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The Gentleman's Express: Tech-Tips from the JIOC

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Whistling Gasket

Author: Jack Raleigh

I usually drive my Jensen once or twice a week, and for a couple of weeks I had noticed that when I started it up in the morning there was a highpitched whistle, or scream coming from the engine compartment. Usually it disappeared after a minute or so, when the engine warmed up, so I broke all the rules and ignored it. Noises NEVER just go away; they get worse!

Anyway, yesterday the screaming did not go away, so I drove down to the local repair shop and got the mechanic who usually works on my car and asked him to listen. He was baffled. It seemed to come from the area of the carburetor, but disconnecting all the hoses, and clamping them and fidgeting did nothing to stop the scream. Another mechanic joined us, then a third one, but no one had any idea of what was causing the noise.

Finally a fourth mechanic came over and commented that he had once owned a Dodge with the same engine, and he knew exactly what it was! The carburetor flange was leaking air. It turned out that all the bolts were loose. They sent for a half-inch ratchet wrench with an offset and tightened the four of them around the base of the carburetor and the noise immediately disappeared.

The consensus was that the heavy heat-resistant gasket had dried out over the years, allowing the air leaks that turned the car into a steam Calliope. The engine idles much more smoothly now. It had always run lean before and they couldn’t smooth it out. Now we know the reason why!

Pays to check your carb attachment bolts occasionally. If you think you might have leaks, even with tight bolts, try squirting WD-40 around the flange when at idle. If the rpm note changes (increases) you’ve got a leak. Probably a warped gasket. Try again after installing a new one!

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