Engine Detailing

by Richard Atwell
(c) Copyright 2004-2011


Even before I repainted the bus the visual condition of the engine always bothered me. After its most recent 4 year hibernation the engine compartment was extremely dirty thanks to the intake vents. I managed to clean it up by cleaning the engine with a cloth and some mild cleaners but it still looked "old":

  1. the rust on the engine tin was ugly especially the back piece of tin
  2. the plenum was rusty
  3. the fan and alternator pulleys were heavily rusted
  4. the intake runners needed repainting especially at the heads
  5. Worst of all, the corrosion on the fan shroud was horrible to look at

I had the shroud bead blasting inside and out after I split it into the two pieces it's made from (sort of tricky to do). I wasn't sure how to clean it by hand until recently: a stainless steel brush is safe to use on Magnesium but it still is abrasive enough to remove the corrosion. I also managed to clean up the transmission quite well using this technique after degreasing. It was a very slow process but the end result speaks for itself.

A brass wire brush isn't abrasive enough for Magnesium but it's very good for Aluminum. I cleaned the distributor this way and now it shines. I clear-coated the vacuum can for longevity as well as the pressure regulator, cold start valve and fuel lines. They all have/had a yellow chromate/cadmium finish to resist corrosion but we know it doesn't last. I'll get to the decel valve in future.

The original color for the engine tin, valve covers, etc was L41 Black. I recommend that you get the tin powder-coated for a durable finish. Get a 60 degree gloss for a factory look.

The intake runners are L249 Dove Grey. VW used this industrial looking grey for many years. On my bus the tops of the belly pans, fresh air flaps, firewall, fuel filler pipe, battery clamp and engine access hatch were all painted this color. I've even seen a non-locking gas cap in this color. The heater boxes and muffler were also this color but the flapper boxes were L41 Black.

I'm not sure what the original color of the fan shroud was. It may have been bare metal with a sealer. I can't tell from the brochures or from the old engines I've come across. Even looking under the timing sticker didn't reveal the underlying color. The color I chose for the fan shroud was Aervoe 575 Dull Aluminum. Whatever color you choose, paint the impeller fan the same way and paint the fan's pulley and alternator fan (if you have the 70A alternator) black for a factory contrast.

Breaking with the stock look ever so slightly, it's worthwhile paint the raised numbers on the timing scale white with a fine tip brush so it's more readable. At the same time paint a white mark on the notch on the pulley so it's easy to view.

After all this effort the engine will look like it just came from the dealer.

24 years of age after cleanup:

24 years old

Before Detailing:



after front

after rear

3/4 right

3/4 left

on jack

on jack

engine installed




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