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Learn To Paint Your Engine Compartment

Dumping the old engine for a bigger, badder one? Why not learn to paint your engine compartment

We got caught up in a mad dash to ditch the farm-tractor inline-six the Rambler was delivered with in favor of a proper V-8 and decided to fog the engine compartment flat black. And while flat black is almost universally cool, there was really nothing wrong with the factory Barbados Blue we painted over. So while the Rambler awaits what will be its third engine, we decided to restore the engine compartment to its original hue.

Unlike a body-on-frame design, unibody cars announce their presence boldly, with tall, broad shock towers often accompanied by firewall bracing. The effect is a more intimate relationship between the engine itself and the car's chassis, the balance of which is struck by matching the engine compartment to the car's exterior color. Simply speaking, our shiny blue-and-aluminum 360 won't show as well in a flat black hole, so back to Barbados Blue we go. Enough with the aesthetic musings, here's how we got it done.

Things to ConsiderAlthough painting an engine compartment is not as big an undertaking as respraying an entire car, the planning and prep work involved are the same. You need to consider the following factors: How good do you want it to look, and how long do you want it to last? Since we are in it for the long haul with the Rambler, we decided to do the best job possible. We chose to spray 2K (or two-part) products in a two-stage process.

Two-stage means the color coat and clearcoat are applied in two separate steps. In a single-stage process, the color coat also serves as the topcoat, as it's designed to dry to a more glossy finish. These paints can give excellent results that will last a long time, but we prefer the extra layer of protection that a two-stage clearcoat provides.

A 2K product refers to a material that requires a catalyst, usually called an activator, which enables the paint to cure after application. As opposed to 1K products, usually spray-can products, lacquers, and materials that only require thinning before spraying, 2K products are moisture resistant and will protect your sheetmetal better.

The safest thing to paint over is factory paint. You can be fairly confident that it was applied properly, and therefore, you may only have to scuff it lightly and paint right over it-no primer needed. However, if you are unsure of the quality of the work you'll be painting over, we recommend using a sealer. Sealer does exactly what the name implies: It serves as a barrier between what was and what will be. It provides a clean, stable area to prime and paint over that will be unaffected by anything that lies below. Because of our dodgy flat-black assault, we decided to err on the side of caution and use a sealer. We also chose urethane products because they tend to be more durable than acrylic enamels. Once those decisions were made, our plan fell into place. Here are the steps we took: clean and degrease, sand, seal, prime, and paint.

The crossmember then got a liberal coat of Eastwood Rust Encapsulator and was allowed 24 hours to dry. We decided to leave the crossmember black, so it got sprayed with VHT's satin black enamel from an aerosol can.

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25 comments
Andriw Bern
Andriw Bern

Me darian un curso de pintura.... xfavor

Larry Hullinger
Larry Hullinger

I used newspaper for years when I used to paint cars never had a problem !!!

Randy Todriff
Randy Todriff

Note to First time Mopar owners Never ever paint your engine bay Black its body color for Mopars

Ian Big-e Hoffman
Ian Big-e Hoffman

I've never had any problems using newspaper either so if its bleeding through you should stop spraying the newspaper and spray the car or project

Matt Williams
Matt Williams

I got my copy today and was surprised to see the word Volvo appears twice in two issues.

Ryan Chevalier
Ryan Chevalier

Put up some pics of the thirdgen in the background!

Keith Kavon
Keith Kavon

it looks like to me, like the job was half assed. I could point out everything i see that didn't seem like the best route to take, but i don't want to write a long paragraph, and as a mechanic i dont like to bash other people's methods. Judge by the finish poroduct. But, all i can really say is if this, is suppose to be one of your best jobs, like the article said you were shooting for, I would never want to bring any my projects there.

Craig Palmer
Craig Palmer

why is the lettering so small, gotta put my face right upto the screen to read it all.

Ralph Laakmann
Ralph Laakmann

and the paint on the newspaper....why are you putting costly paint on the newspaper....it belongs on the job.....

Ralph Laakmann
Ralph Laakmann

if you are bleeding thru newspaper.....you are sagging and running....Iv'e used newspapers to mask off even House of color candies and never bled thru....

Keith Inskeep
Keith Inskeep

been there done that more times than i can count but it is so worth it

Karl Loper
Karl Loper

Now take a tack rag or an alcohol rag and wipe off the oils that your left hand just transmitted to the surface.

Jae Cho
Jae Cho

Yup this is a big Fail. Newspaper is a dust source too plus the bleeding.

Brandon Quinn
Brandon Quinn

First tip don't use newspaper, go to a paint supplier shop and pay 10-15 bucks for good paper.

J-f Dube
J-f Dube

All I say is SCRUB LOTS before you paint.

Jason Sahloff
Jason Sahloff

Don't use newspaper, paint can bleed through it

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