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How to Clean an Engine Bay without Removing the Engine - Fireball Makeover

Clean up your engine bay in a weekend without removing the engine

Tony Huntimer Jan 15, 2015
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This ’69 Camaro was purchased with a 383 small-block and a yellow engine compartment. Body-colored engine compartments are not for everyone. The small-block was ditched in favor of a 496 big-block. During a carburetor-tuning incident, there was a fuel spill and a spark when the steel-braded fuel line touched the 12-volt bulkhead fitting. A raging fire ensued. The shop thought the car was going to be a total loss. Luckily, the hood was off the car and the fire damage was isolated to a couple of painted areas. A makeover was in order.

Our goal is to prove that anyone could successfully repaint and update the engine compartment in their driveway without removing the fenders, fenderwells, and engine. It may have taken less time to remove all the parts and do a much better job painting the engine compartment, but projects like this have something we like to call, a creeping elegance. This means that one thing turns into another and before you know it, the project gets out of control really fast. Not tearing the car completely apart kept our end goal in perspective.

There were two paint projects to attain our goal. We contacted Automotive Touchup for the yellow touchup paint. We also had surfaces we wanted to paint black, so we decided to try out Eastwood’s new 2K 2-Component Ceramic Aero-Spray paints. Both companies’ paint products were very easy to use and exceeded our expectations. While refinishing the painted surfaces, we decided to upgrade and update a bunch of other hardware.

In our eyes, the end result was a huge improvement all the way around. We set out to prove that painting an engine compartment with spray paint can net some great results without the need to strip the car apart and it could be done in your driveway over a weekend. The only thing we had to farm out was the machining of the FAST valve covers, but that’s moot unless you dropped a lot of coin on some shaft rockers.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro Engine Bay 1 2/28

01. It was always embarrassing to open the hood at car events. The dated yellow paint looked bad enough, especially with the fire damage.

Fuel Fire Damage 3/28

02. The fuel fire damaged the paint on the top radius edge of the firewall, so the yellow paint had to be repaired before we could paint the face and get a decent transition between the yellow and black paint.

Primer Paint Uneven Surface 4/28

03. Primer and paint will not fill scratches or uneven surfaces without some sanding. We wet-sanded this area and you can see the filled scratches and smooth transitions between the metal, primer, yellow base color, and clearcoats

Bare Metal Paining Surface 5/28

04. When painting over bare metal, always primer the surface before painting. You can paint over a painted surface as long as you prep the surface correctly. Sanding the surface with sandpaper only sands the high spots. We placed a strip of tape on the fenderwell, and scuffed the surface with a 3M Scotchbrite pad for about 5 seconds. With the tape removed, you can see the difference between using sandpaper and a Scotchbrite pad.

Hard Paint Line 6/28

05. To keep from getting a hard paint line with yellow Automotive Touchup paint, we curled the tape up a little. When painting up to the tape using this method, it softens the paint edge.

Auomotive Touchup Supplies 7/28

06. Automotive Touchup had everything we needed for multiple touchup jobs on this project car. The primer, paint, and clear came in spray cans and in awesome paint pens.

Original Yellow Paint 8/28

07. When the yellow paint dried, we curled the tape back a little more in order to cover all of the yellow and feather the edge of Automotive Touchup clear onto a little of the original yellow paint.

Plastic Tape 9/28

08. To mask a hose or wire loom, you can waste a ton of tape. To mask a little smarter, cut a strip of plastic and a strip of tape.

Wire Loom 10/28

09. Wrap the hose or wire loom and add a few strips of tape down the line.

Aluminum Foil 11/28

10. Aluminum foil is a good masking material. It’s a quick and easy way to tightly wrap items. Make sure to disconnect the battery if you’re going to wrap electrical accessories.

Blue Painters Tape 12/28

11. We used a ton of blue painter’s tape and clear masking plastic to protect the engine and all of the surfaces we wanted to keep yellow.

