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Old 05-06-2009, 12:37 PM
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Tips on Header gasket ?

I have been having some problems sealing up hedman elite headers on alum heads (SBC) after my engine rebuild. I have tried a standard paper/cardboard gasket and Mr. Gasket ultraseals (two times, two different gaskets) with no luck. They are not sealing and blowing/burning up making the gaskets unuseable. I tightened them several times with no luck (center to end). Anyway I know there is a ton of opinions on the best way including:

1. Using cheap paper/cardboard gaskets but soaking in water before installation.
2. Using double gaskests (above)
3. Putting high temp atv around the header side of the paper gasket or other types of gaskets
4. using OEM exhaust manifold gaskets
5. Felpro "blue" gaskets
6. Copper gaskets
7. Percy's dead soft aluminum
8. Remflex
9. Metal/graphite type such as Mr. Gasket ultraseal

etc etc

The header flanges don't seam warped...I just want to be seal this leak up ASAP and rather not spend a ton of $$. Is there one of these methods that is the best bet for 100% sealing ? Thanks.

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Old 05-06-2009, 12:50 PM
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I used copper gasket (painted silver)and no leaks since!
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:55 PM
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I had this problem and i put stock gaskets on and it did not leak anymore after that. Cole
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:16 PM
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second that, ive found standard gaskets work best.
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
second that, ive found standard gaskets work best.
As in OEM exhaust manifold gaskets ?
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:23 PM
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yep oem stock manifold gasket at any local parts store. Cole
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by y2k600f4
I have been having some problems sealing up hedman elite headers on alum heads (SBC) after my engine rebuild. I have tried a standard paper/cardboard gasket and Mr. Gasket ultraseals (two times, two different gaskets) with no luck. They are not sealing and blowing/burning up making the gaskets unuseable. I tightened them several times with no luck (center to end). Anyway I know there is a ton of opinions on the best way including:

1. Using cheap paper/cardboard gaskets but soaking in water before installation.
2. Using double gaskests (above)
3. Putting high temp atv around the header side of the paper gasket or other types of gaskets
4. using OEM exhaust manifold gaskets
5. Felpro "blue" gaskets
6. Copper gaskets
7. Percy's dead soft aluminum
8. Remflex
9. Metal/graphite type such as Mr. Gasket ultraseal

etc etc

The header flanges don't seam warped...I just want to be seal this leak up ASAP and rather not spend a ton of $$. Is there one of these methods that is the best bet for 100% sealing ? Thanks.
Copper or aluminum gaskets are the only way to go. Doubling them is fine and sometimes useful where a little extra bed depth will help seal warped flanges. It is also important to look at the welds to insure that they don't keep the gasket from sealing. Headers move too much and too quickly as they heat and cool for ordinary gasket materials. Regardless of how straight they are when cold they want to do all sorts of Stupid Warping Tricks when hot. This is a bigger problem as the flange thickness gets under a quarter inch. The composite materials that work on cast manifolds just aren't up to the heat and movement of headers. Not to say that metal gaskets won't leak, but they usually don't blow apart when a leak develops and a simple addition to the torque of the fastener is usually enough to reseal 'em.

I had no luck with sealers being hi-temp RTV or anything else and no longer bother with them.

Also, when checking the flange and welds, do a trial fit to the engine to insure the bolt holes do not bind the bolt, having a small distance between the the fastener and the flange in all directions, allows the header to move around without getting bound up on a fastener thus forcing a warpage to take place. Something else I've found that helps, is to run a flex coupling between the collector and the head pipe. This divorces the header/engine movements from the exhaust/body movements and takes a lot of twisting moments off the header pipes that pry on the flange and its mountings. Not so much of a problem on race cars where the engine is rigidly attached to the frame but when the engine is rubber mounted it helps keep headers sealed up a lot, not bullet proof but it really reduces leaks and the time spent cinching up header bolts.

I use stainless fasteners exclusively for exhaust work. On headers I vary the head type based on the ability to get some sort of a wrench on it as it's installed. But I'm a very pragmatic builder, nothing is done because it's pretty, only stuff that's durable, reliable, and easy to get at in the pits gets used.

Bogie
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:50 PM
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I agree with those voting for the copper gaskets (Haven't tried aluminum, but they'd likely be OK as well). The copper gaskets don't blow out. . . and here's another thought . . . . if the bolts don't come loose you're not likely to get an exhaust leak PAST the gasket either. For this I recommend Stage 8 fasteners. Install once, apply the locking device, and they never, I repeat never work themselves loose. I suppose safety "lock" wiring through cross-drilled screw heads would work as well. Copper gaskets and Stage 8 fasteners total about $65, +/-. They also total no headaches.

Good luck . . . Pat
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:21 PM
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i stand corrected but now have to decide wether to change my gaskets or not.
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Old 05-06-2009, 04:17 PM
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I read the same tip many years ago about the cheap stock OEM foil backed exhaust gaskets. They work great. You do need to keep them tight as with any gaskets, I haven't had a leak in many years.
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Old 05-06-2009, 04:30 PM
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Hey, oldbogie!

That was quite an education on headers. I learned a lot.

Thanks!

Chris
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Old 05-06-2009, 04:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S10V8 UK
i stand corrected but now have to decide wether to change my gaskets or not.
You gotta go with what works for you, in keeping with the theory that "you don't fix what ain't broken". If you have a set of gas tight headers with any sort of a gasket, leave 'em alone till you have to do something.

Bogie
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Old 05-06-2009, 06:25 PM
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Bogie,

Thanks for the informative post...just picked up a set of Percy "SEAL-4-GOOD" dead soft aluminum gaskets. Just installed one on the side with the problem...hopfully it works.
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:52 PM
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Hey Bogie, what do you think of the self-retaining header fasteners with the tang and the C-clip?
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Old 05-06-2009, 08:02 PM
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I fully trust Bogie on this, but I've never had any issues with the metal/graphite gaskets. I hose them down with copper spray adhesive, torque them once with loc-tite, end of story. 40k miles that way on my current BBC.

I would very much suspect the weld beads not being right. Given what you've tried (and done right) it sounds like its not a gasket issue.
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