When constructing a performance engine, it can often be a challenge to track down all of the necessary gaskets to ensure a complete seal, as often there can be running engineering revisions in engine components throughout the years. Thankfully, the folks over at Fel-Pro have made the job simple with dedicated Performance Full Sets of engine gaskets. These kits offer the end-user the opportunity to find the exact parts that are required to seal up a complete engine.
“Essentially, everything we have in the Fel-Pro product line that’s the upper-echelon part goes into this kit,” says Fel-Pro’s Ron Rotunno. “Head gaskets, rubber/steel one-piece oil pan gasket, front and rear crank seals, and more. The whole idea is that if you never want to see any leaks, this is the turnkey solution, and the best of everything we have to offer.”
The kit is chock-full of each gasket piece needed to assemble a complete small-block Ford engine. A number of water pump gaskets are included to cover each design revision for both standard and reverse-rotation pumps.
EngineLabsis assembling a 428ci small-block Ford Windsor project engine based around a Dart SHP engine block with a 4.125-inch bore. Eagle Specialty Products supplied a forged 4.000-inch stroke crankshaft and H-Beam connecting rods to help achieve the displacement. An ATI Performance Products Super Damper quells engine harmonics.
Left - There's a slight gap between the head gasket's edge and the manifold rail on the Dart engine block for this project. Right - A dab of gasket sealer helps to seal up that spot.
Edelbrock’s Super Victor intake manifold feeds the cylinder head runners with fuel dispensed by a Quick Fuel Technology carburetor. A direct-port nitrous system from Nitrous Express helps to boost horsepower.
The valve cover gaskets in this kit are comprised of rubber with a steel core and are re-usable.
Oiling is handled by a complete setup from Moroso, and ARP and ProForm have supplied the engine fasteners and other miscellaneous items in the build. Ignition is provided by MSD.
The engine will initially be used as a dyno testbed for a number of camshaft profiles and Crane’s new hydraulic roller lifters; then it goes into a ’65 Mustang for street duty and show cruising.
With the hard parts specified, it was time to turn to engine machining and assembly. In the interest of simplifying the process, the Fel-Pro catalog quickly provided the correct part number — 2816 — for the intended application. The kit comes with a pair of multi-layer steel (MLS) head gaskets, performance intake manifold gaskets, exhaust manifold gaskets, and oil pan gasket, water pump gasket, and every other item needed to take an engine from a pile of parts to a completely-sealed, ready-to-run powerplant. Although this project is based on a Ford, Fel-Pro gasket kits are available for numerous applications for a variety of marques in the performance-engine market.
Fel-Pro’s multi-layer steel PermaTorqueMLS gaskets have a .041-inch compressed thickness. They are designed to maintain contact pressure between the cylinder head and engine block when things get hairy – i.e., when the nitrous comes on full-bore.
“Head gaskets need to seal the combustion, seal high pressure oil, oil pressure drainback, and coolant. With higher-horsepower engines, you get a lot of cylinder head lift, and when the cylinder is under power it wants to pull the head right off the deck. These are 4-layer hard stainless-steel material gaskets that have embossments in them, and the embossments are what actually seal the application. When the head tries to lift, the gaskets will follow the motion of the head and maintain the surface pressure and contact pressure in those areas to seal the combustion,” says Rotunno.
A seal installer was used to tap the new crankshaft seal into place. Alternatively, a block of wood can be used, but take care not to damage the inner seal where it rides on the crankshaft. There were two seals provided in the kit - choose the correct one for the cover being installed.
To seal up perfectly with the Victor Jr. cylinder heads used in this application, the kit offered a set of Fel-Pro 1250 intake manifold gaskets inside. The Print-O-Seal intake gaskets have a 2.00-inch x 1.200-inch opening and are .060-inch thick. There are beads of elastomer material around each port opening along with the water jacket for extra sealing ability and are made from a non-porous material that resists gasoline and alcohol penetration to remain sealed.
Left - Fel-Pro's Print-o-seal intake manifold gaskets fit the ports on our Edelbrock perfectly. Silicone was used around the water jacket areas to stick the gasket to the cylinder head to prevent movement during manifold installation. Right - Exhaust gaskets are graphite over a layer of steel and are designed to handle the high heat on that side of the cylinder head.
Exhaust gaskets are part number 1415, which feature a steel core laminate and 1.25-inch x 1.48-inch ports. The high-density fiber material provides heat resistance when coupled with the steel core, and they are pre-coated for easy removal. The high-temperature material resists blowout and does not require any type of sealant.
The one-piece oil pan gasket is designed to seal against leakage and provide proper clamping with the use of the built-in compression limiters.
“The valve cover gaskets and the one-piece oil-pan gasket are both constructed of silicone rubber with a steel insert that also has compression limiters built in so you can’t over-tighten them. The design offers a nice combination of heat resistance, fluid resistance, and compression set,” Rotunno explains. “You can adjust the rocker arms and just wipe off the gasket and re-use it. There are also multiple sealing beads. The idea there is that if the flange surface on the valve cover or oil pan isn’t perfect, the gasket will still catch the oil. It’s a way to make them foolproof for our customers.”
Left - The front cover gasket left some unsightly material exposed upon mockup in this application. A ball-peen hammer was used to make an impression of the cover's dimensions in the gasket. Right - After the imprint was made in the gasket, the excess material was trimmed away for a neat and clean installation.
“We work with guys like Billy Glidden who are making a ton of horsepower with these small-block engines to do development work,” adds Rotunno. “We even have a 5-layer gasket that has that much more of a spring in it to follow the cylinder head and keep the engine sealed. We’ll also do a head lift test to determine where the head lifts the most, so that when we go to design a part for the application, we make sure to accommodate for some of that. One of the critical things about using a multi-layer steel head gasket is the finish on the head and deck surface – we recommend having a surface finish of 60Ra or better.”