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Old 12-02-2015, 12:55 AM   #1
Priya
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Default Priya's 79 chrome bumper conversion project

When I was looking for a C3 in 2009 I initially started looking for a 68 or 69 but after looking at a lot of ads I decided I really disliked the early C3 interior and started looking at 78/79s instead because I really like the interior in those. I wanted a loaded C3 with oyster or silver interior, 4 speed, and L82. I found a car that met those criteria and although it had a brown exterior I disliked I decided to buy the really nice 79 below planning on painting it a colour that better appealed to me.

After a few years I decided what I would have preferred was a chrome bumper car with a late C3 interior. And after having the oyster interior I decided I'd really have rather had the silver interior. So I decided the thing to do was to either buy a 68 or 79 and put a late C3 interior in it or convert my 79 to chrome bumpers and change the interior to silver.
I did some cost estimates as you can see on page two of the thread below asking for input and it looks quite a bit cheaper to convert my 79 to chrome bumpers than to sell it, buy a project car 68 or 69 and put the late C3 interior in it. My husband had the final say as he was strongly opposed to trying to put the late C3 interior in a 68/69 due to concerns over possibly missing brackets/braces/other structures the 79 interior would need and the 68/69 not have.

https://www.corvetteforum.com/forums...a-68-69-a.html

I bought a pretty nice 79 and paid $12000 for it. I've got a Keisler 5 speed for it that's been waiting to go in for a couple of years now and I'm collecting parts to convert the L82 to a Vortec head/Tuned Port Injection motor. In retrospect I'd have been a lot farther along to have bought a project car needing motor, trans, interior, and paint as I'll now be redoing all those in a pretty nice car to begin with. But of course hindsight is 20-20.

I'm going to replace the steering wheel, door panels and interior door pulls with new pace car pieces. The carpet is in good shape, not quite like new, but pretty close so I'm going to leave that. I want cloth seats and had a 77 Thunderbird with really nice silver cloth seats so I bought 3 yards of sliver seat fabric for a 77 Thunderbird and will have seat covers made from that. The rest of the interior I will dye silver.

Here's the car I'll be starting with:



































Last edited by Priya; 12-02-2015 at 02:18 AM.
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:43 AM   #2
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Looks like a nice clean car to start with! It`ll be a fun build!
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:55 AM   #3
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I finally got started on this project today. I started looking for a chrome bumper rear clip back in the spring. A forum member had a new 70-73 ACI rear clip he was willing to cut the back several inches off just behind the rear wheel wells for me for $700 U.S. I was getting ready to proceed with that when I decided to contact some people in Canada to see if I could get one here and avoid the cost of duty, "brokerage fees", canadian dollar exchange, shipping from Texas and so on. I contacted Western Corvette in Calgary and they said they had a 69 convertible rear clip for $600 Cdn and would ship it to me for an additional charge of $400 cdn. They said they'd send the whole thing from the "B" pillars back and then I could remove the 69 rear quarters at the bonding seams and replace my 79 rear quarters completely rather than joining the 69 to 79 from just behind the rear wheel wells. They sent me the picture below and I thought it looked like a really good deal as I figured the partial rear clip in Texas would cost me about $1500 Cdn to get here and this 69 rear clip came with the exhaust filler panel and the 70-73 ACI clip in Texas didn't.




Well, that purchase turned out to be a mistake. The 69 rear clip was in much worse shape than that one picture would have lead one to believe. Here's the worst of the damage visible without removing any paint:



Picture below is driver's side





Passenger side wheel well below doesn't look as bad as the driver's side wheel well, but after looking inside the passenger wheel well it looks like it might be pretty scary under that paint.


Below picture, passenger side wheel well from the inside. Looks like this quarter was bonded on with bondo.


Over the last couple of months I looked repeatedly at that 69 rear clip and had a lot of misgivings about it. All that damage and I wanted the square exhaust cutouts of the 70-73 rather than the oval ones of the 69 so that was another pile of fiberglass work the 70-73 ACI partial rear clip in Texas wouldn't have needed. My main concerns were the cracks at the center of the wheel wells on each side. The clip is currently sitting with the tailight panel facing upwards and the the "B" pillars facing the ground. The quarter panels on either side of the cracks are no longer in the same plane and if I can't get them to line up before I do the fiberglass repairs that'll be a real problem in getting the quarters straight. I'm hoping that when I lay the clip down in its normal position and place stands under the places where the suspension would go the quarter panels on either side of the cracks will fall into alignment with each other. If not, I'm not sure what I'm going to do at that point.

