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What's the Deal with Flimsy Timing Chain Covers?


New member
May 23, 2021
'69 Stingray T-top
'69 C3-4sp L48 (crate) w/15k miles

To remedy an oil leak I must replace a cracked plastic timing chain cover.

When I torque-down the fasteners on a new bolt-compatible Chineseum metal replacement cover, the thin-gauge flanges bow-out between bolt heads. Exact same thing happened when I torque-down the fasteners on another new bolt-compatible Chineseum metal replacement cover. Obviously this is unacceptable.

The flange on the old plastic cover I removed from this engine was comparatively thick. And most significant, I recall that the plastic flange sat flush to the mated surface with no gaps or oil seepage. Must I purchase a plastic replacement timing chain cover..? This likelihood bothers me. It seems only Holley makes a robust (meaning: thick) metal timing chain cover... though at a Holley price, of course.

Oil pans are often braced by a strip of metal between the flange and the fasteners on either side of the pan to distribute clamping force in order to prevent flange bowing/warping. This is exactly what I need to clamp a metal timing chain cover to the engine. But unless I whip up a model in SolidWorks and send off an order to Shapeways, no such widget exists.

So what's the deal with flimsy metal timing chain covers? The flanges must make a seal to prevent oil weep. That requires a compressible gasket mashed between paired surfaces with sufficient clampy goodness. Arching metal between fasteners along the perimeter of the flange defeats this function.

I should be driving this car presently. Instead, it remains on stands while I try to find a viable solution to this frustrating problem.
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Everything is getting cheaper these days. Thinner steel for these stampings is one of them. I don't have any experience with tins off of crate motors but if it's that flimsy, I'd find an old original. I see lots of new aftermarket ones on Ebay and elsewhere but, without holding one in your hands, who knows how good they are. I'd look for an old original and if you have to clean it, paint it and even straighten out the flange a little, I'm sure you would be better off. Here's one I found on Ebay. This one looks pretty nice. It's one that you would have to use the seperate bolt on timing marker, but everyone sells those.

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