Steele Rubber Products Seal Where It Matters Most

Have you EVER been walking around a show field had heard someone say, “Wow! Look at that weatherstripping!” Chances are – no – you haven’t. Let’s face it, when you’re scouring the swap meets or toiling in your garage, striving to make your car catch the eyes of viewers and judges alike, a thin strip of EPDM rubber, a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) mix of plastic and rubber, or a thermoplastic olefin (TPO) polymer/filler blend is the least of your worries.

Granted, fantastic paint and shiny chrome will certainly have the most eye-catching value. But, in those times when you’re driving home from the show and get caught in a torrential storm, all the glistening surfaces in the world won’t keep you dry and comfortable. That is where the proper, high-quality weatherstrip will be worth its weight in gold.

Lynn Steele began molding rubber weatherstrip for the 1931 Cadillac he was restoring while working as a tool and die maker. The two crafts formed into Steele Rubber Products.

Steele Rubber Products has been manufacturing weatherstrip for cars since the mid-60s, when the company’s founder Lynn Steele, a tool and die maker by trade, made his own molds and rented time on a nearby rubber molding company’s machines to make weatherstrip for the 1931 Cadillac V12 Town Car he was restoring at the time. Like so many companies we enjoy today, Steele Rubber Products was born out of the founder’s need to solve a problem that didn’t have a solution at the time. Steele Rubber has continued addressing the needs of the automotive enthusiast and Steele Rubber Products has over 12,000 parts available for classic cars, trucks, and hotrods.

Steele Rubber keeps a vast library of all the extrusions they manufacture. These then create the custom-fit kits the company offers, or get sold in bulk as its Advanced Profile weatherstrip.

Many of Steele Rubber’s offerings are sold in kit form for factory applications, but did you know that Steele Rubber also manufactures a line of Advanced Profile weatherstrip that is designed for custom applications and can be purchased in bulk? Their Advanced Profile line is engineered to allow proper sealing of surfaces that may not be factory original thanks to customizations or non-factory builds. Steele Rubber’s Advanced Profile is the same stuff as their custom-fit lines but sold in bulk to allow the quality of an OEM application with the custom-fit of so many hot rods and customs.

Not only has the show trailer increased in size since Lynn Steele started making his own weatherstrip, but also the number of applications that Steele Rubber helps seal has grown to over 12,000 different products. With their Advanced Profile line of weatherstrip, the list of applications is endless.

Steele Rubber uses a rubber extruding process that forms the weatherstrip into a pliable, formed shape rather than a solid chunk of material. This greatly allows for variance in the depth of the material to better fit the gap surfaces between the two components. Various profiles are available, and in many cases, in various thicknesses, to allow for custom-fitting to any particular opening.

One of the best ways to get an idea of how much space is between two components is using the Silly Putty method. Once complete, you can easily use calipers to find the exact measurement so you can order the right weatherstrip.

One of the benefits of using one of Steele Rubber’s custom-fit applications is that all of the curves and joints are already molded into the weatherstrip. Steele Rubber understands the weatherstrip-making business and instead of leaving their customers to their own devices after the sale, Steele Rubber has loaded their YouTube Channel and their company blog with numerous solutions and techniques to help their customers get the most out of the upgrade.

Whether removing old weatherstrip or custom-sizing for new weatherstrip, Steele gives you the tools by sharing their decades of knowledge. There is even a blog post about the Top 7 Mistakes People Make When Installing Weatherstrip. A great way to know whether your weatherstrip is sealing properly is to use the “dollar bill test.” Simply put, you close the greenback into the sealing surface, and if it pulls out easily, you know that the weatherstrip is not sealing properly and air, water, or wind noise could enter the seal. If the dollar bill stays put, you’ve got a good seal. Simple, but effective.

A dollar bill will tell you if the weatherstrip is doing its job properly. Closing the door or trunk on the bill and then trying to remove the bill will tell you if there's a gap between the weatherstrip and the surface or if the weatherstrip is seating properly.

Another tidbit of intellectual goodness is called the “silly putty fitment.” Using a pair of calipers in between a door or trunk gap isn’t really possible, but that amazing goo easily conforms to your car’s door jamb! After you’ve grown tired of transferring newspaper ink with the stuff, you can plop a bead of it into the car’s jamb area and close the door, trunk, or body panel. When you open it back up, the silly putty will hold the dimensions of the jamb and you can then use your dial or digital calipers with impunity! As an added bonus, the silly putty can illustrate any compound curves within the jamb to ensure you get the best seal possible.

Steele Rubber offers various weatherstrip with self-adhesive or requiring adhesive. Either way has been used to great effect and some enthusiasts may prefer one over the other. The main thing is to properly prepare the surface before attaching the weatherstrip. Steele Rubber has a blog that highlights some of the common do's and don'ts of the process.

Whether you are doing a restoration using 100% OEM components or building a one-off custom application, chances are good that Steele Rubber Products has a product that will not only keep you dry, but also keep out wind noise, reduce rattles, and make driving your creation a whole lot more enjoyable. If they don’t have a custom-fit weatherstrip for your application, they’ve given you the materials and knowledge to create a properly-sealing weatherstrip from their vast line of Advanced Profile extruded weatherstripping. While it may not be as noticeable on the show field as bright paint or shiny chrome, you’ll be all smiles for every mile you put on your ride, whether it’s raining or not.

Article Sources

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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