As originally designed, the engine bay was never meant to be a visually appealing place. It was simply a spot to stuff the engine and hold all the various bits that makes a Camaro functional. But hot rodders want more; their goal is to have the engine bay be as tidy as the rest of the car. This is made a bit more challenging since engine bays are fairly hostile environments. High heat, battery acid, oil, coolant, and decades of road grime can all conspire to turn an engine’s showcase into a dilapidated mess.
But cleaning it up isn’t all that tough; it just takes a little bit of time and some sweat equity. It also takes fresh paint, but instead of being limited to yesterday’s rattle can technology, companies like Eastwood are helping the average DIY guy get pro results with spray cans that function more like full-on spray guns. To check out this new-breed of spray paint, we decided to clean up the engine bay of a 1967 Chevy Camaro RS that was getting prepped for a new small-block stroker.
The engine bay on our ’67 RS was just tired and looking beat down. In order to freshen it up, we bribed a couple of friends, in this case Shawn Dove and Chris Pollock, to help us yank out the drivetrain.
In reality, the engine bay was in great shape; just covered in over 40 years of oil and grime. The cleanup process was straightforward: spray with degreaser, scrape away the grime, and repeat until only clean metal remains.
Another handy tool for this cleanup exercise was a power washer loaded up with some soap.
Restoring an engine bay is about more than just paint. It’s also about replacing all the worn parts with fresh ones. These hood bumpers had seen better days. Replacements can be bought from vendors like Camaro Central, Ground Up, YearOne, Classic Industries, or NPD.
The best time to repaint an engine bay is before you install a bunch of pretty, powdercoated parts. This wasn’t an option for us, so we went to town with lots of 3M blue tape. We also used drop cloths to cover any place we didn’t want overspray to go.
We unbolted the booster from the firewall and pulled it forward just enough to bag the assembly. Remember, the more time you spend prepping the engine bay, the nicer your final result will be.
Part of this process involves sanding down the rough spots in preparation for paint. Like the taping off exercise, effort spent here will pay off in the end.
With the engine bay thoroughly sanded, we moved on to paint. Rather than just rattle-can the bay with basic enamel paint we decided to try some of the new products from Eastwood. Our bay was nearly rust free, but we hit the areas with surface rust with the Rust Encapsulator. To use it we simply sprayed it directly over the surface rust. The encapsulator is a great product since it neutralizes the rust and keeps it from spreading.
Before painting, we wiped down the surfaces with Eastwood’s Low VOC Pre Painting Prep. This cleaner helps to remove any last silicone, polish, grease, wax, or dirt from the surface. After all, paint sticks great to metal—not so much to contaminants. We simply sprayed the surface and then wiped it down with a clean rag.
Eastwood’s new 2K Aero-Spray line of paints use a two-component Nano-Ceramic system to create a super durable spray gun-like paint. To activate the paint, we used the red cap to push in a plunger on the bottom of the can that punctured a bladder inside the can. We then shook the can for about two minutes to mix the catalyst with the paint. Once mixed, we had around 48 hours to use it up. Because this product is like what comes out of a spray gun (contains Isocyanates), Eastwood states you need to wear eye, skin, and respiratory protection when spraying it. Eastwood sells an SAS respirator (PN 11456) for just $20. You’ll also want to paint in a very well ventilated area.
For a nicer finish, we hit most of the major areas with a layer of Eastwood’s epoxy primer (PN 14149 Z). The spray pattern was much broader than a typical spray can, which made covering the areas easier. Once dry, we went over the surfaces with some 500-grit sandpaper.
We then sprayed the core support, inner wheelhouses, and firewall with the low-gloss underhood paint (PN 14147 Z). For the frame, we used their satin black Chassis Black two-part paint (PN 14145 Z). We did find that we needed to use a lot more of the black paint to cover the light gray primer. So if you want to save a few bucks, skip it and go directly to paint. In our case, we used nearly three cans of the low-gloss underhood paint and two cans of the Chassis Black.
With the engine bay painted, we were ready to stuff in the new engine. We also need to cruise the Eastwood website for some paint to cover our rusty brake master cylinder. Total time to rehab the bay, not counting pulling the old drivetrain, was two long days. But it was time well spent.