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Discussion Starter #1
Okay. So I did some searching on here yesterday and today about which valve cover gaskets to use and how best to install them. It seemed several people swore by the Fel Pro VS12869T gaskets. They are rubber/silicone with a metal insert. They are applied to a clean, dry surface for best seal.

Well, let me back up. I had to remove the valve covers off my engine fresh from the machine shop because during cam break-in, one of the screw-in studs sheared off. I discovered that once I pulled the passenger-side valve cover off (rocker fell right out). There was no leak during the cam break-in. When I pried the valve covers off, the gaskets were "glued" to both the covers and the heads so they basically tore in half upon removal. Once re-installed, the passenger side had a very slight leak (driver's side was actually dry).

Anyways, since I had to replace them I figured I would get some good ones. Well, I cleaned both surfaces and installed the covers with these Fel Pro gaskets, fired it up, and after warming up for a minute, I revved it slightly and then noticed the passenger side started to dribble onto the intake manifold slightly. I shut it off and let it cool down for a few minutes, removed the valve cover and noticed that I put the "Pushrod Side" on the spring side, so I cleaned everything up again, re-installed the gasket and fired it up. It still leaks, more than before I started! It seems to mostly be leaking from the back side. And now the driver's side is leaking from the back side, too.

Am I missing something with these Fel Pro gaskets? Others seem to have success with them and I certainly am not. By the way, they came with torque limiters or whatever they are called and I re-used the washers that came with the bolts that came with the valve covers.
 

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MY best method for any valve cover gaskets is to glue the gasket to the valve cover all the way around using yellow snot glue.Apply a small bead of snot to the valve cover all the way around.Straighten out the gasket as best as you can and apply it to the valve cover.Use your hand to keep the gasket in the correct position for a minute or two{it will want to slide around}.after it gets tacky place the cover on a flat surface and put a brick or something on it for about 10 minutes.The cover is now ready to install.I use weight spreading tabs{the long ones} on all stamped valve covers.I mostly build fairly highly strung street engines and full race engines,and use this method because the valve covers can be removed and replaced many times with the same gasket using this method.One important thig to remeber ius that if you do this,the cylinder head surface needs to have some oil on it since the gasket should stick to both surfaces or it might fail.Good luck.

BTW,snot glue is also called 3m weatherstrip adhesive.
 

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I use thick cork gaskets and RTV Blue them to the covers. I don't know why, but I never get leaks. Be carefull not to overtighten them.
 

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HAHA.I just put the new 408 inch smallblock into my "street racer special" 79 Camaro and I have both cork AND rubber gaskets on it.Iwanted low valve covers but have mondo valvetrain on it.I glued a cork gasket to each cover,let them dry then glued a steel reinforced rubber gasekt to the cork gasket.I put the cork up top because I figured the rubber was less likly to stick to the heads.No leaks so far,they have only been off once,but it just shows to go how much you can booger these things if you just pay attention to how you are doing it:)

BTW,Melrose's method is pretty much the same,but I luv me some yellow snot glue,its kind of like Indian Head glue only WAY better.
 

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It seems to mostly be leaking from the back side. And now the driver's side is leaking from the back side, too.
that is why we (posts above) 'glue' them
good old silicone, or loctite gasket maker..anything like that
I put a few spots about 1" apart...preess the gasket in and let set facing down on the bench..sit on the gasket....one knows it is a 'future' job so usually do it a few days early
Also once set, a light smear of oil on the bottom of the gasket stops it sticking on the head if taken off at a later date....works with carb gaskets etc to.

If u dont glue it in, u need 4 hands to hold in place and 9 times out of 10 the rear edge catches or drags on the rear lifter...doesnt sit right and leaks
Or when torqued down the cork gasket can tend to move, twist
Don not over tighten the cork gaskets, they will leak...nic up and renick a couple days later.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well this particular Fel Pro gasket is not completely flat. It has a slight radius to it. I'm starting to think it is probably better used with stock heads and/or stamped covers. I have aftermarket Edelbrock heads that have a flat, machined surface and the valve covers are cast with a flat, slightly rough surface. If I remember right, stock-type heads have a sort of rounded groove, right? Maybe I shouldn't use the weight spreaders with my cast covers. When the engine was still fresh, it was just the screws and small washers - no weight spreaders - it didn't leak.

I guess tomorrow I will head to NAPA or one of the other parts shops and get different valve cover gaskets...

Thanks for the advice - I'l let you know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So I put the cork ones onto the valve covers with a bead of gasket maker, let them sit for an hour or so with weight on them, installed them and let the car warm up and took it for a spin. When I came back (just a quick 2-mile or so drive) there was a fresh trickle on the front side of the passenger exhaust manifold and must have been a tiny one at the backside of each cover too.

I checked the bolts and they were all a little loose. Maybe the cork material heated up and loosened up a little bit allowing the bolts to be tightened a bit more? In any case, I tightened them all snugly after the engine was off and now I'm letting it sit... hopefully that works...

By the way, I noticed this time when installing the bolts that the hold-down tabs were actually causing some kind of binding or something because they were distorting before the bolt was even snugged against the cover. There was probably a 1/16" gap or so. I removed tabs and the bolts and cover tightened up nicely (until the engine warmed up, as I mentioned). Remember, I have cast covers, so I doubt the tabs would have been helping much anyways...
 

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The hold downs spread the load out to the ends so that's why they may show a gap when you start snugging them down. The ends will push down first. Anything over 8 ftlbs or so is too much on a cork gasket and will wind up with an uneven seal.
 

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A cork gasket will take a while to take a "set" or in other words a cork gasket will compress. It might take 2 or 4 times retightening or heating and cooling cycles before they are good to go. You should not be getting leaks that quick. I would sure check the edges of the valve covers for warpage. Spreading the load is why you want to use wider or longer tabs. Get a thick set if you go that route and use a bit longer bolt.
2x on what Steiner says. I use a 1/4 drive ratchet to tighten valve covers.
 

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If you are using the thick cast aluminum valve covers like the GMPP ones made by Proform you should not need any spreader tabs. Use 3M snot or similar to adhere the gaskets to the valve covers, use a flat washer with a good nut, tighten to snug + 1/2 turn with a 1/4" drive ratchet. Unless you heads or valve covers are warped you should be good.

Fwiw, spreaders are needed on stamped steel and aluminum valve covers because they tend to deform when tightened down.
 

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If you are using the thick cast aluminum valve covers like the GMPP ones made by Proform you should not need any spreader tabs. Use 3M snot or similar to adhere the gaskets to the valve covers, use a flat washer with a good nut, tighten to snug + 1/2 turn with a 1/4" drive ratchet. Unless you heads or valve covers are warped you should be good.

Fwiw, spreaders are needed on stamped steel and aluminum valve covers because they tend to deform when tightened down.
+1
Cast valve covers do not flex like the cheap stamped steel ones, therefore by having the weight spreaders, they are doing nothing.
Many people use the blue fel-pro rubber gaskets on al heads with no other junk stuck to them and have no leaks at all, me being one of them.
 

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this happens a lot. check your bolt length. if it is too long, it will bottom out before clamping down on v-cover.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The bolts are not bottoming out because I have removed the weight spreaders and I get not binding. It tightens all the way down to the covers. In any case, i have tightened the cork gaskets down a few times and so far no leak. I'll just leave these in here until they start leaking then I will just use the 12869T rubber ones that I'll save.
 
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