El Camino Engine Bay - Cherry Bay
Setting The Grounds For A Clean Install
From the February, 2009 issue of Chevy High Performance
By Sean Haggai
Photography by Sean Haggai
It's not enough to stuff a big-block in the engine bay of our project El Camino. No, we have to step it up a notch. To place such a work of reciprocating art into a dirty box just wouldn't be right. Under the hood is where the real showtakes place, where the engine will live. It just ain't right to open your hood and discover 40-plus years of dirt, road grime, oil residue, tar, and who knows what else-all cradling and enveloping superb muscle. It's like eating caviar with week-old pizza-the two just don't jibe.
The engine bay should be a shrine to all things powerful and fast-a Mecca and a foundation for making more power. It should embody the time and care you take with the rest of the car. People can tell a lot about a person by the way their engine bay looks. It expresses how serious you are about your project.
In our case, we spent the weekend with the Elco, washing, grinding, sanding, and finally painting the engine bay for this brute. We'll get you motivated to do the same and illustrate some of the pitfalls and tips that will make your endeavor a bit smoother.
Degrease, sand, and paint away 42 years of grime.
It's a cheap and easy weekend project.
There is a direct correlation between temperature and pressure. We placed the cans of paint in a bucket of very warm water for about 10 minutes. This allowed them to soak up the warmth of the water, which in turn builds more pressure. Think of it as a nitrous blanket for your paint can. No warm water? Just set them in the sun for a bit. Your quick warm-up will allow the paint to come out faster with more pressure, and it'll dry sooner.
We rolled the ol' Camino into...
We rolled the ol' Camino into the street, and it was there we got a cold, hard look at what 42 years of road buildup can do to the framerails and inner fenders. We wanted to not only dissolve all the grime, but also remove and pick away all the undercoating. It's ugly and gross-and it had to go.
We prepared a 1:1 (50/50)...
We prepared a 1:1 (50/50) mix of Oil Eater degreaser formula and water. It comes in a gallon jug, and we used nearly all of it. Tougher jobs could call for using straight degreaser to cut through the oil. Utilizing a spray bottle, we liberally soaked the entire engine bay. This included inner fenders, firewall, subframe, and steering components. Removing the front fenders and front suspension will net you even more admittance, especially to the outer framerails of the car. Degrease any areas that will be painted. Once it was sprayed, we let the formula do its job-waiting about 20 minutes-then resprayed.
After a thorough soaking,...
After a thorough soaking, it was time to get the real elbow grease started. There was no easy way about it; we jumped in the engine bay armed with putty knives-you could use a screwdriver or any sort of flat scraping implement-and began the long process of removing the grime and muck.
Next, after some scraping,...
Next, after some scraping, we fired up the power washer, threw on some safety goggles, stuck on the sheeting nozzle, and washed off the mess. If a pressure washer isn't available, any high-pressure garden hose will work.
After sufficiently washing...
After sufficiently washing away most of the oil and grease buildup, we called in some heavy-duty removing equipment: an electric grinding wire wheel. The tough stuff that doesn't come off with the power washer or the degreasing will most certainly be removed with the wire wheel. We spun the wheel over everything-focusing on the framerails and the crossmember, giving the metal a shiny, smooth finish.
Paint won't stick to rust,...
Paint won't stick to rust, so it's crucial to remove it all. Scotch-Brite pads are great for sanding everywhere we planned on painting. Long lasting and cheap, they create a bristling action when you sand with them. They're also coarse enough to cut through old paint and create a clean, blemish-free surface to paint on. We picked up about six pads for the whole job.
We didn't bother preparing...
We didn't bother preparing the A-arms, brake lines, the exhaust, the master cylinder, or the transmission. Instead, we removed most of it because it's going to eventually be replaced. To access the top of the crossmember, we unbolted the four bolts and removed the motor mounts and got those out of the way.
When the entire engine bay...
When the entire engine bay area was completely clean and free of any last clinging grime, we blew it off and wiped it down to remove any debris. Next, we masked off the area to paint with paper and tape and laid a sheet of plastic on the ground under where we were going to paint. Because the car will be fogged shortly, we weren't very concerned with overspray. To make the job a little easier, the hood can always be removed to gain easier access to crevices and hard-to-reach areas.
For complete coverage of the...
For complete coverage of the bare engine bay, we used three cans of gray primer, one can for each side of the bay and one last coat to finish it off. We started spraying at the top of each fender and worked our way down until we met up with the crossmember. We repeated the process on the other side, maintaining a 10- to 12-inch distance while laying down the paint. At this point, we decided it would be a good idea to let the primer coat dry overnight before attempting the final coat.
The next day, we could begin...
The next day, we could begin laying down the coats of black paint. Because this paint must endure the heat of the motor, we picked up four cans of Duplicolor's high-heat flat black paint. We used the 1,200-degree-F stuff, but the 500-degree paint would have provided adequate protection and coverage as well. Just as before, we swept from top to bottom and began with the fenders. For cold or overcast days, a drop light will help speed up the drying.
Four cans later, this engine...
Four cans later, this engine bay is looking pretty snazzy. Even though it doesn't have an exact OEM look, we dare say it looks even better. Now, if we could only get the rest of the car to come out just as well, but that'll be a project for another day.
Cheap Paint Gun While painting,...
Cheap Paint Gun
While painting, control is everything, and long periods of spraying can leave your fingers fatigued. A cool trick is to pick up one of these Eazy paint guns from a local auto parts store. They clip right to the tip of the paint cans and allow efficient management of the paint. Paint sweeps become smoother, and the spray will flow out more evenly.
|PARTS & PRICES |
|ITEM ||PN ||PRICE |
|Scotch-Brite pads ||N/A ||$1.69 |
|Rustoleum primer, automotive finish (3) ||2089830 ||$9 |
|Duplicolor high-heat, black (4) ||DH 1602 ||$24 |
|Oil Eater degreaser ||AOD1G35437 ||$55 |
| ||Total ||$89.69 |