How to Detail an Engine Compartment

As most people will tell you, I’m a big fan of doing whatever you can to dress up your car. Even if engine removal is not an option for your hot rod project, you can still have an extremely detailed engine room in your automobile.

How to Detail an Engine Compartment

First impressions

When I started working it was a running car that had been in long-term storage. It was functional, but filthy and haphazardly put together. I’ll walk you through the process of cleaning and refinishing the engine and surrounding areas. It’s not for nothing that I’m known as Rattle Can Ralph.

The terrifying wiring was the first to go. When it comes to wiring, almost every abandoned project car I’ve ever purchased was a jumbled mess. Many people still find it a great source of mystery and scavenged trash yard items. Please do yourself a favor and invest in a high-quality wiring kit. If you follow the instructions, it’s nice, clean, and very bullet-proof. You’ve got this.

Because A/C was in its future, this vehicle received a 20-circuit kit. This kit has been improved and has been renamed the 22-circuit kit to accommodate extra accessory circuits. I didn’t have a smartphone when I wired this car, or I’d write an essay about it. Trust me on this: get one of these kits. If you intend to use A/C, an electric fan, or other similar devices. The time you’ll save is well worth the money.

After the wiring in the automobile was rebuilt and properly routed, I began to degrease and dismantle. I normally keep the engine sealed and soak all of the problem areas. Many great products I’ve found for removing years of grease and leaving a clean, dry surface that will receive and hold new paint. Scrub anywhere you can with a nylon brush after the degreaser has had a chance to work. Then, power washes the block and its surroundings. Another appealing aspect is a safe biodegradable compound that can be washed down the drain.

After everything had dried off, I proceeded to remove the intake manifold and the original valve covers. Before washing, I had already removed the headers and temporarily replaced them with block-off plates. This allowed me to thoroughly clean the walls of the block and the oil pan.

Seriously, Aluminum Foil Is Awesome. Aluminum foil is my favorite material. Period. It is, without a doubt, the best masking material money can purchase. It can conform to any shape, no paint kind will ever bleed through, it may be taped to, and it can completely wrap difficult items. However, if you don’t obtain the high-duty stuff, your experience will be frustrating.

Finned aluminum is one of those things that can make an engine bay stand out. Especially when someone takes the time to properly detail it. Fins, in my opinion, should always be painted.

Blue 3M Fineline tape is another favorite in my detailing arsenal. I always have 1/8″ and 14″ broad rolls on the stock. It’s the same material I use to layout flames and mask visuals, but it has tens of thousands of other applications. As an example, consider hiding the valve cover fins. It’s not a perfect match, but it’s close enough to make you look like a pro when the paint dries.

Isn’t it worth your time?

I also decided to replace the intake manifold. Both for aesthetic and functional purposes. It was designed for a quadrajet carb, which is OK, but I wanted to equip this car with a 4150 carb. If the previous spread bore manifold was kept, an adapter plate would have to be used. Each additional gasket, in my opinion, is just another possibility for a vacuum leak. The way I planned to take was to bolt the carb directly to the manifold.