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How to Install a Rope Seal Correctly


We have used our rubber seals with very good results but there are many that want to use the rope seal. All Buick's came from the factory with rope seals on both ends of the crank but installing them has become a lost art. I want to correct the myths about how they are to be installed starting with the rear mail seal. Make sure you have a very old NOS rope or a new one, the ones made in the 80's and even 90's were crap, they took the asbestos out and made them from an inferior material that literally fell apart in less than a year. It was during that time around 1982 that I pioneered the rubber seal so it could be changed in the car without pulling the engine. The correct way to install the rope seal is with the engine out and crank removed, make sure the crank surface where the seal rides is smooth, without pits and gouges. Take the rope seal and lay it on the work bench, it should have two flat sides, while holding the flat side down bend to a U shape, tap lightly with a small hammer so it lays flat, fit it into the seal groove in the block, it should fit all the way down into the groove. Now take your hammer handle and roll the seal in, start in the middle, sliding the smooth hammer handle, working the seal in and shaping it for the crank. You can even set your crank in and push it down into the seal to make sure it fits. Now with a razor blade cut the rope off flush, cutting the rope starting from the inside straight and level with the block surface, now install the rope in the bearing cap the same way.. DO NOT LEAVE THE ROPE ENDS STICKING UP! I don't know who has been telling people to do this but I have heard that dozens of times from customers and we have taken many leaking engines apart like this, not only will it leak oil because the bearing cap is not going down all the way but also the rear main bearing will wear out from being cocked. Now install the crank and main caps, DO NOT PUT SILICONE SEALER BETWEEN THE CAP AND BLOCK! Silicone is an excellent sealer but don't use it there, it will increase your bearing clearance. Now you have torqued the caps down, the last part of this job we use black silicone sealer to seal the sides of the cap, put a 1/4" shot in the side seal hole. Coat the side seal with lightly with the black silicone and tap it into the hole, it will act like a piston and sealant will weep out of the sides slightly, sealing every possible place for oil to leak out.. Now the front seal, I know the factory manual tells you to remove the rope seal retainer but DON'T, I have found that if you leave it in, and work the seal like we do with the rear main seal it works much better. Flatten the seal lightly with a the hammer, start with the end at the top, work it into the grove with a hammer or screw driver handle when you get most of it in cut the rope seal about a 1/2" longer that you think it should be and keep working it in.. Now, the last part, very important, before installing the timing cover, put oil on the seal surface of your damper and carefully work it into the seal, pushing it down, rotating and wiggling it a little, ok, now the cover is ready to install. DO NOT forget to tighten that damper with a TORQUE WENCH TO 220 lbs. NOT an impact gun! FYI some newer rope seals can't be cut with a razor blade because they are made from Kevlar, I prefer not using them.

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