Tech & FAQs
SCE head gasket part numbers tell you the gasket type, engine family, bore opening and thickness.
- Style Code determines the type: CR=Vulcan Cut-Ring, M=MLS Spartan, P=Pro Copper, S=ICS Titan, T=Titan, 5=Accu Seal Pro
- Engine Code: 2 digits. (There are over 50 engine families.) Searching within the website or catalog by engine will provide this information.
- Bore: 1st & 2nd decimal places of the Bore opening measurement. The whole number (left of the decimal) is assumed to be known.
- Thickness, 2 digits: 21=.021″, 32=.032″, 43=.043″, 51=.051″, 62=.062″, 72=.072″, 80=.080″, 93=.093″
The legend below illustrates the SCE head gasket part numbering logic using sample part number P135243.
Follow the menu on the left to the head gasket listing page for your engine family (Ex: BBC Head Gaskets), then browse part numbers to the prefix type, bore and thickness.
ICS Titan Head Gasket Installation
ICS Titan (“S” Prefix) Head Gaskets Sample P/N S11064
Recommended uses: High Performance Street, Mild Race, with Medium Boost or Nitrous.
Note: Do not use o-rings, sealant (such as Copper Coat, SCE p/n G1612) is not required but may be used if desired.
STEP 1. Before installing head gasket, visually inspect for shipment damage. Sealant beads must be continuous without gaps or scratches and the wire should not protrude out from combustion seal.
STEP 2. Gasket to head check, place cylinder head on a bench flat side up. Align new gasket on head in the assembled location, check to insure 360° metal to metal contact on combustion seal paying close attention to valve reliefs, see Figures 1 & 2 below.
STEP 3. Using extreme care not to gouge the sealing surface of aluminum heads, block and head mating surfaces should be scraped clean of any gasket material. Remove oil, grease, or sealant with proper cleaning solvent.
STEP 4. Check head and block mating surfaces to ensure flatness within .002” using a steel straight edge and thickness gauge. If a sealing surface exceeds .002” out of flat, have the component resurfaced to an 80ra finish or better.
STEP 5. New head studs/bolts are recommended for proper gasket sealing. Threads must be in good condition otherwise replace, a die can be used to remove old sealant and/or rust. Use a tap to clean threads in block. If threads are tapped through the deck, use care in sealing threads to prevent coolant migration up the bolt. If studs are to be used check for proper length so nuts do not “bottom out”. Always use quality hardened washers and thread lubricant to prevent thread galling.
STEP 6. The ICS Titan gasket series does not require sealant however, a light spray coat of Copper Coat (SCE p/n G1612) may be used use if extra insurance is desired. Position new gasket over locating dowels on block. Position cylinder head over dowel pins without disturbing gasket, Tighten bolts and torque in sequence per manufacturers’ specifications.
STEP 7. These gaskets must be re-torqued. Start the engine and allow it to reach operating temperature without placing any load on the motor. Shut down and allow the motor to cool to ambient temperature. With the engine cold and following the recommended torque sequence, one at a time back each fastener off just enough to relieve the friction set, then re-torque to specified torque value.
Titan Copper Head Gasket Installation
SAMPLE P/N T11064
Recommended uses: Racing Engines with Heavy Boost or Nitrous running liquid coolant.
O-rings are required in the block or head for combustion sealing, Titan head gaskets have silicone seals bonded to the gasket surfaces. However, some builders prefer to use additional sealant for street driven applications. If additional sealant is desired SCE recommends Copper Coat, SCE p/n G1612.
STEP 1 – Before installing head gasket, visually inspect for shipment damage. Sealant beads must be continuous without gaps or scratches.
STEP 2 – Titan series head gaskets (“T” Prefix) require o-ring combustion seals installed in the head or block (use SCE p/n 31542 o-ring kit). Great care has been taken to allow as much room as possible for o-ring placement, if your o-rings are already in the head or block check to see that the sealant beads are clear of the o-ring.
STEP 3 – When installing o-rings there are two main considerations for placement.
A. The o-ring must be clear of the sealant beads on the gasket. This will determine the maximum outer diameter of the o-ring.
