Removing old gasket material

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This job can be one of the most tedious and maybe the most aggravating. Plain and simple, old gaskets are stubborn. Even when they easily lift off the mating surface, they seem to leave a trail or layer of stuck-on gasket material.

Gaskets come in all shapes and sizes, of course. And they’re manufactured with different kinds of material. Some are more ‘forgiving’ when it comes time for replacement but, in my experience, they all mark their territory.


There are several ways to remove old gasket. The traditional way is to use a scraper of some sort and work the gasket off the mating surface. Different scrapers—size, shape, material, etc.—for different jobs. When working with a soft metal, like aluminum, it can get a little hairy pretty fast when using enough elbow grease to remove the gasket but not so much elbow grease as to gouge the mating surface. The gouge can result in an oil leak whether it is big or small. With a motor under pressure, it doesn’t take much of a gouge to cause oil seepage.

Scraping takes skill. Scraping takes time. Scraping takes elbow grease. Scraping takes patience. Ugh! Like I said, it can be tedious.

Another method that I’ve tried is wishing for a miracle…or applying Gasket Remover from a can or bottle. Several companies make a liquid-type of gasket remover. I have tried Permatex Gasket Remover and I have tried CRC Industries Gasket Remover.

I’ve yet to be impressed by a liquid or aerosol gasket remover. The best that I’ve seen them do is turn a small piece of thick paper gasket and adhesive into a mess of black glue.

There are other methods. Some I’ve tried, most I haven’t and won’t. So what to do? Two things work wonders for me and it’s all that I’ll use, if I can help it.

RolocDiscsThe first thing is a Scotch-Brite Surface Conditioning Disc. Specifically, I go for the Maroon or Medium Grit Roloc Disc. Harbor Freight and Amazon carry knock offs which are less expensive.

The maroon discs do a great job and are definitely worth the purchase price. The discs grind off old gasket without doing damage the metal surface. To keep things neat and free of dust, one hand holds the drill with Roloc disc and the other hand has the shop vac. After using these discs, I don’t see myself using a scraper…ever.


I also use small rubber polishing bullets for the Dremel which can be found in different sizes. They come in handy for places where the 2” Roloc disc can’t reach. They’re basically rubber with a small amount of fine abrasive. I’ve used them to remove gaskets and to polish pistol internals. They’ve never caused me a problem.

Alright, let’s get back to work.

Next: Degreasing the motor, and more on cleaners

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