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Old 21st February 2012, 02:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Guys,

has anyone on the forum experience with pure copper cylinder head gaskets?
I am considering to buy a set but I read different opinions about it.

Main questions I have are

- Is it under all circumstances necessary to put O-Rings into the block
- Do you need any special material to "grease" the copper gasket
- Do they seal better, equal or less compared to the standard ones?
- What about torque spec's they remain the same ?

Any help is much appreciated..


Cheers
(C)arlos
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Old 21st February 2012, 03:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Yes, plenty of experience on Vintage engines and my question to you is WHY !

Yes, a solid copper gasket does need an O ring and you have to be bloody careful how much of that ring protudes from the block surface or you're in trouble.

You need to cover the gasket in sealer or water pisses out everywhere.

As regards torque, as much as the block will take BUT if you have that O ring too proud you will bend the head over it, lifting the head in the middle.

You have to anneal the gasket everytime you reuse them as they work harden.

You CAN get copper gaskets with the O ring built in but at about double the price of a conventional gasket and if you haven't got a really good excuse for using them, honestly, why bother.

Mike

Last edited by mike huddart; 21st February 2012 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 21st February 2012, 03:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

I used a copper gasket on my old Z race engine. My head had been damaged, then repaired, and I needed a very thick gasket to keep the compression from getting over my limit. So, a copper gasket was ordered from:

Gasket Works

It was about 3-4mm thick as I recall and it worked beautifully. Perfect fit, and it did not have an o-ring for oil pressure nor for water passages. I ran it on the motor for about 20 hours, then removed it for freshening the motor, and put it back on where it remains to this day with probably 50+ hours on it - it was the spare motor for my Z car and was in operation when I sold the car last year.

I admit, I don't know much about copper head gaskets but I followed what the guys are headgasket.com told me and had no problems.

Now, I'd not have used one if I didn't need the thickness because it was a bit pricey, around $200. But, they had templates for about any motor imaginable and provided great service.

R
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Old 22nd February 2012, 12:43 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

I have used copper head gaskets on both big block and small block Chevys. These were either supercharged or turbo'd. When I o-ring the block, I machine receiver grooves in the head to accept the gasket material that the o-ring is pushing up. If you don't do this with a o-ring, like Mike said, you can bend the head, and you just wasted a lot of time and money for nothing.

Regards Brian
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Old 22nd February 2012, 01:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Wau guys, thx a lot of for the detailed feedback ...

So what is in your opinion the best aftermarket gasket ? I used FelPro but I am not truly satisfied with it ...
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Old 22nd February 2012, 04:35 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skeleton View Post
Wau guys, thx a lot of for the detailed feedback ...

So what is in your opinion the best aftermarket gasket ? I used FelPro but I am not truly satisfied with it ...
Fel Pro.
If you are using the CORRECT Fel Pro gasket and you are having trouble then, sorry, you are doing something wrong.
Mike
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Old 22nd February 2012, 06:33 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Guys blew my head gasket last weekend, no. 4 cylinder wasn't driving hard and compression is around 9.5.1. Original head gaskets were Felpro, I have ordered Titan Copper head gaskets .043 thickness. These don't need O Ring seals as they have a seal on the gasket face. Would appreciate any advice or thoughts.

Mick
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Old 22nd February 2012, 07:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

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Originally Posted by Mick View Post
Guys blew my head gasket last weekend, no. 4 cylinder wasn't driving hard and compression is around 9.5.1. Original head gaskets were Felpro, I have ordered Titan Copper head gaskets .043 thickness. These don't need O Ring seals as they have a seal on the gasket face. Would appreciate any advice or thoughts.

Mick

Ditto previous post.
A photo (s) would help with diagnosis.
Mike
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Old 22nd February 2012, 07:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Wink Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Like what Mike says --- correct combo of heads, to gaskets, to studs, to torque settings etc no probs
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Old 22nd February 2012, 07:22 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mick View Post
Guys blew my head gasket last weekend, no. 4 cylinder wasn't driving hard and compression is around 9.5.1. Original head gaskets were Felpro, I have ordered Titan Copper head gaskets .043 thickness. These don't need O Ring seals as they have a seal on the gasket face. Would appreciate any advice or thoughts.

Mick
Head gaskets can blow for a variety of reasons. Felpro gaskets are good, therefore I'm with Mike, you've got something wrong. I would not automatically switch to a copper gasket unless I needed the copper gasket for some other reason. A FelPro gasket is more than capable of doing what is needed.
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Old 22nd February 2012, 12:59 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

pfssss.....you might be right you might be wrong that I did something wrong, but I have done quite a few engines and never ever lost a head gasket.......So we will never figure it out ( what a shame is )....It might was just a faulty set of gaskets...no idea...I stand here with big eyes, wondering....

