Better head gasket for turbo applications on the street?

gus91326

Well-known member
Supporter 2018
Hey guys-
I've been putting easy miles on my 200 Turbo'd motor. Last weekend, I thought to but the engine a bit under load to see if the tune was working ok. Going up a hill I was in 3rd and rolled on the throttle. I saw ~12lbs of boost for about 2 seconds, which was good as I wanted to make sure the wastegate springs were working.

All of a sudden, I heard a loud "pop" and then a continued "pop, pop, pop" like a REALLY bad exhaust leak. I was only a couple of blocks from home so limped it in and tried to do some troubleshooting in the driveway. Long story short, I blew the head gasket outward at the #3 cylinder on the passenger side. This has never happened to me before; I ran a felpro gasket last time with no issues (other than the sometimes coolant seepage on the driver side of the block). I chose the Mahle gasket because I've used Victor Reinz stuff before (I understand they own Mahle now). Probably have about 200 miles on this gasket. Sucks.

So I'm contemplating upgrading the gasket. I found the following guy on Ebay selling copper gaskets for the 200. I was planning on using copper spray on the gasket to tack it up a bit to ensure sealing of the coolant and oil passages. I do drive my car on the street, but I don't have experience with this type of gasket material. Bad idea? Stick with a Felpro? Appreciate any insight.

 

drag-200stang

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Not sure, But I do know that the victor style gasket with the perforated core is the worst and will blow out easy. The copper with an O-ring is the tried-and-true way, but is harder to seal water on the street, it may seal too good and do other damage if your tune is bad. The Fel-Pro is a solid steel core and works better than the victor. Maybe try the Fel-Pro with some hylomar around the water parts, before going copper. If you think that it is leaking water, pull the plugs and turn over and check that there is no water in the cylinders before starting. A lot of gasket problems are tune related.
 

gus91326

Well-known member
Supporter 2018
Not sure, But I do know that the victor style gasket with the perforated core is the worst and will blow out easy. The copper with an O-ring is the tried-and-true way, but is harder to seal water on the street, it may seal too good and do other damage if your tune is bad. The Fel-Pro is a solid steel core and works better than the victor. Maybe try the Fel-Pro with some hylomar around the water parts, before going copper. If you think that it is leaking water, pull the plugs and turn over and check that there is no water in the cylinders before starting. A lot of gasket problems are tune related.
Appreciate the input- I asked a few other folks and their suggestion lines up with yours. Man, had I known about the perf'd core, I wouldn't have tried Mahle/VR. Going back to Felpro.
 

powerband

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I've used the Felpro with light copper spray and ARP head bolts with no blown gaskets on forced induction projects.

Current SC'd 250 runs up to 5-8 lbs easily with occasional enthusiasm well over 10 so far... I had machinist check but not mill head to retain OEM D3xx large compression chambers (@ 60cc's). With 'modern' @.045 composite gskt, SCR is @ 8.7:1.

. . .

Previous Turbo'd 250 with same type head gskt prep and ARP's finally blew piston ring lands off at @ 1 bar (@15lbs) but gskt held ...

. . . . .


. .

hav e fun
 

drag-200stang

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If you have a spare input, it would be not hurt to log block water pressure and watch for non-normal spikes that could be cylinder pressure leaking into the water passages.
 

Steve N Grace

Well-known member
Supporter 2022
Supporter 2021
X2 on the Fel Pro gasket , copper spray and ARP. I have used this combo successfully on big block olds with N2O without issues. Its not an inline 6 but still applies in my opinion. The stock Olds has less than ideal head bolt sizes..... Cool setup, good luck.
 

gus91326

Well-known member
Supporter 2018
Appreciate the info. I do have arp studs. The blowout is at most outer edge of the head/block mating surface. Interesting is that water and coolant are not cross contaminated. It literally just blew outward.
 

gus91326

Well-known member
Supporter 2018
Yep- I pulled the head and sure enough the fire ring was bent, and the gasket material beyond was blown away. I checked the AL head and there was no discernable damage and it was checked using a straightedge and feeler gauge. I checked the block and the same thing. Still scratching my head on the failure, maybe a just a bad head gasket. I got my felpro, hit it with copper spray and re-assembled it. No issues so far. I'm wanting to upgrade my turbo manifold from mild steel at current to a stainless one, so I may wait on final re-assembly until I can get a fabricator I know to look at it and tell me when he could do it.
 

hodaka100

Well-known member
Yep- I pulled the head and sure enough the fire ring was bent, and the gasket material beyond was blown away. I checked the AL head and there was no discernable damage and it was checked using a straightedge and feeler gauge. I checked the block and the same thing. Still scratching my head on the failure, maybe a just a bad head gasket. I got my felpro, hit it with copper spray and re-assembled it. No issues so far. I'm wanting to upgrade my turbo manifold from mild steel at current to a stainless one, so I may wait on final re-assembly until I can get a fabricator I know to look at it and tell me when he could do it.
What thickness feeler gauge were you able to fit through anywhere?
Wouldn't a stainless manifold be more prone to cracking? What do you think about ceramic coating a mild steel one.
 

gus91326

Well-known member
Supporter 2018
What thickness feeler gauge were you able to fit through anywhere?
Wouldn't a stainless manifold be more prone to cracking? What do you think about ceramic coating a mild steel one.
I used the thinnest one I had .0015" and couldn't get it under the straight edge.

As for stainless v. mild steel, I'm going to ask for sched 40 piping for my turbo setup. My mild steel header (with a coating) has cracked on me twice already. It's repaired, but since I my goal is to track the car, I want something more durable.
 
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