B. The O-ring diameter and location must accommodate bore opening and combustion chamber size and shape this will determine the minimum inside diameter of the o-ring.
STEP 4 – Recommended o-ring protrusion is not more than 25% of gasket thickness (SEE FIGURE 1). Example: Gasket thickness .043”, O-ring protrusion height is .008” to .010”. This standard works with all thicknesses that are .050” and less. Gaskets that are thicker than .050” do not require o-ring height more than .012”.
NOTE: For extreme boost or heavy nitrous an O-ring-Receiver-Groove arrangement is recommended (SEE FIGURE 3). When using a receiver-groove the wire may be higher than 25% of gasket thickness; wire height & width determines receiver groove depth & width by maintaining the relationships in the Figure 3 illustration.
STEP 5 – If the combustion chamber or bore is so large that the o-rings will be placed less than .100” apart between cylinders, it is advisable to use a “figure 8” pattern for o-rings (SEE FIGURE 2 BELOW). This allows for more even clamp load over the entire head surface for proper coolant sealing.
STEP 6 – New head studs/bolts are recommended for proper gasket sealing. Threads must be in good condition otherwise replace, a die can be used to remove old sealant and/or rust. Use a tap to clean threads in block. If threads are tapped through the deck, use care in sealing threads to prevent coolant migration up the bolt, silicone sealer should not be used on head bolts as it will shear and leak upon re-torque. If studs are to be used check for proper length so nuts do not “bottom out”. Always use quality hardened washers and thread lubricant to prevent thread galling.
STEP 7 – As with any performance application it is strongly recommended that head bolts/studs be re-torqued. Start the engine and allow it to reach operating temperature without placing any load on the motor. Shut down and allow the motor to cool to ambient temperature. With the engine cold and following the recommended torque sequence, one at a time back each fastener off just enough to relieve the friction set, then re-torque to specified torque value.
SCE Gaskets Printable PDF Installation Instruction Sheets
Here you’ll find current instruction sheets for SCE products, click on the links below for products of interest. Depending on your computer & software, you may view or print the sheet. To return to the site use the ‘back’ arrow.
SCE Pro Copper Exhaust Installation
SCE EMBOSSED COPPER EXHAUST GASKETS outperform other gaskets because the sealing beads conform to header or manifold sealing surfaces. However, mismatched gaskets (such as a D-port gasket on an oval header) will cause leaks because the embossment is not in complete contact with the raised weld bead of the header. Pro Copper exhaust gaskets will provide years of leak-free performance if these simple steps are followed.
Step 1 – Determine the shape & size of the header or manifold opening.It is important to note that the shape of the cylinder head exhaust port is of secondary concern.
Step 2 – Select the SCE Pro Copper exhaust gasket which most closely matches the shape and size of the header or manifold opening. Ensure that the embossed sealing bead will rest on the raised weld bead of the header sealing surface when assembled.
Step 3 – Clean and lubricate the threads in the cylinder head so full clamping is achieved when bolts are torqued. Once the gasket is fully seated the bolts will not loosen because the gasket is solid metal and will not shrink from repeated heat cycling.
Step 4 – Install gaskets and torque to specification. Proper torque for new lubricated 3/8” x 16 grade 5 bolts is between 25 and 30 foot pounds.
Extreme heat applications such as towing may cause the gaskets to relax slightly as indicated by a “ticking” sound at idle. Do not discard the gasket; simply re-torque the bolts, 1 re-torque is usually sufficient for permanent sealing.
Pro Copper Head Gasket Installation
Pro Copper Head Gaskets (“P” Prefix) Sample Part Number P13524
Recommended uses: Extreme Boost, Nitrous, Blown Alcohol or Nitromethane.
For best results, SCE Pro Copper Head Gaskets should be used with O-rings in the block or head and sealant if liquid-cooled (use Copper Coat, SCE p/n G1612).
STEP 1 – Before installing the gasket perform a visual check to insure that no damage occurred during shipping. The gaskets should be flat and free of dents or scratches.
