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Head gasket options for high boost OM603
TwoMuchBoost Offline
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#1
Head gasket options for high boost OM603
Anyone have any advice on best quality head gasket? Been using Victor Reinz composite gasket but have heard that the Elring brand (only available through Mercedes now) is better quality. I don't have any real proof but I see the M104 turbo-bandit followers laying down 1k RWP on Elring stock gasket. BUT... that's high RPM, less torque, and less cylinder pressure no doubt... 

Really having trouble keeping head gaskets intact on my OM603 with the current boost level of 40psi (2.75bar). I'm thinking maybe the combination of 2.75bar and water/meth injection is just too much cylinder pressure for a composite gasket. I have already have tried the following...

Brand new VR head gasket plus the *updated* head bolts that are supposedly stronger. This drove great for a quite a long time at around 30-32lbs of boost then one day the head gasket just let go while cruising; gasket blown out between cyl 5-6. All the coolant went out the tailpipe and a slight overheat. I assumed the 603 was toast and sourced a crazy high-mileage OM606 to swap in potentially. After tearing the head off for a second time and finding it both crack-free and flat, I decided to go all out one last time and see what the 603 was really capable of.


- added a custom set of ARP head studs
- added stainless O-rings to the block for extra clamp on the fire-ring part of the cyl. head gasket.
- yet another fresh Victor Reinz gasket
- bigger exhaust to lower drive-pressure (this netted me another 8lbs of boost taking me to 38 without touching fuel at all and plummeted EGT's by like 200*F.
- added just a touch of fuel since EGT's dropped so much and this bumped me up to 40lbs on the top end

Lately I've noticed cold coolant pressure again and idle smoke in combination with really hard starts... pulled into the garage today and heard a hissing that sounded like an exhaust leak-pre turbo but when I listened around with a stethoscope, I head it directly at the back of the head. Looking with a flashlight I can see little tiny bubbles between the head and block on cyl #6. At least this time with the head studs it's not a total failure of the gasket but it's on its way out; that much is for sure.

I know the the *sound* advice is "Turn it down dumbass..." but I don't roll like that. My profile name speaks for itself and the only way is UP.  Big Grin  What's my options for keeping the boost inside this god damn 603? I'm all ears!
02-23-2020, 05:26 PM
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TwoMuchBoost Offline
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#2
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
I totally forgot... I wanted to add the option of a poll so you guys could vote on your opinion on head gasket re-torques.

Yes?
No?

They say with composite gaskets its not *necessary* but that's also DEALER advice (ie. extra unneeded labor at stock power level with stock stretch bolts). The dealer would love to not have to go back in and pull camshaft just to tighten some bolts... hence the weaker head bolts I believe. Now with stronger studs, I'm wondering if maybe the gasket-fasteners-head is/are relaxing and I lose a gasket after some time.

Cummins guys swear on hot-retorques but they have iron heads. Aluminum heads that a no-no and should be done cold. I'm thinking about incorporating a re-torque into the head gasket procedure this next time after a few *easy-going* heat cycles.

Thoughts?
02-23-2020, 05:35 PM
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NZScott Offline
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#3
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
Have you had your head skimmed after overheating and blowing the gasket? I suspect that might be why you're blowing them...

The 606 guys run crazy HP on stock bolts and HG's...I have no experience with 60x engines but something else might be going on with your engine. You yanks love putting studs in your engines but it's not something that gets done with these MB engines that I know of - at least the Euro guys. Maybe on the super super builds they do it?

FWIW I have heard of people using 606 gaskets on 603s with drilling of some passage holes?

Edit: Is the 606 gasket MLS? That might be why it works so well?

1978 300D, 373,000km
OM617.912 with a Holset HX30W, 7.5mm IP, 711.113 5 speed (awaiting certification to be legal...)

1977 250 270,000km (parts car)
1977 300D (ex 280) 500,000km 'new' DD





(This post was last modified: 02-24-2020, 02:40 AM by NZScott.)
02-24-2020, 02:37 AM
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baldur Offline
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#4
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
606 gasket is MLS. There's no hope, no chance for a composite gasket to last more than 5 minutes.
Baldur Gislason

02-24-2020, 06:10 AM
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TwoMuchBoost Offline
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#5
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
Every time I've pulled the head it's measured out flat and true to spec so I haven't machined it for fear of removing too much material and weakening the #14 head casting. I also don't have the tools to pull the pre-chambers currently so I was sort of trying to avoid that... it's always failed in a different spot too and at varying/increasing power levels so I didn't suspect one part of the head to be a particular issue.

I've heard of people using 606 MLS but assumed it involved machining the head and block to a much smoother finish than what the factory leaves for composite gasket (quite a rough finish).

