Sure, I’ll have a go, Nick.
First of all I got the hoover and vacuumed the engine bay, as loads of dry leaves and other crap had found its way in there, especially around the battery. After that I covered up the electrics and used some engine de-greaser called 'Gunk' on the main engine block, which I hosed down after the specified time on the can. To be honest, the crap was gone but the engine was still quite dull.
I did all the easy stuff first, and used some special ‘back to black’ cleaner on all the plastic components, which polished up a treat. The hoses were a little dull (would like to replace those later with braided items anyway), so I just washed them down and gave them a good scrub as best I could.
Now for the exciting part: The inlet and rocker were reasonably clean, but pitted and some parts stained with age. I wanted to be able to open the hood and have people say:
‘Wow! Your engine’s so clean, and on a car of almost 14 years old too!’
I initially began using sandpaper to rub both parts down. It wasn’t doing much though, so I gradually progressed to tougher grades until it started to shift some dirt. But still it wasn’t good enough. I got a drill and attached a sort of circular brush with thin metal bristles (nasty torture tool!), and then set to work. (Warning: Be sure to cover the other engine parts and also wear a dust mask and goggles, as it’s very dusty!) When finished, the inlet was nice and shiny, but the rocker was stubborn remaining pitted, and still not acceptable. I had to really go at this hard with that drill.
When finished I decided that a lot of friends had the nice black rockers with a silver BMW logo, and of course, I wanted one too! I tried removing the rocker and after all the nuts were removed it still wouldn’t shift.
I didn’t want to use force and break the gasket, as I didn’t have a spare, so being impatient and having bought some heat-resistant black paint, I began to the pain-staking task of masking the bloody thing off.
When finished with that, I gave it some layers of paint, letting each one dry. After a few hours, it seemed dry to the touch, so I got some 1200 grade sandpaper, put it on a home-fashioned flat wooden sanding block, and carefully began work on the BMW logo. I thought it would be easy but that paint was on real good, so I had to go to my roughest paper and really spend a lot of time and muscle power. When the silver began to appear against the black background it was pretty exciting, something that only us car nuts will understand.
But a word of warning: I would leave the paint to dry for as long as possible before sanding, as I’m sure not all paints dry as quick and that day it was really hot here. Also, when using the block, be very careful and patient, as if you sandpaper touches the nice black you’ve just sprayed, you’ll be starting again!
I would also recommend you remove the rocker and have a spare gasket on hand; it will make the job a lot easier.
Oh, I also sanded down anything of unpainted metal such as the air-low meter, but NOT with the drill. I used a fine grade sandpaper, so as not to leave scratches (although there are a few if you look closely). Take your time and it will look cool.
The next job is to remove the water bottles and make them look like new! I remember a mate of mine used to do this and we all laughed at him at the time, but I now see the error of my views…lol