Headlight buckets on 1963-1967 Corvettes can be rather difficult to install properly. Ill-fitting assemblies and incorrect installations are common finds . We’ll provide some tips and tricks to do the job properly.
We prefer to install the buckets on the car first and then install the internal components. Whether you opt to do the same is your choice, but keep in mind that space is limited and a juggling act will most likely occur as you attempt to hold the bucket in place and secure it to the body of the car.
Some prep work is involved before we bring the buckets over for installation. Chassis grease is applied to the pivot support balls and pivot supports in order to prevent corrosion. It also provides a bit of “sticking power” to keep things in place while everything is installed.
These photos show the items that need to be installed and their correct order. On the left side of the bucket (the side that is next to the outer edge of the car) the headlight ball seal washer (#442029) is installed on the pivot ball rubber seal (#442028) then the felt seal (#442027) is installed into the rubber seal, the assembled rubber seal, washer and felt seal are installed on the shaft first, followed by the pivot support ball (#442025), the outer pivot support (#442035), and the headlight end collar spacer (#442036). On the right side, which will face the center of the car, put the washer with rubber seal on first, then the felt seal, pivot support ball, and inner pivot support (#442024L / #442024R).
Have a 3/8” socket ready to install the buckets on the car. A long socket with extension is recommended because it prevents the socket and screw from falling between the headlamp assembly and frame when you pull the socket from the screw head.
Having an assistant hold the bucket in place is highly recommended so that you can focus solely on aligning and installing the screws. The problem isn’t so much that you have to hold something with one hand and tighten screws with the other, it’s that the assembly will rotate in the process. If an assistant is not available, you can install them solo without an issue, but you will need to get creative in order to hold the buckets firmly in place while you secure them. Supporting them with your forearm is one way to accomplish this.
Systematically install and tighten screws, rotating the assembly as necessary. Install a screw on one side, and then install one on the opposite side, continuing until they are all in place. Do not tighten them completely at this time. If you do, you will have difficulty aligning the pivot supports and you will have to loosen them all in order to adjust the headlight bucket’s position.
This is definitely one of the toughest aspects of this particular job. You will need to access the bucket’s pivot support from the underside of the bucket. Luckily, the grill was not yet in place, but if it had been we would have removed it to make the process a lot easier.
Loctite is placed on the threads of the Y-stop screws to prevent them from loosening on their own. The headlight opening stop part number is 442020.
The Y-stop controls headlight rotation and lateral movement against the outside collar that was adjusted earlier. Line up the Y-stop serrations with the serrations on the shaft and tighten down the 7/16 inch hex screw while holding the stop against the pivot ball. Be careful the 7/16 screw does not require a lot of torque to hold the Y-stops position and can easily break the aluminum Y-stop if over-tightened. Install the Y-stop screws with Loctite applied, you have about an hour to adjust the stop screws so the door is closed in the position you like.
The headlight motor limit switch (#592027) is currently closed, therefore the headlights would be on.
The fully open position of the headlamp bucket affects headlight aiming, as a rule of thumb we align the back edge of the headlamp housing with the headlamp opening in this area. If the headlamp opening is adjusted too low or high the headlamp aiming screws will not have enough travel.
Manually check the operation of the headlight bucket, ensuring that adequate clearance is maintained during the entire length of travel. Once you are happy with the results you can remove the masking tape and admire the renewed headlight buckets.
Stay tuned because our next installment will cover headlamp aiming.
Related post: How to assemble and install C2 Corvette Headlights
Story and photos courtesy Chris Petris