3 Easy Rules to Keep Your O-Rings From Turning Into Bad Potato Salad

Ever go to the fridge and spot that Tupperware container in the back corner of the second shelf. What is it? Is it any good? Do I dare open it? OK, if you are already getting squeamish, STOP. Find another blog.

I don’t think bread should have green spots, should it? Ever smell bad potato salad?  I would have sworn I just bought that freshly sliced deli roast beef… shouldn’t feel slimy. How fast can mushrooms turn bad? Fast!

I’m old school as most of you know. At our house, we can feed an Army at any time because of full cabinets, freezer, and fridge.  Other than a bowl of cereal, I don’t think any of my grown children have enough food in the house at any given time to have a good snack – except for the apples, bananas, and grapes – all that healthy stuff. They go to the market when they are ready to cook, get what they need, cook it, eat it, and dispose of it.  No leftovers. No storage. Not much need for plastic containers that burp when you put the lid on.tupperware

So what’s the point? Is that how you manage your seal consumption too?  Buy what you need when you need it? Use it… ship it.  No leftovers?

Or, do you have Tupperware containers in the fridge? …boxes, and bags full of o-rings. Some opened. Some unopened. Is it climate controlled? Not climate controlled? Are they still good?  How do you know?  Here’s the deal, not all o-rings are created equal.  Not all shelf lives are the same. AND, if not properly stored, who knows what effect their environment has had on their performance.

Here are a few rules to live by:

  1. Store in sealed bags, preferably in boxes, and out of sunlight. Ozone can be bad on many elastomers.

  2. Keep in controlled temperatures between 60 and 100 degrees. Too cold, they get hard and can deform. Usually come back when warmed, though. Too hot? Too bad. Overheated elastomers don’t usually recover.

  3. Manage your o-rings batch and lot dates. The SAE has issued the current standard for a shelf life of o-ring elastomers – ARP 5316. For a complete listing you can check out our website.

Keep in mind, again, not all o-rings are created equal. Good manufacturers have recommendations for their compounds based on the recipes that go into those compounds. SAE’s ARP 5316  is a generic standard.

Here’s what I have found from four different suppliers when it comes to shelf life… DO NOT FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES!

  • EPDM: from 10 years to unlimited
  • NBR: 5 years to 15 years
  • FKM: 15 years to unlimited

That much variance, really? Know the shelf life of the material you are using. These variances are because of what is really in some of those seals.

Don’t rely on that container in the back of the fridge to be good. Store parts properly and know your shelf life.


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

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Brrrr… It’s Hot!

coldI live in Iowa – and proud of that I might add. By our standards, it was hot here last week. 95 degrees, sweltering humidity and I’m told there was a slight breeze. I must have missed that part of the day. That said, six months ago we had temps in the -teens and wind chills in the minus 20’s. Oh, and a breeze that I did feel. Safe to assume, I dressed differently in those two instances. I need a wardrobe to cover both extremes. Clothes for hot days. Clothes for cold days. So what does that have to do with seals?

Over the past couple years of writing these blogs, there has generally been a common theme. Know your application and its impact on the seals you use. Remember? Faster, lighter, stronger, hotter are the new dynamics we are dealing with and how we sealed those fluids and gasses before doesn’t always work in the new environment. Let’s add “Colder” to the mix.
So… how about some good news on that front. In a world of specialization, we have seen some vast improvements in FKM material capabilities. Especially on the low temp end. But not really all that cold. Typically -25F and some specialized materials to -40F. FKM’s have typically been regarded as good high temp dynamic sealing material with good chemical compatibility. But when it comes to cold temperature requirements standard FKM’s don’t fare so well. Ah, but what about GFLT materials? Better for low temp but you’re giving up some of the other physical properties, and they still only go to -40F. Fluorosilicones? Expensive and they don’t offer the full range of physicals (life) you may desire, but you use today because of the temperature ranges. So where’s the good news you say?How about an FKM with posted TR-10 value of -50F and reliability temperature range of -65F to +400F AND retains good compression set numbers – the killer of many elastomers. It exists! Originally developed for jet engines and jet fuel compatibility, this 75 durometer FKM can be used in a wide array of extreme conditions. Oil and gas, aerospace, power generation are just a few of the markets looking at this material for severe applications.
So, apparently one wardrobe for the extreme of temps? I may need to go shopping.

Visit our website to learn more. [Click Here]



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

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I forgot I had that!

So we are two-thirds + through spring and heading into summer. Time to clean out the garage. I did it last year but it sure doesn’t look like it. Whenever I do this it’s always interesting what I find that I long forgot about. I forgot about those pruning shears! Not to mention the items I knew I had but bought another because I couldn’t find it at the time. Just how many bottles of wood cement does one need if he isn’t a craftsman?  I have too many utility knives too. It’s got me to thinking….multilayer2

In previous blogs, I’ve mentioned the challenges of keeping up with the new demands of
your products you design and produce. Faster. Lighter. Hotter. Stronger. Compared to just a few years ago, most industrial and equipment applications have these challenges in front of them. For some of these challenges, as they pertain to what was once simple gasket applications, I have rediscovered in my garage of seal materials a solid performer in Thermoseal’s Multi-Layer gasket sheets.