I guess at this point what have I got to lose? Another head gasket? LOL. This will be #4 if I include the OEM leaking one the car came with at 255k when I bought it.
02-24-2020, 09:10 AM
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zeeman Offline
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#6
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
(02-24-2020, 09:10 AM)TwoMuchBoost Wrote: Every time I've pulled the head it's measured out flat and true to spec so I haven't machined it for fear of removing too much material and weakening the #14 head casting. I also don't have the tools to pull the pre-chambers currently so I was sort of trying to avoid that... it's always failed in a different spot too and at varying/increasing power levels so I didn't suspect one part of the head to be a particular issue.

I've heard of people using 606 MLS but assumed it involved machining the head and block to a much smoother finish than what the factory leaves for composite gasket (quite a rough finish).

I guess at this point what have I got to lose? Another head gasket? LOL. This will be #4 if I include the OEM leaking one the car came with at 255k when I bought it.
My first question would be how are you torqueing the head bolts. The 606 head bolts are designed to stretch and have a degree final torque. Also depending on the type of oil you use on the head bolt threads, it affects the torque.
02-24-2020, 01:00 PM
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baldur Offline
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#7
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
Also, I recommend ARP studs.
Here are the part numbers that fit the OM602/OM603 engines.
Short bolt AM4.300-2GB @ $12.17 ea.
Medium length bolt AM4.875-2B @ $12.68 ea.
Long bolt AM5.500-2B @ $14.02 ea.
WASHER 200-8519 @ $1.19 ea.
NUT 300-8344 @ $5.34 ea.
Lubricant 100-9909 @ $10.02 ea.

Order the bolts, washers and nuts in the correct quantity from any ARP dealer.
Baldur Gislason

02-24-2020, 02:23 PM
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Vict0r Offline
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#8
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
I must admit, I am right behind you waiting to see whats next. I've had my pump in for a week, and I'm babying it. When I get on it the KKK will push 30psi an it scares me. I'm leaning towards the s200sx as a replacement, and a #22 head waiting for the blowout. Do you have plans for an intercooler?
(This post was last modified: 02-28-2020, 10:29 PM by Vict0r.)
02-28-2020, 10:28 PM
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TwoMuchBoost Offline
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#9
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
Got the head taken off today... very interesting failure this time. Fire rings on the gasket stayed in place, not a total failure like last time. The ARP head studs and O-ringed block definitely helped (I can see the imprints of the stainless o-rings in the gasket) which was clear as the car took another 10lbs of boost this time around. 40 psi is just too much for composite gasket and the heat of the higher EGT's combined with crappy gasket fire rings.... #14 head looks fine though! It's almost hilarious at this point.

This time it was the actual fire ring material on the gasket itself; it cracked/fractured in several places. While it didn't entirely blow out and the whole gasket more or less stayed in place, once the fire ring is cracked, all the gasses are trying to sneak in between the soft fiber/composite layers of the gasket which is quite weak. All that's left behind was the perforated metal core part of the gasket where the blow-out was.

Also interesting to note... while the gasket itself didn't blow out between 5 and 6 like last time, it did allow pressure into that coolant expansion slot from the cracked fire ring; this is obvious as the gasket is blow open in the slit between 5 and 6. I'll post pictures once I get everything all cleaned up.

Anyone have a good link to which holes need to be cut out of the OM606 gasket if at all?
02-29-2020, 05:35 PM
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TwoMuchBoost Offline
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#10
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
(02-28-2020, 10:28 PM)Vict0r Wrote: I must admit, I am right behind you waiting to see whats next. I've had my pump in for a week, and I'm babying it. When I get on it the KKK will push 30psi an it scares me. I'm leaning towards the s200sx as a replacement, and a #22 head waiting for the blowout. Do you have plans for an intercooler?

Lol, too funny... there's a S200SX-51 sitting next to my OM606 waiting for a manifold to be build. I also have an intercooler kit I am fitting now but I totally went oversized (31" X 12" x 3" w/ 3" piping) so my front end is getting cut and stretched as we speak. Let's just say... there's NEVER an A/C condenser going back in this car (in the front anyways  Wink ). Had to get real mean with a bottle jack and the cutting disc but it's HUGE and totally hidden so I love the stealthness of it. Not sure I want to weld up on the 603 intake to make a plenum entry on the opposite side. I feel like I should just do it once when the 606 gets swapped in there but I also want to see this 603 get a real shot at crazy power just to say I did. I guess it would be at most like 1 intercooler pipe would need to be changed/re-made when I swap motors... we'll see.

With the cold weather currently and carefully picked water/meth injection curve and nozzle size (starts at 16psi ramps in full by 34) I really don't see over 1400* and that's full pedal to the metal, non-intercooled 40psi, set on kill, eating up little rice rockets  Big Grin I usually only let it see 1300-1500 temps for 10-15 seconds which is totally fine looking at the pistons and head... no signs of any thermal issues at all other than the gasket fire rings cracking. Sure I could up the boost or turn down the fuel to try and make the EGT's lower but nothing else in the motor looks stressed heat wise. All the diesel performance guys roll coal for the whole drag pass/tractor pull so I think this gasket is just shit.


