The Chevrolet small-block engine was a brilliant item of engineering, attested by the fact that well over 100,000,000 have actually been built. But the very first generation was no as oil-tight as later on generations. The gaskets in between the valve covers and the heads are typical culprits. They often weep, leak and also seep. A great part the the difficulty is that until 1986, only four bolts located around the perimeter fastened small-block valve covers. Absorption that problem are flimsy stamped stole valve consist of on basic models and a narrow, turbulent sealing surface on the cast-iron top made leaks virtually inevitable.

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On the shining side, valve covering leaks are about the least expensive oil leaks come fix. And valve covering removal is among the easiest and also most trouble-free means to look inside her engine. Plus, if your engine compartment is feather a tiny dreary, instead of or refurbishing the valve covers provides a major improvement at reasonably little cost. Due to the popularity of Chevrolet small-block and also big-block engines, the choices in aftermarket valve covers space staggering.


We will pay details attention to 1955-"86 small-block valve covers and also gaskets. Big-blocks utilized 7 bolts instead of the four on the first-generation small-blocks. Later on generations that small-blocks (and first-gen engines starting in 1986) made use of "center bolts" rather of the "perimeter bolts" of the first generation. These and also other architecture changes significantly improved sealing in ~ the valve covers. Regardless of the design, the complying with information ~ above valve cover considerations and gasket options is that value once replacement is needed.


From the an initial small-block engines in 1955 till head modifications in 1959, valve covers had a staggered-bolt pattern (the upper boltholes to be a small over an customs closer together than the reduced boltholes). That design may have actually been to ensure that the covers were not installed upside down. In any type of case, a prime factor to consider is whether the covering you need is a staggered or straight-across design. Because that those that have actually the more quickly staggered-bolt heads but want to pick from the many an ext styles that the later on straight-across bolt valve covers, an adapter is available.


An essential factor to consider for engines v high-performance aftermarket valvetrains is the internal elevation of the valve covering so that there"s enough clearance come the rocker arms when the valves room open. Keep in mind that a small extra height likewise can be obtained by using thicker than stock gaskets.


Another essential factor to consider is the outside height that the valve cover. In part engine compartments, there"s very tiny clearance between it and also the brake booster, air conditioning compressor, alternator or various other components. The intake manifold, EGR valve or exhaust manifolds can likewise cause fitment issues.


A fourth important structural consideration involves the openings in the valve covers. The early Chevy V-8s had actually none. This engines had actually oil fills and/or breathers on the intake manifold and some had actually a roadway draft tube on the behind to vent the engine. Later valve covers have actually openings for vents, PCV valves and also oil fills. The size, number and location of this holes in the valve cover varied from year to year and also even varied in between engine options. Because of that, numerous aftermarket valve covers have actually no holes. If feet are needed in those covers, customers must either machine or drill them to suit their specific application.


The above considerations are structural and also are critical. Yet they are reasonably easy to inspect and measure to identify what you need. Cosmetic considerations are an entirely various story. There are so many selections for Chevrolet engines. For example, Summit Racing offers well end 100 styles for small-blocks alone. We"ll leaving those aesthetic considerations totally up come you while us look in ~ the many gasket options


It supplied to be simple. Valve covering gaskets were cork or cork with a rubber binder. These are still easily accessible and are good choices for numerous applications. Castle conform well to the narrow, stormy mating surface ar of beforehand small-block cast-iron heads. This is necessary with the relatively low clamping pressure of perimeter bolt covers, particularly the stamped-steel covers. The cork gaskets are usually the least expensive but they compress over time, requiring the the cover bolts it is in retightened occasionally.


After countless years cork gaskets can compress too far and also become hardened. It"s a common practice come cement this (and other types of gaskets) come the valve cover to organize them in place throughout installation and also to store the gasket attached to the valve cover throughout removal. On the reduced gasket surface, Permatex Form-A-Gasket No. 2 or various other non-hardening sealers have the right to be applied to much better seal against the head once the gasket compresses or the bolts loosen.


Cork valve covering gaskets are also accessible with a steel core laminated in in between cork layers. A stole core prevents valve cover gaskets indigenous being suck in through high vacuum or pushed out due to excessive blow by. Back this event is uncommon on stock engines, the metal layer likewise helps cork gaskets retain your dimensions. Old cork gaskets have the right to dry out and also shrink. This multilayered gaskets maintain the capability of cork gaskets come seal versus rough surfaces and are a popular selection today.


