How A Gas-Ported Top Piston Ring Can Help Engine Performance

Looking for ways to generate horsepower during an engine build goes beyond displacement and the size of the ports on a cylinder head. Ensuring that everything inside the engine is sealed up correctly will capture every bit of power that’s on the table. Opting for a top piston ring that has been gas-ported will help keep that horsepower from escaping during the combustion process.

Gas-ported piston rings are the answer for racers when a gas-ported piston isn’t legal for the class they compete in. These types of rings can have a positive effect on blow-by inside the cylinder and create an opportunity for more efficient horsepower to be generated. Going to a gas-ported top ring isn’t just for exotic combinations–it can help any engine, from mild to wild.

Keith Jones from Total Seal expands on how a gas-ported top ring will help an engine that is used in a high-performance application.

“It allows increased gas pressure to get behind the ring and force it out on the cylinder wall. As we increase cylinder pressure, that same pressure is trying to push the ring away from the cylinder wall. We’ve got to get that pressure behind the ring and keep it loaded against the wall, and the gas-ported ring helps make that happen.”

Gas-ported rings have begun to find their way into many different engine packages as builders begin to feel more comfortable using them. One particular application that can benefit from a gas-ported top ring is one where a power-adder is in play.

“It is important on power-adder applications to get the increased cylinder pressure developed by that system to quickly get behind the ring, or those pressures will push the ring away from the wall. This causes a loss of ring seal and lubrication as the oil is then pushed back down off the cylinder wall. At that point, it all goes metal to metal, and that never ends well,” Jones explains.

Jones goes further to illustrate how any engine can benefit from a gas-port top ring.

“Certainly anything you can do to improve ring seal is only a positive. There have been a fair amount of small-bore, high-output engines that have had gas ports from the OE–it’s pretty common in motorcycle stuff.”

The development of the gas-ported top ring didn’t happen overnight at Total Seal. To create the best possible product there was a good amount of time and research invested in the design, and Total Seal made sure they worked with customers to develop a ring that worked in real-world conditions.

“We did extensive testing with a select group of customers that we work with on these types of projects. So this is real-world development. We’ve got them in blown shootout style engines, sprint cars, dirt late models, and several other applications. It works very well when combined with our gapless feature. A gas-ported, gapless ring works great,” Jones says.

If you want to learn more about gas-ported top rings for pistons, check out the Total Seal website right here.

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About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. When Brian is not writing, you can find him at the track as a crew chief, doing freelance photography, or beating on his nitrous-fed 2000 Trans Am.
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