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356/912/914/912E Valve Cover Modification

By Steve Grosekemper

Anyone who has ever owned an air-cooled, 4 cylinder Porsche knows of the problems of leaking valve covers. If you’ve ever put one of these cars on the racetrack, I can guarantee that you’re intimately familiar with this type of leak.

The problem is not necessarily with the valve cover itself, but with its ability to hold the gasket in place. When these gaskets fail, it is usually due to a corner being pulled in, resulting in rapid lubricant exodus, see figure 1.

Figure 1.
Mis-Located or Pulled In Gasket.

The modification to eliminate the shifting of the gasket is so brilliantly obvious, that I wish I could say it was my own. Alas, I cannot, as the credit for this one goes to Wayne Baker of Personalized Autohaus. He came up with the cure decades ago while racing a 4-cylinder 914. A customer of mine who races a “formerly” leaking 912 brought this modification to my attention.

The trick is to install a few tabs on the inside of the valve cover to hold the gasket in place. 914’s already have a tab on the top and bottom center of their valve covers, but it is not enough. Four more tabs must be installed on each valve cover to keep the gasket from shifting under heavy abuse.

The new tabs should be equally spaced along the top and bottom of each cover. 356/912’s will have a total of 4 tabs and 914’s will have a total of 6, due to the two original tabs already in place.

The tabs, measuring ½ inch by 1 inch should be spot-welded to the inside of the cover. Use mild steel sheet metal of similar thickness to the valve cover. A MIG welder is the best choice because its low heat impact will minimize the possibility of warpage, see figure 2.

Figure 2.
Gasket Retaining Tab.

After the tabs are installed the standard gasket can be put in position. The tabs will hold the gasket very tightly so no glue or any other type of adhesive will be necessary, saving you an additional $1.79, see figure 3.

Figure 3.
Completed Valve Cover Assembly.

There is one more option for keeping 356/912 gaskets in place that involves no modification to the covers at all. They are metal reinforced valve cover gaskets. (Not available for 914’s – Sorry) These gaskets are made by Felpro and can be ordered from Vic Skirmants at 356 Enterprises (810-575-9544).

The only drawback to this great product is the price. The Felpro gaskets are $15/set plus shipping and handling whereas the standard gaskets are only around $3/set and can be found locally at most parts house.

Now that you have one less oil leak to worry about you can use your rear view mirror to watch for flashing red lights instead of that trail of oil smoke.
Good Luck!