View Full Version : How To Paint your engine using automotive refinishes

12-15-2014, 04:49 PM
After seeing posts every once in awhile where someone asks what is best for painting their motor, I thought I would share my technique since I could take picures through the procedures while painting an engine this past weekend.
First off, this is the way I do it. I do it this way because it works well, and the paint holds its gloss and doesnt peel off. I realize some may do it other ways, but I Dont want to turn this into a discussion for what I should or shouldn't have done. Helping out my fellow pro-touring fans have a great looking engine is what this is about.

Get your engine cleaned. I like to use gunk foamy engine cleaner for the heavy cleaning. A screw driver, some kind of a pick, a small acid brush with the bristles cut down, these are all tools I use to scrape and clean with.
When the heavy cleaning is done, and rinsed off with water, I go over everything again using a small brush with stiff bristles, and brake cleaner. Brake clean is cheap, and it works well. Work small areas and rinse with water, Dont let the brake cleaner dry out before you rinse with water.
Dry the engine with your air hose. Blow everything off several times.
If there is casting flash on the block or any imperfections that you want to get rid of, now is the time.
If there is rust on the block in places, now is the time to gut rid of it. Wire brush, wire wheel in a drill, small air grinder with small abrasive pad all work good. But get it clean, that's the most important.
Block off all the threaded holes you will be needing to use. And tape off the intake and exhaust ports. Dont just put a piece of tape across the intake ports either. Use an intake gasket and trace it onto the tape. Then cut the tape and pull the extra off. Pay attention to the details. It makes a difference! The last thing you want to see is a strip of bare metal on the heads right above the intake manifold when everything is put together.
When everything is blocked off that you dont want paint on, its time for the wax and grease remover. Apply it to a clean dry rag, wipe a small area, then use another clean dry rag to wipe off. Do not apply or spray wax and grease remover directly to what you are painting. Try to use some lint free rags if you can. When the rags get dirty replace them and keep wiping.
Next go over everything with your air hose and blow everything off. Be careful not to blow the tape off. Then you want to use a tack rag. Get all the dust and residue off the engine.
This is what I had after these steps. A nice clean engine ready for paint.

12-15-2014, 05:03 PM
The first thing I spray on a bare engine is etching primer. I think the best is Dupont Vari-prime, but that's my opinion. Try to stay away from stuff in an arosol can. I know things have come along way for arosol paints, but I Dont trust them.
Follow the directions for mixing, and spray one medium coat of etching primer on the engine, being sure to get in all the little nooks and crannys.
You Dont want a ton of product on the engine, just a nice even coat.
The etching primer provides a chemical bond to the surface. Since I did not prep the surface to give it a tooth with sand paper or sand blasting, this etch primer is needed.
This is what it looked like after the etch primer.

12-15-2014, 05:13 PM
Next step is an epoxy primer. I used a PPG DP product, but use what you like, have, or is available. This stuff is a little thick for this job so I thinned it out with reducer. If I would have had some in the shop I would have used Nasons epoxy primer because it goes on thinner. Two coats of Nason is close to one coat of PPG DP epoxy primer.

I sprayed the engine with on coat of epoxy primer. Try to get a good even coat on here with no light spots. This is what I had after the epoxy primer application.

12-15-2014, 05:29 PM
Next step is the base coat. I'm using House of Kolor. The color is Orion Silver. Mix your base according to the paint manufacturers suggestions.
Now check your engine over for any nibs or dirt in the paint. Get rid of it now or you will see it in the finished product.
I sprayed two coats of base. This will depend on how well your base color covers. Some will need more coats if you can see gray through the base.
This is what I had after 2 coats of base.

12-15-2014, 05:40 PM
The next step would be to apply clear. Unless you want to ad something like I'm doing here, which is a candy color.
I wanted the engine to be blue, and really like the cobalt blue from House of Kolor. To get the blue I want it needs to be sprayed over the silver. It is a transparent color that gets darker the more coats that go on. It took me 3 heavy coats to get where I wanted to be. First pic of engine is after 2 coats, second pic is 1coat, third pic is after 3 coats

12-15-2014, 05:43 PM
Awesome advice and I love the color on that LS.

12-15-2014, 05:56 PM
Now for the final step of applying the clear coat. I chose to use PPG DC3000 because it is a fast drying good quality clear. Plus I had it in the paint cabinet!
I applied 2 coats of clear, giving everything a nice wet look. Let dry overnight before handling, or whatever the paint manufacturers suggestions are.

----- unless you are familiar with the paint you are using, Dont mix brands like I did here. Stick with one brand and use it all the way through. Some things Dont mix with others and that could make for an expensive and time consuming screw up.
----- use a respirator! Just because you are painting a small part doesn't mean your air won't be dangerous to breath. Play it safe.

Finished with clearcoat

no go nova
12-15-2014, 11:25 PM
Looks great thanks for the advice.

12-16-2014, 11:32 PM
Great info

12-17-2014, 05:55 AM
...and I just found the color for my car! Thanks!