I’ve been looking for a custom engine cover for my 2011 2SS/RS for a while. The stock cover is boring and the only custom covers I could find were painted versions on eBay. They seemed a bit expensive at $225 for such a basic finish, so I didn’t buy one right away. After a week or so of looking, I was able to snag a Victory Red cover for just $50. My plan was to use this cover until I had my custom cover made.
I recently saw a photo (shown below) of a 5th Gen Camaro with an awesome skull pattern on a cold air intake by CAI. I emailed the owner and asked him what company did the custom work for him. He informed me it was done by EZ Hydrographix in Beverly, Massachusetts.
I ed EZ Hydrographix and spoke with Chris Yiakas. I explained to Chris that I saw some of his work and I was thinking about creating a custom engine cover with a similar skull pattern. Chris confirmed the process would work with a cover and offered a few suggestions regarding the finish. His opinion was that a skull pattern over the entire cover would be too much. He felt that a skull pattern/carbon fiber combo finish would look amazing and I agreed. I shipped my stock engine cover to EZ Hydrographix via UPS for less than $25.
The hydrographic printing process is sometimes referred to as water transfer printing. It isn’t a new process, but it is relatively unknown or used for single purposes and not to its potential. Many people use it for hunting equipment to transfer camouflage patterns to their rifles or bows. Others use it for automotive purposes to make a simulated carbon fiber finish as it is a less expensive option than real carbon fiber, it’s more versatile. Some also use the process to transfer nice wood grain finishes to interior parts. Many manufacturers use this process on parts.
The way this process works is really cool. You start with a large, heated water tank to dip you parts into. You need to cut a pattern of film to size based on the part you will dip, and rest it on the surface of the water. Once the water heater is activated, the top layer of the film dissolves leaving the ink pattern of the print on the surface of the water. A special activator is sprayed onto the surface of the ink, and then the part is strategically manipulated through the print on the surface and into the water below. The part is then taken out and rinsed to get any excess residue off the part. The end result is the image is tranfered from the water’s surface onto the part that was dipped.
As far as durability, this process leaves a finished product as durable as your car’s paint. They use actual automotive grade paint. The basecoat changes the color or shade of the prints such as wood and camouflage finishes. After the product is dipped and dried, it is sprayed with 3 coats of High Grade automotive clear coat, and buffed to a perfect shine. Matte clears can be done as well if desired.
Celebrity tour buses, and private jets are also done in this way for a high end look that some manufacturers can’t achieve without this process.
Chris was kind enough to provide photos of my engine cover through each step of the process so I could share them with the lionel-mathis.info fans and visitors.
Step 1: Pre-Cleaning parts:
The part or parts are scrubbed and cleaned with a mild soap and water mix to ensure there is no contamination on the part that is going to be dipped.
Step 2: Scuffing parts:
The part is now “roughed” up to allow the adhesion promoter and base coat to adhere better than if it was a flat smooth surface.
Step 3: Adhesion Promoter/Primer parts:
The part is sprayed with either an adhesion promoter or primer depending on the substrate. 2-3 coats may be applied to ensure proper adhesion.
Step 4: Base Coat parts:
The base coat determines the “Hue/color” of the final product, there are many types of base coats available and will discuss which one would better compliment the film.
Step 5: Dipping parts:
The part is now ready to be dipped in the liquefied film.
Step 6: Washing parts:
The part is removed from the dipping process and taken to a wash rack where the gel like substance is washed away with water.
Step 7: Clear Coating parts:
After the part has dried thoroughly, it is then prepped and given 3-4 coats of Urethane to help protect the item and give it a nice rich shine.
Step 8: Curing/Drying parts:
This step takes about 24 hours depending on humidity and temperature.
Step 9: Cutting/Buffing parts:
This step makes sure the part is smooth and free from orange peel and any other imperfections in the clear coat.
Step 10: Quality Control of parts:
Inspection and Delivery.
The finished product is amazing! I think you’ll agree that for just about the same price as those plain painted engine covers on eBay, you can have a superior custom designed engine cover that will get your car noticed at shows!
For more information about having an amazing custom engine cover designed for your car, please EZ Hydrographix using the following info:
127 Rantoul St
Beverly, MA 01915
Phone: (978) 338-5797
$295 – one dip
$345 – two dips (the cover we had made was a two dip version)
$73 – engine cover (if you don’t want to use your stock cover)
* I would suggest buying an engine cover for this project. It would cost $25 to send them your cover anyway, so you’re saving the shipping costs and if you ever sell your car (God forbid!), you can put your original cover back on and sell the custom cover.