Factory Valve Covers: Restoration of Engine Harness Wire Tabs

  1. daves66valiant
    Thought I’d do a little thread on how to fix the dreaded factory valve cover wire tabs that frequently break on our 50+ year old Mopars. If you are lucky you can find originals with the tabs intact but most of the ones I’ve seen are either broken or on their last legs before snapping off.

    What I have here is a factory set of 1969 340 valve covers that I recently obtained. During clean up and minor dent repairs one of the tabs broke. Closer inspection revealed most were cracked. Did some interwebbing and found no good sources on restoration. Got a comment from a FABO member to make a template and spot weld new ones on. So that’s where this How To Article begins.

    This is what I started with and these where in decent shape

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    I stripped everything and fixed any dents and cleaned up the gasket rails. I used some high build primer and filler in places where it was needed to get everything smooth.

    The tabs pulled off easily with vise-grips. Be careful of course. Make sure to keep the spot weld areas really clean and bare metal.

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    With the leftover broken tabs make some templates to transfer to an appropriate gauge sheet metal. Serendipitously, I had a large 7in diameter stainless steel hose clamp laying around from clothes dryer exhaust hose. I looked and saw it had the same width as the tabs. It was a few thousand thicker but I figured that was a good thing. Although the stainless was a bit more ridged I felt this would work. Plus no more rusting either. I’m sure a regular non stainless hose clamp would bend more like the original tabs. Using the larger hose band clamp I was able to make 3 templated tabs.

    Templates:

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    I cut out the slots using a drill bit and a dremel tool. I used some strong magnets to mock them up. Then I plastic dipped them. I found electrical tape was good for masking off the undipped portion and holding onto the tabs while dipping.

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    After the plastic dip set up for a while I spot welded the tabs onto the valve covers. I bought a 240V unit from Harbor Freight. I’m sure the 120V would work fine but I figured the 240v would have better penetration.

    Spot welded tabs:

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    I will post the full painted valve covers soon. Hopefully this is helpful for those looking to do this kind of repair/restoration.

    Here are the finished valve covers. Just needs the PCV grommet and Oil Breather Cap.

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    Final pics

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