STEP 2 – All SCE copper head gaskets are annealed in a vacuum oven after the punching process to provide malleable gaskets that are ready to use, do not use a torch to soften the gaskets.
STEP 3 – Pro Copper series head gaskets (P prefix) require the use of a sealant for coolant and oil passages and o-ring combustion seals installed in the head or block. (P/N 31542 o-ring kit).
STEP 4 – If you are installing o-rings make sure that the o-ring diameter and location accommodate both bore opening and combustion chamber shape. This will determine the minimum inside diameter of the o-ring.
STEP 5 – If the combustion chamber or bore is so large that o-rings must be placed less than .100” apart between cylinders, it is advisable to use a “figure 8” pattern for o-rings (see figure #2). This allows for more even clamp load over the entire head surface.
STEP 6 – Recommended o-ring protrusion is not more than 25% of gasket thickness (see figure 1 below). Wire height in excess of 25% gasket thickness without receiver grooves may cause coolant leaks by supporting the cylinder head too high for proper coolant sealing. Example: Gasket thickness .043”, o-ring protrusion height should be .008” to .010”. This standard works with all thicknesses that are .050” and less. Gaskets thicker than .050” do not require o-ring height more than .012”.
Note: For extreme boost or heavy Nitrous an O-ring-Receiver-Groove arrangement is recommended (see figure 3 below). When using an O-Ring / Receiver Groove setup the wire may be higher than 25% of gasket thickness because the gasket will displace into the groove.
Wire height & width determines receiver groove depth & width by maintaining the relationships in the figure 3 illustration.
STEP 7 – New head studs/bolts are recommended for proper gasket sealing. Threads must be in good condition otherwise replace, a die can be used to remove old sealant and/or rust. Use a tap to clean threads in block. If threads are tapped through the deck, use a proper thread sealant (SCE p/n G1615) to prevent coolant migration up the bolt, silicone sealer is not suitable for thread sealant on bolts as it will shear and leak when heads are re-torqued. If studs are to be used check for proper length so nuts do not “bottom out”. Always use quality hardened washers and thread lubricant to prevent thread galling.
STEP 7 – As with any performance application it is strongly recommended that head bolts/studs be re-torqued. Start the engine and allow it to reach operating temperature without placing any load on the motor. Shut down and allow the motor to cool to ambient temperature (over-night). With the engine cold and following the recommended torque sequence, one at a time back each fastener off just enough to relieve the friction set, then re-torque to specified torque value.
A single wire o-ring between the cylinders allows the head to settle properly on the outlying areas of the block for coolant sealing. Two wires in a very tight area cause the copper gasket to ‘stack-up’ creating a very tight combustion seal but it causes coolant leaks and may warp the head.
Given the Choices.. Why would one use a copper head gasket?
As published in AERA Magazine by Ryan Hunter, President, SCE Gaskets, Inc.
Let’s dig into it because there are applications (perhaps more than you think) for which copper head gaskets are the best choice. To be sure, copper has been around for a while and with good reason. Let’s walk through some of the attributes and benefits unique to copper, then we’ll get ready to put them on.
Malleable: Copper is stronger than any composite head gasket yet still malleable so it conforms to the sealing surfaces. This strength-malleability combination is, more than any other attribute, the ‘selling point’ of copper as a head gasket material over other materials. While the advantages of strength are self-evident, the benefits of a malleable gasket body are somewhat more nuanced. Simply put; conformity makes a tighter seal which will show up in lower leak down percentages.
Metal-to-Metal: To an engine builder, the words “High Performance” pre-suppose high pressure, high pressure requires a more robust combustion seal and the best combustion seal is metal-to-metal. I’ll elaborate; many cylinder head gaskets are coated with sealants designed to eliminate fluid leaks. From experience, readers of this article will be familiar with the various types from slick to sticky and while these work well for fluid sealing they are not able to withstand combustion pressure and heat. No matter how good an elastomeric coating may be for coolant or oil, it will eventually scrub off, burn off, or blow off the fire ring area of the head gasket and in performance engines this can happen in a surprisingly short period of time. Once the sealant is gone from the fire ring combustion seal it’s a short trip to the nearest coolant passage. Silicone or other rubber-like sealants or coatings should never be placed on the combustion seal in performance engines.
