C1 Grille Teeth Manufacturing Process

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In an earlier post, we discussed the first products ever offered by Corvette Central, the 1953-60 grille teeth.  Although the original  process has been enhanced with the addition of a state-of-the-art CNC machine and electronic controls for the die casting machine, the original dies from 1975 are still in use.  Recently we had a chance to photograph the grille teeth manufacturing process from start to finish.

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American made zinc bars arrive on pallets as you see here. They go directly into the furnace to be melted down.
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This machine has a perfect name. It's an American 150-ton die cast machine. It has its own environment within the Corvette Central manufacturing facility to control heat, noise and emissions.

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The die cast machine was completely rebuilt and updated to run electronic controls in 2002.
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This is the original 1953-60 tooling that Corvette Central founder Jerry Kohn built in 1974.
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There are five sets of inserts that are used to produce the varying length teeth found on 1953-60 Corvettes. The tools weigh about 800 lbs. total.
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In this image you can see one half of the die being loaded into the machine with a forklift. Told you they were heavy!
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Along with new zinc bars, the grille teeth that do not pass a visual inspection get turned back into molten metal. This reduces waste and additional cost.

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Liquid molten metal viewed from the surface. The zinc is melted at 787.15 degrees.
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After the zinc is melted, it gets transferred to this holding furnace. Molten metal is routed from here to the injection assembly.
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While not clearly visible here, once the dies have been correctly positioned and aligned within the die cast machine, the molten zinc can be injected into the dies.
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Here Jimmy uses a mix of die lubricant and compressed air to assist in cooling the hot grille tooth before it is removed from the dies.
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Jimmy removes a tooth after cooling. The new teeth will be visually inspected at this point to determine if any surface imperfections exist.

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Here is one of the freshly cast teeth before the gate and runner scrap have been removed.
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Greg separates the teeth that have passed a visual inspection from the scrap.
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Scrap metal to be remelted.
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These teeth have passed inspection. They will eventually have some of the flash trimmed with a press.
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The production of grille teeth continues. About 500 pieces of any die cast part will typically be produced in a given run.
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Teeth are placed in this press to trim flash from the grille bar opening.
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Here is one of the teeth after this process has been completed. It is starting to resemble a finished product at this point, but it needs the excess flashing removed before heading to the CNC machine.
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Cartons of grille teeth are transported in this manner over to the CNC machine.
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This is our Brother TC-S2A-0 CNC tapping center. It has the ability to change cutting tools on the fly. On a grille tooth, two separate operations take place: first, it faces off the back of the casting, effectively removing the flashing and gates. Second, it taps the two 1/4" threads required to mount the finished grille tooth.
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Here, the milling cutter is about to machine the back face of the grille tooth as described above. The tooth is held in place with a machining fixture.
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The two 1/4" threads are tapped next. After this, the tooth is ready to be sent to our chrome plating service.
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Here are three of the teeth after they have returned from our chrome plating service pictured with one of the zinc metal bars. They are now ready to be installed on your C1!

One thought on “C1 Grille Teeth Manufacturing Process

  1. It was very interesting to view the process required to make the grill teeth. Thanks for sharing the process with your customers.

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