50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

After the firewall is primed, it’s easy to paint. I simply used John Deere “Black” for this firewall. John Deere has a couple of different low gloss blacks. This one is a semi gloss – the other is flat black (Blitz Black).

50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

It’s a rare time when a writer gets to discuss something in the first person. And this is one of those rare times. You see, my little green Nova has been seen by a large number of folks right here on RacingJunk.com and also on my personal You Tube channel (Lone Wolf Hot Rods). For those who haven’t seen it, the car is just a simple street (and maybe street-strip) car. It has been put together with an eye toward ease of maintenance. There are no real tricks to it, but I certainly field a lot (and I mean a lot!) of questions on how I did things, especially detail items within the engine compartment.

Before getting into the nuts and bolts of the equation, let’s just rewind for a second: Decades upon decades ago when I first started building cars from the ground-up I thought the best way to detail an engine compartment was to rattle can it black and chrome plate a bunch of pieces. Then I’d wrap all of the wiring with that split loom plastic wrap stuff and call it “detailed and done”. Since then, let’s just say my tastes (along with the respective processes I use) have evolved a wee bit. In the following slide show(s), I’ll show you how I detail my street strip builds today (and feel free to copy some or all of the ideas).

One of my personal guiding principles is to keep the car simple. Simple cars are easier to detail. They’re easier to build. They’re easier to detail plus they’re easier to maintain. And from a mechanical point of view, they’re more reliable because there’s less to go wrong!

With that out of the way, check the first slideshow in our series:

50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

With this particular Nova, the subframe was stripped and painted semi-gloss black in a booth. In the recent past I’ve also powder coated them. See the next photo:

50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

On a recent past Nova project the subframe had a lot of surface rust. To fix it, I first ground down the welding splatter, wire wheeled the marks and then I had it sand blasted. Sandblasting it after grinding pretty much erased any remaining grinder marks.

50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

Here’s what it looked like after powder coating in a semi-gloss (“eggshell”) black. It worked well.

50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

The firewall on my Green Nova has been stripped and painted semi-gloss black. While this was accomplished in a booth, you do it at home (with rattle cans!):

50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

Once you have a firewall stripped, it’s very simple to scuff the surface, mask it off and then prime it. Rattle can primer works here.

50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

After the firewall is primed, it’s easy to paint. I simply used John Deere “Black” for this firewall. John Deere has a couple of different low gloss blacks. This one is a semi gloss – the other is flat black (Blitz Black).

50 Engine Compartment Detailing Tips Part 1

Photo 8: Although it may not be for everyone, I really prefer a car with a heater delete system. I never drive them in poor weather plus the lack of a heater, hoses and other paraphernalia. As a result, this car has a reproduction heater delete installed. It comes powder coated semi-gloss black.

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