Removing Stubborn Valve Covers

buckyApril 5, 2006

The valve covers on the 390 in my old 66 TBird are looking pretty shabby so I thought I'd remove and paint them. I've found that the covers were installed with gasket goop on both the cover and block sides of the gaskets. They are really stuck tight. I don't want to damage or bend the covers as they are original and not easy to come by and expensive. I've tried prying them loose and tapping with a rubber mallet but they won't budge. If anyone on the list has a suggestion or two on how to get these things off without bending them I'd sure appreciate it. Thanks

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If those covers were at one time put on at a dealership you
will not get them off without bending them. They are put on with what we call yellow death. Contact cement because
they normally leak like a sieve. You will bend the lips up on removal so just bend them back. You will probably find the bolt holes concaved from the top of the cover from over tightening. Pound them flat before you install them.
The new gasket material is now better so leaking is not as
big a problem but you still should reglue them. you might try to find bolt stiffeners. They were used on the 283's
and 327's. People couldn't stop the leaks on those engines
and tightened the covers until they cut the bolt head clean
through the cover. The stiffeners stopped that, to a point.
your covers will come off so be patient. go slow.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 2:30PM
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Kalining: Thanks for the suggestion and info. The car, a convertible, is pretty well all original and I'd like to keep it as close to stock as I can. I'm therefore kinda reluctant to use bolt stiftners on the covers unless I have leaks that I can't stop without them. I've got a new set of neoprene gaskets so hopefully I won't have that problem. Thanks again for the response to my inquiry. Cheers: Bucky.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 6:49PM
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You can try to get between the valve cover and the head with a piece of music wire (guitar string). The high 'E' string and 'B' strings work pretty well as cutters. I have used the yellow glue the other poster refers to myself, only I only used it on the valve cover side to hold the gasket in place. Not to glue the engine together. It's just contact cement.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 8:36PM
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Try the same stuff you did before, but with a hot engine. I don't know the nature of the cement that was used, but there is a possibility it is softer when hot. If the cement was the old fashioned shellac type, its tough. However, alcohol is the solvent for shellac. You could try applying gasket remover solvent to the edges of the gasket. It may take several applications to soften the gasket and cement to enough depth to permit removal.

Do you know of anyone who is a member of an old car club, one that repairs and restores. Maybe they can provide tips.

You've got a really cool car. I wouldn't want to spoil the valve covers either.

After you get the covers off, you may wish to put "load spreader" washers under the bolt heads. Another thing that can be done is to use flanged bolt heads (if there is enough clearance). The stiffener mentioned by a prior poster seems like a good idea, however, you were concerned with authenticity and appearance. The stiffener could be plated or painted to match.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 2:58AM
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I am not intamately familliar with the old fe valve covers, but most covers can be removed by tapping a thin scraper in and tapping it around the head. if I remember, those heads split between the intake and rocker area, so be sure to get some silicone back in the groove where the two meet.
to help get the residue off after you finally get the cover off, coat it liberally with gasket remover.
also, if you are just wanting to clean up the look of the covers, you may want to just mask off the engine around each cover and get some paint thinner and remover and clean off the cover while it is still on. then just paint it like you want it and go.
that's of course if the current covers aren't leaking.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 2:04PM
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use a torch to heat the rail...Be sure to wear gloves though..

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 5:26AM
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