Are you using beater addition gaskets and gunking them up with silicone beads trying to make up for its shortcomings of poor compressibility performance, air leaks, temperature limitations? Starting to see pressures that the material won’t hold? Are fluids actually starting to wick through the gasket material? We’ve seen renewed interest and success with the multi-layer material line because the outer layers are tough to permeate and prevent leakage between the gasket and flanges while a strong inner core provides strength and stability.
Frankly, this isn’t “new” technology. It’s been in the garage buried with all those other materials. Time to bring it out and put it on the workbench. This stuff works. Check it out.

Thermoseal Multi-Layer Data Sheets


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

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Reliability of Your Seals: No Toast or In Harm’s Way?

Reliability. There are some things in life you just count on and come to expect.toast

Yesterday morning I had toast. I put bread in the toaster, and it toasted – as expected. I got in my car to drive to the office. The car started – as expected.  I put it in reverse and it went backwards – as expected. At the end of the driveway, I applied the brakes. It stopped – as expected.

That was yesterday.

Today? Well, the toaster still made toast. My car, however, didn’t want to stop. The brake master cylinder went out and the car had ideas other than stopping – so much for reliability.  Thank goodness my 10-year-old toaster worked.

But not having toast is one thing. That would be inconvenient.  The brakes on my car?
Well, that could be disastrous.  A whole different level of reliability here.

In the seal business, we count on reliability every day.  We all recognize the need for reliability of a seal in all applications.  A leaky faucet is very annoying. We take it apart and replace a seal, tighten it down as hard as we can (because we assume the tighter it is, the better), and you no longer have a leak… you hope.  It takes a few hours, days or maybe weeks of performance to call it reliable.

How reliable are the seals you use?  What are the ramifications when they start to leak? Does it mean no toast this morning? …or being put in harm’s way?

When talking aboutgoetze application mechanical face seals, reliability is essential.  The applications are
used in some of the most challenging environments:  eating seals and causing significant cost and downtime when they don’t perform.  In the mines, construction sites, oil fields, wherever mechanical face seals are performing, they are expected to – well, perform. Period. More and more options are hitting the markets from unknown sources and the reliability must be questioned. At ESP, we have eliminated the guess work and partnered with one of the most reliable mechanical face seal suppliers in the business.

German produced Goetze Goetze Master Distributormechanical face seals, are engineered to the highest performance and expectations. ESP is proud to be the North American distributor of this highly-engineered product supported with the quality and engineering teams at ESP as well as our partners in Germany.

Please take the time to check out this high-quality product on our website.

Reliability? Two names you can trust. Products you can rely on. Goetze and ESP.


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


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Getting on the Right Bus in a Foreign Land…

My son accepted a new position within his company, which required a move to a new town. It brought him and his family to Cedar Rapids, which just so happened to be where my wife and I live.

He has a 9-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. It’s been fun chasing them all
around town, getting involved in activities you would imagine at that age. But here’s the thing…

This is the first time since starting their family that they moved. New town, new school, new neighbors, and ultimately new friends. We all have been through something like that, right?  All in all, it’s been a smooth transition… except…busline-1257316

My grandson’s school is four miles away. It means taking a bus. No big deal you say?  How long since you were nine years old and having to navigate getting on a bus for the first time – and the right bus, sitting with complete strangers who have been taking this bus for all their school years, and knowing who to sit by, who’s cool, who’s not, older kids, bullies??? … and, when to get off.  His anxiety was off the charts. I didn’t know there could be so many “what if” questions, but a 9-year-old can come up with a lot of them. He was not going to do this! Now his mom and dad did a dry run; taking a drive along the bus route and visiting the school, meeting the teachers etc, but that isn’t the same as having to go it alone. Then suddenly, all is well.  Alex, a friend he met the first day in town, rides the bus too. A good friend. Lives down the street. A familiar face. A known entity. Anxiety left. Life is good.

Has this happened to you?  What about that plan to expand into the global market? How do I make that first shipment to China? How do I get paid?  Who do I buy from in India?  Is it any good?  Can I rely on the services of this state-owned factory? Where is my comfort zone? Where is my friend to take my hand and lead the way?

OK, now I might be getting a bit dramatic but the fact is, multi-national companies spend large sums of money to set up infrastructure, develop alliances, audit suppliers all in trying to dot all the I’s and cross the T’s. …and there is still a learning curve, ramp up issues, surprises… anxiety. And they are the big guys.  What about the rest of us?  We, with limited resources, but competing in the global market and needing to just get it right… a little anxiety?

