How to remove old gasket material?

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Jan 7, 2006
Tucson, AZ
I bought a used timing plate cover from SOR. It's in ok shape but still has the old gasket on it. The gasket however is rock hard and seems permanently bonded to the timing cover. I could barely chip any of the material off with a pick or pliers. Then I soaked it in a bucket of water with a cup of laundry detergent for two days. This has made only a modest difference, softening the edges a bit.

I have tried using some gasket remover spray from Autozone on other projects and I wasn't impressed.

Next, I may get after it with a dremel and a sanding bit, but I'm a little worried about damaging the metal and screwing up the mating surface.

Another idea I had was to use an enzyme called cellulase to digest away the cork but I'm not sure I can pick this up anywhere and anyway it seems like quite a hassle.

So, does anyone have any clever tips on removing old hardened gasket material from automotive parts.

I used the little Scotchbrite sanding pads that look like a whole bunch of fingers on my 2f oil pan. I lost patience so I went with the small diameter Scotchbrite sanding disk. I got 90% of the gasket off and then went back with the finger style sander.
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the best way (especially since you have the part off the car,) is a bench grinder with a wire wheel attachment. if you have a drill, you can buy wire wheel attachments. if you go the wire wheel route, be careful though for it is possible to remove metal if you are too heavy handed.

they also make Scotchbrite discs for drills and or die grinders which work but take more time than the wire wheel approach.

if you feel like scraping, a sharp gasket scraper and Permatex gasket remover will work too but this is probably the most laborious and time consuming method. all of the spray on gasket removers i have tried have always required several apply, soak, wait, and then scrape sessions. Permatex in my opinion is the best of the lot.
I agree with ell12. I use a hand or bench grinder with a wire wheel.
Could you burn it off with a propane torch. That's what I did with the vinyl stuff on the battery tray. Do it in the open and hold your breath.
Nothing really to add, but good luck! I recently went through this w/ the engine side cover gasket. What a PITA, I resorted to good 'ol elbow grease, a plastic scraper, and some sand paper. I can't wait to do the timing cover... it's next. :)
how about a single edge razor blade? ive never met a gasket that wouldnt come off cleanly when you scrape it with a blade and/or force it between the gasket and the underlying metal surface. just watch you dont slice off a finger.

one love
jah bill

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