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1932 Franklin keeps blowing cyl. head gasket

Pete Phillips

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I am working on a 1932 Franklin 6-cylinder, which repeatedly blows out the upper cylinder head gasket on #5 cylinder. I've tried copper gaskets, composite or cardboard (?) (not sure what it is made of) gaskets, doubling up on the gaskets, etc. but nothing keeps it from blowing after a little bit of driving. Now the # 1 and #2 cylinders also seem to be leaking at the gasket, so I'm going to replace all of the head gaskets. Car belongs to a friend who is not very mechanical or knowledgeable about old cars. I'm thinking the cylinder head may be warped. Does anyone have any experience like this with Franklin engines? Does anyone have a source for copper gaskets for this car? I ordered new head gaskets from Olsen's Gaskets but they were composite type, not copper.

Pete Phillips

Leonard, Texas


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Hi Leonard -

This is a common problem on 1930 - 34 Franklins with detatchable aluminum heads. Over the years, the threads for the studs under the exhaust port will fail and the stud will loosen. The nut can be tightened and the leak stopped, but only for a short time.

The solution is:

  1. Helilcoil the threads for the head studs under and adjacent to the exhaust port. Oftentimes pulled studs will have jammed and will break upon removal - it's best to replace them with new studs.
  2. Be certain the head surface is clean without damage, atlhough it need not be re-machined, just clean & smooth. Beware of damaged surfaces from the 'prying screwdriver' method of cylinder head removal.
  3. Use original copper headgaskets which have been annealed by heating to nearly glowing. 500 degrees in a household oven is not quite enough heat - use a torch.
  4. Assemble heads with gaskets usiing Key Graphite Paste - available from McMaster-Carr.

Follow the above and the problems will be solved!

Feel free to contact me if you get stuck or need help.

Happy New Year -

Tom Rasmussen

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