You just moved to town. You’ve set up shop
and mostly it’s been a smooth transition. ButIndia
then it’s time to get on the bus (buying parts, managing inventory and making the product). There are too many buses to choose from. Too many people (Suppliers,
customers, advisors, officials) and things I don’t know. Anxiety is setting in and I china-top-imageneed… hey, I know you! An old friend at the same bus stop. Ahhhhh.

Whether you are a major multinational competing on the biggest stage or just getting into the arena, ESP International has trained professionals in India and China to help ease some of the anxiety of global manufacturing, sourcing, and engineering. An old friend you trust. A friend you can count on to get you on the right bus. Let’s get on board together.


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

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Seal Failures Don’t Always Have to be Catastrophic

Seal failures don’t always have to be catastrophic. When you think of a seal gone bad, you usually think leaks. Often visible leaks. An oil leak in an engine can blow up an engine if all the oil runs out, engine overheats and poof… lots of smoke and no more engine.

Are you a golfer? Ever see those series of small brown spots in a nice row on a green or fairway where the mower sprung a leak and dripped onto the surface?  This is what I mean by a bad leak but not necessarily catastrophic.  The grass will eventually grow back together but also know that the grounds superintendent, club management, and regular golfers on that course are not going to be happy.

What about the big heavy earth moving equipment?  There are many places on an MAD_spreadexcavator for example that utilize seals.  Engine, hydraulics, connections, filters, they are all over the place, including pivot joints where the bucket and other components move that are supported by bearings. In order to increase the life of the bearings and thus control costs, there are usually excluder seals in the joint to keep stuff out and away from the bearings.  When these seals fail, you usually don’t know it… until it’s too late.  Junk gets into the bearings, the bearings fail and you lose a degree of control because the movement is not as manageable for the operator. Bad bearings can mean more “slop” in the joints.  Not good. Catastrophic?

But, expensive to fix. Downtime to pull apart the joint, pull out the bearings, replace the bearings and put it all back together again.  Protecting this from happening is often an ineffective oring seal that sits in front of the bearing to keep out mud, grime, rock etc. It doesn’t move with the pounding of the unit and is often destroyed. MAD apps

Introducing the patented ESP MAD Seal. It is able to maintain contact with the mating surfaces by “riding” on the chamfer and its tough urethane material holds up to severe contamination. Designs in a solid ring for OEM assembly as well as split options for field replacement. Lab tests have demonstrated a life of up to 50 times longer that an oring in like application.  That might get you through an entire construction season.

A really good seal for a tough application that reduces cost by extending bearing life. Catastrophic? No. Cost effective? Yes. Less down time? Yes.  Happy excavator operator?

Oh, and stay tuned, another style will be released soon!


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

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2 Second Lean Gaining Momentum at ESP

stopwatchThe concept is simple.  “Fix what bugs you”.  Sounds easy, right?  Ask that question to the thousands of organizations each year that try and fail to implement continuous improvement initiatives into their culture, only to find the wasted hours labeled as the “Flavor of the Month” and move on to the latest craze.  At ESP International, however, the concept of “Fix what bugs you” is starting to stick.  It has not only “stuck around”, it is starting to be part of our culture and daily thoughts. “2 Second Lean” is a book based on lean principles written by Paul Akers.  Akers is the president and founder of a small manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest called Fastcap.  Paul has taken lean principles from the TPS (Toyota Production System) and simplified them into a mantra that any company, given the right amount of attention and dedication, can benefit from in terms of efficiencies.   Through training and persistence, Paul has created a team of employees that spend time each day removing the “8 Deadly Wastes” from process and procedures.  By doing this, they free up time and resources and make each day better than the last.

Jeff Albright, President of ESP, introduced the concept of 2 Second Lean to ESP employees a few years back. Like many newly-introduced concepts, there was difficulty in getting it accepted as a regular practice.  “I don’t have time”, or, “I can’t make this any easier” were common phrases that were heard.   Through training and a regular cadence of monthly walkthroughs in each department, people are starting to not only see the 8 Wastes, they are working to eliminate them!  Since May of 2015, employees have implemented 105 “2 Second Lean” events!

What’s the big deal?  2 Seconds doesn’t seem like that much of a savings in time and efficiency.  Think about this.  If each event saves someone a minimum of “2 Seconds” (some have saved minutes) in a step or procedure that is performed repeatedly, AND If that step or procedure is performed by multiple people each day, we are saving hundreds of hours that can be spent on true value add for our customers. Both internal and external.  Also, consider that if 2 Second Lean is a permanent mindset and part of our ESP culture, we will continue to get better at what we do.




DJ Rodman is the Manger of Organizational Development at ESP. He has over five years of experience as the key player in ESP’s continuous improvement initiatives. Including systems, procedures and product training. You can learn more about Esp International at www.espint.com




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