SEMA 2018: Total Seal Takes Piston Ring Technology To The Next Level

Total Seal has long been the gold standard of piston rings. To achieve and maintain that position, it’s constantly doing R&D on the latest and greatest piston ring designs, and revamping both its ring designs and manufacturing technology. After all, what good is the latest design if you can’t get it off the drawing board?

This year at SEMA, the hot new trend seemed to be ring coatings, specifically on the top ring in the pack. Total Seal’s Kevin Studaker walked us through the composition and construction of a typical late model Advanced Profiling ring pack.

“The AP set will come with a 440B stainless steel, barrel-faced, positive-twist top ring, with a PVD Chromium Nitride coating,” Studaker explains. The CrN coating is applied through the Physical Vapor Deposition process for increased temperature and wear resistance, while still maintaining precise sizing.

“The second ring in the AP set will be a Napier-faced ring, made from either cast iron or ductile iron,” Studaker continues. “Then, depending on the bore size, it’ll be a 3.0mm oil ring with 10-15 pounds of tension, or a 3/16-inch oil ring with 16-24 pounds of tension. A few of our sets will have a 2.0mm oil ring for even less tension.”

There are so many small factors that go into ring design, which are hard to see with the naked eye. While small in size, Total Seal sinks millions of dollars into equipment and R&D to ensure that those details are perfect.

On the new product side, they also had a new high-performance diesel top ring on display. While “thin” is relative, and 2.0mm isn’t really thin on the gasoline side. On the diesel side, however, a 2.0mm ring is thin. “It’s a diesel-specific design made from high-speed tool steel with the Chromium Nitride PVD coating and comes in sizes from 3.0- to 5.125-inch bore.”

In addition to having a catalog full of different piston and performance applications, Total Seal has the ability to do small runs of custom piston rings. “We’re able to make small runs of say 50 or 60 sets [of rings] with custom bore diameters, custom radial wall and axial thicknesses, and even custom face profiles,” says Studaker. “There’s really not much we can’t do.”

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About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent over a decade in automotive publishing as Senior Editor of Race Pages magazine. In his free time, he is a firearms instructor and volunteer in the police armory.
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