Keep the fuel turned down low and you'll be A-ok. The boost itself doesn't really create as much cylinder pressure as actually adding fuel and making the power. What are your EGT's like? 

Also, on a side note... my engine gets cleaner and cleaner every time I open it up. Water/meth injection is amazing! Hits like nitrous if your car is starved for fuel and on the flip-side lights the turbo HARD if you're starved for air and smoking badly on the spool-up.
02-29-2020, 06:09 PM
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Vict0r Offline
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#11
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
I'm embarrassed to say it, but all I have is a boost gauge hooked up right now. I'm planning on borrowing the one in my dodge soon. I'm looking for like a 21"x12"x3" with 2" piping that has both tie ins 90'd towards the car. Everything costs money though. I bought an intake for a naturally aspirated engine after seeing someones dual plenum intake, and I'm going for the same idea. Any welder who tells you that you HAVE to have some fancy AC welding machine with high frequency etc has never tried DC. It works just fine, and they sell the tig wire at harbor freight, which also works just fine. The same manifold comes with brass nipples over each cylinder for balancing air. It seems like water/meth was meant to be. What setup do you have? I need to start calling around to determine the proper nozzle size and pressure for multiport injection that close to the head.

What turbo are you running? I read somewhere about gas motor valve springs being stronger, not sure if its true.
03-01-2020, 11:31 PM
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baldur Offline
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#12
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
If you think welding aluminium with DC TIG works just fine I'd like to see pictures of those welds.
Baldur Gislason

03-02-2020, 09:08 AM
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Vict0r Offline
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#13
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
I have to say first that yes AC is the proper way to tig weld aluminum,
but Ive been experimenting with DC and getting good results. An argon
purge is critical. These welds were made with a vantage 300 at about
120 amps using 3/32 4043 wire.




       
03-02-2020, 12:20 PM
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baldur Offline
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#14
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
Considering what they are they don't look bad. You can see they have some porosity and they are kind of stacked on with less than optimal penetration but if you told me this was done with AC by an inexperienced welder on a dirty part I would believe you. This is not a highly stressed part so it's going to be fine.
Baldur Gislason

03-02-2020, 01:35 PM
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TwoMuchBoost Offline
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#15
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
I was expecting worse for DC aluminum.

Status update.... the MLS OM606 head gasket is modified, copper sprayed, and installed. Appeared to be holding great (until something else decided it was time). Bottom end or valve train let go on my 2nd trip after install. Went to boot it down to 3rd gear WOT passing move and heard a really loud CLANK and then sounded like it was down a cylinder + heavy rumbling and engine vibration.

Was pretty F-ing pissed after working on it all weekend getting the head gasket back on and figured it was done for good this time so I made the decision to save the $$$ on a tow for a roached motor anyways and drove it the few miles back to the shop on ZERO oil pressure.

She's done boys... 40psi did her in. I'll make a new thread and update the exact failure once I tear into it. Might not be for a moment though as this is pretty depressing.... fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck
03-02-2020, 01:51 PM
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Vict0r Offline
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#16
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
Man that sucks. I feel your pain after all of your time and labor to have that happen is a serious drag.
03-02-2020, 10:19 PM
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TwoMuchBoost Offline
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#17
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
Yeah major bummer after all that work to the headgasket; it held great even with the blow-up. This is totally an option for 603 guys to hold lots of boost. The o-ringed block kept the gasses from sneaking into those coolant expansion slots in between cylinders on the 603. Looks like coolant mix wiped the rod bearings from the last gasket going out. Inspected it a bit last night and verified it’s a rod... there’s a hole in the passenger side of the block and metal chunks in my belly pan. Big time scrap pile...

It’s a shame too because 40lbs isn’t even what did it in, just coolant dilution and low viscosity. I was really hoping to hit 4-5 more psi and hit that magic 3bar of boost.
03-03-2020, 12:20 PM
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AlanMcR Offline
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#18
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
I'm trying to visualize the stainless o-rings that you added. Seems like the head gasket would take up all of the potential space. Got a picture or reference?
03-03-2020, 11:53 PM
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TwoMuchBoost Offline
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#19
RE: Head gasket options for high boost OM603
(03-03-2020, 11:53 PM)AlanMcR Wrote: I'm trying to visualize the stainless o-rings that you added.  Seems like the head gasket would take up all of the potential space.  Got a picture or reference?

Definitely, I took pictures of the o-ringing process. Maybe I should make a thread for it on it's own. It seemed to really help with keeping boost in even with just the composite gasket, although they just can't take the heat and pressure (for long anyways). Leaves a very clear imprint on the gasket when you pull it back apart again. 

In the meantime before I upload pics, here's the guide I used for figuring out how to do it, how deep to set the groove, etc.

http://www.engineprofessional.com/articl..._60-62.pdf
03-09-2020, 10:24 AM
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