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Early Four-Cylinder Valve Covers, Revisited

By Steven Grosekemper

Back in September we discussed the problem associated with early four-cylinder engine valve cover leaks. The problem the cars were having was a loss of oil due to valve cover gasket deformation. The gasket was being pulled in from the changing pressures in the crankcase.

(See figure #1)

Figure #1

See how the valve cover gasket gets

pulled in resulting in an oil leak.

We concluded that these cars needed a means by which to hold the valve cover gaskets in place.   At that time I showed you how to attach small 3/4-inch tabs to the inside of the valve cover to help secure the gasket in place.

(See Figure #2)

Figure #2

See how the installed tabs help

hold the gasket in place.

Since that time, I have installed several of these tabs with great success. However, with certain very stubborn valve covers (e.g. Racing engines)- there has been the occasional incidence of leaking. These covers have resisted all attempts at keeping them dry. Never one to be satisfied, I went back to the drawing board. The new problem I was facing was that the gaskets were pulling in at either side of the tabs. Keeping the gasket in place for the entire length of the valve cover would resolve this problem.

The solution I came up with was to install full-length guide plates on the top and bottom of the valve covers, so the gaskets had absolutely no place to go. I cut the guide plates out of   .060-inch non-galvanized sheet metal. The reason for using this material was that it is the same material as the covers. I cut strips one-inch wide, installing a ten-inch piece on the top and an eight-inch piece on the bottom of each cover. Each piece needed to be pulled back a few millimeters to allow room for the gasket to slide in.

The gaskets need to be firmly pressed into place as the guide plates allow for no additional movement. Another added benefit to this modification is that, when installed, the gasket sustains no direct oil splash as it is protected by the guide piece.

(See Figure #3)

Figure #3

With the full length tabs spot welded in place,

we can see how secure the new gaskets should be.

This all seemed great until I tried to install the first cover and found that the new retaining strips would hit the intake valve springs. (See figure #4)

Figure #4

Note how close the intake valve springs are to

the upper edge of the valve cover mating surface.

So I went back to the drawing board and tried installing three strips (instead of just one) on the top of the cover giving the proper clearance between the retaining strips and the valve springs (See Figure #5)

Figure #5

With the cutouts for the intake valve springs in place,

the stock gasket is ready to install.

This new procedure not only holds the gasket in place it also protects the gaskets from some of the harsh elements, which exist inside the engine. At this point, using standard gaskets is all that should be necessary as they will be better protected and more securely positioned.


Good Luck