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Old 12-31-2012, 10:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Insulated Valve Cover

I was going to be clever and call this thread "A hat for my head" or something like that, but decided not to.

I've seen much discussion here lately over hood and engine bay insulation. I figure, whatever heat I can keep inside the engine won't have to be trapped by a leakier hood insulation setup. Of course you can't wrap the whole engine but I certainly could wrap my valve cover.

Future plans call for an outer cover to be made from 1" or 3/4" foam insulation. Sort of a rectangular hat to slip on over this very close fitting setup shown below. But that's for another day.

This stuff is about $6 per roll at Home Depot. Armacell pipe insulation. It's intended to be wrapped around plumbing pipes. It works very well in a hot engine bay.

It has a peel off backing and a sticky underside.

It also has fibers running lengthwise and crosswise. This prevents the material from stretching so it keeps its proper thickness, 1/8".

To help it stick, I used brake cleaner to clean the dirtier parts of the valve cover. The worst area was behind the filler hole, on the vertical back face of the valve cover. The valve cover still looked pretty bad even after a scrubbing, but the insulation stuck very well. After driving a week, an hour each way to work and back, the insulation stayed put.

I laid down multiple layers. It's four to five layers thick, depending on where you check.










Once you've gotten this far, it's easy to add more layers.

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Old 12-31-2012, 10:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Bruce, I like where you are going with this... do you have any info supporting the pro's and con's of this, or are you just winging it?
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:30 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Very interesting, I like it!

I would have thought that adhesive wouldn't have held with the temps it sees. Good to hear it does.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm just winging it as far as A-B-A testing and such. This isn't a mod you can easily remove and reinstall. OTOH, I think it's a no brainer that it would help reduce heat loss. I think heat loss is a more visible issue for those of us who do lots of EOC and who have reduced overall engine use and output. Or if using a block heater.

I've been watching it carefully for heat deterioration and it seems to be holding up just fine. As the weather warms up in spring and summer I'll watch it closely again.

As I now use a block heater daily i'm paying attention to heat loss from the engine. My block heater takes forever to do its job so I figure anything I can do to reduce heat loss while heating up is a good thing.
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Last edited by brucepick; 01-04-2013 at 06:24 AM.. Reason: fixed typo "lock heater" -> "block heater"
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:41 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Have you noticed higher initial temps with the block heater, or even just faster warm up after starting to drive?
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:07 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The highest engine temp I ever achieved using the block heater, 105 deg F, was after I insulated the valve cover.

Also,
Today I ran the heater with some snow on the hood. First time warming the engine following a recent snowstorm. The snow melted away first in a patch on the passenger side of the hood. That's where the distributor is attached to the head. Engine itself is on the other side of bay, where the hood was still covered with frost and snow after the heater ran about 8 hours. The heat was conducted into the head where it escaped to warm the hood. Heat did not escape from valve cover apparently.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Never would have thought of this! Does a lot of heat escape from the valve covers? When I do oil changes on hot engines, I never noticed that the valve cover was terribly hot.

My focus has too much ... crap ... hanging off of the valve cover to do this, unfortunately

Also - does the car have a hood blanket?
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brucepick View Post
The highest engine temp I ever achieved using the block heater, 105 deg F, was after I insulated the valve cover.
I would love to have 105f startups like I due in the summer...! I may have to look into a block heater, too!

As far as easily removable, you can always pick up an extra valve cover and it becomes removable with 5? bolts!
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miller88 View Post
...
Also - does the car have a hood blanket?
Not yet... ... ...
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I doubt the benefit of this is enough to justify buying insulation. If you've got it laying around fine, do it, after other heat sinks have been insulated.

My guess is that it helps slightly with getting things to temp while plugged in, but, not a lot. You are insulating a piece of metal who's only direct contact to the engine is through a rubber/cork gasket. I don't think the amount of heat transfer is all that great. I would guess it is better to go after the intake/exhaust and maybe the oil pan.

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