Similar to cleaning up or restoring vintage motorcycle engine fins, motorcycle gasket removal is also one of those jobs DIY folks hate.
Doesn’t matter which gasket(s) you are talking about, they all pretty much suck to remove.
Really it is two things that make motorcycle gasket removal a tough job.
First, they are stubborn. They want to stick and stay on the surface where they have been for the last x-thousand miles. Obviously, this is a good thing for a running bike. During removal, however, they would rather break and cause a hot mess than come up in one piece.
Second, the surface they are stuck to mustn’t be nicked or scratched in any way. Otherwise after all that work cleaning and prepping and placing a new gasket, you might have a leak and have to start all over.
On the flip side, motorcycle gasket removal and replacement is a cheap, easy doable job. Newbies hear “head gasket” and they run for the hills. There is tons of misinformation out there about the difficulty and cost of doing a (head) gasket replacement. Time, patience, and an attention to detail are all that is really required.
Anyways, that isn’t the point of this post. The point is to give a few tips and tricks to make a motorcycle gasket removal easier.
Tip #1: Get a gasket removal spray from your local hardware or auto parts store. Either that or arm yourself with some goo be gone or other solvent. Be careful not to get this stuff on your paint as it will strip paint. The key or tip here is that gaskets are generally paper based. Spray or lather on your solvent and just leave it there. Give it time to eat into the gasket and soften it up. Patience is key. You may need to do it several times.
Tip #2: Get yourself a set of gasket removal tools. I have a set from Tekton I think. This doesn’t need to be an expensive tool, but I prefer it over razor blades, screw driver, or any other random tool that has a much higher potential for nicking or damaging the surface. Remember that the key is careful removal without any marring of the surface. You want a tool that is softer than the surface you are removing the gasket from. Are your heads aluminum or iron? Using a tool softer than the gasket surface will make nicking and damaging the surface much more unlikely. Some people go as far as using the plastic paint scrapers. They will work, ensure no damage, but will require more patience. See below.
Tip #3: Patience, technique, and willingness to go through several cycles or spray, dissolve, remove, and repeat are key. Once the spray has had some time to work use the tool to approach the edges of the gasket parallel to the base surface. Do not come at the gasket at a 90 degree angle. Bottom line is if you want to rush this and muscle it, the job will result in a clean but damaged surface – refinishing/releveling will be required.
That’s it folks. There isn’t a ton of advice to give in this area, but the limited advice is invaluable. Be careful and do the job right.
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