Reunited: 1969 Corvette gets its engine, transmission back

Randy Walter and the guys at Corvette Sports in Sheboygan, Wis., have done more engine and transmission installations on Corvettes of every vintage than they can possibly remember. They have specialty tools and custom-made jigs for particular parts of the job to make things easier, but mostly they have years of experience that helps them make quick work of such jobs.

The chassis, brakes and suspension of this 1969 Corvette convertible have been restored and are ready for the drivetrain to be installed. That starts with the 350-cid V-8 that has been waiting on the engine hoist.

 

Recently, Walter made short work of a job that would seem a little intimidating to some, but looks simple in the hands of a professional.

The shop already had a completed rolling chassis for this 1969 Corvette by the time Walter started the drive train installation. The 350-cid V-8 was on the hoist and ready to drop in.

Before he lowered the engine in place, however, Walter shimmed the front end to get the alignment close and make things easier later. From there he bolted up the flywheel, pressure plate, Muncie four-speed transmission and driveshaft in short order.

Follow along to see how he did it.

 

He won’t do the final alignment on the Corvette, but Randy Walter will put multiple shims in place on the front end to get the alignment close before he drops in the engine. The shim pack has eight spacers of different thickness for each wheel.

A little gentle muscle with a pry bar makes room for a stack of shims on the from driver’s side. In the end, this Corvette may not need this many spacers, but the final alignment technician will have them already on the car if he needs them.

They are placed on the bolt that secures the “A” arm link. “I do it as a courtesy for the next guy who touches the car,” Walter says. “ We eyeball them as best we can or you can run them trough a patch of water and see what kind of pattern you get. Or you can put a level on top of each tire, and when the bubble is level you know you’re close.”

Next up is the flywheel. It’s heavy, but installation is pretty straightforward. It helps if you have a flywheel wrench to hold it in place when you lock it down. “You can only put it on one way – the dowel holes have to match. You’ll know when you have it on right because all the holes line up. I’ll run them down lightly, then torque (wrench) them.” It gets 65 lbs.-ft. The pressure plate gets 35 lbs.-ft.

After torquing the flywheel, the pressure plate issued into place and secured. Walter uses a drive gear from an actual transmission to hold things in place. “I’ve rebuilt so many transmissions that I have an actual transmission shaft made out of step. They have plastic ones you use, but this is better…I use that because it helps locate it and hold it in place. I am using the actual part that would have gone on the car.”

Eight bolts secure the bell housing. After that, the engine is ready to drop into place and be mated tot he transmission. In this case, it’s easier to move the chassis of the ’69 Corvette than it is to move the engine on the hoist.

Walter makes sure there isn’t any crud or rough spots on the face of the transmission case before he bolts it in place. A rotary tool does the trick. From there, the transmission is simply slid into place and gently bolted down. If it’s no sliding in all the way, don’t force it by torquing hard on the bolts int he casing ears. “There isn’t a whole lot (of strength) there. You rely mostly on the hole for support. You want to slide it in and hear it clank and bottom out, “Walter says.

After the transmission casing bolts are in place, the entire assembly can be bolted to the frame. the mounting point is the cross member, which also has holes though it for dual exhaust pipes. From here Walter tightens the bolts for the engine mounts. With the engine and transmission locked in place, he can install the driveshaft.

The small driveshaft is only about 10lbs. It is held in place with traditional U-joints. Two U-bolts go on each end of the driveshaft, fitting into the yoke on the rear of the transmission and the yoke on the rear end. “Just don’t drop it, and if you do, take it out and secure the ends with duct tape or whatever you want, just make sure you keep all the needles in it. I always wrap them with duct tape because there are like 50 needles in there. If you drop it on the floor and get the mall of the place, you’ve got to replace the whole joint because you’re never going to find every one of them…Overall, it’s pretty straight forward. If you took it out, you can put it back in.”

 

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