What head gaskets are these??


Gotta Luv It!!!!
Jul 4, 2001
Hey gents,

Hello again. Its been a LONG time since posting on here. Anyway, my car has sat for the past 5 years and I had a feeling there was something wrong then. The car would overheat and it had a new motor just put in. So the motor might have 3k on it right now. I had it shipped to Oklahoma 2 weeks ago and when we pulled it off the carrier, I noticed the evil white smoke coming out of the exhaust and water sputtering out of the down pipe at the turbo. :confused:
I pulled the motor and just took the heads off and I found what looks like copper head gaskets (they were supposed to be stock steel shim HGs). I see where the problem/ water came from. But if you see the picture it looks like the gasket was eaten away from the water jacket and not the piston side.
So I am going to change the gaskets and install head studs. So any ideas what these are? They dont seem "steel" to me.


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They look like steel shims, but coated with "copper cote" or whatever it is called.

Is this a stock 109 motor with 8445 heads? Any idea what caused it? Was it a "NEW" motor, or new to you?
Its a stock 109 that was "New" to me. Its a rebuilt .30 over. I wasnt expecting a blown head gasket since I never really ran the car hard. Maybe 15-17lbs. of boost at most. I did check the torque of the heads and it was way below 75ft lbs. Unfortunately this motor was built by a person in El Paso (I'd rather not say his name) But he was big in the Buick community prior to 2003.
Sounds like the low torque could have been an issue?

Check the deck of the block and heads with a metal straight edge and thin feeler gauge. If flat and true, get a good set of gaskets and studs and put her back together. Torque them correctly, retorque if you feel it necessary (a lot of discussion on retourque) and let 'er rip.
Thats what I am leaning towards. I put a torque wrench set to 75 on the heads just to see what it would do and I was surprised how much of a turn it took. I checked the deck and all is well. I just want to get the car back on the road a bit before I put a Weber stroker in it next year.
If the engine builder you are referencing did anything wrong, it would have been not telling you [or whoever was his customer] that you MUST re-torque steel shim gaskets. Not just once or twice, but until they completely seat, and check them frequently after that.

That is the main reason I do not use them on street engines, most guys do not want to re-torque unless they are racers. :)

On iron blocks with alum heads, I prefer them over any head gasket, not so much with iron heads.
But how often should you re-torque? Like I said in the first post, I might have 3k on the motor right now. And no, he did not tell me I had to re-torque them.
After the first good heat cycle, for sure, that is the biggest one. A lot of guys don't want to retorque in-car, so they torque them, heat them with heat guns from harbor fright, then retourque. NOT the way I plan retourques, but to each his own.

What do you think Nick, after the first heat cycle, each oil change or each 1,000 miles or something?
I dont mind re-torquing them but I was unaware I needed to. My ignorance. But if I go with a 9441 head gasket, its obviously thicker and I will need to adjust my pushrods to compensate for that. And that is one thing I have not done yet. Time to do a search I guess.
Prob not that much of a difference in HG thickness between the two to necessitate a change of pushrods. Are you running a hydraulic cam? Roller rockers? Hydraulic lifters usually take up that much slack.
It has a roller cam in it now and the builder put adjustable pushrods in the car when the cam was installed.
Sorry about that. Its a CC hydraulic roller. Stock rockers with adjustable pushrods. Back when I had this motor built, I skimped on not buying adjustable rockers.
But how often should you re-torque? Like I said in the first post, I might have 3k on the motor right now. And no, he did not tell me I had to re-torque them.

I personally know the builder, and he does great work on the V-8 Buick engines, but not much experience with the V-6.

You cannot properly re-torque steel shim gaskets with a heat gun. We do it 3 times before the car hits the road and with at least 2 heat cycles. Again before more than stock boost, and always after the first trip to the track.

Another item we have learned for re-torquing is you MUST loosen the bolt or nut at least 1/8th of a turn to apply the accurate torque reading.

Also, remember new head bolts or studs need to be "seasoned", so re-torque as needed. I like seasoned studs and replace the nuts after they have been removed 2 or 3 times.

Racing improves the breed! You may have heard this before, and in drag racing you need to have more than just HP, the car MUST be consistent and reliable. At a race I may make 6-9 passes depending on how well I do, but my hood is only opened if it needs cool down between rounds on a warm day.

Point is I have spent hundreds of hours with my cars and customer cars learning what make them reliable and trouble-free. My information is based upon what has been learned in the real world, not what could or should work. My comments about steel gaskets, is not my opinion, but what works! :)
Nick, thanks for the insight. And he has built 3 engines for me in the past and a really great guy and he knows his stuff. Now with this engine, the block and heads are the only thing stock with the heads being fully ported. Are you recommending going back to the steel shim HG's or would you recommend something else? I really appreciate your input Nick.

Is there a reason for running steel head gaskets? Why dont you want to run the stock graphite style head gaskets?

Roller cam with adjustable pushrods? With high valve spring seat/open pressure along with RPM you risk the chance of bending/breaking them. You need to be running hardened push rods set to proper length. But first decide on what thickness HG you plan on using.
Or buy T&Ds rockers with the proper length hardened push rods. Hope this helps.