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MG MGB Technical - Storing a cylinder head


I have a newly skimmed and machined cylinder head to put on the engine. However, now realise that I won't have time to put it on till end of Sept. what is the best way to store the head (rust prevention, leave valves out or put in etc.).

Thanks in advance.

Iwan Jones

We use camelia oil on our carbon steel knives to stop them from rusting up. Comes in a pump spray bottle like this:

Another option would be mineral oil / paraffin oil, which you should be able to get from your local pharmacy for a couple of quid. It's used as a laxative and is the basis for vaseline baby gel.

You could always paint the appropriate surfaces too, since that'll stop 'em, rusting and you need to do it anyway!
Curtis Walker


Why not just rub or pour engine oil over it all?

Herb Adler

Yeah Herb - that's the sensible, boring option that 'just works' (TM) :)

Either way, get a bottle of acetone (=lacquer thinner) to clean up the mating surfaces prior to assembly.
Curtis Walker

To end of September?

I'd spray with WD40 and wrap it in gladwrap/clingfoil to exclude air. That way you can give it a surface clean as Curtis has suggested and paint/install.

Alternatively, paint then WD40 the top/bottom surfaces then wrap.

I'd avoid oil etc getting into water chambers.
Roger T

Aside from covering it in oil, wrap it in newspaper sprayed with WD-40 or similar.

Edit: You beat me to it Roger!

Hi Iwan,

What's up with taking it indoors and putting it under your bed. It'll last for years without going rusty.

P Reardon

Don't p*ss the bed though ...
PaulH Solihull

Charming Paul ..... charming ;-),

Thanks for the info he rest of you.

Iwan Jones

Iwan. Long term storage is an interesting problem. Oils do not work well because they will, over time, migrate downwards leaving the metal exposed to oxygen which can cause rusting. WD-40 does not work because it is designed as a moisture displacing agent which has very little anti-rusting ability. Plus, it will dry out and leave a sticky residue behind. Thus, for long term storage we have two commonly used systems which have, for a number of years, produced good results.

The first is a good quality grease. Grease does not migrate as oils tend to do and will stay in place over a long period of time. The best one is called RIG, which stands for Rust Inhibiting Grease, and is commonly used for long term storage of firearms and other precision tools. The entire cylinder head, including valves, springs, etc. would need to be coated in the grease. After that, it should be wrapped in plastic wrap (Saran Wrap is a commonly used household version, but larger sizes are available for commercial use) and stored in a place of low humidity. A plastic container with packets of silica gel will work fine.

The second system is a dry storage system. The cleaned and lightly oiled part is wrapped in VPI (Vapor Phase Inhibitor) paper. Then, the part and VPI paper are heat sealed inside an aluminized plastic "paper" which is cut to form a bag and sealed with a heat seal machine. This produces a packaged part which testing has shown will be kept free of rust for a minimum of seven years. After that point, the parts should be unpackaged, cleaned, and repackaged for another seven years.

Both of these systems have been tested and work well for precision parts. The grease has to be removed (parts must be cleaned) before use. The VPI system allows the part(s) to be removed from the wrappers and used immediately. But, one of these systems would be the one to use for the best long term storage.

As a quick storage method, one which will be good for some indefinite period of time but not decades, simply cleaning the parts, greasing them and wrapping them in a plastic bag sealed with duct tape work well. Again, humidity is the enemy of long term storage and parts which are clean and dry can be stored in an area of zero humidity, for long periods of time, with no special precautions taken.

Les Bengtson

For a few weeks putting it face down onto a flat surface should work, If you have a piece of thick glass around you use as a surface plate that would do, oil it first and , valves in, it will seal the combustion chambers, If you want to be extra careful a little grease on the mating surface for the cork rocker box gasket should do all you need.
Stan Best

I've had good luck 'painting' stored parts with STP. Seems to cover well for longer periods of time.
T Lea

This thread was discussed between 02/08/2010 and 15/08/2010

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