Rope Seals

Lookin for some advise replaceing a rope seal on a 40s vintage air compressor.

Shaft dia is 1.375" and outside dia of rope lip is 1.75"

Would backfilling with epoxy or similar work to hold a modern seal?

Are there accepted metods for refitting new seals or is rope seal stial available?

The origonal seal is gone...not sure where as I've had this compressor for many years, so I have idea how long or what type it was.

Bearing is a long bronze bushing an seems ok ...not excessively loose or seriously scored...

any advise would be appreciated...


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Graphite string packing? Look up "Garlock"

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Brian Lawson

Ford 105E - 120E motors used rope seals on the rear crankshaft seal, You could ask at a Ford dealer. Or at a race shop that deals with Formula Ford type stuff.

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It looks like a fabric seal and can be cut to length, and is easily formable. It's about 1/4" wide and 3/8" tall, squareish in cross-section.


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Here in UK it's called Gland Packing or Pump Packing, possibly even valve packing. Try a Google search on those or a gasket supplier.


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John Manders

On one of my trips to Boeing Surplus I picked up a reel of teflon impregnated "rope" of some sort. Supposedly good fro high temps and chemical resistance. I used a bit of this to repair the propeller stuffing box in a friend's elderly boat. Worked beautifully.

If you're interested, I'll see if there's a maker's name on it.


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Ted Edwards

Is your rope seal laid into a groove on a bearing cap/journal, or is it installed into a well-like area around the shaft with an adjustable take-up device? They are done in at least these two ways. In a well-type situation, the first ring in the series is usually a steel ring called a lantern ring, with tapped holes for removal from the packing well. The multiple layers of rope packing are next, bias cut on the ends to provide overlap sealing, joints purposely not aligned, and can be packed in layers as much as 16" deep in some large scale cases. A flanged compression type packing gland ring is last, having two or more bolts or studs to provide take up as needed to prevent leakage, and is adjusted only enough to prevent leaks and heat buildup. Packing comes in several varieties, sometimes Teflon or graphite impregnated for lubrication. The groove type rope seal is simply packed into a groove on a bearing cap and journal, and stands proud of the surface in the uninstalled mode. Compression and sealing is provided upon tightening of the assembly. Some older Ford crankshafts used this system. I still have a little packing around if you know what and how much you need. Sounds like you need 3/16 to maybe 1/4 inch cross section. Some is round, some is square.


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can you machine new parts or otherwise modify your parts to use a more modern seal?

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