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Old 12-23-2011, 11:40 PM
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There have been several threads over the years on this subject. I've tried a variety of gaskets and fasteners. The bottom line is that it seems either vibration, thermal cycling, or a combination of the two cause the screws to loosen, and destroying the gasket is inevitable if the screws are loose. I like the belt and suspender approach. Stage 8 fasteners (or lock wire) to keep the bolts from turning outward. . . . And copper gaskets to prevent blowout if the fastener locking systems do fail.

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Old 12-24-2011, 01:16 AM
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Mine have all been done with stock type gaskets... the kind that are kinda embossed graphite coated gaskets.

All of mine I have used quality bolts (usually ARP), put two coats of copper permatex spray gasket adhesive on the gasket, installed the bolts with red loctite, torqued them down good and tight, and have never had a leak. One of them went 180k miles before I actually rusted a hole in the collector, but never a gasket leak. No retightening, no safety wires, no nothing.

One chevy 350 I did start developing a tiny leak... the first 3 or 4 exhaust pulses after startup would "tick" but the heat would expand things and it would quit right away.
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Old 12-25-2011, 06:49 PM
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I agree with everyone else on the flange being straight and using good gaskets and, checking the flange bolts often. If you wait till the headers leak, it's too late and you'll have to replace them. One thing not mentioned so far is how the exhaust system is routed and hung with support hangers to keep the weight of the mufflers from bouncing around underneath causing the bolts to come loose or stressing the gaskets. Good engine mounts help also to keep the engine from torquing over to the drivers side further twisting the headers and stressing the gaskets. I put my headers (cheap Flowtech) on in 09 and used the gaskets that came with them. I checked them a few times the first couple of months and haven't had a problem yet. My 4x4 doesn't get babied either. It goes mud boggin' and off roadin' each year.
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Old 12-25-2011, 07:41 PM
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I kept going through header gaskets on my beater work truck and tried several different fixes but nothing worked, I finally discovered a couple of the exhaust valves where hanging open and had burnt the valves, obliviously causing excessive exhaust heat and would burn though any gasket i put in. Its a long shot but you might want to check your exhaust temp on the offending cylinders and check for problems up stream. also timing, too much compression on low octane gas, or a lean condition. all long shots that would probably present them themselves elsewhere but worth a quick once over.
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Old 12-26-2011, 09:52 AM
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If you have aluminum heads I prefer Never-Seize on the bolts. I'd rather have a loose bolt than a bolt stuck in the head.

After 2 yr and 18k miles I'm beginning to feel that stainless bolts may be a better idea. I really don't like them and especially for exhaust but steel of any kind gets rusty and can stick to the inserts or the head. Actually as much as we work on our cars, it wouldn't be a bad idea to replace the bolts once a year to prevent rotted bolts.
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Old 12-26-2011, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by chevyrestore
Hey guys, ive got a 1980 454 engine, seems like I keep getting header leaks. I put on new mr gasket performance header gaskets (the ones they sell in the performance aisle in auto parts stores) and it seems like every 6 months to a year they leak again. Any ideas on what type of gasket or brand I should use and what to do to keep it from leaking?
I use nothing but soft cooper, aluminum or carbon gaskets such as Remflex or Percy's with no problems. This of course is after years of using treated paper, or composition pressed into metal screen all with a life expectancy similar to what you're experiencing. I also use nothing but stainless steel fasteners on the engine, collector to head pipe and everywhere else that's exposed to high temps or the gritty, corrosive environment under the vehicle,this makes life so much easier that the additional cost is well justified.
I'm also not a slave to one type of bolt head where the header meets the head. I use allen, torx, hex, 12 point, reduced head diameter as ease of installation and removal is best served by making the bolt accessible to a wrench. This really improves on the miseries of header installation and maintenance.

A very common reason for bolt loosening is the different movements between the engine on its mounts and the exhaust system suspended from the body. The exhaust pipes are really quite ridged especially where Y, H, or X pipes are used these pipes move differently from the header that is attached to the engine. So the movement differentials between these parts tends to help unfasten the fasteners at the stiffest joint which is flange to head. By putting a flexible joint between the collector and head pipe before the Y, H, or X pipe and the cats or mufflers will decouple the movements of the engine and body that are put into the exhaust system's parts. This almost makes gasket problems and loosening fasteners as good as with factory cast manifolds.

I don't cut the flanges between ports nor grind the flanges flat unless there is an obvious manufacturing error where the tube meets the flange.

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Old 12-26-2011, 01:58 PM
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I've been using the SB Ford version of these Earl's gaskets. Haven't had a leak yet:
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Old 12-26-2011, 02:16 PM
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Old... I like those flex joints too. I was going to use them on my current car but there just wasn't room. My entire exhaust is quite softly mounted however and there is quite a long run from the engine to the first hanger so there is a minimum load on the headers. Actually this hanger is nearly at the balance point of the entire side by design so the headers carry only a small weight themselves.
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