Sunday, June 7, 2020

C3 Corvette: Shifter Console Plastic Tab Repair

Forty-year-old plastic becomes brittle over the years and it's not uncommon for retainer tabs to become cracked or start missing chunks from age and mishandling.

Many people use the center console as a prop when they reach across the cabin, just like they use the steering wheel as an aid to exit the driver's seat, or grab and push on the window glass to close the door.

Whether the damage is done because of ignorance or laziness, the end result is cracked or broken plastic tabs, and up to us—the current owners—to repair.


The red circles above show two tabs that were broken and, consequently, missing pieces of plastic. Unfortunately, it is not an easy and quick repair, and the only other alternative is to buy a reproduction console, which can be expensive.


The photo above shows my "quick and dirty" solution for the broken tabs. I made these out of .016 sheet aluminum which can be cut easily with metal shears. The corners are rounded with a file so they look nice and prevent injury.



I glued the aluminum pieces with general-purpose epoxy to the underside of the console, and when the epoxy had somewhat cured, I applied a couple of additional coats to build up the thickness and strength of the area.

For this project, I used 5-minute clear epoxy since it was what I had handy, but you can use any kind you want.


To help secure the aluminum tabs, I used spring clamps to ensure the patches would adhere properly, especially considering I would have to drill a couple of holes for the speed-nuts as shown in the picture below.


I purposely installed the speed-nuts before the epoxy had fully cured. This secures them in place which makes future removal and installation of the console shifter plate a lot easier.


The photo above shows how one corner of the speed-nut "bit" into the soft epoxy, which helps secure it in place.

Also, keep in mind that this really is a temporary repair. I have no idea if it will last for a month or a decade, but in the meantime, it helps keep the shifter plate securely in place and I don't have to buy a new console.


While I was there, I also removed the shifter inner boot and tunnel flange since they were dirty and the flange had some surface rust. A quick sanding with 220-grit paper took care of the rust.


I gave the flange a couple of coats of black primer with great results. Remember, you only see this piece when you remove the shifter plate or the console itself, and the purpose of the primer is to prevent oxidation.


And this is the finished product. The console shifter plate is now installed correctly with the four speed-nuts properly positioned, two of them on new tabs.

I want to reiterate that this was a very "quick and dirty" repair.

If the console is in good overall condition, you can remove it from the car and then properly repair cracks and broken tabs with fiberglass, which is a better and stronger material to repair broken plastic tabs.

However, I did not want this project to become too involved and take a few days, so I chose to do the repairs with the console in place. But you have the option to do it right by using fiberglass or plastic repair epoxy.

Thank you for following my '76 Vette Blog!



Product Links... (#sponsored)

J-B Weld Black Plastic Bonder Body Panel Adhesive and Gap Filler
J-B Weld PlasticWeld Quick-Setting Epoxy Syringe
3M Fiberglass Resin Repair Kit
Permatex 84145 Permapoxy Black Plastic Weld

                   


C3 Corvette Shifter Indicator Plate 4-Speed Transmission
1968-1976 Corvette Shifter Boot, Upper, 4-Speed, Black

       

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