Saturday, August 24, 2019

Supra Cam Cover Refinishing

As one of the myriad tasks I have working on my "Project Car" is refinishing the cam covers (aka "Valve Covers") so the engine doesn't look so ratty when the hood is open.

These are the cam covers the car was born with. 30+ years of heat and oil/road vapors have caused the paint to lift, exposing the aluminum.

Some time ago I bought a set from a forum member, and they had ZERO paint on them, and really heavy oil and varnish deposits on them. I stripped the oil and varnish off using paint stripper, and then washed them with solvent. Well, I didn't clean the outside surfaces properly, and the remaining oil caused "fisheyes" in the paint.

See all the little "dots" in the paint? Those are "fisheyes". Since I have another set of covers (the ones still on the engine), I'm just going to roll with these for now, and do a much better job on my original covers after I take them off the engine to install these.

I mounted the covers to a length of 2x4 I had laying around, and clamped the 2x4 to my work table. Then I put a sheet of 100-grit paper in my little orbital sander, and carefully, gently, slooowly took the paint of the ribs and lettering. You want to keep nice, even pressure on the sander as you move it from one side to the other. Don't bear down on it, or you can gouge the aluminum casting, and/or make low spots, which won't look very nice when you're finished. Like Dad always said, "Let The Tool Do The Work".

This is after 15 minutes or so of easy sanding.

Then I vacuum them off, and block sand them with 220 grit, followed by 600 grit. Sand ONLY in one direction, "long ways" on these, to give you a nice, uniform "brushed" finish on the ribs and lettering. Blocking them like this gets them nice and flat. The 220 gets out 95% of the marks left by the 100 grit in the orbital sander, and the 600 gives a nice satin/brushed finish.

Nice and FLAT with square edges.

Makes the lettering really stand out.

This is after 2 light coast, and one 'medium heavy' coat, 10 minutes apart, using VHT High Temperature Clear Engine Enamel, "With Ceramic!!".


After the clear coat cures for at least 48 hours I'll paint the lettering with some Testor's "Model Master" enamel, let that cure, and then clear coat the lettering to seal it down.

And then I did the same with the cam cover for the intake side of the engine. This side doesn't have any lettering, so it's basically finished and ready to install after the clear coat cures. The can says "48 Hours", but I've always had better luck with waiting AT LEAST a week, or 168 hours. Putting them out in the sun after they've dried to the touch and aren't tacky any longer is also a good thing to do. It's going to be warm and sunny tomorrow, so I'll put them out in the sun for a few hours. Lat summer they got up to over 140* sitting in the sun, and that really helped the wrinkle paint cure.

And then I painted my passenger side outside mirror housing. It still needs some more paint, but I'm a stickler for following the drying times printed on the can, so it won't get any more paint for 24 hours. more mundane item crossed off the list for the Supra.


  1. That is really nice work, and you did it with skill, experience, and a moderate amount of hand tools.

    Well done!

    1. Thanks! Been doing stuff like this since I was about 12 years old. Started with model airplanes and cars, and then progressed up to a "1-to-1" scale toy.

  2. Just don't get T-boned on the first drive when you are done!

    1. That's why I have a St. Christopher hanging in the car!

      Cars can be fixed. People are another matter.

  3. Your attention to detail is admirable.

    1. I'm picky when it comes to my own stuff. I screwed up big time by not properly prepping the ENTIRE cover, BOTH sides.

      I'll get it right when I refinish the ones still on the car!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, SiG! I learned my wrinkle finish skills build and restoring radio gear. I just love the stuff!

  5. I had painted my boat gas tanks with red paint and then realized the paint never said "enamel".
    I tested a scrap and the gas ate it. I messaged rustoleum and asked what I could do.
    They said top coat it with their VHT clear engine enamel. I did.
    Not satisfied with their resistance to gas.
    Live and learn.

    1. Did the clear degrade, or did it lift along with the red?

      All of the paint for this little part of the project is enamel. I know the wrinkle finish paint is extraordinarily resistant to most solvents, so as long as the clear holds up, I'm golden.

      These are probably in a more benign environment, too.

    2. It's odd. It discolors, but you can rub it off.

    3. "Rub it off" as in it didn't stick to the tank and peels off? Or does it "chalk" off, leaving your hands or a cloth covered in paint dust?

    4. Used a rag and rubbed. Seemed to go away.
      Didn't notice much more.
      Still don't understand.

    5. Interesting. Maybe it didn't cure right, or the surface had something on it that reacted with the paint.

  6. Replies
    1. In my case, glacially slooooow!

      But at least I am making some progress.


Keep it civil, please....

Happy Thanksgiving!

  And in the spirit of this truly American observance, we'll be celebrating it in a typical (for some) American way. From 2pm to 3pm we&...