Briggs 18 HP Vanguard Head Gasket Replacement tips?????

happy123(8b)July 1, 2009

So my 18 HP B&S has a leaky head gasket. I know this beacuse I can physically see the oil seeping from the side.

Model # 350-777 0044-02

I have orderded the repair manual and new head gasket from Jacks Small Engines. I am looking for pointers / tips when undertaking this task. I guess I have to pull the flywheel off. Any other gaskets that I need to buy and change while I am pulling the head?


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"I guess I have to pull the flywheel off."

I wouldn't know why, your repair, service, manual will tell you what to do.

Walt Conner

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 10:52AM
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Thanks Walt. Just trying to determine the level of effort and avoid any pitfalls.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 11:37AM
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You will possibly need the intake gasket, the exhaust gasket, a valve cover gasket and sealing washers for the valve cover studs. If you bought a "gasket set", you should be covered. I "excerpted" the following from a previous, different thread.
One thing I would definitely check would be to remove the sheet metal shrouding (aka "fan ductwork) and clean out any accumulation of debris or mouse nests. Other than that, proper torquing of the head bolts is about the most critical detail in the repair. Try to clean the old gasket "footprints" from the head and block using carburetor cleaner and a very fine, hand held "scotch brite" pad. Make your cleaning strokes (with the pad) follow the "long side" of the gasket outline. This means: Scuff/clean so all the micro scratches made by the scuff pad "run with" the gasket outline instead of "across" it. The benefit of doing this is: The scuff cleaning creates very tiny scratches in the metal surfaces of the head and block. If you scuff ACROSS the outline of the gasket, it has the "effect" of "digging a drainage ditch" or "plowing an escape route" for combustion gasses to travel through. If you scuff clean keeping your strokes in the same long direction of the gasket shape, you realize a benefit (instead of creating a potential problem). With the micro-scratches running "with the gasket", you create a multitude of "teeth" in the metal surfaces that "bite into" the "clear coat sealer" on the new gasket. This helps to secure the gasket better than having it just pressed against the head and block. If the gasket is "held better", it is not as likely to leak. Clean the surfaces with spray carb cleaner after scuff cleaning and blow dry with compressed air or simply let it dry "naturally". DO NOT clean the new gasket using carb cleaner or any other powerful solvent. Doing so could remove or damage the thin, "shellac like" coating that is on the new gasket. Whether you want to replace both gaskets at this time is a decision for you to make. If you decide to only replace the gasket you find to be leaking, you should at least check the torque of the head bolts on the other cylinder. DO NOT be tempted to "over-torque" the bolts. Too much torque on fasteners will distort both the head and the crankcase which will mean the gasket IS NOT "clamped down" evenly and will fail again soon. You will need to check and adjust the valves on each cylinder that you replace the head gasket on.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 11:52AM
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Mowie 7,

Thats what I'm talkin about! Thats the kinda info I am looking for.

I hear you on the gasket cleaning. Could you tell by the pdf of the parts diagram that I posted in my orginal post whether I needed additional gaskets? i.e. I only purchased the head gasket, not the gasket kit because if I dont have to fool with additional areas / gaskets I would rather not.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 1:44PM
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***"Could you tell by the pdf of the parts diagram that I posted in my orginal post whether I needed additional gaskets?"***
You must understand that I meant you "might" need the gaskets I cited, IF.......the gaskets in those positions get damaged during the disassemble process. I know that if I were setting out to do the work you will undertake, I would have "spare gaskets" for those places, to "be prepared" to replace if needed. Any time you separate components that are "gasketed", expect to, and be prepared to, replace those gaskets. The only time I will try to "re-use" old gaskets, is if the gasket remains intact (no tearing or breaking or separating in layers, or if any gasket material remains on BOTH halves of the separated components. In other words, seldom can you get away with re-using old gaskets. My comment about the "gasket set" was in reference to gasket set, item #1095A, in the IPL PDF. If you bought this gasket set, you would have bought everything you might need, plus a few items you probably would not need at all, but you would be covered no matter the circumstances. By my reckoning, I would have purchased 2 of 51B, intake gaskets, 2 of 883A, exhaust gaskets, 1 of 1022, valve cover gasket, 2 of 276A, valve cover stud sealing washers. The old sealing washers can be re-used if you coat them with a bit of RTV sealant during reassembly. The valve cover may also be fit for re-use. The intake and exhaust gaskets are hard to guess about. Now, let me ask if you chose the correct gasket for your particular engine, according to the "date code" of your engine?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 2:12AM
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The head gasket I ordered was part #842589. The engine is probably circa 1995. Where do I find the date code?

Mine is 350-777 0044-02

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 8:48AM
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The "date code" is NOT in that series of numerals. There should be another group of numbers on the "data plate" location of your engine.
Walt Conner, could you please help me out on that? I know you probably can't count the times you have deciphered "code numbers" but I don't have that skill. I'm not even sure whether the Vanguards depend on a code number or an engine serial number.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 1:26PM
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All B&S with a Code number, So far as I know, including Vanguard, the first two digits of the code number is the year of mfg., 02 for example is 2002, 97 is 1997. The following numbers represent the month, day, etc.

Walt Conner

    Bookmark   July 2, 2009 at 3:21PM
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