PRI 2014: Fel-Pro’s Gasket Expertise, and Real World Testing Methods

For several years the OEM’s have been using multi-layered steel head gaskets (MLS). Fel-Pro, a division of Federal Mogul, has been producing MLS head gaskets for stock and high performance head gasket replacement for a number of years.

The high performance line utilizes a four layer MLS gasket, we talked to Federal Mogul’s Nick Nelson, about the applications for GM LS engines. The LS engine gaskets are available in wide range of bore sizes ranging from 3.845 all the way up to 4.270-inches. This allows Fel-Pro to provide a head gasket for virtually any popular LS bore size.

“We use an MLS head gasket, not only because it’s the OEM technology, but also because it offers the best head gasket sealing available,” says Nelson. “When you have an MLS head gasket, you have embossed, hardened steel layers that act as a spring. As the head lifts microscopic amounts, that steel offers some additional contact stress. The stopper also bends the head a small amount so it doesn’t lift as much.”

While we traditionally only think of cylinder heads lifting under extremely high stress, like high boost, Nelson says the heads actually move microscopic amounts on each combustion combustion stroke. The MLS head gasket helps the engine maintain that seal.

Fel-Pro also offeres a full line of silicone, molded rubber gaskets for the LS engines. The high temperature silicone is better suited to withstand the high temperatures of modified engines.

Fel-Pro was also showing off their new Ford modular big bore cylinder head gasket. This was designed for the 4.6 or 5.4 engine, 3.73 bore, and good for three-valve and four-valve applications, as well as some two-valve.

Fel-Pro, also makes gaskets for almost every engine out there on the market, including Subaru, and other high performance engines. This includes MLS head gaskets, and molded rubber gaskets.

Fel-Pro Field Test Garage

John Guring

Federal Mogul, the parent company of Fel-Pro, also has an interesting way to test their new products. They use what is called the Fel-Pro Field Test Garage. “The aftermarket engineering team will come up with a product they want to field test. I will find a vehicle, approach a Federal Mogul employee about using their vehicle for the test, and bring that vehicle in,” says Federal Mogul’s John Guring.

Vehicles that come into the field test garage have the test product, plus associated other necessary pieces, replaced. So for example, a head gasket, would also involve a new valve cover gasket, intake manifold gasket, exhaust manifold gasket, etc.

The aftermarket engineering team will come up with a product they want to field test. I will find a vehicle, approach a Federal Mogul employee about using their vehicle for the test, and bring that vehicle in. -John Guring, Federal Mogul

Guring says that everything is inspected and cleaned just like if it were being repaired in a typical automotive shop. The vehicles are then monitored, returning two weeks after repairs for initial inspection, and then every six weeks for inspection. While the car is under Fel-Pro’s test criteria, oil changes and inspections are provided by the company at no cost to the employee, parts that are needed for repairs are the responsibility of the car owner. Safety inspections of tires, breaks, lights, etc, are also part of the process. “We tell the employees to drive the car like they normally would, and we want them to keep putting miles on it.”

The program has been in place for well over three decades at Federal Mogul. “What I love to do is work on cars, and this is a great job for me, I’ve been doing it for 27 years,” says Guring.

Guring says this is a way for Fel-Pro to find out what the average installer should need to complete a job. “Sometimes we find that there might be an extra o-ring, or seal, or something we didn’t think of, that needs to be replaced, so we make those recommendations in how the parts should be sold.”

The test garage is just one of many engineering and quality check tools that Federal Mogul has, and a cool program that many of their employees participate in each year.

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About the author

Don Creason

Don Creason is an automotive journalist with passions that lie from everything classic, all the way to modern muscle. Experienced tech writer, and all around car aficionado, Don's love for both cars and writing makes him the perfect addition to the Power Automedia team of experts.
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