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Cheesecakes
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I am thinking about removing the valve covers to clean them from alot of neglect before I bought it. will I need to replace gaskets when I remove them or should I just not remove them at all?
 

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Piled Higher and Deeper
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YOu won't know until you take them off.. if original, they might be little brittle..
 

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The first time I removed my valve covers was in 86 when it was a year old, to have them chromed. I re-used the gaskets but they started to leak two seasons ago, I replaced them then.
As far as wanting to clean the covers, if you want to live with a grungy looking bike, leave them be.. If you want a nice shiny bike clean em, They do polish up real nice after the silver paint is removed. I use Mother mag and aluminum polish for any aluminum that I shine up. re-use the gaskets, if they leak after then change them.
A tip, smear them with crisco shortening yes you read it right and use molly lube on the rubber seals on the bolts, the bolts only require 9 foot lbs torque so just snug them up
 

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It would be a good idea to replace the seals as long as you're planning on pulling the covers, it's a pain in the butt when they leak and crud up the underside of the engine.

I use Super glue to hold the gaskets on the rocker covers. A thin line of the stuff does a good job of holding the gasket to the cover yet the seal can still be easily removed later if needed. Just glue four or five inches at a time, the stuff sets up quickly so it doesn't take much time. Having the gaskets glued on prevents getting them cocked when putting the cover on. I don't use any other sealant and don't use glue on the engine side of the seal.
 
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