For years I have been searching for a really good coating for protecting aluminum intake manifolds, and I think I have finally found one that doesn’t look like the intake has been coated. Spray paint aluminum looks awful, clear powder and sprays look awful right after the engine has heat cycled, and powdercoats are often too bright and stand out way too much.
As you know, aluminum is very porous, and the first time you touch it with a greasy finger you are done. Likewise, gas drips stain and saturate the metal and do not come off. There used to be clear sealers, but they needed refurbishing every couple of years.
I recently visited Pro-Kote Indy [(317) 872-0001; prokoteindy.com] and finally found a bare aluminum powder that looks like, well, bare aluminum—not a bicycle reflector. It is a proprietary color used in the aerospace industry so they can’t give out the code (or so they say), but it really is the closest I have come to real replication of aluminum intakes. It is an epoxy hybrid powder, which means it has higher-temp resistance, and it has a slightly coarse finish that actually replicates the as-cast look. The hybrid powder also allows for better color over straight epoxies. I have seen major suppliers’ “aluminum” powders, and they don’t get it right; they look like the manifold has been painted. This one gets it right. I could see this being used for all manner of aluminum engine and drivetrain parts for that as-new and correct finish for your restoration.
Another great tech tip from your Uncle Dave.