Both sides have damage at the bulges where the bumpers go and I've been nervous about how I'm going to get the correct shape once I taper out the damage in those areas for the new fiberglass and the original shape is mostly gone. At one point I really wanted to throw it away and buy the 70-73 ACI partial rear clip from the forum member in Texas, but my husband kept encouraging me that I could do it, I could repair the 69 rear clip and get it straight, plus he said we don't have a lot of money and what I do have is time so we decided I'd fix this rear clip and graft it to my 79.

We finally got the 69 rear clip in the garage yesterday so I started trying to remove paint today. I initially tried the razor blade method. There was one layer of red paint over the factory finish and that first layer came off relatively easily but the factory red paint underneath was much more reluctant. I tried heating the panel but got what I felt was an unacceptable amount of gouging as the heat gun seemed to make the underlying fiberglass much softer than the original paint.

I next tried some 80 grit on a jitterbug sander just above where I'd tried the razor blade and it was pretty slow going but no gouges



I next tried an inline sander with 120 grit on it on the driver's side quarter panel and it didn't work too bad but was still on the slow side. I also had a featheredger using 6 inch round velcro pads. I only had 400 grit paper for it so I knew that wouldn't do the job. There happened to be a used 240 grit on it so I thought I'd try for a laugh and see how that worked. To my surprise it worked the best of all
although obviously a somewhat courser grit would be better.



So, tomorrow I'm going to see if I can find a place that sells 6 inch round velcro sand paper in 120, 150, and 180 grit to see which works the best and then buy a box of that. It looks like sanding will be a much better paint removal method for me than the razor blade method.

The white stuff under the paint appears to be bondo. Between that and the passenger side rear quarter looking like its been repaired badly and bonded on with bondo it looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Wish me luck!

Last edited by Priya; 12-02-2015 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 12-02-2015, 02:02 AM   #4
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Looks like a nice clean car to start with! It`ll be a fun build!
Yes, I'm actually looking forward to doing this. I was disappointed I had to stop early today as I didn't have the necessary sandpaper and I've been a bit giddy since I came in from the garage so I stayed up past my bedtime a couple of hours to post this thread and let myself calm down a bit.
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Old 12-02-2015, 07:15 AM   #5
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I finally got started on this project today. I started looking for a chrome bumper rear clip back in the spring. A forum member had a new 70-73 ACI rear clip he was willing to cut the back several inches off just behind the rear wheel wells for me for $700 U.S. I was getting ready to proceed with that when I decided to contact some people in Canada to see if I could get one here and avoid the cost of duty, "brokerage fees", canadian dollar exchange, shipping from Texas and so on. I contacted Western Corvette in Calgary and they said they had a 69 convertible rear clip for $600 Cdn and would ship it to me for an additional charge of $400 cdn. They said they'd send the whole thing from the "B" pillars back and then I could remove the 69 rear quarters at the bonding seams and replace my 79 rear quarters completely rather than joining the 69 to 79 from just behind the rear wheel wells. They sent me the picture below and I thought it looked like a really good deal as I figured the partial rear clip in Texas would cost me about $1500 Cdn to get here and this 69 rear clip came with the exhaust filler panel and the 70-73 ACI clip in Texas didn't.




Well, that purchase turned out to be a mistake. The 69 rear clip was in much worse shape than that one picture would have lead one to believe. Here's the worst of the damage visible without removing any paint:



Picture below is driver's side





Passenger side wheel well below doesn't look as bad as the driver's side wheel well, but after looking inside the passenger wheel well it looks like it might be pretty scary under that paint.


Below picture, passenger side wheel well from the inside. Looks like this quarter was bonded on with bondo.


Over the last couple of months I looked repeatedly at that 69 rear clip and had a lot of misgivings about it. All that damage and I wanted the square exhaust cutouts of the 70-73 rather than the oval ones of the 69 so that was another pile of fiberglass work the 70-73 ACI partial rear clip in Texas wouldn't have needed. My main concerns were the cracks at the center of the wheel wells on each side. The clip is currently sitting with the tailight panel facing upwards and the the "B" pillars facing the ground. The quarter panels on either side of the cracks are no longer in the same plane and if I can't get them to line up before I do the fiberglass repairs that'll be a real problem in getting the quarters straight. I'm hoping that when I lay the clip down in its normal position and place stands under the places where the suspension would go the quarter panels on either side of the cracks will fall into alignment with each other. If not, I'm not sure what I'm going to do at that point.