Rubber valve sheathe gaskets have been an option for countless years. For gyeongju applications, they have the added advantage that standing up to repetitive removal and also installation the the valve cover. The rubber material is fairly hard compared to cork and also therefore occasionally does not conform as well to unstable surfaces, especially with the couple of focused push points of perimeter bolt stamped-steel valve covers. However, if valve covers are not likely to be removed, rubber gaskets deserve to be coated ~ above both sides with RTV or other sealants because that a long-lasting, leak-free seal.


An example of the newer varieties of valve cover gaskets is Fel-Pro"s molded silicone gasket v a laminated steel core. These gaskets additionally feature stole compression limiters allowing the bolts to be tightened without too many compressing the silicone. These have actually garnered an excellent reviews and also represent the high end of valve sheathe gaskets at end $50 because that a pair.


One more consideration when choosing valve covering gaskets brings us earlier to the at an early stage small-blocks with the staggered-bolt valve covers. This staggered designed is tho an concern today due to the fact that some valve covering gaskets have actually both staggered and also straight boltholes (six holes total) to accommodate both designs. This six-hole gaskets need to be trimmed come fit part valve covers. And the extra holes develop a diluent sealing area close to two that the sheathe bolts.


Although valve sheathe gaskets don"t necessarily require sealers or cements, it"s a usual practice to glue the gasket to the valve cover. There room a variety of sealant choices, too. For this application, Permatex No. 1, RTVs or Permatex High Tack gasket sealant work-related well. Tip: ~ gluing the gasket to the cover, place the gasket ~ above a flat surface and place a load on optimal of the cover till the sealant dries. Climate remove any excess sealant to prevent it from being an eyesore top top the outside or going right into the engine from the inside.


Before instead of the valve cover gaskets, check to make sure that they room the reason of oil fall on your floor. Feel for oil on the head around the lower rear edge of the cover. That"s a primary difficulty area. The gaskets can additionally leak at the height of the valve cover resulting in oil to puddle at the sheet of the intake manifold. Identify the source of the leak in this area it s okay tricky because, back much much less likely, the intake manifold gasket can likewise seep oil.


The seals in ~ the front and rear the the entry manifold are an additional potential resource of oil leaks. If inspecting the rear of the engine, also examine the oil pressure line or sender and the distributor gasket. Ago to the top of the engine; inspect any rubber grommets ~ above the valve cover. They frequently harden and also seep oil as soon as they dry and shrink.


Moving below, inspect the under of the engine because that oil leaks in ~ the rear main seal, front key seal, fuel pump gaskets and dipstick tube. In any type of case, you deserve to follow along for tips on replacing the valve covering gaskets. On early small-blocks if lock aren"t leaking now, it"s likely they will be at part time.


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1. examine the bottom the the valve cover in ~ the rear. If it"s shiny through oil then you deserve to be pretty certain your valve covering gaskets need replacing. However, if it feels choose your valve covering bolts room bottoming out, you could just need to add a level washer or 2 to prevent the leaking.


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2. If oil is puddling close to the entry manifold, that"s additionally a typical sign that valve covering gasket failure. Oil can likewise seep past the entry manifold gasket close to its center yet that is much much less common.


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3. traditional cork gaskets are still a popular choice and have the right to seal well against the turbulent narrow sealing surface ar of cast-iron heads. However, cork has tendency to compress end time, request valve sheathe bolts to be retightened. At some point the cork gasket compresses too much in that center permitting oil to acquire by.


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4. remove the valve covers and remove any kind of sealant or gasket indigenous the heads. Stop the drain hole to save these bits from falling into the engine. Soak increase the oil through the reduced rear and front head bolts come spot any type of debris the is hiding under the oil.


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5. Clean the end the boltholes in the head by transforming a 3/16-inch drill little by hand. End the year gasket material or sealant can build up in the bottom that the hole, staying clear of the bolts native tightening top top the valve cover.


6. Screw a bolt every the way into every hole and then unscrew the counting how countless full turns prior to it comes out. Additionally note if the object bind throughout the last few turns; that will make it challenging to tell just how much push is being put on the gasket. If the bolt bottom out when installing the valve cover that doesn"t issue how an excellent the gasket is—it will leak. ~ the boltholes to be cleaned, these 1973 heads enabled just end nine turns.


7. Block off the baffles once scraping the old gasket and cleaning the valve cover. The baffles help prevent oil droplets from gift sucked right into the PCV valve, vent tube and hoses. Likewise note the projections ~ above the within of this manufacturing facility valve cover. These drippers assist in oiling the rocker eight pivot.


