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Head gasket removal: Another solution

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After spending almost 2 weeks trying to clean the last few remaining remnants of my old head gasket (1986 TLR200) and after having tried every chemical I could lay my hands on... all with no luck whatsoever... I finally hit on something that worked.

Actually, it was staring me in the face every time I washed my hands :banana:

My so simple solution was to use a pumice block. The kind ladies use to remove callouses from the soles of their feet. Mine happened to have a stiff brush on the top and I bought it not for the pumice but for that brush to clean my finger nails.


Here's what I did. I wet the top of the head with water and then sprinkled baking soda all over. I soaked the pumice block in water and then dipped that in the baking soda.

Using small circular movements I went to work on the gasket material that was baked into the head. It came off in no time and with no hard rubbing. It just wiped off.

I followed that up with a wet cloth rubbed on a bar of Lava soap (also containing pumice) and that was that. Washed it off and oiled up the cylinder and its now awaiting a honing.

Here is a shot of my cleaned head.


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While I agree that baked on old head gaskets can be a pain, I would be kind of leery to whether or not the pumice was abrasive enough to remove some of the aluminum and make it uneven... I know that it would super fine amounts but it still should perfectly flat. Maybe take a mechanics stone over it?

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I would be kind of leery to whether or not the pumice was abrasive enough to remove some of the aluminum and make it uneven... Maybe take a mechanics stone over it?

Your concern is appreciated.

I did take a machinists square and do the check in the Honda manual. The service limit for warpage is .004" but even using a .002" feeler I was unable to slip it under anywhere.

Let me say this...

First, the pumice stone I used is actually very soft. It is a commercially manufactured product of compressed material sold as smooth pumice or exfoliating pumice by the beauty products industry not the actual harder rock found in nature. You can flick off pieces with your fingernail so it is unlikely it can remove much in the way of metal with normal pressure.

Second, there was a film of water and baking soda between the stone and the head so this had to have some affect on reducing the cutting action.

Finally, it just may be there was some chemical action taking place between the pumice, the baking soda and the water that helped to loosen the baked on gasket material.

Sometimes the simplest solutions work best... but I'd like to see someone else give this a try and report back.

Here is a link to a supplier of the same pumice stone I used although I know I bought mine locally a few years ago at Walmart or CVS or some place like that. What I like about this one is it is completely flat making it ideal for use on the head. Some are shaped like a bar of soap and will not work as well.


Edited by scooterspal
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