Options: Copper comes in a wide range of thickness choices; (from .021” to .093” in roughly ten-thousandths increments) providing the options necessary to optimize piston to valve, piston to head and in wedge combustion chambers, piston to quench area.
Conductivity: Copper is the standard for conductors, in head gaskets we don’t care about electricity but we do deal with heat. Superior conductivity benefits performance and racing engine builders in two primary ways: A. block & head temperatures are more even. B. Combustion chamber hot spots are dissipated quickly. Cylinder block/head temperature parity is an aid to tuning, though frankly, it’s a minimal factor until you reach the narrow end of the tuning window. The big advantage of conductivity is in the combustion chamber area. In and around the combustion chamber standard composite head gaskets and MLS head gaskets are somewhat insulated from the cylinder head and block by the facings and coatings respectively. Heat-related failures occur more often with composite and MLS head gaskets than with copper because the heat is trapped within the gasket body allowing hot spots to intensify, whereas the copper being both a better conductor and having direct contact with the block and head (remember metal-to-metal) transfers the heat to the heat exchanger, aka the cooling system, through the head and block.
Elasticity: Another interesting feature of copper, this benefit comes into play when you’re out of the tuning window far enough to actually damage the head gasket. Un-alloyed or pure copper has a 25% coefficient of elasticity; cool term, here’s what it means. In a 4 inch section, the copper head gasket will stretch to 5 inches before it ruptures. This gives the user a ‘safety factor’ not available with other head gasket materials. Blown, nitrous or turbocharged engines can develop cylinder pressures high enough to lift the cylinder head or push the gasket. A typical bad-actor in this regard is the small block Ford; get some good cylinder heads, add some boost or nitrous, she’s goin’ fast but Daddy wants more and.. the head gasket is peekin’ out between the bolts. If this happens with copper the damage is apparent but the head gasket hasn’t yet failed. The safety factor of elasticity allowed the copper gasket to push but still remain intact so you can either back it down & make the next round or back it down & drive home. If you push a composite gasket, game over.
Do Copper Head Gaskets Require Different Torque Values?
Generally No. Fastener torque values are determined in relationship with the cylinder head and block structure. Arbitrarily increasing torque values will distort the block or head. However, there are good cases for fine-tuning the torque values based upon how the head gaskets look after the first use. A nice thing about copper head gaskets is that you can ‘read’ them very easily once you know what to look for and, what to look for is evenly distributed clamp load. No gasket works in isolation, all gaskets require clamp load to do what they do and copper gaskets tell you where the clamp load is light by keeping their shine. Specifically, you want to see machining marks from the block & head surfaces transferred to the copper gasket body everywhere on the gasket. Places where the original finish of the gasket remains need some attention. Keep in mind there may be other factors in play such as, a ring dowel counterbore that has become too shallow from surfacing or a head nut bottoming on the threads of a head stud. Once you have eliminated any mechanical obstruction preventing the head from seating properly you can safely increase torque values in the light load areas by 5 to 10 ft lbs.
What about re-torquing? Solid copper (like a liquid) does not compress, it displaces. Since the copper gasket body does not compress no re-torque is technically necessary. However, since the engine build using a copper head gasket is almost always within the realm of performance or racing, I always recommend one re-torque of the head bolts after a complete heat cycle.
Block & Head Preparation for Copper Head Gaskets:
Cleanliness is next to..You might be surprised at some of the samples we’ve received from customers asking “why did it fail?” Then again if you’ve been around for a while, you may not be surprised at all. I have seen head gaskets with sawdust, sand and actual small rocks embedded in them, as well as the remains of facing material from the previous head gasket. The aircraft industry has an acronym that’s suitable here; FOD, Foreign Object Damage. Like leaving a wrench in the lifter valley, rocks in the combustion seal are not ok, chaos will ensue. So, as Momma taught us: let’s be clean when we’re doin’ our duty. Use a residue-free solvent such as aerosol brake cleaner and a clean rag on the head and block sealing surfaces before assembly.