8. that is essential to ar some kind of straightedge against the gasket surface of stamped-steel valve consist of to see if they room bent. They usually are deformed close to the bolt holes and also they won"t seal until that"s fixed. Support the upper surface of the flange ~ above a block and also tap top top the reduced surface close to the bolthole till it is right again.


9. There are many selections in valve covering gaskets. There room even options in cork gaskets. In enhancement to cork gaskets being available in a variety of different thicknesses, cork gaskets can also have a stole layer laminated in the facility as watched here.


10. Mr. Gasket supplies a 0.325-inch special cork gasket. This extra thickness can provide increased clearance for aftermarket valvetrain contents or that can help prevent the valve cover indigenous hitting the intake manifold.


11. This silicone Fel-Pro gasket from Summit gyeongju is a an excellent example of luxury sealing. In enhancement to that is laminated steel core, it has metal sleeves about the boltholes to protect against the gasket from being crushed too far. This also enables the bolts to be tightened come the suggest that lock are much less likely to loosen up.


12. Paragon"s gasket has cork bonded v rubber for far better dimensional stability. The extra bolthole enables it to be used on the early on small-blocks that had valve covers v staggered bolts. The thickness is comparable to OEM gaskets at about 9/64-inch.


13. Paragon likewise offers original style valve cover bolts, screws and retainers. The factory retainers room often absent but castle are essential to distribute the pressure of the bolts on the slim stamped-steel valve covers. Keep in mind that the factory bolts provided with aluminum valve covers have 3/8-inch hex heads.


14. The choices in aftermarket valve covers space extensive. Holley"s brand-new Vintage series finned aluminum valve covers with Chevrolet script come in natural cast finish, polished, satin black color or manufacturing facility orange through machined fins. Holley-scripted models are also available with or there is no PCV and oil fill holes (and these come v pre-installed interior oil baffles).


15. Three vital structural considerations in choosing a valve cover space the internal height for clearance v aftermarket valvetrain, outside height for clearance with surrounding components and any holes essential for a breather tube, PCV valve or oil fill. The latter two considerably narrow the choice on part cars.


16. This is a great time to examine all the rubber grommets top top the valve covers. Castle harden in time to the extent that pieces deserve to break off and fall inside throughout removal. Be mindful that the grommets produced steel valve covers have actually a narrow channel 보다 the ones for aluminum valve covers. Paragon offers these original layout grommets plus new emblems and stickers to restore factory covers.


17. It"s crucial to check to view how far the bolt goes with the valve cover and gasket. At least three threads should be showing, particularly when supplied with aluminum heads. However, an ext than five threads extending out can be a difficulty with some stock heads due to the fact that the boltholes are relatively shallow. Our 1-inch long bolts functioned well v the Holley Vintage series covers and also a special gasket.


18. Permatex High Tack is well-known for gluing the gasket come the valve cover. This stop the gasket in place throughout installation and keeps that attached to the cover during later removal for valve adjustment or other work. Permatex Ultra Copper Silicone RTV additionally works well in this application. Both are available from Summit Racing.


19. A thin coat of Permatex No. 2 on the lower surface of the valve cover gasket helps make it oil tight, particularly on the narrow sealing surface of early small-block cast-iron heads. It additionally helps keep the oil in when gaskets compress or sheathe bolts loosen. Permatex No. 2 is non-hardening so the covers have the right to be removed later without break the gaskets.


20. Make certain that the valve cover has clearance with the input manifold. The top lips of factory aluminum valve covers to be trimmed in this area. Comparable trimming can regularly be excellent on aftermarket valve covers once needed.


21. Holley likewise makes finned die-cast aluminum air cleaners in your Vintage Series. These come in 3-inch and 4-inch heights with a choice of premium dark red or natural paper air filter elements. A facility stud, soup nuts, and also gaskets are included.


22. The exterior surface of unpainted aluminum valve covers deserve to tarnish end time. Tip: spray a small Corrosion Block on a cloth and wipe aluminum components to protect them. It can even assist restore a tiny sheen to an old valve cover, as watched on the appropriate side.

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23. The combination of the Holley Vintage series valve covers and also matching waiting cleaner add a substantial amount of bling come an engine compartment. Replacing valve covers or gaskets is one of the simplest at-home projects. And with no drips, your garage floor will certainly look better, too.


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