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Chevy Engine Restoration - Small Parts Detailing

Read This Before You Start Your Restoration

Doug Marion Apr 1, 2009

This 1957 220-horsepower 283 looks like it has silver cadium hood hinges instead of phosphate. The radiator is also very glossy. We know of no nationwide judging data other than the Eckler's Classic Chevy Club 1000-point judging system that offers definitions on what shades or percentages of a given process is or are factory-correct.

Over the last few decades, one of the most important basic restoration references we attempted to compile and create was how to correctly refurbish, re-plate and restore all or most of the small, underhood sub-assembly parts on a typical 1950s-1970s Chevrolet. Finding answers was, at best, extremely time-consuming. We've asked a lot of shops and also read a lot of factory reference books. So, this all-encompassing story is as complete as we presently know. If by chance we have missed something, feel free to jump in and let us know, c/o Editor Jim Campisano at superchevy@sourceinterlink.com.

Luckily, over the years, we have met some of the best Chevy restoration veterans anywhere, such as Florida's Harold Louisiana, Don Ruhff, Wendell Snowden, Warren Shafer and Denny Williams; Pennsylvania's Vince Dimezza and Frank Incremona; New York's Gary Pronesti; Maryland's Jerry MacNeish, John Hopper and D.M. Crispino; Rhode Island's Matt Prendergast; Indiana's Brian Caudell; South Carolina's Tommy Brooks; Virginia's Mike Arnold; Tennessee's Floyd Garrett and D.J. Gentry; Georgia's Lamar Walden and the late Tom Trainor; Arizona's John Chambers; Illinois' Barry Wallner, Bill Skarupinski and the late Keith Bacon; California's Noland Adams; Michigan's Bob Webster, Al Maynard and the late Sam Folz; Ohio's Joe Johnson; Missouri's Phil Reed and Donnie Shaffer; Minnesota's Vince Emme; Wisconsin's Jim Carlson, plus many more Chevy and Corvette hands-on experts from both restoration businesses and clubs alike.


This 1957 283-horsepower 283 engine and surroundings has been restored to perfection. Absolute, right-on restorations today bring the biggest financial returns. It is therefore worth the effort to do it right.

Our goal in this story was to note what we believe is the accurate coating process (or non-process) of each small part. We have left out special models with chrome valve covers, etc. We also won't tax your gray matter with how each coating process is performed. Reference books and/or actual shop owners can best explain this to you. All we wanted to accomplish here was to give you the correctly named process used on each part/assembly so you at least know what to tell the shop who is about to restore or refurbish your parts.

Also, when you box your parts to send to the restorer, we highly suggest you box them "by process," as-listed. This way, nothing will be incorrectly restored, re-plated or refurbished. Read on. Much story credit goes to GM Service Manuals, with technical terminology from Al Colvin's multi-book series, "Chevrolet By The Numbers" from GM Archives material.


At Sterling Restorations in Wichita, Kansas, we ventured upon this mostly untouched 1960 335-horsepower, tri-power 348 soon to be restored. While the chrome valve covers are add-ons, we enjoyed seeing the deep groove generator pulley and the factory idler pulley. This is going to be a nice W-motor Chevy when done. Thanks to Phil Reed for the find.

Heater Box Horn Assemblies, Ignition Coil Assembly, Oil Fill Tube (exc. Z/28), Open Element Air Cleaner Base Assembly Power Steering Pump Cannister, Radiator Top, Water Pump's Radiator Fan Blade Assembly

Black/Semi-Gloss (Satin)
Air Injection Pump support brace ('69-up), Air Injection Reactor pump pulley ('69-up), Alternator Brackets, Alternator Fan (Pre-'68), Battery Tray, Crankshaft Pulley, Front Control Arms, Master Cylinder (some models Natural), Power Steering Pulley, Power Steering Pump Bracket, Pre-'68 Oil Filler Tube (Cars), Radiator Core Support Starter Motor, Solenoid & Brace, Water Pump Pulley

Gold Cadium (Also spelled CADMIUM)
Brake Proportioning Valve Bracket Assembly, Air Injection Reactor, Backfire Valve, Holley Carb Accelerator Pump, Arm Master Cylinder Top Cover

Gold Dichromate
Carburetor Main Body

Gold Iridite
Power Brake Booster


Northern Indiana's Wes Weslowski owned a new 1963 425-horsepower 409 called Ragamuffin. It was a feared '09 racer back then. Today, he owns a twin '63 409 show-and-go Impala SS and a red '62 drag car. His excellent restoration includes higher luster chrome than the original. Also note the custom valve cover spacers. This engine has roller rocker arms and tubular headers. It runs very, very strong.

Air Injection Reactor Housing, Alternator Housing, Alternator Bracket Spacer, Aluminum Intake Distributor Hold-Down, Aluminum Intake, Thermostat Housing, Bellhousing (later models often painted), Cast Iron Exhaust Manifolds, Disc Brake Proportioning Valve, Distributor Housing, Q-Jet Carb, Throttle Arm Thermal Fan Clutch Assembly, L & R Upper Control Arm Shaft

Orange Gloss Paint
Air Injection Reactor Pump support brace (pre-'69), Alternator Bracket ('67-68 Z/28-only), Harmonic Balancer, Iron Intake Distributor Hold-Down, Iron Intake Manifold Heater Hose Nipple Fitting, Iron Intake Thermostat Housing, Oil Pan, Spark Plug Wire Looms, Bolts on Steel Intake Manifold, Timing Chain Cover & Bolts, Water Pump Heater Hose Nipple Fitting

Air Injection Reactor pump muffler, Air Injection Reactor installation bolt, Air Injection Reactor pump pulley (pre-'69), Alternator Main Bolt, Battery Hold-Down Clamp, Control Arm Mounting Bolts, Fender Bolts (Inner & Outer), Hood Hinges/bolts, Hood Latch Assembly, Manual Trans Clutch Linkage, Radiator Core Support Bolts, Throttle Linkage

Silver Cadium (also spelled CADMIUM)
Alternator Adjusting Bolt, Aluminum Intake Bolts, Aluminum Intake Heater Hose Nipple Fittings, Alternator Fan ('68-up), Carb Air Cleaner Stud, Coil Bracket & bolts, Horn Relay, Hose Clamps, Master Cylinder Top Cover Tension Wires, Starter Bolts



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