Valve Cover Prep & Prime

This afternoon I spent some time cleaning up the E-1 engine’s valve cover, which was grimy and also needs a fresh coat of paint.

As far as I can tell, the early (1960-1963) 320 valve covers were connected to the head by two larger bolts going through the valve cover itself and had a Datsun 1200 badge riveted to the valve cover. The later valve covers (1964-1965) were attached to the head by six Philips-head machine screws with washers (similar to the later J13 engines found in the 520 and 521s) and had a Datsun 1200 metal badge decal stuck directly to the valve cover.
I pulled the breather hose from the valve cover and started unscrewing the mounting screws using a #3 Philips head screwdriver.

With all six screws removed, I removed the nondescript oil filler cap from the valve cover and pulled the valve cover from the head.

Then I put the valve cover into a basin with some hot water and used Simple Green to give it a good scrubbing and de-greasing.

Next I turned my attention to the inspection covers on the manifold side of the engine. I used a 5/8″ socket to remove the single bolt holding each cover plate to the block.

Then I popped off the inspection cover(s).

Here’s a peak behind those inspection covers.

Here are the inspection cover plates. Note they were the same blue as the engine. The rectangular gaskets came off the plates pretty easily.

I plopped the inspection covers into the bath with the valve cover and gave everything a good scrub. I noticed that the paint under the blue on the valve cover was an orange-ish red. I wonder if that is the original undercoat or primer or if someone had once repainted the valve cover that color before going back to the original blue-green.

After a bit of scrubbing the inspection covers were clean and I allowed them to dry. After this picture was taken I did some more cleaning to get rid of all the grease.

I primed the covers with some Rustoleum white Clean Metal Primer.

I was really torn about what to do with the Datsun 1200 valve cover badge so I can paint the valve cover. It was in rough shape, so I decided to remove it hoping I could reapply it if absolutely necessary.

However, in using a drywall knife to pry it off, I realized it was not a stiff metal badge but rather a thin foil decal. So today I resolved to find a reproduction badge to put back on the freshly-painted valve cover.

It gets dark early this time of year, so by the time I finished priming the valve cover the moon was up.

Note: the six screws that mount the valve cover to the head are 1/4″-20 fine threaded machine screws. I located and bought new screws from Fastenal, which are part #72588 (1/4″-20 x 5/8″ Phillips Drive Pan Head Grade 18-8 Stainless Steel Machine Screw). I also bought some new replacement lock washers to go with the machine screws, Fastenal part #71063 (1/4″ 18-8 Stainless Steel Medium Split Lock Washer). When I got them it was around $.30 for each screw and washer, or $1.80 in total.