Flat: Of course the block & head should be flat within .002” across and .004” lengthwise, with surface finish of 60 to 80RA preferred, 60 to 100RA acceptable.
Combustion Sealing: Head gasket sealing is a matter of balance and more pressure is needed on the combustion seal than other areas of the gasket, this is due to the vast difference in pressures acting against the head gasket. Consider that an engine developing 1.5 to 2 horsepower per cubic inch will have between 1000 and 1200 psi in the combustion chamber while, less than 1/2” away, the cooling system is running at 22psi max. Since a standard copper gasket is flat, clamp load from the tightened head bolts will be distributed evenly unless some method is used to ‘tip the balance’ and concentrate the proper load on the combustion sealing area. When using flat copper head gaskets, the accepted method has been to install O-rings in the block or head sealing surface around the bore or chamber respectively, to accept an o-ring. What’s an o-ring you ask? Simpler than you think, it’s just a piece of wire tapped into a groove that sticks out enough to pinch the copper gasket. Well, maybe that’s an oversimplification but all you have to know from there are the proper dimensions of the O-ring groove.
Sealants Required? Yes, some method of sealing is required if the engine will be running coolant or oil through the head gasket. I state it this way because many racing specific engines either A. do not run coolant or B. re-route the coolant and oil away from the head/block mating surfaces. Since most engines run coolant and oil through the head gaskets we’ll discuss head gasket sealants. Most importantly, you don’t need very much; second, don’t use silicone.. that about covers it. People get into trouble with leaking head gaskets when they use too much sealant, especially too much silicone. Since the block and head surfaces are flat, the potential leak paths are very small, even with a 100RA surface finish the peaks and valleys are only about .002”, which doesn’t require very much sealant to be fluid-tight. Head gasket dressings do not cure, therefore, as the head bolts are tightened the sealant ‘flows’ from the places it’s not needed (peaks) but remains in place to seal the leak paths (valleys). By contrast, silicone cures to form a layer that the cylinder head can sit on, never actually coming into contact with the head gasket (refer back to our discussion about metal-to-metal above). We recommend and use both KW Copper Coat and Hylomar in the aerosol cans, simply spray a light coat on both sides of the gasket, let it ‘tack up’ for a while (no less than 2 hours) and you’re ready to bolt the heads on.
We could go into much more detail about each of these items if this was a technical manual but my hope is that this information will be of help to you when the need arises, or you need some options that are not available from conventional head gaskets.
SCE Gaskets manufactures a complete line of racing and performance gaskets including standard flat copper head gaskets of the type discussed here. As well, we offer our patented self-sealing (no sealant required) copper head gaskets for use with O-rings and self-sealing copper head gaskets with Integral Combustion Seal O-rings (no machining required). We also have a complete line of replacement gaskets for passenger cars, light trucks, vintage and tractor engines marketed under our Engine Master brand.
Types of Copper Head Gaskets
Pro Copper: (“P” Prefix part numbers)
- Solid copper construction, pre heat-treated.
- Requires additional sealant for coolant (if liquid cooled) and oil passages .
- Requires o-rings in block or heads for combustion sealing.
Applications: Fuel, Alcohol, Nitrous and Turbocharged race only engines with o-rings (and receiver grooves) in block or heads.
SCE Titan: (“T” Prefix part numbers)
- Solid copper construction with coolant and oil seals, pre heat-treated.
- No additional sealant required for coolant and oil passages.
- Requires o-rings in block or heads for combustion sealing.
Applications: Turbocharged, Blown, Nitrous applications in racing or street driven engines which require dependable coolant sealing with o-rings (and receiver grooves) in block or heads.
ICS Titan: (“S” Prefix part numbers)
- Heat-treated copper body with coolant, oil and combustion seals built in.
- No additional sealant required for coolant and oil passages.
- No o-rings required for combustion sealing.
Applications: Turbocharged, Blown, Nitrous applications in racing or street driven engines which require dependable coolant sealing and superior combustion sealing without o-rings or receiver grooves in block or heads.