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Media Blasting and Valve Covers

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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I can still remember the first time I used media blasting.

I was a teenager in high school and the auto shop had just gotten a Snap-on media blasting cabinet donated to it. I used it and the glass bead in it to remove the paint and rust from the valve covers on the Original 351.

They looked so nice I just plunked them back on the engine without paint or knowing enough about metal to give it much thought — but, also, engine paint cost money and I had precious little of that. After all, I had recently spent my entire life's savings to buy the car I was putting them on.

Looking back on it, I should have painted them given the cost of a can of VHT Dark Ford Blue engine paint, but planning wasn't a skill I bothered to cultivate in myself at the time.

What brought up that story? Reading Media Blasting & Metal Preparation to deal with the valve covers on the El Camino.

It's a little too déjà vu all over again, not to be reminded of the Original 351.

Of course, this time around I have quite a bit more knowledge about media blasting, metal, and planning. Also, although not much money, I have more than I had then, so I plan on painting them.

An interesting fact: the intake manifold on my Grandfather's El Camino was painted Chevy Orange, but the rest of the engine was painted GM Blue. While a lot of it was worn off by the time I was around, I plan on keeping that unique paint scheme because it's an important part of the El Camino's character. So, when I am able to clean up and re-paint those valve covers, I'll use VHT GM Blue.

I know it's probably a long way off, but I'm really excited to see those valve covers with their Chevrolet script all brand-new looking and gleaming in blue — and, more importantly, drive the El Camino and its wubbling 283.


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