Monday, September 30, 2019

New Carpeting and Insulation for my C3 Corvette

Even though the all-black interior of my '76 Corvette looked okay, it was—in my opinion—dull, bleak, and boring, and I felt I had to do something about it.

Having the dashboard completely out in order to clean and re-seal all the air ducts, as well as repair the heater box while also deleting the heater, gave me the much-needed impetus to go ahead and replace the carpeting. And since the black carpet had to be removed, I covered the front floors and transmission tunnel with FatMat for both heat and noise abatement.


Needless to say, LED courtesy lights also helped quite a bit as shown in the "after" photo above. Also worth mentioning is how hot regular, incandescent bulbs get, so replacing those with LEDs is the smart thing to do. I also replaced all the dash bulbs, and what a difference that made!

I really like the two-tone interior, and I think that replacing some of the dash panels as well as the console and parking brake housing with matching red components would've looked even better, but this is enough for now.

When it comes to C3 Corvette carpeting, you have a number of options ranging from a varied, year-correct color selection, to different types of material, to backing options.

Stock Interiors, www.stockinteriors.com, will send you color samples in the material you are considering. This makes choosing the right carpet much easier than by trying to pick the right one by looking at your computer monitor.

For my '76 I chose Red (#815) in Plush Cut Pile with MassBack rubberized backing in addition to the standard jute padding.

Plus, you also have the option of ordering carpeting for just the front, the cargo area, or both.

The carpeting is precut and molded, so fitment takes very little trimming and effort.


I ordered the three shades of red shown above, which allowed me to look at them under artificial and natural light. Originally I thought that item #8293 would be the best choice, but once I saw the samples in person I decided to order #815 which was closer to the body color and looked great against the black console.


The photo above shows the red sample (#815) against the console in my driveway under the Florida sunshine. This is the only way to make the right decision.

One thing to keep in mind—if you plan to change carpet color—is the fact that the storage compartment frame itself, as well as the storage compartment door frames,  will match the color of the original carpeting. This means that they will have to be repainted to match the color of the new carpet.

And while I could've left mine black for added contrast, I thought it would look unfinished so I bought a can of interior trim paint so everything would look as if it was built this way at the factory.


The storage compartment outer frame has hinges that are riveted, whereas the storage compartment doors are secured to the hinges by screws. This required some taping since I felt red hinges would not look right.


Whenever it comes to interior paint, my go-to product is SEM Color Coat. It has the right sheen and it dries incredibly fast with very little buildup. This means that any textured surfaces will remain textured and look like new.


The photo above shows a closeup of the outer frame and hinge, which I sprayed black before masking.


The storage compartment door frames were cracked and unsalvageable, so I ordered new ones. The factory used plastic welded rivets to secure them, and the only way to separate them from the door assemblies is to drill them out.


The photo above shows one of the rivets drilled out. Aftermarket door frames are pre-drilled for small screws, which I bought at Ace Hardware.



If you happen to drill all the way into the door itself, don't worry about it. The new frames will be pre-drilled in different locations, so you can drill new pilot holes to secure them.


Separating the old carpet from the doors can be a little tricky, but I managed to do so without damaging the surface.


I used contact cement to attach the storage compartment door carpeting. I then pressed the frames in place. It's a tight fit, and you may have to shave the carpet edges to get them installed.




The photo above shows one of the screws used to secure the frames to the doors, which, by the way, come in black, unfinished plastic. I painted them red to match with SEM Color Coat spray paint.


One task that you have to perform is locating and drilling holes in the new carpet. But I don't mean actually drilling with a drill and bit.

If you've ever used a drill to make a hole in a piece of carpeting then you know how frustrating it can be. Plus, you always run the risk of creating a huge run if one of the carpet strands gets caught and pulled by the drill bit.

However, there's an old trick that will allow you to drill perfect holes in the new carpet without tear-outs or frustration.


Get a cheap, five-dollar soldering iron from Harbor Freight Tools and you will be able to "drill" into that new carpet like a hot knife through soft butter. Just be mindful as to where you set your soldering iron while not in use as it can damage carpeting, upholstery, and plastics, in addition to your skin if you're not careful.


The leather door pulls also were painted and all the corresponding hardware was cleaned and polished.


The photo above is a closeup of a carpet hole made with the soldering iron. It does not take much force or effort once the iron is hot to drill through the carpet.


Above: Closeup of the locking glove box door with all the parts attached.


Above: Overall view of the storage compartment frame and doors.



The new carpet required very little trimming. A sharp blade and a metal straight line allow you to cut the material easily.



In order to secure the carpeting at the very back of the storage compartment area, you will need specific plastic retainers. I found the exact ones at the local  O'Reilly.



Once the new carpeting is in place, a sharp awl helps you locate bolt holes easily. The slit for the tab was made with a sharp snap-blade knife.


I immediately use the soldering iron to poke a hole through the carpeting and, in my case, also the mass backing material.


Once the hole is made, I attach the corresponding bolt which helps keep the carpet from shifting.


Getting rid of the old jute padding helps eliminate odors. And the FatMat helps keep unwanted noises outside.


The photo above shows the test fitting of the new carpet. Since it is molded, the fit is quite good, but it is very important to take it out of the packing box as soon as possible in order to prevent creasing and wrinkles.




The pictures above show the passenger side carpeting in place with the seat belt reinstalled as well as seat bolts in place.



Parking brake and transmission tunnel detail during carpet and component installation.


Close up of the cargo compartment from the passenger's side showing the shoulder seat belt retracting mechanism as well as my custom speaker box and subwoofer.



Unfortunately, like most cars built in the 1970s, not to mention 40-plus years of service, panels and trim pieces don't necessarily fit as nicely as they do in modern vehicles.


Cabin new carpet installation is almost complete at this point.


Precise holes ensure a factory-like installation of seats and other interior pieces. And since the seats were out of the car, I took the time to sand and repaint the seat sliders since they were in rough shape.


And this is the finished product. A lot brighter with the two-tone interior and it smells like a brand new car.

Thank you for following.

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