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Tony K

Head Gasket Failure/Issue Survey

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Hello everyone,

 

   Over the years, I've encountered first hand or learned about from others a variety of head gasket issues, including but not limited to coolant weeping around the perimeter, delamination of gasket layers, oil seal failures, and compression leaks.  With this in mind, I am collecting data on head gasket issues and failures for Lotus 907 and 910 engines.  The information I collect could result in an improved gasket on the market for all of us.  If you have had any issue or failure involving a head gasket, your input would be very helpful.

 

   Regardless of what the issue was or how severe, whether the gasket was the cause of the failure or the result of a failure, etc. etc., I would like to hear any and all instances. 

 

   Please provide as much as you can of the following information (understanding that few if any people will answer all).  If you only wish to make a brief, quick reply, then please at least answer the boldface questions:

 

1)  Model (e.g. S1/S2/Turbo/Jensen Healey), engine (907/10/12), and if possible engine build date or serial number.

 

2)  Any relevant information if the engine was modified (e.g., compression ratio, boost control, etc.)

 

3)  What the issue or failure was.

 

4)  Whether the gasket was the cause (e.g., delaminated, etc.) or the result (e.g., overheated, improperly torqued, etc.)

 

5)  What type of coolant you were running, and any additives

 

6)  Any notes on the installation (e.g., workshop manual vs. gasket maker procedure followed, any deviations, sealants, etc.)

 

7)  Any discovered issues with the engine components (i.e. liner nip, head or block surface, etc.).

 

8)  The brand of the gasket used, and the approximate date of manufacture or purchase and installation.

 

9)  How long the gasket was installed in the car.

 

10)  Post pictures if you have them!

 

11)  Level or amount of experience of the installer

 

 12)  Any other information you feel is relevant that these questions don't cover.

 

 

The more responses that can be obtained, the better.  The purpose of this survey is to see whether any legitimate trends might exist related to any particular gasket, that could be resolved with an improved gasket.  Please only respond if you have firsthand information/experience, i.e. it was your car, or you serviced the car and the owner is not responding, in order to avoid duplicate information and hearsay.  And please remain objective, don't exaggerate, etc.

 

I created and am conducting this survey by myself and not at the request of any gasket manufacturer, and no gasket manufacturer has knowledge of my conducting this survey as I write this.  With that said, if I or we the community believe there is reason to seek an improved gasket, I do have a good contact with a manufacturer who would take seriously any information I present them.

 

So if you have information to share, please share it!

 

 

Thanks for your help,

 

Tony K.  :)

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25 years of 907/910 engines never had a failure of the combustion seal (currently running circa 8.5:1 in a 910 turbo with 9.5 psi boost. Always use genuine goetze only from sealed packets (have seen a poorly made copy with copper oil seal and liner seals not 100% concentric - returned for refund). Have suffered a minor water weep from lower edge of goetze head - despite nip within tolerance (by dial guage). Used current angle guage settings to fit head (as supplied with goetze gaskets). Fixed simply with radweld... No issues since doing this circa 5 years ago. NB - The goetze gasket seems a pretty high quality item to me especially If it is being used by the guys who are producing the extreme levels of horsepower. I'm not sure that there is a problem to be addressed with the gasket, its more likely to be the fitting process? My memory doesn't span far enough back to the procedure for fitting the earlier Coopers gasket, but again I never had any failures with this.

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1)  Model (e.g. S1/S2/Turbo/Jensen Healey), engine (907/10/12), and if possible engine build date or serial number.

912 High Compression NA engine in an Excel

 

2)  Any relevant information if the engine was modified (e.g., compression ratio, boost control, etc.)

Standard

 

3)  What the issue or failure was.

Fire ring expanded to an oval pushing out to a point where it then wasn't gripped tightly by the liner/head force. Happened on one cylinder (no2 or possibly 3)

 

4)  Whether the gasket was the cause (e.g., delaminated, etc.) or the result (e.g., overheated, improperly torqued, etc.)

Hydrolocked engine resulted in inability to compress water and so weakest point gave way, thankfully not piston/ rings/ conrod etc.

 

5)  What type of coolant you were running, and any additives

Standard water + OAT antifreeze

 

6)  Any notes on the installation (e.g., workshop manual vs. gasket maker procedure followed, any deviations, sealants, etc.)

Standard gaoteeze type torque procedure.

 

7)  Any discovered issues with the engine components (i.e. liner nip, head or block surface, etc.).

Nip checked and within tolerance.

 

8)  The brand of the gasket used, and the approximate date of manufacture or purchase and installation.

