternator, and run hot wires from the alternator to the relay and on back to the kill switch. I am not comfortable with the 4 gauge wire I was going to use for the alternator, so I ordered some more 2 gauge and now have to wait for that to arrive. This hydraulic cable crimper kicks ass! Adding more 2 gauge wire means I won’t be able to use those nifty black wire covers that came with the Flaming River switch, but that’s okay, I’ll just wrap them. Making sure my alternator/relay are safe is more important than nifty cable covers. I also got the battery box vent installed, so any toxic fumes will be expelled out of the passenger cabin.
I got my exhaust parts out today, to prepare to install them. In the front, where they connect to the headers, the pipes are 3 inch, which are huge. From the X-pipe back, they are 2 1/2 inches, which is still big. The factory pipes were 2 1/4 inches.
Yesterday, the remainder of my cable came in. Then I ran out of cable terminals, and had to go find some. I ended up going to three different parts stores to get enough to finish the job. I was working out there until way after dark, and the last couple hours working by cell-phone light. Today, I picked up where I left off. Right away, while hooking up the alternator kill-switch relay, one of the small lugs snapped off. Lovely! I’ll check with Moroso and see if we can work something out. In the meantime, I am bypassing the relay, and will just have to be sure to not use the kill-switch with the engine running, or I’ll fry the alternator. I got the cable ran from the alternator to the cut-off switch on the drivers side and hooked up. I hooked up two grounds to the alternator; one to the engine, one to the frame. I have the kill switch wired up and mounted on the car. I connected the wires to the starter. While under the car, I removed the old exhaust hanger off the transmission, and bolted the shifter linkage to the tranny. I also mounted the header collectors and temporarily tried out the exhaust pipes that attach to them. I also got the distributor reinstalled. I need to mount the anchors to the battery box, mount the 300 Amp fuse, install the battery and it’s hold-down bracket, then I can seal up the battery box and that will be done.
Called Moroso today. Very nice folks! Told me to contact Summit Racing and have them replace the Alternator Kill-Switch Relay. He said the thread on the stud was probably bad. Nice doing business with companies like Moroso and Summit.
On this hot June day, I finished getting the battery box installed, with the battery. I need to re-drill the anchor bolt holes, because I got them too far apart, and I also need to redo the fuse so it mounts outside the box. Just a little too crowded in there. In order to get this all hooked up, I had to climb up in the rear of the car, under the hatch. Trust me, it was not a pretty sight, and I was sweating like a pig! Because I have some bare wires left up front from where I removed all those wires from the engine bay, I couldn’t do a prolonged test, but I did quickly turn the kill switch on and off, and my rear-hatch interior lights came on, so I do have power!
My new Moroso alternator kill-switch relay arrived today. Tip of the hat to the good folks at Moroso! Got that installed, but am waiting on some wire to finish connecting it. I installed the new shorter serpentine belt today. Needed a shorter one to account for removing the air pump and AC, and it fit perfectly. Also got the Camber Brace out and held it into position to gauge how it will fit. I want to wait until I have the oil cooler, tranny cooler and radiator installed before installing it. Lastly, I hooked up the fuel lines today! I need to make a bracket to mount the fuel pressure regulator on yet.
Update August 10, 2020
Last June was the last time I posted progress on the Red Devil. Right after that, I purchased a couple more vehicles at the police auction. I bought my wife a 2007 Toyota Avalon XLS, and bought myself a 1996 Chevy Silverado K1500 4X4 truck. The truck will become Red Devil II. I have been insanely busy working on the Toyota and the truck, and have not even touched the Red Devil Corvette in the last couple months until today. Today, I installed the new exhaust. I’ll need to take it to the shop later and have it welded, and have some hangers tacked on. I will also need to install some mufflers. In the meantime, at least I can run some tests on the engine when I finish my work there. Those 3-inch exhaust pipes sure do look beefy! Especially, compared to the old 2-inch pipes! The new exhaust includes an X-pipe to equalize back-pressure and two new low restriction race-catalytic converters. Hopefully, I will begin doing regular posts again in the near future. I really need to hustle to get as much done as possible before winter comes!