Feathered Transiion Line 13/28

12. To get a feathered transition line between the yellow cowl and black firewall, we hung the tape over the edge about 1/2 inch.

Eastwood 2k Aero Spray Paints 14/28

13. Eastwood had all the spraying products we needed for this job. These 2K Aero-Spray paints from Eastwood were easy to use and the results rival using a spray gun, without the cleanup of a gun.

Eastwood Pre Painting Prep 15/28

14. Always remove dirt, wax, and grease from surfaces before painting. Eastwood has this great low VOC Pre-painting Prep that works wonders.

Wide Spary Pattern Nozzle 16/28

15. The nozzle on the Eastwood can makes a wide spray pattern, almost like a real paint gun. Turn the tip to change the spray pattern

Catalyst Chamber 17/28

16. Once the internal catalyst chamber is busted open, you have less than 48 hours to finish using the entire contents of the can. This is a blessing if you are a procrastinator and need a push to get in there and get it done.

Fogged Transition Line 18/28

17. The fogged transition line at the top of the cowl is not easy to attain. We did a decent job on most of the line. The key is to have a good 1/2-inch or more of tape overhang to fog under. The factory didn’t tape off the firewall before spraying the black firewall paint. The painter on the factory line didn’t even paint black up to the edge.

Hard Tape Line 19/28

18. You can see a small area on the driver’s side where the tape was stuck down during the fogging process and we missed it. The hard tape line is really obvious.

Touchup Paint Pens 20/28

19. We could sand these and spray them for a great finished product, but we wanted to test out the Automotive Touchup paint pens. The car will be completely repainted in the future, so no matter what the result, it will be cool.

Stainless Hardware 21/28

20. Totally Stainless hardware can be had in a few different forms. For this project, we picked up a stainless kit with black finish in the same places. We decided these bolts were going to fit the theme better than the old existing chrome bolts with Chevy Bow Tie stamped in their heads.

Stainless Billet Adjusters 22/28

21. With the newly touched-up paint and Totally Stainless bolts in place, the focus will not be on the chipped paint when the hood is open at car shows. The Eddie Motorsports stainless billet adjusters will get the attention.

Hood Latch 23/28

22. We replaced the hood latch with an Eddie Motorsport unit. Adjust the pin and change the height of the hood, then tighten the locking nut.

Fender Braces 24/28

23. The old fender braces were big and bulky, so we installed a nice set of billet adjustable units from Eddie Motorsports. They were easy to install and gave the more utilitarian look we were going for.

Fast Valve Covers 25/28

24. Once we laid out all the necessary marks on the FAST valve covers to clear the high-end shaft rockers, we took them to Pacific Fabrication to be milled. We could have done all of this at home with a Dremel tool, but it would have been a long, arduous, and messy process.

Valve Covers 26/28

25. These valve covers require different hardware than the old ones, so we picked up some ARP stainless studs for cast valve covers. We prefer studs over bolts because they help locate the gasket for installation ease. They also allow you to remove the part many times without wearing out the threads in the heads.

Steel Hinge Eddie Motorsports Hinges 27/28

26. The old stamped-steel hinges worked fine, but the Eddie Motorsports hinges are so much nicer. You can feel the quality by simply opening the hood.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro Engine Bay 28/28

27. After all that work, the engine compartment looks great! Black is always in style!

Sources

Automotive Racing Products
Ventura , CA 93003
800-826-3045
www.arp-bolts.com
Pacific Fabrication
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
408-250-1772
www.pacificfab.net
Totally Stainless
800-767-4781
www.totallystainless.com
Eastwood Company
Pottstown, PA 19464
800-343-9353
http://www.eastwood.com
Eddie Motorsports
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
888-813-1293
www.eddiemotorsports.com
FAST
Memphis, TN 38118
877-334-8355
http://www.fuelairspark.com
Automotive Touchup
888-710-5192
www.automotivetouchup.com

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