Head gasket material

I’m sure that many of you remember the vulcanized asbestos gasket material that was so widely used for model engine head gaskets during the “classic” era. However, that material has long been unavailable now, due mainly I think to quite legitimate health concerns relating to asbestos. Some of us laid in a stock while it was still available, but that’s mostly gone now. I’m almost out myself.

The question is – has anyone out there found a suitable alternative material?  The old vulcanized asbestos sheet material was particularly good at sealing large surfaces having slight irregularities – typical of the cylinder/head interface on many engines.  Is there an alternative material that works as well??  Please post here if you have any suggestions!

12 thoughts on “Head gasket material

  1. I don’t know off hand where you might get that stuff unless an auto parts store has exhaust gaskets made from similar. This also made me think of hardening and non hardening Permatex, which I think is an authentic pre war gasket sealant that may have been used.

    1. Attachment

      I have indeed replaced a gasket on a customers Frog 500 with a thick asbestos like replacement gasket material,and it works great.
      Just check out a car shop supply shop,and usually there are gas kit sets of different sizes and types..
      Many than ks!
      youtube Valic000

  2. Might seem too simple, but I use good quality silicon to attach exhaust headers to ally race engine heads without any leakage. Maybe worth a try.

  3. I have not found silicone-related materials suitable in diesel fuel conditions. Example: the swelling of silicone fuel lines exposed to the ether or kerosene (paraffin?) fuels. Such lines expand and become very slippery in short order. NOT what we can tolerate for fuel supply, or even areas briefly exposed to raw fuel, whichever liquid is the culprit.

    For gasket surfaces UNEXPOSED to raw fuel, sure.

    But only those. Kerosene is a fine solvent, even for “turpentine-solvent-like” paints. Usually very fuel proof, I’ve seen and felt the dissolved paint on my hands, when popular ‘enamel’ finishes were exposed. Silicone? Proof, yes, to a good degree, for methanol nitromethane-based fuels and their by-products…

    For gaskets, many possible substitutes can be found. Several layers of ordinary, heavy Kraft paper, 3×5 card stock. ‘construction paper,’ etc. Just that they can stand up to the necessary heat exposure. The old rubberized asbestos materials could do that AND fill a large gap between mating surfaces. Those days are gone. Layered Kraft paper can stand the heat except, perhaps, as head-to-sleeve or -case gasket material. In other areas, the usual process of checking ‘torquing’ over the first several runs saves later grief.

    An ideal answer would be to mate the involved surfaces better, so that a gasket material need not ‘stuff’ larger, avoidable gaps. Then, available, and Government-acceptable materials can serve.

    Incidentally, highest praise for your site and the most valuable topics you present in such clear and exhaustive detail. Particularly, yours on oil, which inspired this rant.

    I’ve been butchering engines for almost 50 years, with few absolute failures, quite a bit of study as to why they were, and mostly good results. NOT luck – I had an idea where the math should lead, and followed it.

    \LOU

  4. It is not possible to use thin soft copper plate ?
    Or graphite gasket paper , we use it sometimes for steam pipelines .

    Regards Jef

  5. I believe that thin sheet Teflon can be used for a Head Gasket. Look around at “Plastic” outlets and wholesalers.

  6. I agree and have used tag board or craft paper for some gasket applications. It can be found on scratch pads at an office supply store. I recently used it for a Johnson .36 bb for use in Combat Graffiti.

  7. Hi
    I use a brown paper gasket material i got at the outo parts house years ago. NEA products from belleville. N.J. First I lap the surfaces hoping to eliminate the gasket. Tefelon will hold up.red RTV silicon will go ^00deg in oil before it deteriates. I’ve used it to seal muffler gaskets. You have to have pacience and let the stuff cure before you run it read the directions.
    Tom

  8. Hi
    I use a brown paper gasket material i got at the outo parts house years ago. NEA products from belleville. N.J. First I lap the surfaces hoping to eliminate the gasket. Tefelon will hold up.red RTV silicon will go ^00deg in oil before it deteriates. I’ve used it to seal muffler gaskets. You have to have pacience and let the stuff cure before you run it read the directions.
    Tom

  9. Mcmaster.com has a variety of industrial gasket material in small quantities.
    These are available in .015″ thickness: https://www.mcmaster.com/#standard-gaskets/=18pnjgr
    The aramid/buna-n blends on the top appear to be more than tough enough.

    My glow-plug and spark engines have always used .005″ soft copper foil between aluminum heads and steel cylinder barrels with good results. But I have not yet built a diesel .

  10. Hi ,
    I found a real good substitute in a gasket material with the name:
    KLINGERSIL.
    It is an Aramid fiber based plate , internationally available, in small amounts
    (I have found an internatonal offer in ebay : 500x500mm t= 0,5mm for 19,90 EUR) , various thickness, with acceptable to good cutting properties.
    You will find detailed Info here:
    http://www.klinger.de/fileadmin/pdf/Dichtungen/KLINGERSIL/KLINGERSIL-C-4400-EN.pdf
    I made head gaskets 0,5mm thickness for my DRONE diesels out of it with success.
    Hope this helps, Andreas

  11. Annealed litho plate in various thicknesses is excellent for this. Even for full size heads and headers. However some attempt at linishing / lapping the mating surfaces should be made. Copper shim annealed is also good. Hermatite or Gasket Goo of various grades can be used with these gasket materials.Depending on the metals to be sealed. Another is the blue stuff RR used. Hylomar RR used it on aircraft engines followed by Vauxhall Motors. this is a universal gasket “paste “and may be used anywhere.

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