Both sides have damage at the bulges where the bumpers go and I've been nervous about how I'm going to get the correct shape once I taper out the damage in those areas for the new fiberglass and the original shape is mostly gone. At one point I really wanted to throw it away and buy the 70-73 ACI partial rear clip from the forum member in Texas, but my husband kept encouraging me that I could do it, I could repair the 69 rear clip and get it straight, plus he said we don't have a lot of money and what I do have is time so we decided I'd fix this rear clip and graft it to my 79.

We finally got the 69 rear clip in the garage yesterday so I started trying to remove paint today. I initially tried the razor blade method. There was one layer of red paint over the factory finish and that first layer came off relatively easily but the factory red paint underneath was much more reluctant. I tried heating the panel but got what I felt was an unacceptable amount of gouging as the heat gun seemed to make the underlying fiberglass much softer than the original paint.

I next tried some 80 grit on a jitterbug sander just above where I'd tried the razor blade and it was pretty slow going but no gouges



I next tried an inline sander with 120 grit on it on the driver's side quarter panel and it didn't work too bad but was still on the slow side. I also had a featheredger using 6 inch round velcro pads. I only had 400 grit paper for it so I knew that wouldn't do the job. There happened to be a used 240 grit on it so I thought I'd try for a laugh and see how that worked. To my surprise it worked the best of all
although obviously a somewhat courser grit would be better.



So, tomorrow I'm going to see if I can find a place that sells 6 inch round velcro sand paper in 120, 150, and 180 grit to see which works the best and then buy a box of that. It looks like sanding will be a much better paint removal method for me than the razor blade method.

The white stuff under the paint appears to be bondo. Between that and the passenger side rear quarter looking like its been repaired badly and bonded on with bondo it looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Wish me luck!
Just a suggestion. You might want to look at some of what I did on my post for the extreme body work I needed to do. A heat gun will remove the paint much faster and easier. Then you will be down to the red GM primer. I might also suggest a PM to Dub who may be able to help. Some of that work you are looking to do might need to be done once it is on the car Just sayin!!
ZIO
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:34 AM   #6
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Priya, that will be a very unique Corvette when finished. I have never seen a chrome bumper conversion on a late C3. I look forward to following your build. Best of luck.
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:11 PM   #7
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Just a suggestion. You might want to look at some of what I did on my post for the extreme body work I needed to do. A heat gun will remove the paint much faster and easier. Then you will be down to the red GM primer. I might also suggest a PM to Dub who may be able to help. Some of that work you are looking to do might need to be done once it is on the car Just sayin!!
ZIO
I tried the heat gun. While it made the paint come off a little better it made the fiberglass softer than the paint and resulted in what I consider excessive gouging. Sanding even with a used 240 grit paper went much quicker than the razor method was and will go even faster with a coarser grit of paper. I'm going to keep going with that.

I'll check out your post on extreme bodywork, thanks Rvzio

Last edited by Priya; 12-02-2015 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 12-02-2015, 12:12 PM   #8
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Priya, that will be a very unique Corvette when finished. I have never seen a chrome bumper conversion on a late C3. I look forward to following your build. Best of luck.
Thanks blue67ragtop!
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:28 PM   #9
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I tried the heat gun. While it made the paint come off a little better it made the fiberglass softer than the paint and resulted in what I consider excessive gouging. Sanding even with a used 240 grit paper went much quicker than the razor method was and will go even faster with a coarser grit of paper. I'm going to keep going with that.

I'll check out your post on extreme bodywork, thanks Rvzio
I had years age a 79 L82 but it was automatic. Nice to see a 4 spd. This should be a pretty cool build. Hopefully it all goes well for you. We like a lot of pictures!
ZIO
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Old 12-02-2015, 01:54 PM   #10
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I tried the heat gun. While it made the paint come off a little better it made the fiberglass softer than the paint and resulted in what I consider excessive gouging. Sanding even with a used 240 grit paper went much quicker than the razor method was and will go even faster with a coarser grit of paper. I'm going to keep going with that.

