FARM BOY FIGURES OUT FIX FOR CORVETTE

 Do you own a 1994-1996 Corvette with loose-fitting door panels that rattle when you drive the car? In 1994, GM took the glove box out of the Corvette dashboard to allow room for airbag storage. This necessitated a redesign in the Corvette door panels. “The previous panels had a different bend to them and thinner support ribs,” says Gary Snyder of Corvette Solutions. “GM put a long, hard arch in the panels and used heavier ribs. When the door panels age, the heavier ribs break (usually in three places, one worse than the others) and the panel then wants to straighten out.” According to Snyder, this straightening pressure creates “dimples” in the plastic. “After I repair a panel, these dimples start to mellow out,” says Snyder. “Within two years, they disappear totally — they’re gone!” Gary was working as a fertilizer salesman in a farming community when he bought a 1994 Corvette and noticed the door panels rattling. Having grown up on a farm, Snyder was used to analyzing problems and finding ways to fix them himself. After some investigation, he figured out the cause of the rattling. Snyder discovered that the door panels are hung on the top of the door frame with clips. When the ribs break, the panels want to curl. The fasteners on the bottom hold up ok, but the curling action pulls the top of the panel away from the attaching clips. Many car owners slam the panels with their fist to try to force them back on, but this usually just breaks off the fiberglass clips. Gary discovered that replacement door panels are available, but they cost about $600-$700 each and they have some difference in design from OEM panels. “The originals have an inlay where the armrest would be, while the reproduction panels have a cove piece that is not quite the same as an inlay panel,” Gary explains. “Some owners also try vinyl repair kits, but the stress caused as the curve tries to straighten is still there and the vinyl tears.” Gary has found a way to repair the original door panels. “They all tend to break in the same places, so I designed a pneumatic press to push the panel back into its proper position,” Snyder points out. “I had the press made and then had it calibrated just for these panels.” Gary uses the special press to push the panel back into its new position. Then, he cleans up the cracked ribs, grinds the vinyl and cleans up cracks in the vinyl. When he’s finished, the vinyl looks brand new. When things are going good, Gary can turn around a panel mailed into him within 24 hours. The basic cost is $159 plus shipping per panel, but this is subject to change. For information contact Corvette Solutions at (610) 926-6547 or email corvettesolutions@frontiernet.net.

 

 

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