Phase II-Engine Compartment, Wheels, and Trunk
The Judge engine compartment was complete, but dirty and greasy from years of use. First on the engine refreshing list was cleaning and de-greasing all oily components and wire brushing and sanding the remaining pieces.
To make the job easier we first removed the alternator and brackets, valve covers, distributor, coil, battery and tray, carburetor, plug wires, washer reservoir, and belts. We also removed all of the underhood components of the Ram Air III system and the air cleaner base. Remaining portions of the engine compartment were carefully masked to prevent over spray during repainting.
The first areas addressed were sanding, priming and painting the exposed frame members in a fresh coat of chassis black. Next came painting the bottom of the hood in underhood black and the fan blades in semi-gloss black. The largest components to deal with, the engine block, heads, and intake were thoroughly cleaned and painted in Pontiac engine blue followed by the exhaust manifolds receiving a fresh coat of high temp cast iron gray. Finally, we gave the master cylinder a thin coat of cast iron paint and touched up the steering gear. The fire wall and fender liners were cleaned and deemed very acceptable in their un-restored condition.
While out of the car, I painted the Ram Air III components in underhood black, and the alternator brackets and battery tray in semi-gloss black. To preserve the correct look of the alternator, I masked everything but the cast casing and then gave it a light coat of flat aluminum paint. I also cleaned and polished the original chrome valve covers.
Gene and I then reassembled all of the parts that had been removed and found special joy in the Ram Air III components. Installation of those pieces required the moves of a contortionist. In the process we purchased new flapper bushings and a new flapper control cable. We repainted the accelerator spring in the correct blue color (different than engine blue), and re-installed the refreshed carburetor and linkage. Lastly, we replaced the distributor cover and installed new plug wires.
Two components missing from the engine were the exhaust heat shroud and riser pipe to the air cleaner base. To maintain our devotion to originality, I ordered the parts from Ames Performance and we installed them on the engine. I also ordered a new foam hood sealer and placed it on the repainted air cleaner base.
After getting everything back together, we turned the ignition switch and were rewarded with the throaty sound of a fine running 400 cubic inch Pontiac V8. The refurbished engine compartment looked great and the car ran super.
When I purchased the car the Rally II wheels had the correct JA stamps and February 1969 date codes. The prior owner, however, had installed trim rings on the outer portion of the wheels. Although the “beauty rings” looked good, Judges came from the factory without the rings. In fact, their absence was part of the classic Judge appearance.
Unfortunately the trim rings had left scratches in the wheels that had to be sanded down to bare metal. After sanding, the inner part of the wheels and the tires were masked and the outer portion of the wheel was primed and sanded. The final process involved painting the Rally IIs in correct Argent Silver paint. The finished product looked factory fresh, and the bare look of the wheels grew on us as time passed.
The last item on the winter agenda involved cleaning and repainting the trunk.
The trunk work began with removing the spare tire, jack components, tail light housings, and trunk mat. Close inspection of the trunk floor showed it to be in very good shape. Before painting could begin it was necessary to clean, wire brush, and sand all the areas of the trunk that would be painted.
Before painting could begin, however, we needed to mask holes in the rear trunk wall behind the rear seat and the underside of the package shelf. Had I crawled into the trunk and masked those areas myself, I may not have been able to get out. Fortunately I was able to recruit my very limber 25 year old niece to take care of the difficult masking. She did a good job, and we were soon ready to apply the correct black/aqua spatter paint trunk finish.
The painting initially went fine, but an oily substance soon appeared through the new paint on the floor areas that were previously covered by the mat. Closer inspection showed a tarry coating that may have been a sound deadener or adhesive for the trunk mat. No amount of sealing and repainting worked, so it became necessary to remove all of the petroleum based substance before painting the floor. It was not the most enjoyable part of the restoration, but it eventually turned out fine. A finish coat of clear sealer over the spatter paint completed the trunk restoration.
Before replacing the jack and base into the trunk, I cleaned and painted them the correct Pontiac blue jack paint. I don’t know why Pontiac chose blue for those components, but, again, in the interest of accuracy, I painted them them the correct blue color. Finally, I replaced the original trunk mat with a new one and installed the spare tire. The trunk turned out great.
Our winter’s work was now complete. It was time to ship the car back to Ohio and have a summer’s worth of enjoyment.