The C1 1959 Corvette Restoration Project

Lightning & Electricity

Since the wiring in our Corvette was a real mess I was very pleased to find the whole '59 Corvette wiring diagram on page 81 of the Operations Manual.  This enabled me to trace all problems back to the right color wire or switch.  Especially since board computers didn't exist in the good old days it is relatively easy to determine the cause of incorrect working lights or other electronically devices.

Battery, Wiring, Radio, Head lights, Brake lights, Turn Signal Switch, License Plate Lights, Reflectors, Horn Switch, Head Light Switch


When we got the car the battery was not properly attached to the battery tray.  The needed shield, J-bolts, nuts and rubber spacers were all missing and therefore the car surely wouldn't pass the RDW-test to get approval to drive on the Dutch roads.  Again we ordered all the missing parts, waited for them to arrive, paint-sprayed the shielding and mounted the battery tight onto the tray.  All and all a simple job, done in a few evenings (due to paint which needed drying).


When the car arrived the wiring was in a bad condition.  In the pictures below you get an idea of the state it was in.  Often new wires were included in the existing harness and some of the original wires were cut and taped to provide some level of functioning.  To pass the RDW-test this was one of the first task to ensure it all looked neat but also to ensure safety of the car.  The fitted after market radio was also installed rather messy.


Since I have a background as electrical engineer it's not a real problem for me to restore the wiring up to a level the car is safe again resulting in a seamless passing of the RDW-test on this topic.


The original Wonderbar radio was not installed in our car (anymore).  I found a original '55 Wonderbar radio which is was send to CorvetteStop for testing and shipping to the Netherlands (combined with other bits we are waiting for).  I paid $ 396 for it, which I considered to be a bargain.  Unfortunately I made a huge mistake because the radio was for a Chevrolet passenger car and not for a Corvette (it is to wide to fit).  I managed to sell it again for $ 250 so that was a net loss of at least $ 150 ;-(

In the meanwhile I've tried again and bought another Wonderbar 1958 radio for $ 415, this time for a Corvette:


Let's hope it works and turns out right this time.

Head lights

Another, quite easy job is replacing the fitted head lights.  Why ?  Since gas filled headlights are not permitted in Europe.  Also the specs on the provided beam of light is different over here (don't know why though).  Replacement lights are easy to find since they are still used in modern cars (e.g. in the '80 Volkswagen Golf).  Replacing them is a 30 minute job, titlehough I took the opportunity to ensure the head light housing wouldn't rust anymore by repainting them.  Also I replaced all light adjuster mechanics (holder and screws) because some of the were broken.  After reconfiguring the light angles and reinstalling the chrome work it all worked out fine and this slight titleeration doesn't show from the outside at all.

Nice repaint job of the light unit holders:


Without its head lights the car looks rather sad...

Anyone interested in a couple of gas filed Corvette head lights ?

Brake lights

The brake, normal and titleernating lights are, on the rear side of the car all combined in one light.  This means that this light will blink when you want to turn to the left or right, it will be bright when you hit the brake and burn normal when the head lights are switched on.  Unfortunately the brake light function didn't work properly when our car was delivered...

First I started the investigation with checking the brake light switch which can be found behind the brake pedal.  The switch seemed to work fine so I had to continue my search for the malfunctioning of the brake lights.  After carefully studying the electronic diagram I concluded the problem should be in the turn signal switch since the brake light signal was routed via this switch to the rear lights.  This switch was indeed the problem, also it caused the right rear light not to blink when needed when a right turn was foreseen.

Turn Signal Switch

The turn signal switch was causing problems for the brake light function of the rear lights and the left signaling. Replacing this switch is quite easy if you are able to dismount the steering wheel.  First remove the horn button and unscrew the three screws of the horn contact.  Be very careful not to harm the threat of the steering axle when you try to remove the nut.  Be aware that the steering wheel might come loose with a shock.  I hurt my nose because of it and it was bleeding all over me (because I didn't want to get the interior all stained with my blood).  After a plaster and some ice cubes it luckily stopped bleeding but I looked like a fool for a week because of it and you try to explain this incident to your colleagues without getting the laughing in your face...

After removing the steering wheel the signal turning mechanism can be dismantled and the signal switch replaced.  After cleaning all signal turning bit I started assembling the turning mechanism. I applied some oil on all moving bits.  I also replace the ball bearing with a new one because the old one missed a lot of little balls.  The signal turn switch now works fine again and the signal mechanism (incl. canceling mechanism) works smooth again as well.

License Plate Lightning

One of the two license plate lights was working properly, sometime it blinked a bit and sometimes it didn't burn at all.  After disassembling the light I had to conclude that the lamp holder was taped onto the housing!  Not a neat way of making it right.  The lamp holder was not fitting properly because it was to small for the hole in the metal plate.  After ordering a correct lamp holder this was easily corrected and now the light is working as it should.



Ok, I must admit a reflector isn't a light and therefore shouldn't be on this page but since it got to do with our visibility I decided to put it on this page as well (I hope the purists will forgive me).  The right rear reflector isn't tightly attached to the car since the nut is not tightly fit.  I have a problem here since I don't have the proper tooling, in American measures, to loosen the nut.  I'm still looking for a solution for this...

Horn Button

One of the things which was reported out of the car inspection which was conducted before I purchased the car was that the horn wasn't working properly.  After some tests I found out that the fitted non-original horns still worked but the original horn relay didn't work and the horn contact behind the horn button was corroded and the broken.  These bits were easily replaced with new, correct parts and now the horns are working fine again using the horn button on the steering wheel.


Head Light Switch

To be decribed...