Brand not known, supplied by SJ Sportscars. Installed approx 3-4 years ago, purchased a short while before. 

 

9)  How long the gasket was installed in the car.

Engine had been subject to rebuild, new rings shells etc so had been in a few months and through the run-in period, failure occurred just couple of months into standard use.

 

10)  Post pictures if you have them!

I think I did but there's not much to see other than the metal fire ring separated at the point it joins, it expanded near there, pushed the fibrous material away resulting in a slight buckle in the shape.

 

11)  Level or amount of experience of the installer

I've built/ rebuilt too many engines

 

 12)  Any other information you feel is relevant that these questions don't cover.

Only it was driver error (me) and pleased the gasket went rather than a bent conrod. The engine carried on running (once water removed) for a few months before I pulled it to check for any damage. I knew compression was down on that cylinder but not far below spec, probably sealed but just that the capacity of the head & piston area was increased lowering the compression ratio.

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Soon after I bought my 82 Turbo I found it was using coolant. Not being in any position to do engine work at that point, I kept this in check using "Bars Leaks", quite successfully. Then the crown wheel/pinion failed when some teeth came off and the whole lump had to come out.

When I took the head off, there was a head gasket failure across the liner of no.3 cylinder. Examination of the head face revealed a dirty great scratch which lined up with this failure point!! I hadn't caused this myself, so I can only assume that tha last time the engine was assembled whoever did it got the head scratched on one of the studs. There being no sign that the engine had ever been touched before, it could have been during factory assembly. Since then, I've never had a gasket problem.... I had the head refaced and a load of aluminium welding and machining to repair the exhaust manifold stud holes and head face too, as the metal had crumbled away to the point where the studs could be pulled out!

Edited by molemot

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Yes had one on the race track in my '89 SE 910 chargecooled.

 

It was 6k miles after a full engine rebuild.

 

It was a black Goetze type (not marked Goetze) with the copper oil ring.

Blew out at #4, massive loss of coolant into exhaust manifold.

IMG_3924.JPG

Here it was 6k miles before

IMG_2667.JPG

 

And here is the previous head gasket that was a Goetze, which was on from 52k-74k, did not fail, just decided to do a rebuild for lowish compression.  It was put on at 52, because I bent 2 valves while doing a timing belt change turning the motor by hand.

P4021895.JPG

 

The black head gasket (top) that was on the car from 74k to 80k and blew on the track, had extenuating circumstances.

 

I had a bad fuel pump that was not delivering enough fuel with boost, so there was a time that the engine saw a lean condition.  I replaced the fuel pump and all was good until the head gasket blew on the racetrack.

 

I lost a gallon of coolant out the overflow and the exhaust.  Oil was full of coolant and exhaust manifold and cylinder #4 was full of coolant.

 

Upon dis-assembly I carefully checked nip, and all were 0.0000" +/-0.0005", I upgraded to ARP head studs (previous studs had been torqued 4 times...). 

 

I also pressure tested the coolant system and it would only hold 10psi rather than the required 15psi.  So my coolant was boiling early and venting out the overflow bottle pressure cap onto the ground.  This lead to a runaway situation where the engine kept getting hotter as the coolant was pushed out.

 

Disassembled and rebuilt the entire engine to clean out the coolant contaminated oil.  I fixed the coolant system so it holds 15psi, and I added an Air Fuel ratio meter on the dash to verify that I wasn't going lean with boost.  So far so good.

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Great thread, as no doubt we've all got our own stories to tell. However, in 30 years of Lotus ownership,I'm on (Only) my third enigne rebuild. This one being my first (largely)DIY.

Previous builds have always used the Coopers HG, and I've not had any problems with the HG itself.

Apart from when a so-called specialist managed to strip the thread of a head to block stud with predicatable results (mayonnaise in the oil and additional pressure in the cooling system).

It's probably worth adding that even after a bout of over-heating, the Coopers HG didn't let go.

Another chapter of my own saga may well be written when I install a Goetze for the first time.

BTW, it's a 2.2 n/a modded to about 220bhp.

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Never had any issues on either

1986 S3 N/A owned 22 years

1980 Turbo owned 5 years

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1)  Federal 1985 Turbo Esprit. 

2)  8.5:1 JE pistons in new liners, 9-10psi boost, head machined at least twice. Stock studs

3)  Fire ring extruded into the coolant jacket on intake side of #3

4)  Whether the gasket was the cause or the result ? Not sure, I was road tuning boost settings, lots of full throttle full boost runs to high rpm in the recent mileage. Noticed high coolant temp at cruise later and shut it down. Can't say if high temps were due to coolant loss from gasket or if gasket failed from overheat (120 C). Car's tune now belatedly includes a coolant temperature redline curve that will force engine speed down if CLT exceeds 100 C, as I obviously was looking at traffic and not my water temp at the time. Water temps had been very stable until then, new thermostat, all fans working, not a hot day.