But based on the feedback I will try it one more time...and will check it after the engine has run for a while....If they look good I put a new set on ..If they look bad I switch to cooper..


however, thx a lot to all for the feedback ...
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Old 22nd February 2012, 03:07 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Have used copper head gaskets extensively, and generally been very satisfied. If there is no separate ring or extra sealing material on the face of the gasket then, as another poster said, it's wise to anneal the gasket before installing. I have also used a very thin smear of Permatex Form-a-Gasket on copper gaskets where there's no separate ring or sealing material. This helps to seal, but doesn't form an unbreakable bond making the head difficult to remove down the road.

Copper gaskets are less compliant than a fiber gasket, so, best to ensure the faces on your heads and the block are absolutely perfectly flat. If you have a really good machinists straight edge then you can check this. The block is typically pretty straight, but the alloy heads may have a bow, particularly if they've been overheated. Get a machine shop to just skim the heads if there's any bow. A fiber gasket will do a better job of sealing a head with a slight bow than a copper gasket. So, again, if you're using copper the faces need to be absolutely flat.

Never had a copper gasket fail.
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Old 22nd February 2012, 03:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skeleton View Post
pfssss.....you might be right you might be wrong that I did something wrong, but I have done quite a few engines and never ever lost a head gasket..........
Carlos, I have a general question here--are you retorqueing your head bolts after the engine has been up to operating temperature a few times?

It has been my experience that head gasket failures are much more common when the heads have not been retorqued.

If you DID retorque and the head gasket still failed, I'd say Cliff is spot on...check your surfaces to make sure they are straight. Back in the 60's we ran high compression ratios (we had good gasoline back then) and never had a failure on our FelPro head gaskets b/c we always retorqued them.

Cheers!

Doug
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Old 22nd February 2012, 04:58 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Carlos,

As others have noted, in order to diagnose the problem and give best advice it is important to know all the details. Normally the Felpro gaskets are good but there are a number of Felpro gasket types and models. And the devil is in the details.

- Engine type and HP, compression ratio etc.
- Block material - iron or aluminum
- Block properly prepared, decked, deck smooth, threads chased and clean
- Blind holes/threads or open at bottom
- In Blind threads, no excess oil or thread lock to hydralic in the bottom when torquing and then relieve over time, lessening the clamping force
- Stock factory block or good aftermarket one? Manufacturer?
- Heads cast iron or aluminum, properly decked, straight, and with correct finish
- Bolts or studs?
- hardened washer under the bolt heads or stud nuts
- lubrication on threads. None, oil, or ARP moly type?
- Large built in washer type head bolts (such as the stock Ford ones, or even the ARP bolts and nuts) or nuts without a hardened washer between the head surface and the bolt head can be killers because half of the torque is used just turning the bolt against the head surface or a standard washer (even with it well oiled) and the result is low clamping force on the gasket. We learned this by testing.

Regarding copper head gaskets what has been said above and by others re the proper preparations is critical. We have used them for drag racing engines that are torn down frequently, after one, two or three weekends of use. Use an o-ringed block and receiver groove in the heads and sealer for the water passages and/or any oil passages. For long term use I would be less enthusiastic because of higher risk of galvanic corrosion.

The same approach can be used with composite gaskets - O-ring the block with or without a receiver groove in head depending on the specific gasket and all the other details. For moderate engines to 500hp +/_ the o-rings shouldn't be needed if everything is prepared correctly and good grade bolts or studs AND HARDENED WASHERS are used. Grade 9 bolts with small head and hard washer work very well because the friction level is very low thus the full clamping force is applied.

The modern trend is to use MLS (multi layer steel) shim type gaskets such as made by Cometic, Felpro and others. They are more expensive than composite gaskets but work very well to very high hp levels, without o-rings. Provided everything else is correct.

Re-torquing the head bolts is good after running for a bit, particularly with composite gaskets. If they are sealing right you should not have to take the heads off and check the gaskets!

Unless have a high compression high hp engine running with a lot of track time the Felpro gaskets should be good and my guess is that there is something wrong in the details. Just putting in new gaskets without determining and fixing the root cause of the problem is likely to have the same end result.

Feel free to provide further details and we will all try to help sort out your problem.

Good luck Carlos,

Gord

Last edited by GordsFord; 22nd February 2012 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 02:25 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Gord
thx a lot for the detailed feedback....I might, after reading your questions get an idea what went wrong...

But first let me answer your questions.
- 302 out of 1972, HP no figures yet but should bee around 350 BHP, 11:1
- cast iron standard Ford Block
- block bored, honed first oversize, crank first undersize, decked
- open bottom holes
- ARP Bolts with hardened washers and assembled with arp moly.
- rechecked the torque readings after around 300km-500 and they have been fine
- I don't know the correct felpro number anymore because it is to long ago ( over two years)


BUT ..... !!!!!

