The "Stealth" Intake
This procedure describes the steps needed to "doctor up" an Edelbrock Performer intake to look like a factory Pontiac steel intake. It is intended for those of us that wish to keep the factory stock look under their hood, but want (or have) the Edelbrock Performer intake. I've been using this procedure for over 15 years now, and believe me, it will fool 99% of the people. I've performed this procedure on a Torker, a Holley Dominator, and several miscellaneous aluminum intakes, but the Performer is by far the most convincing. In the photo above is a 1969 Pontiac cast iron intake (left), and a modified Edelbrock Performer intake (right).
To begin, start by grinding off all references to "Edelbrock" using a Dremel Tool (or equivalent). Make sure you grind these areas perfectly smooth. Do not leave a ridge or valley. Perform the grinding over newspapers or cardboard so you can save the aluminum "dust" (the really tiny shavings) for later. Also, if you wish to open up the intake ports to RAIV specs, do so at this time.
Next, we need to remove the material between the water crossover and the # 1 and # 2 runners to look like a Pontiac factory cast iron intake. Start by flipping the intake upside-down, and drill two 3/8" holes up by the water crossover, close to the flange (but not into it). Next, drill two more holes, one by each runner. This will allow you to jigsaw between the holes to remove the dead material, sort of like "connect the dots", but with a jigsaw. The aluminum cuts pretty easily with a 14 tooth jigsaw blade designed for cutting metal. When finished, use your Dremel Tool to remove any rough edges. Notice on the photo above that I did not cut away the area by the PCV hole on this particular Performer intake.
Next, we're going to duplicate the factory markings. Here's where some modeling experience comes into play. Purchase some JB weld, which is available at any auto parts store. JB Weld is easy to use. You simply mix equal amounts of the red tube and the black tube together, and mix it on a piece of cardboard. You can apply it with a regular small blade screwdriver. On the photo above, I began with the large "GM4" in front of the carb pad. This lettering is the largest and the easiest to do. Scoop up some JB Weld on your screwdriver, and apply it to the intake in a glob about the size of an eraser head. Working with your small blade screwdriver, you can form the letter you wish. This will take some practice, and if you want you can try to make a letter or two on a piece of sheet metal first. The JB Weld is workable for at least 5 minutes. If you make a catastrophic error, simply scrape it away with your screwdriver and start again. You'll get the feel for it after a few tries. When finished with the "GM4" (or whatever the largest lettering is on your intake), you'll need to add the cylinder numbers to the top of each runner. Again, same process as above, and follow the factory markings. Note that on the factory intake, some numbers face forward, others backwards. For the finishing touch, you can even put the "#" symbol over the heat crossover. If your really ambitious (and patient), you can even do the firing order lettering in front of the carb pad.
The JB Weld will set in about an hour. You can go back and touch up any spots that don't look right. If you want to start a letter all over again, simply place your screwdriver on the letter and tap it with a hammer. Obviously, the JB Weld is only being used for lettering purposes, so it doesn't have to have the actual strength of cast aluminum. It won't come off without some force.
After about a two hour drying time, you may want to add some JB Weld on top of the letters you made in order to build them up a little higher. Try to make the letters and numbers the same width and consistency as the original cast iron intake lettering. Remember, once it's on your car, you'll never have two intakes side by side like I displayed in the above photo, so every letter doesn't have to be absolutely perfect, but neatness (and straightness) counts. Just make sure the "build up" of each letter and number is like the original and you'll be fine.
If everything is to your satisfaction, your ready to paint the intake. Using the paint of your choice, lightly dust the intake with a very light first coat. Now grab that "aluminum dust" you saved when you ground off the Edelbrock logo. With a pinch of the dust between your fingers, LIGHTLY sprinkle the fine powder over the areas that you ground smooth in order to eliminate the grinding marks. Now you can apply a regular coat of paint over the top. The end result should look like the photo above. You can sprinkle more "dust" anywhere you wish, then top coat it. If you choose, you can also use VHT aluminum paint if the look of the factory RAIV intake is more your style.
More "stealth" tricks to come....