I'll check out your post on extreme bodywork, thanks Rvzio

Have you tried or considered chemical strippers? There are several that are approved for use on fiberglass. They can be cleaned off so there is no residue possibly causing problems under fresh paint. Using a chemical stripper the paint will literally scrape off with a putty knife.
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Old 12-02-2015, 02:16 PM   #11
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Have you tried or considered chemical strippers? There are several that are approved for use on fiberglass. They can be cleaned off so there is no residue possibly causing problems under fresh paint. Using a chemical stripper the paint will literally scrape off with a putty knife.
I wanted to do that but was concerned with all the cracks in the 69 clip that it would need a great deal of washing to ensure there was no residue in the cracks to interfere with the fiberglass patch's adhesion. The clip was in our backyard for the first few months and I didn't work on it as I had serious misgivings about using it. Then by the time my husband convinced me to use it the weather got below freezing and chemical strippers weren't an option as I am now unable to wash it off afterwards.
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Old 12-02-2015, 03:00 PM   #12
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Priya, Like others have said... good luck and I will be waiting to see the results! I have seen a couple pics around of a bubble back converted to chrome bumpers. One thread about flip up gas caps comes to mind, and from what I've seen it should be

I find it funny you picked a later car because of the interior... Only because I had looked at a 78 and 79 when I was in the market, but ultimately I like the interior of my 77 better. It always fascinates me, how people's tastes differ.
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Old 12-02-2015, 03:59 PM   #13
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Priya, Like others have said... good luck and I will be waiting to see the results! I have seen a couple pics around of a bubble back converted to chrome bumpers. One thread about flip up gas caps comes to mind, and from what I've seen it should be

I find it funny you picked a later car because of the interior... Only because I had looked at a 78 and 79 when I was in the market, but ultimately I like the interior of my 77 better. It always fascinates me, how people's tastes differ.
Yes, taste is an interesting thing. I remember seeing a 62 Valiant for the first time and thinking "How on earth could anyone think that's a good looking car?" and then realizing that at a very minimum the person who styled it must have thought it was good looking.

Thanks the well-wishes.
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:11 PM   #14
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i wish you luck on your project as you know what you want and will attain it.i liked your cars look prior and do not understand the fascination with the the chrome bumper cars but what the heck do i know.to me they look old and frail.(like me)
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:25 PM   #15
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What if you converted it to this instead. It'll match the front end of your car.
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:27 PM   #16
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i wish you luck on your project as you know what you want and will attain it.i liked your cars look prior and do not understand the fascination with the the chrome bumper cars but what the heck do i know.to me they look old and frail.(like me)
Thanks Bill. My husband has asked me the same question and as odd as it may sound, if the car I bought was a pace car or a colour I like rather than brown I think odds are I'd have never gotten the desire to convert it. I think its just because I find the car unappealing due to the colour it made me want quite badly to change it and I started thinking "Why not go all the way?". Even at this point I still see pictures of pace cars, or 78/79's in silver or some colour I like with the pace car spoilers and I think "Oh my, that is a very good looking car, am I sure I want to modify mine?"
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:28 PM   #17
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What if you converted it to this instead. It'll match the front end of your car.
Looks pretty sharp but I think the chrome rear bumpers still add something to that. I'm going to be putting a 68/69 front clip on it as well.
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:53 PM   #18
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Looks pretty sharp but I think the chrome rear bumpers still add something to that. I'm going to be putting a 68/69 front clip on it as well.
OK - agreed about the bumpers. I'm sure you've read the many threads on here about converting soft bumper cars to chrome.

Good luck with this project.

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Old 12-02-2015, 05:13 PM   #19
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OK - agreed about the bumpers. I'm sure you've read the many threads on here about converting soft bumper cars to chrome.

Good luck with this project.
Actually I can only think of two threads I've seen on rubber to chrome bumper convresions.

Thanks VETFEVER.
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Old 12-02-2015, 05:57 PM   #20
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Looks pretty sharp but I think the chrome rear bumpers still add something to that. I'm going to be putting a 68/69 front clip on it as well.
I trust that you`ve been following along with doorgunner`s build.... he`s doing the same thing. He has a chrome bumper car that had been fitted with later nose & tail, and he`s putting it back to what it was.
LOADED with pictures and info on what he`s run into!
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