I bought a set of brand new Edelbrock Heads, and I they didn't went to the machine shop....that was perhaps my failure, I just checked them at home and they looked O.K. ....
They only thing I could imagine is, that my failure was not to bring the head to the machine shop and let them straighten them....
Does that make any sense ...?


Cheers
(C)arlos

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordsFord View Post
Carlos,

As others have noted, in order to diagnose the problem and give best advice it is important to know all the details. Normally the Felpro gaskets are good but there are a number of Felpro gasket types and models. And the devil is in the details.

- Engine type and HP, compression ratio etc.
- Block material - iron or aluminum
- Block properly prepared, decked, deck smooth, threads chased and clean
- Blind holes/threads or open at bottom
- In Blind threads, no excess oil or thread lock to hydralic in the bottom when torquing and then relieve over time, lessening the clamping force
- Stock factory block or good aftermarket one? Manufacturer?
- Heads cast iron or aluminum, properly decked, straight, and with correct finish
- Bolts or studs?
- hardened washer under the bolt heads or stud nuts
- lubrication on threads. None, oil, or ARP moly type?
- Large built in washer type head bolts (such as the stock Ford ones, or even the ARP bolts and nuts) or nuts without a hardened washer between the head surface and the bolt head can be killers because half of the torque is used just turning the bolt against the head surface or a standard washer (even with it well oiled) and the result is low clamping force on the gasket. We learned this by testing.

Regarding copper head gaskets what has been said above and by others re the proper preparations is critical. We have used them for drag racing engines that are torn down frequently, after one, two or three weekends of use. Use an o-ringed block and receiver groove in the heads and sealer for the water passages and/or any oil passages. For long term use I would be less enthusiastic because of higher risk of galvanic corrosion.

The same approach can be used with composite gaskets - O-ring the block with or without a receiver groove in head depending on the specific gasket and all the other details. For moderate engines to 500hp +/_ the o-rings shouldn't be needed if everything is prepared correctly and good grade bolts or studs AND HARDENED WASHERS are used. Grade 9 bolts with small head and hard washer work very well because the friction level is very low thus the full clamping force is applied.

The modern trend is to use MLS (multi layer steel) shim type gaskets such as made by Cometic, Felpro and others. They are more expensive than composite gaskets but work very well to very high hp levels, without o-rings. Provided everything else is correct.

Re-torquing the head bolts is good after running for a bit, particularly with composite gaskets. If they are sealing right you should not have to take the heads off and check the gaskets!

Unless have a high compression high hp engine running with a lot of track time the Felpro gaskets should be good and my guess is that there is something wrong in the details. Just putting in new gaskets without determining and fixing the root cause of the problem is likely to have the same end result.

Feel free to provide further details and we will all try to help sort out your problem.

Good luck Carlos,

Gord
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Old 23rd February 2012, 01:34 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Hi Carlos,

It could be that the heads were not straight and surfaced right (or the block deck) with too much profile (too rough).

The other thing that I may not have made clear is that with a large built in shoulder head on the head bolts such as on the stock Ford bolts and the ARP bolts, is the lubrication between the underside of the bolt head and the hardened washer. It is critical that the ARP moly lube be placed under the bolt head and on top of the hardened washer as well as on the bolt threads. It is also important to check that the bolts are the correct length, or with open holes I may even go 1/8 to 1/4" longer to ensure that you get the longest thread engagement possible. With blind holes you need to be sure not to bottom out the bolts. And chasing the treads with a fresh, sharp tap and cleaning them is important.

For the ARP head bolts - 7/16" NC bolts for a 302-the torque value with properly lubed ARP moly lube is 70 lb-ft or metric 95Nm. With oil lube it could be 75 lb=ft. The bolts should be tightenened in three steps - 25, 50 then 70 or 75 lb-ft as appropriate. Torque in correct sequence from middle bolts towards the end cylinders.

I can not over-emphasize the importance of the ARP moly lube under the large bolt heads to reduce the friction. In testing with the Ford or ARP large shoulder type head bolts on a washer we found that the friction under the large shoulder type bolt head with motor oil lubricant was as much as 60 to 70% of the applied torque!! Meaning that the actual clamping load was dramatically reduced.

We changed to small head L9 bolts on hardened washers and never had one problem with head gaskets after that.

One more thing. You note the compression ratio is 11.0:1. This requires good quality high octane fuel and the correct timing. If the cam is a relatively mild cam, which I assume it is at that moderate HP level then there is the possibility that there has been some detonation (pre-ignition) in the engine and could easily lift a cylinder head.

Hope this helps,

Gord
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Old 23rd February 2012, 04:03 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordsFord View Post
Hi Carlos,

It could be that the heads were not straight and surfaced right (or the block deck) with too much profile (too rough).