5)  50/50 propylene glycol  coolant no additives.

6)  Any notes on the installation- Torqued to old 70/75 ftlb specs due to unknown gasket brand and OEM studs. Just finishing the final pattern and the rear exhaust side stud on #3 pulled from the block. Weeks away from a new gasket, after interminable delays for parts and machining, so I took a chance and reused the gasket after helicoiling the block.

7)  Liner nip in spec before and after failure, new liners and freshly surfaced head

8)  Gasket was a black coated, copper oil ring item from a top end kit I got from Kemp. Not branded

9)  1,100 hard (tuning EFI) miles on rebuild.

IMG_0049.JPG

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Re-using the gasket and the old torque specs are probably why you've had a failure on so few miles.

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Mine went like that, well a little worse, after hydrolocking the engine, which was preferable to a bent con rod etc. It may be that there was another factor that lead to the gasket failure, but Derek is probably right given the old settings are for a type of gasket probably no longer supplied (I think they're all the Gotze type).

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that sucks!  Haven't seen one fail like that.

Are you sure the liner Nip is correct and progresses from smallest to largest, rather than up-down-up-down?

I have experienced a failure of that same gasket, though mine was probably due to losing over a gallon of coolant on the track due to a pressure cap blowing off at 10psi.

 

my failure was at #4

IMG_3924.JPG

IMG_3928.JPG

 

 

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8.5:1 + 10PSI Boost + At least 2 skims....   Did you check your compression pressures on rebuild?   I suspect you have been running an excessive actual CR on full boost.   Possibly borne out by the unusual fail.   Without wanting to throw oil on the fire, why risk a rebuild using a pattern gasket  (identified by copper oil seal instead of Viton)    I was supplied a similar gasket by an official Lotus dealer! a number of years ago and rejected it as I didn't think the quality stacked up when compared to a genuine packaged Goetze.   (The metalic portions at the top of the liners were not 100% concentric - that possibly appears to the case on yours too looking at the photo - The right is much narrower than the left

Edited by 910Esprit

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When used on the earlier engines the reinforced fibre composite gasket drops the compression ratio by about 0.5. I'd also be surprised if KHP are supplying sub-standard gaskets.

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Indeed a genuine composite Goetze drops static CR by 0.5 point,   So ler's say 8:1 + 10PSI + 2+ Skims - Thats still potentially a very high compression pressure.  And I would still recommend a static compression test to derive the max boost CR.   Having met Gary and had a guided tour of his operation he is a 100% top guy dealing in superb quality 'trick' mods I have not seen by others building 907 variants.  Maybe its of no relevance whatsoever,  but clearly that gasket's sealing ring is not concentric,  Personal opinion but I always think there is an element of risk with small volume manufacture and testing  - bearing in mind that the parameters above are already in way in excess of a stock 85 turbo with no electronic controls

Edited by 910Esprit

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I measured some of my old head gaskets. Both clamped and used.

The Goetze branded gasket (used from ~50k-74k miles) that was replaced when my compression was low due to 74k on rings, was
thickness = .0685-.0695" with micrometer on combustion sealing rings.
I.D. of rings 3.830"

The one that blew at #4 on the racetrack after 6k miles.. was
thickness .054" at sealing rings.
I.D. of rings = 3.863"

The S4s spec Goetze gasket was ~.020" thicker than the original Lotus spec metal laminate gasket for my 910.

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I knew I was on thin ice reusing the gasket, but took the chance and got to drive it one season before the engine was back on the hoist, giving me the chance to tweak a few other items whilst it's out. Not complaining, just sharing the experience for others to learn from. Glad I was near home and not on my way to LOG35!

Reviewing my data logs, actual boost was less than 9psi (electronically controlled by my Megasquirt), but still a hard life. I did not cc the heads to calculate static compression. I spent a bunch of time juggling liners to get the best possible nip progression within spec, and ironically the failure was at one of the higher points.

I don't have the uncompressed measure's, but the Goetze that came out originally was compressed to an average of .068" and the abused Kemp item was compressed to an average of .057" at the sealing rings. Haven't done the math, but the lower compression from what I hoped would be a "thicker" gasket was less than anticipated. I'll track down a Goetze next time it's apart.

I put it back together with ARP ultra-lubed studs at 90ftlbs, and whatever gasket JAE has in it's kit now. Should be good for a while now with moderate boost.

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