which side up for head gasket?

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Sep 26, 2007
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I'm putting my head back on my Mark 3, and my current head gasket looks perfect, so I am tempted to reuse it.

It has writing on one side ("Victor" and "0.50" are things i can make out).

Anybody know if the side with the writing is the Top side? There is no writing on the opposite side, and nowhere does it say Top or Up.

I may buy a new gasket after the long weekend is over, rather than risk a leak just to save a few bucks on a new gasket. Seems like cheap insurance.

But I'm still curious...?

Keith Kelly
When I've been in the "do I re-fit the head gasket" situation, I backed down. I didn't think it was worth it for the small amount of money a gasket costs, when compared to the amount of work required to change it should it blow. This was when I'd fitted the head on a new gasket, and one of the front studs stripped the thread causing me to remove the head. Even though it hadn't been run, I put another gasket on. Maybe I'm too cautious :?:

On my composite eyeleted head gasket, there is a stamp on one side that states "top" and the only writing says"REINZ" which I assume could be the manufacturer and 0.75 which is circled, which I assume is the thickness of the gasket ? in metric. (I have just measured it and it is 33 thou). On this side (TOP) the metal eyeletes form too complete circles, not meeting in the middle, whereas if you look at what is the underside of the gasket, the eyeletes form two complete circles, but with the metalwork joining across the middle if that makes sense :!:
Reggie -

thanks for the info.

I will probably wait to get my hands on a new one. Was impatient yesterday and wanted to get back on the road for the balance of the long weekend and nice weather, rather than waiting a few days for a new head gasket. Other than the itch to get out riding, I would not re-use the head gasket either.

I took out a magnifying glass and some strong lights. It looks like we have the same gasket. I can see "VICTOR" and "?EINZ" (presumably HEINZ) and "0.75" (which for some reason I though was 0.50 yesterday).

There is no writing on the other side.

However, I can't find "TOP" marked anywhere on the gasket.

However, the eyelet pattern on mine is the opposite of what you describe. On the side with the writing, the eyelets bridge together in the center area between the pistons. On the other (bottom?) the eyelets form separate complete circles. Go figure.

Anyway, when i put this gasket on, about 1,500 miles ago, I guessed that the writing side should be the top side and put it on accordingly. Here I am a few months later addressing a head gasket leak, so I want to get it right.

Ordering a new one in the next few keystrokes.

Keith Kelly
My spare 850 head gasket has "TOP" handwritten in marker pen on the side where the flame rings are not bridged, - same as Reggie's. There's no other markings on the gasket.
has anyone used a copper gastket? i just re-used mine. i talked to phil at fare spares and he said as long as it looked good, just anil it and spray it with copper gasket seal. the procedure seemed to make it soft again. anyway, so far so good and i am keeping my fingers crossed. the manual says if the gasket seems okay, it can be re-used? i did not know copper was not the standard. i also could not decipher top from bottom. the farther i get into repairs, i realize how little i know. :oops: oh well, it was worth being on the road again today, as time is of the essence, 37 degrees forcast tonight. safe rides, jerome
Hi. I use a copper gasket on my 1970 750 and prepare it the same way that you referenced. You really need to re-torque after you get it running but the results are usually good for me.
jerome said:
i did not know copper was not the standard. i also could not decipher top from bottom.

Copper head gaskets were the standard item at one time, and is probably the one referred to as being re-usable in the manual.
A solid gasket can be fitted either way, provided there are two inlet side oil drain holes in it?
The later composite gaskets are generally considered to be more oil-tight than the copper type, buy carry on using a copper gasket if you are happy with it.
I used to use copper gaskets on the Commando, but at that time (27 to 15 yrs ago) was not aware of copper gasket seal and the like, and so therefore used to get an oil weep on the head gasket.

I think I had one copper gasket fail, and that was on the 920 :shock:
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