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.”
EngineLabs is 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.
Mahle Motorsports forged pistons are wrapped in Total Seal piston rings, and a set of Edelbrock‘s Victor Jr. cylinder heads sit on top, with Ferrea valves actuated by a complete valvetrain from Crane Cams.
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 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.
“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.
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.
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 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.”
“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.”