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Antique Gas Engine Discussion

What is the best head gasket material?

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Old 05-01-2005, 07:59:10 PM
Chris Kirk Chris Kirk is offline
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Default What is the best head gasket material?

I just replaced the head gasket on my 1HP Woodpecker hit/miss engine. I used a wire-impregnated dark grey composite material purchased from one of the vendors on this site. I cut the gasket out with shears and a punch. I throughly cleaned both the head and the block, coated the gasket with grease, then slowly tightened down the head, gradually applying pressure to opposing bolts. The engine started no problem, but after a minute or two, I could feel compression escaping from the gasket. The leak seemed to stop after the engine heated up, but the next day, the gasket blew . I haven't put a straight edge across the head, but I really don't think that it's warped, and the mating surface has the original machined grooves in it. What's the best material to use for head gaskets, and are there any tricks to make sure they seal and don't blow (I've heard soaking??)? Is wire impregnated material better, or should I just use a sheet of high temp gasket material? Any advice would be appreciated.


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Old 05-01-2005, 08:26:49 PM
Kevin O. Pulver Kevin O. Pulver is offline
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Default Re: What is the best head gasket material?

I would think the wire impregnated would be best, but my 12 Herc just has the stiff old stuff without wire. I suppose it makes a difference how many bolts are holding it on, how many square inches of surface area etc...
I did soak mine in a bit of oil first to kind of soften it up. I think as stiff as that stuff is, it needs that softening to "set" to the irregularities of the head.
It might be good also to torque it down, wait a day or so, then retighten before running to give it a chance to squash down before you test it with compression. I don't know what the "best" stuff would be. As far as sealers, I have used something called "copper coat" that is sticky and I've heard of people using aluminum spray paint to help seal. The only headgasket I've reused was on a slant 6 Chrysler. It was a sheet steel head gasket and was thinner than the new ones we could buy. (More compression you know.) We spray painted it and no problem. Of course it was dead flat and had a lot of bolts too. High temp silicone is good to 600 degrees, as a last resort, I'd try a thin coating of that with no gasket at all. I bet it would work!
I'd try the oil soak, then several retorques over a day or so without running it.
Let us know how it goes... Kevin
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Old 05-01-2005, 09:13:05 PM
Harvey Teal Harvey Teal is offline
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Default Re: What is the best head gasket material?

I use a custom formulated sheet of Teflon/fiberglass. Doesn't lose its pliability and doesn't need shellac. From oilfield engines right down to lawnmower engines.
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Old 05-02-2005, 12:57:49 AM
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Smile Re: What is the best head gasket material?

I usually retighten the head gasket after the engine has heated up even a little. This seems to let everything normalize and seal good.

You can put the head on without any gasket just to see if it is warped without tightening the bolts. Just slid it on and look for any appreciable gap. These thick gaskets will usually conform to small imperfections.

I have used the coppercote spray on a John Deere M tractor using the old head gasket by spraying on several coats without letting any of them completly dry. I then tightened the head down. I then started and ran the engine for several minutes without any water. I then shut it down and retightened the head. That's been about ten years ago and still no leaks.

I usually use sealant only on the block side of the gasket and grease on the head side. This allows me to remove the head to clean out any carbon that accumulates on the piston or head.

I have to admit that I have never restored a really badly neglected or boat anchor type of engine like some others have.

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