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  1. #1
    EDM Specialist CaysE's Avatar
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    Default Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    How do you guys clean the head gasket surface on the block? A friend recommended a fine wire wheel on a dremel, but I'm not sure if a wire wheel is a good idea. Anyone?
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  2. #2
    Not Special Enough TXFO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    do NOT do that. you want to use a plastic whiz wheel if you are going to use any kind of power tool on it. Otherwise, a scotchbrite pad and some carb cleaner.
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  3. #3
    EDM Specialist CaysE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    I've been using a plastic wheel on the dremel but it's taking damn near forever. How clean does the surface have to be? Like brand spanking new clean?
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    use a spent giftcard to scrape? ive been scraping stuff clean with a used Gamestop giftcard.

  5. #5
    EDM Specialist CaysE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    The scotchbrite pad and carb cleaner worked better than I would've thought.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    I use a wire wheel on a low speed drill, it has worked great for years without any issues what so ever..... the key is to NOT push hard.... basically just let it barely touch the gasket and it'll take it right off.
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  7. #7
    EDM Specialist CaysE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    The wire wheel I was using had really fine bristles... it barely did anything to the gasket material. The scotchbrite pad did a lot better.
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    Angle air grinder with a brown 3M Roloc scotchbrite pad. Best thing ever for removing old head gasket material. Be easy 1/4 to 1/2 throttle while paying attention and it will come out looking good.
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  9. #9
    Not Special Enough TXFO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    Quote Originally Posted by Liquid_02_ZX3
    Angle air grinder with a brown 3M Roloc scotchbrite pad. Best thing ever for removing old head gasket material. Be easy 1/4 to 1/2 throttle while paying attention and it will come out looking good.

    only use the brown pad on non aluminum blocks. Aluminum will get ate up if you aren't careful. Use the blue pad or the green plastic one for aluminum surfaces.
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  10. #10
    Look under the curve... UNDER THE CURVE! guitarseth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    I was lazy, I just took the block to the machine shop and had it milled. Then I did the same thing with the head. The nylon brush attachment for the dremel seemed like it did the trick on the other surfaces, though.
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  11. #11
    Senior TEAM Member COSVT03's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    Ohhh my god...you all are completely insane, the only thing you should EVER use while cleaning the head is a bunch of disposable razorblades.

    1. They dull before doing major damage to the head surface
    2. They are easy to use and cheap. (used at very shallow angles, works extremely well)
    3. They aren't big enough to apply enough pressure to head surface to damage it. (Within reason)
    4. They require no "POWER" or any kind!

    Then follow it up with a little Pure Alc (I found 91% at Target for 91 cents)
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  12. #12
    Senior TEAM Member blackbird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    For an iron block you can use a yellow 3M Roloc bristle disc. You'll also need the disc pad holder which will allow you to use it in a regular drill. I wouldn't use a wire attachment and I would be extremely careful not to use any metal tools to clean block deck or head surface. If there are any scratches, especially with modern multi-layer steel (MLS) head gaskets, you can end up with leaks or a blown gasket in short order.

    A new, sharp razor blade can be used on iron but that Roloc disc should clean the surface fairly well. Just keep the speed within most drill's operating ranges and try to keep it flat/perpendicular to the surface. You shouldn't need to use a lot of downward pressure. Instead use both hands to brace the drill to keep it from jumping around and apply firm, yet moderate pressure without letting it sit in one place too long and try to keep it constantly moving. Because the bristles contain a slight abrasive material you'll also want to keep debris from getting down into the cylinders if the shortblock hasn't been disassembled (you could try coating in oil to catch anything and then stuffing paper towels or something similar in the bores to catch anything).

    For an aluminum head or an aluminum block deck that tests straight/flat but just needs minor clean-up I will usually use a normal blue Scotch-Brite pad and parts cleaner. If there's any heavier debris (such as from a previous conventional, non-MLS head gasket) or other heavier corrosion I'll use a white Roloc disc.

    Those two Roloc discs are what Chrysler recommends for those types of surfaces. The only negative aspect is that you have to control the drill and Roloc disc very well on aluminum but even then you'll find it leaves small swirl marks. I'll get back to that in just a minute.

    The very best way to prepare the head or a deck surface would be to get it machined but sometimes that isn't possible or you don't want to take any material off. On aluminum surfaces a good machine shop should be able to produce a very low "RA" number, which stands for roughness average and is measured in microinches. For a conventional composite head gasket you might be fine with an RA of 20-60 microinches or more on a bi-metal engine such as the Zetec (iron block/aluminum head), while a MLS gasket like Ford uses stock requires a much smoother surface of ~10-20 RA, for example, and sometime much less and into single digit RA depending on the manufacturer. This is to ensure that as the head and block can expand and contract at different rates and the gasket won't bind up on the surfaces. The iron surface can usually be a higher RA number.

    Because of the slight swirls and other corrosion and surface defects you'll normally find when taking an aluminum head off a car with a decent amount of miles, if I use the yellow Roloc on an iron block and a white Roloc on the head, when putting everything back together I'll use a very light coat of Hylomar Universal Blue aerosol on the MLS head gasket if it didn't come with a coating. (Also note there's no problem with using a finer white Roloc disc on iron but I would suggest using two different discs so the material isn't going back and forth between aluminum and iron).

    You might hear of some shade tree coatings like using a high metal content spray paint on MLS gaskets but I've had great luck with Hylomar, including use in many high temperature, forced induction applications. It used to be sold under the Permatex label here in the US but was dropped a couple years ago. They've supposedly reintroduced and are carrying Hylomar Universal Blue in the tubes again under Permatex but I haven't seen any mention if they plan to also sell the aerosol again. The last place I was able to find some was at CarQuest, otherwise you might need to contact them directly or order through their distributor.
    Eric H.
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  13. #13
    Senior TEAM Member COSVT03's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    ^ that works, i just feel I have much better control on not damaging the surface with new sharp razorblades, with very little pressure.
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  14. #14
    Senior TEAM Member blackbird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    Razor blades should be fine if you use them only on iron like the block of the Zetec, keep the blades fresh, and use very shallow angles. I don't like using them on aluminum since there's too much of a chance of nicking the surface and creating a potential sealing problem, which can be especially problematic on high compression and forced induction applications that use MLS head gaskets. On the rare occasion I've used a razor blade on some type of aluminum surface (like an intake manifold flange) I'll drag or pull the blade across the surface in a scraping type motion and won't ever push the blade as they have a tendency to dig into the material even if you're really careful. That and there's a lot better choices or non-marking type cleaning products that are better on soft metals like aluminum alloys.
    Eric H.
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Cleaning the head gasket surface on the block?

    How about cleaning the block after you have scraped/cleaned the surface? I have a lot of flakes, dust, etc. that have gotten into the headbolt holes and coolant valleys of the block. I used brake cleaner and sprayed it all over the surface and in the headbolt holes and coolant valleys, then sucked up what i could with a little hose taped to my shop vac. I am not satisfied with this though and I think i should flush the coolant valleys with water so my radiator and thermostat dont get crud in them. Im thinking of maybe placing a funnel in one of the coolant valley holes on the left of the block (passenger side) and just feeding water in, but rather than sucking it out with a shop vac is there maybe a drain plug/bolt on the block to make this easier?? I'm scared of putting it all back together and something going wrong.


 
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