Let me preface this that in no way was I a grease or garage junkie growing up. But, back in the sixties it was a right of passage to learn some basic maintenance and troubleshooting of your car. This included how to change a flat tire, how to check and change your oil (no Jiffy Lubes then), and where and how to check for leaks.
The garage floor always had a spot of oil on it so checking head gaskets, oil pan gaskets, the radiator hose, windshield wipers; it was all part of the routine. You now know everything I knew about the working of the car.
To my point, head gaskets were cork. Oil pan gaskets were cork. Shoot, the gasket on the oil filter was cork. For all I knew, ALL gaskets were cork. And if you had to change one out, especially the head gasket, good luck. It baked in the groove, and chiseling with your oldest slotted screwdriver was the accepted standard operation procedure.
To say the least, times have changed and so have gaskets. I just returned from last week’s GFA (Gasket Fabricators Association) conference and there is significant opportunity for continuous improvement in this industry.
Of course I exaggerate about the use of cork, but the fact remains it is still a common material in industrial applications because of its wide range of application and low cost. ESP International has over 30 different combinations of cork and rubber material blends, so finding the single best for your application can be a bit challenging.
But it’s not just cork, ESP’s utilization of new compressed sheet materials offer greater sealability and reduced maintenance costs. Beater Addition material became a preferred material when asbestos was banned because it was cheaper than compressed sheet and other options. Today, it still has a good service role. But again, there are options.
And to make your head start spinning when it comes to gasket materials, with today’s high performance application a lot of ingenuity has gone into new graphite and PTFE materials to meet the higher temperature demands and performance criteria. Temperatures that exceed 1500 degrees are not uncommon.
We’ve heard it many times before and I’ve said it a thousand times myself, gaskets are often the lowest price part of the finished product. But if not properly applied, can be the greatest cost. Those oil spots on the floor are no longer accepted practice. Nor is chiseling with a slotted screwdriver accepted standard operating procedure. Materials have changed. Processes have changed. ESP International is your seal material source for all things seals and gaskets. Know your source.
We’re not working on 1957 Chevys anymore.
Don Grawe is Director of Seal Markets for ESP International. He has over 20 years of experience in the seal industry serving the OEM industrial marketplace. You can learn more about ESP International at http://www.espint.com