You can use stock old style valve covers that will not leak. The key is gaskets. Use a fel-pro cork gasket with a steel middle piece. Those things are tick. Moroso makes another good gasket. It is silicon with a steel core a little more expensive than the fel-pro, but lasts longer. If you are using stock rubber gaskets, use a bead of silicon in conjunction with the gasket, but dont tighten it up too much or the gasket will pop out because of the slick silicon.
also a support rail will greatly help seal the gasket better no matter what kind you use. I strongly suggest using those
I have always had good luck with gluing/siliconing the gaskets directly to the lip of the valvecover. I start by thorougly cleaning and then degreasing the lip of the valve cover. Then I lightly sand the valve cover lip to give it some "bite". Then, glue the new gasket to the valve cover and make certain that it is positioned correctly and let it set up and dry completely (over night is good)before attempting to install them on the car. Before installation, grease the side of the gasket that contacts the head with axle grease. Not a lot of grease but just enough to keep the gasket from sticking should you have to remove it later. I have never had to replace gaskets that I have done this way and I have never had a leak with Chevy or after market covers. The real key is to NEVER over tighten the hold down bolts. ALWAYS use the load spreaders (where applicable). Try it, you just might LOVE it.
[This message has been edited by Go69 (edited 12-22-2000).]
Felpro makes a set, they cost about $50 and you put them on dry and can't overtorque them. I forget the name, Perma something. My father installed them on his '76 vette with no problems. I have a regular set of cork gaskets on my El Camino. Just put the yellow glue stuff on both sides and installed the covers. No leaks and a good seal.
Go69 has the drill down pat - I've always done exactly the same thing, have never leaked a drop from LOTS of SBC's. The leaks lots of guys get aren't from the gasket-to-head, they're from the gasket-to-valve cover joint. If you could see inside the valve cover with the engine running, you'd see oil POURING down the inside of the outer wall of the cover until it got to the inner edge of the gasket that sticks inboard from the corner of the cover where the flange is; the oil is trapped (like a dam) and builds up here, and tries to soak out through the joint between the top of the gasket and the bottom of the flange, and the excess runs over the inner edge of the gasket and runs down onto the head surface where it belongs. Getting a good seal between the top of the gasket and the flange on the cover will stop the leaks, as long as you don't over-tighten the valve cover bolts (which causes leaks between the bottom of the gasket and the sealing surface on the head). If you'll look at the later center-bolt covers (which were designed as part of Chevrolet's "Dry Engine" program), you'll note that the new design carries the inner wall of the cover down BELOW the level of the gasket, then turns back UP to the gasket area - this lets all that oil pouring down the inner wall of the cover run straight down, uninterrupted by any gasket edge, and off the bottom of the curve of the cover into the head area - the gasket never sees any direct flow of oil. Since the older covers don't have this feature, the name of the game is to seal the area that sees the direct oil flow, which is the gasket-to-cover joint.
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