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Street Race Truck More... The Toolbox

Finned Valve Cover Installation Guide - 1967 Chevelle

7/6/2020

The look I want for this car originally started off as being a “Day-2” restoration. Meaning, it should look as though it was a new car, brought home and customized with upgrades that fit the era of the vehicle’s heyday. This was the reason behind selecting an iron-head engine and staying with relatively neutral changes to the firewall and engine bay. Other things like suspension and chassis upgrades were treated a little more liberally to all-out upgrades due to the low stance and wishing only to appear old tech. I want it to ride, drive and handle as well as possible.

The devil's in the details.

All those things being taken into account, my first choice for valve covers are a vintage set of Cal Custom big block finned units. These are becoming more difficult to find in serviceable condition without the need for repair of broken bolt bosses or excess holes cut in them. I will eventually find a set to use, I’ve just not been willing to shell out $200-$400 for a set sight-unseen from E-Bay.

Wanted: a set of these.

I did, however, find a very clean alternative in these Mr. Gasket finned covers. They’re a little taller than they really need to be for my application, but I think the unique look they lend is nice too. I wanted to try something a little different with the finish as well. I’d seen a few display parts that we’d had satin clear powder coating applied to. This allowed the natural metal color to show while giving a durable and easily cleaned surface. I had them bead-blasted and coated satin clear. In hindsight, I would have Scotch-brited them instead of bead blasting. What I ended up with was a beautifully uniform silver finish. That looked just like a sliver powder coat or paint. Live and learn.

Something that really helps dress up any finned accessories is painted details. You’ve got to be pretty meticulous to do this. I like to use 3M, 1/8” blue masking tape. The same stuff I use to layout flames and graphics. It usually lays down nicely on the top of the fins and keeps a clean and crisp edge when peeled. This time, I tasked my teen daughter to take care of the masking. She’s even pickier than I am about such things and was willing to spend the time it takes to do the job well. After she masked out all the areas to remain silver, I used the same orange DupliColor engine paint that was used on the block and heads.

With a fresh and ready set of covers, it was finally time to break the factory seal on the Blueprint stamped valve covers.

Since I’m not interested in sucking any engine oil into the PCV valve, nor having it puke out of the valve cover breather, I opted to install the supplied baffles inside the new covers. Hardware and instructions are supplied for this. I always choose to apply red Loctite to these screws. The prospect of having them fall out and into the engine is one I’m not interested in chancing.

I also like to use high-quality cork/rubber gaskets and I apply spray gasket sealer to them to ensure a positive seal. A light coat is all that’s needed. It’s also worth noting that I had to trim off all the alignment tabs on the gasket’s outer edges. These interfered with the cast-in gasket rail on the valve cover.

After the spray sealant started to tack-up, I stuck the gaskets to the valve covers. I prefer to do this to allow the gasket to adhere to the removable surface. That helps with clean up and removal of gasket material later. It’s far easier to clean a gasket that’s stuck to the valve cover than it is one stuck to the head. There’s also zero chance of gasket material falling in the engine if the gasket all comes off with the removable part.

Though, with a relatively mild, hydraulic cam I’m hoping that the number of valve cover removals and re-installs with this engine will be much less frequent than some of the ones in my past.

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