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65VerdeGS

Aluminum valve cover restoration

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What's the recommended way to refurbish the BUICK aluminium valve covers?

 

Mine were redone by the guy who rebuilt my engine about 12 years ago.  It looks like he painted them with some kind of dull aluminum paint, and then used something to rub the paint off the top of the fins, and the BUICK letters.  They looked pretty good for many years.  But now the paint is coming off in places (esp. wherever I rub them when working on the car).

 

So, I'm thinking of removing the covers and taking a go at refinishing them.  

 

My question is: Should I repaint them, and if so, what sort of paint should I use?  I could 'strip' them and try to have them glass -beaded.  Is that the way to go?

 

Anyone have before or after pictures of their unrestored/restored valve covers to share and show how their method turned out?

 

Any hints/tips on how to freshen up these covers, hopefully simulating as best as possible their as-born condition, would be appreciated!

 

Thanks,

 

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Depends on what you have available for tools.

I would sandblast them, that would get rid of the paint and oxidation.  The raised letters and the fin edges I would use a1000grit sandpaper LIGHT then a polish but not to a shine but to get to a  "machined" look

You could make them look like chrome, too if you wanted to polish them enough.

Aluminium is pretty easy to work with and forgiving. Steve

20180921_204708 (1).jpg

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Depends on how coarse the sand is.  Well worn sand in a cabinet works well,  or you could soda blast them.  Just be sure top rinse them well after soda blasting as eventually the soda may cause corrosion,  but if washed off well with water,  it's not a problem.   For anything you want to polish you need to sand that part out and you can go alot coarser than 1000 if the surface is very rough,  you just need to follow up with finer grits.  I'm wet sanding some trouble areas in a paint job now with 600 carefully after scraping the high spots off with a razor (there is a trick to that)  then following it up with 1000 and 1500 before a buff.  On aluminum stuff that really needs work or cast parts,  I've started with a rasp.  It's all in how careful you are and knowing when to stop with each phase and finish with the next. 

IMG_5992.JPG

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If your goal is original appearance blasting with glass beads will ruin the natural cast semi-rough finish. So many of these covers have been ruined by inexperience blast cabinet operators. In some cases of more severe oxidation yes using a more aggressive media will improve it but only because the original surface has deteriorated significantly. 

I would first remove the paint to see what the natural surface looks like. Use lacquer thinner or media blast with soda, walnut shells, or plastic media only. Once you see what they look like after paint removal, make a decision from there. It is nearly impossible to recreate the original finish after it has been altered. Preferably you don’t want to coat them with anything but again depending on how bad surface condition is it could get you closer to oringal appearing. 

Edited by JZRIV (see edit history)

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3 hours ago, JZRIV said:

If your goal is original appearance blasting with glass beads will ruin the natural cast semi-rough finish. So many of these covers have been ruined by inexperience blast cabinet operators. In some cases of more severe oxidation yes using a more aggressive media will improve it but only because the original surface has deteriorated significantly. 

I would first remove the paint to see what the natural surface looks like. Use lacquer thinner or media blast with soda, walnut shells, or plastic media only. Once you see what they look like after paint removal, make a decision from there. It is nearly impossible to recreate the original finish after it has been altered. Preferably you don’t want to coat them with anything but again depending on how bad surface condition is it could get you closer to oringal appearing. 

I don`t believe mine are original and glass beads cleaned them up nicely .As with most tools , it`s all in the hands of the operator . Flat clear (automotive) helps to keep the finish looking good while stopping flash oxidation which is  common with Aluminum

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Have you looked at Walnut shell blasting?

 

It's not nearly as hard as sandblasting and shouldn't damage the base metal but can take any finish off of it.

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