Head Gasket.....Backwards? - Vintage Mustang Forums
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-22-2006, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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Hello,

I have a '66 Mustang with a modified 289.

I have a 4 row radiator (a new aftermarket) and the engine runs nice and cool.

Here's my problem: The engine blows coolant under load or at high RPM's. It overpowers the rad cap and overflow jug and blows up under the hood.

I had an engine shop look at the engine and they said that the oil is clean and they tested for exhaust in the coolant which came back negative and they said the gasket isn't blown and also tried a new rad cap.

They said that I may have put the passenger side head gasket on backwards when I removed the head 2 years ago. I said I put it FelPro side up and to the front. They said that you do that on one head, but then flip it over for the other head. Suposedly putting the FelPro side up on both heads is a "common mistake".

So....they are saying that I may have blocked a cooling passage.

Can anyone confirm proper head gasket installation? And if I had the head gasket backwards, wouldn't it block a passage and cause the engine to overheat? I'm running cool, even when I'm blowing coolant.

Thanks, Greg.
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-22-2006, 06:23 PM
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If you put the end marked "front" toward the front of the car, you should be okay regardless of the FelPro logo. If you didn't notice which end was stamped "front," you may very well have a problem. Although I think you would have overheating problems if you had one gasket flipped.

Good luck,
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-22-2006, 06:28 PM
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My understanding is that one gasket has to be "upside down" - i.e., they are not symmetric.

But wait until the really knowledgable guys check in on this before you panic.

Usually though if one is in wrong you get severe overheating very quickly.

John Harvey
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-22-2006, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSHarvey
My understanding is that one gasket has to be "upside down" - i.e., they are not symmetric.
Yup, thats what I noticed when I changed the heads on my 351W. The instruction also say to install with the word front, towards the front.. David F.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-22-2006, 08:34 PM
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The head gaskets, are a "one size fits all". Because of this, when propperly installed, one of them will appear to be upside down.

The important part is the word FRONT must be at the front of the engine, regardless of where this puts the logo (typically one logo will be on the top, the other on the bottom, however).

The first time I ever installed heads on a SBF, I got at least one of the gaskets backward, and the car overheated immediately upon start up. I don't remember, though, if I had one or both backwards, though, as it was about 25 years ago.



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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-22-2006, 10:30 PM
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I just rebuilt a 302 and one of the head gaskets has to go on upside down or you don't get any waterflow to the back of the motor and it will run hot. Fortunately, someone told me about it or I would have put them both on the same way....

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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-23-2006, 02:33 AM
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When the head gaskets are installed correctly a corner of the head gasket should be exposed at each head lower front corner.



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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-24-2006, 12:11 PM
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When I first restored my 68 with a 351 windsor, I did all the engine assembly myself. I never had a problem with it except for some pinging. After about 300 miles over the summer, I started to have an overflow issue. I have a recovery tank in mine, and it started bubbling out. I changed t stats and radiator cap, same thing. However, i did not have an overheating issue, as per the temp gauge. So I pulled the heads, and what did I find? My dumb *** put the head gaskets on with front facing the same way on both, but toward the rear of the engine! I guess when assembling on a stand, and not haveing the front cover on, I really blew that one. However, I did put new ones on correctly, and no problems since. I figure no coolant was flowing to the heads, but the lower end had coolant. I dont know whay I would not have had a problem to begin with. The only thing I can think of is that I did not drive the car long enough to become a factor.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-24-2006, 02:07 PM
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Same thing I looked at just yesterday!
Heads are made to fit left and right and have water passages for both.
Intake has passages in front that flow into the heads. Heads will have this passage blocked in the rear by the gasket and intake.
Water then flows through the head and into the back of the deck, then back to the water pump via the passages around the cylinders.
Flipping the head gasket dumps the coolant from the front of the head to the front of the motor rather than the longer flow to the back.
I was looking at a V6 when I figured this up so I can only assume that a V8 block has passages on the front of the deck like this 6 did.
Bruce
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2006, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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I can see the gasket tab on the drivers side, but there is no tab on the passengers side.

Maybe this is a good place to start.

Thanks, Greg.
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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2006, 05:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by white66coupe1
Hello,
I have a 4 row radiator (a new aftermarket) and the engine runs nice and cool.

Here's my problem: The engine blows coolant under load or at high RPM's. It overpowers the rad cap and overflow jug and blows up under the hood.
I don't think that is the head gasket. I have similar problem. The engine is mildly modified and 3-row newish radiator. I can run 3000rpm (90mph, 2.79 rear gear) all day long. I can run several back to back dragstrip launches. However, when open tracking I can only run about three hot laps before it starts throwing out coolant or after running on highway for 3000rpm and then stepping on it while passing. I have a ½ quart can as a catch can, so it pukes out more than that, it does suck it back. Dropping initial advance and using Water Wetter didn't help at track, still puked. I think that the radiator coolant capacity is just too small for continued sprited driving.

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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2006, 10:54 AM
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Greg,
While it could be the orientation of the head gasket, here is something for you to consider. We had a very similar problem with our '65 289. It seemed that it ran at great operating tempertures, but would puke enough coolant into the overflow that even it would overflow and spray antifreeze all over the engine bay. There was never an indication of coolant in the oil nor the exhaust. It still had the orginal radiator in it so that was the first replacement...to no avail. The same issues continued through thermostat changes. It was suggested to us that it could be a leaking head gasket that is serving to pressurize the cooling system. We borrowed a radiator tester and saw pressures continue to increase way past any convential radiator cap's capability. The pressure continued to increase until we stopped the test to try not to cause any other parts damage. Upon removal of the heads we did find a head gasket failure that led to a water passage. So you may wish to try testing the pressure.
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2006, 11:25 AM
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You are not overfilling the radiator are you? It won't hurt it to be an inch or so below the overflow part. I did this and wondered why it was constantly puking over into the overflow and read somewhere that the old radiators are supposed to be an inch or so from the top to allow for expansion. :blush:
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2006, 12:27 PM
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Are you using the stock guage in the dash that has no numbers on it... That was part of my problem.. the guage would go to hot and stay there after replacing the wiring harness and sending unit.. put a 2" sunpro guage in and running a constang 190 degres....

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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-26-2006, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by white66coupe1
I can see the gasket tab on the drivers side, but there is no tab on the passengers side.

Maybe this is a good place to start.

Thanks, Greg.

If you're lucky, the same gasket which is installed incorrectly (assuming) will be the one which is leaking combustion gasses

A leakdown test sometimes finds these buggers, but not always... Combustion gas reactive dye in the coolant inevitably does, however.

Sorry about your problems...

Pat

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