The other thing that I may not have made clear is that with a large built in shoulder head on the head bolts such as on the stock Ford bolts and the ARP bolts, is the lubrication between the underside of the bolt head and the hardened washer. It is critical that the ARP moly lube be placed under the bolt head and on top of the hardened washer as well as on the bolt threads. It is also important to check that the bolts are the correct length, or with open holes I may even go 1/8 to 1/4" longer to ensure that you get the longest thread engagement possible. With blind holes you need to be sure not to bottom out the bolts. And chasing the treads with a fresh, sharp tap and cleaning them is important.

For the ARP head bolts - 7/16" NC bolts for a 302-the torque value with properly lubed ARP moly lube is 70 lb-ft or metric 95Nm. With oil lube it could be 75 lb=ft. The bolts should be tightenened in three steps - 25, 50 then 70 or 75 lb-ft as appropriate. Torque in correct sequence from middle bolts towards the end cylinders.

I can not over-emphasize the importance of the ARP moly lube under the large bolt heads to reduce the friction. In testing with the Ford or ARP large shoulder type head bolts on a washer we found that the friction under the large shoulder type bolt head with motor oil lubricant was as much as 60 to 70% of the applied torque!! Meaning that the actual clamping load was dramatically reduced.

We changed to small head L9 bolts on hardened washers and never had one problem with head gaskets after that.

One more thing. You note the compression ratio is 11.0:1. This requires good quality high octane fuel and the correct timing. If the cam is a relatively mild cam, which I assume it is at that moderate HP level then there is the possibility that there has been some detonation (pre-ignition) in the engine and could easily lift a cylinder head.

Hope this helps,

Gord

Actual head torque is all at 70 and then the top row to 80 to stop the inside of the head lifting when the manifold gets tightened. but you have to back off the bolts slightly and then re torque to 80 otherwise you won't get a proper reading even with moly lube.

However, I'm with you and go for detonation, IF it's a genuine 11.1 you would need a whacking big dome to get that with EDE heads, but even if it isn't there are plenty of other ways to get detonation without trying that hard. Mind you Carlos hasn't actually told us why he doesn't like FelPro, we seem to be presuming that they have blown.

Mike
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Old 24th February 2012, 01:41 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Guys I can't emphasis enough how much value there is in the information you are providing

What I will do is, I will try to make a scan from the gasket and we might be able to see what happened...

I spoke to my machine shop ( they made a lot of engines for me already and never had a problem) and they said that the blown gasket was the root cause for all the problems.
So they explain to me ....The gasket was blown by, and because of the gas exchange between the cylinders, the pistons got to hot and expanded to much and cause on one piston squeezing. The following abrasion destroyed the main and connecting rod bearings....
I can't follow that because the CAM bearings LOOK LIKE BRAND NEW, also the CAM it self, not a single notch or scratch.
I would assume the abrasive would case damages on all moving engine parts.

What do you think....?

cheers
(C)arlos
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Old 24th February 2012, 04:35 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skeleton View Post
Guys I can't emphasis enough how much value there is in the information you are providing

What I will do is, I will try to make a scan from the gasket and we might be able to see what happened...

I spoke to my machine shop ( they made a lot of engines for me already and never had a problem) and they said that the blown gasket was the root cause for all the problems.
So they explain to me ....The gasket was blown by, and because of the gas exchange between the cylinders, the pistons got to hot and expanded to much and cause on one piston squeezing. The following abrasion destroyed the main and connecting rod bearings....
I can't follow that because the CAM bearings LOOK LIKE BRAND NEW, also the CAM it self, not a single notch or scratch.
I would assume the abrasive would case damages on all moving engine parts.

What do you think....?

cheers
(C)arlos
Carlos,
first thing you need to do is find a machine shop who ACTUALLY know what they're talking about.
Second, sort out the detonation, which you HAVE got.

Mike
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Old 24th February 2012, 04:49 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Cylinder Head Gasket ..anyone experience with copper ?

Mike,

agreed. THe machine shop should know ( at least that was my impression until today ) what they are talking about, they do engines sizing from Smart ( the car :-) ) up to engines for big ships. So are doing a lot of stuff for motorsports and are the preferred partner from Toyota here in germany if it comes to failure analyzing and repairing engines under warranty ....

However, this is not a guarantee they understand what a American V8 needs to run proper....But at least from the general experience and equipment they should be on top of all others...

I will once again talk to them today and let you know the outcome ....
cheers
(C)arlos


Quote:
Originally Posted by mike huddart View Post
Carlos,
first thing you need to do is find a machine shop who ACTUALLY know what they're talking about.
Second, sort out the detonation, which you HAVE got.

Mike
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