Forty years of machining and restoring has presented a lot of opportunities to tackle problems from different directions, and for concours restoration work, Lamar and his son, Rob, needed a way of restoring cast aluminum so it looks like it did when the factory installed it on the cars, rather than when some guy glass beaded it in his garage and bolted it on.

We’ve seen the Waldens repair and restore cracked or broken cast-iron intakes, blocks, and bell housings, as well as aluminum parts, and have spoken with them often about their process for reskinning aluminum. The finish they get runs right in line with what we’ve always thought the finish on factory aluminum parts should be: smooth, dull gray, and not the least bit porous or whitish.

When you just glass bead aluminum Lamar told us, it opens the pores and absorbs any oil or gas. The open pores also let it oxidize more quickly, Rob adds, which makes them look old and dingy before their time. With Lamar’s reskinning process, the pores on the surface of the part are closed, which not only gives a piece the proper finish and inhibits oxidation, but it keeps the parts from absorbing grease and grime. Cleaning and detailing is as simple as giving it a shot of WD-40 and wiping it off.

He’s understandably protective of the process, so we aren’t showing that final step, but he’s not so proud of the work that he charges ridiculously for it. After a cast aluminum piece comes out of Lamar’s treatment, it looks like it was just poured from good molds at the foundry, rather than looking like a porous metal lava rock.

Their restoration process doesn’t end there, thoughbesides repairing damage and recreating missing sections, they also re-machine the entire gasket mating surfaces, which yielded some surprising results in our opinion: Most intake manifolds are warped now, Lamar says, so they true the surfaces, eliminating leaking gaskets. We had them do an old Edelbrock C3B intake for our daily driver, and the intake gasket mounting surfaces needed to be milled 0.030-inch before it was square again.

Lamar is nationally known as a 409 Chevy guru, so when we asked if he could whip something together for this story, Rob walked to the pile of 409 intakes and found a suitable candidate for us to watch him restore. The one he picked off the top of the pile looked like something found in the woods, but once he was done; you’d swear the thing was N.O.S.

Bead blasting revealed a cracked mounting bolt boss, and just a little effort broke it away. Cracked temp sending holes and pipe plug bosses are also common.

Lamar Walden Automotive
6 Steve Drive #B
GA  30340