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One more question about valves....

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A couple of days ago I posted a question about adjusting valve clearances on a Briggs 326431. I got some wonderful advice, but since--as I said-- I'm new to this game, I have a couple more questions. To clarify, I pry the valve stems up and take the material off the bottom of the stem? Should this be done when the engine is hot or cold (to account for possible expansion of the metal when under heat)? Do I need to get any new gaskets before I do this? Thanks in advance!

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The ideal way to do it is to get a Briggs type valve spring compressor(it is unique) and hold the springs without tension while working, all cold. I prefer to remove the springs and keepers altogether during the operation for more clarity. Depending on the era of the valves used it could be more of a nuisance to reinstall the wedge keepers than it's worth however. The newer kind with the washer type keeper is a lot easier. And yes the head should be off if that route is pursued. For the previous method listed, you will want to simply pry the screwdriver against the base of the spring enough to allow the file to get in between. When you take the measures, a very bright flash light such as an LED type can be helpful to shine behind to see the clearance gap. Without it the oil film can obscure the minute space. The gaskets for the most part are non destructive when removed, so it should be alright. The new kind of head gaskets are not as rigid, which can make them more disposable but the old ones are harder and generally stay together. At worst you may want to have a valve cover gasket, but it may be advisable to check your breather while you have it off. The little flap should move and it should be fairly clean. If in doubt, replace.

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