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DIY: Polishing (Chroming) Your valve covers!


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Over the weekend, my creative and adventurous mind wanted to try something new before my engine goes back in this week. I was looking at my engine bay and all of my accessories/pumps and I thought to myself, "Wow, these are ugly and nowhere near flashy." So I started with my valve covers. I figured I would let you guys in on the secret to giving your normal dull metals that "chrome" look. I did not do the entire part as you will see and i missed some parts but I did not see much reason for doing the ENTIRE thing as you all know where our valve covers are located. I wanted to at least give some instant "bling" when looking around the engine bay.


DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for anything that could and may happen before, during, or after this project to yourself, others, or your vehicle.


This project may take anywhere from an hour to a few hours depending on the utensils that you have.


Things you will/may need:

1. Dry/Wet Sandpaper (3 Grits)

  • 220

  • 400

  • 1000

  • (Optional)2000 to get out most remaining scratches

2. Sanding Block

3. (Optional, but quicker) Drimmel with the above grit bits

4. Bucket of warm soapy water

5. Shop Towels (You'll need a lot of them)

6. Soft Bristle Wire brush

7. Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish


TIP BEFORE YOU BEGIN: If you have a mouse sander and/or a drimmel, you will save so much time. Even hours! Believe me, some spots are unbelievably hard to get at.


Step 1: Dismissing any grime or contaminants from the part.

To remove any thick excess grime, grease, or dirt from your part, use your wire brush. If the gunk is entirely too thick, use a rough wire brush. I had none surprisingly so I skipped this step.


Step 2: Using your 220 grit sandpaper to scratch the surface.

You want to use the 220 grit to scratch the surface of the part so that it brings out a rough shine. Keep in mind, it won't have a mirror-like effect just yet so be patient. Sand the entire part so not one section is missed and it is all scratched. KEEP IN MIND, for best results, try to sand in ONE direction for best results and easier sanding when moving to a lighter grit. Once you have covered/sanded every portion of the part, blow off the loose dirt/sand/ you have created during this step. Wipe off whatever does not come off with a wet paper towel. Below is what the turnout should be.



Step 3: Using your 400 grit to even out your scratches.

Using your 400 grit sandpaper, dip the sandpaper in your warm soapy water, and start sanding your part while applying even force. When the sandpaper gets dirty (the water on the part will be dirty), dip the paper in water again and continue sanding. Keep the sandpaper moist and clean as possible. The soap in the water should help to keep the sandpaper from being clogged. After you feel you have sanded enough, and the deep scratches have been evened out, wipe off the part and continue to the next step. Below are pictures during and after.




Step 4: Using your 1000 grit to further even out your scratches.

Using the same soapy water technique as the previous step, use your 1000 grit sandpaper. You will notice that the previous scratches you made start to even out and become very tiny and less noticeable. Continue until you feel as if the scratches aren't noticeable, and then wipe the part off, and continue to the next step. I couldn't get a good picture and it's slightly better than the turnout of the previous step anyway.


Step 5: Using you Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish.

Once you get to this step, be prepared to use a lot of shop towels. Covering one section at a time, collect some of the polish on a shop towel, and start to aggressively wipe until it has a dull coat of polish on it. Rub it in hard using whatever motion you choose. Look at your shop towel, and it will be caked with, well, BLACK. So, dispose of that towel, and using a clean towel, wipe the part clean applying much pressure. Go over the same section at least another 2-3 times for maximum polish. When you are done being a polish freak on that section, compare the difference you made. Then continue to finish the rest. You should now have a shiny, presentable set of valve covers.





I am going to go back over mine in EVERY hard to get section when I gain access to the appropriate drimmel bits but as for now, these make for some pretty presentable parts. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to ask. There will be some scratches remaining so if you would like to narrow them down, use a 2000 grit sandpaper.

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They'll stay polished, but they'll get dusty. Now I don't know about you, but I keep the tray under the engine on the car so you should be good as long as you maintain the rest of the engine and bay. I figured it would add a little bling for those who snoop through my engine bay, you know?
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