Total Seal – Shop Tour

Take a Tour of Total Seal

Piston rings seem like a simple part of an engine right? A round piece of steel that wraps around a piston to help form a seal in the cylinder. Nothing to it and probably easy to make right?

Would you have ever guessed that it takes 25,000 square-feet to design, test and manufacture piston rings? Total Seal continues to push the technology forward and is planning on expanding even more!

Wrong – at least when it comes to making the best performance and racing piston rings available.

Total Seal Piston Rings has been studying the science and metallurgy of piston rings for over 45 years and when you see their 25,000 square-feet shop in northern Phoenix, you quickly learn that there’s a lot more to ring manufacturing than you ever would have thought.

Ring material, the overall form, flatness, clearance and surface finish are all areas that need to be closely considered and are something that the Total Seal team takes quite seriously. Their facility is packed with precision CNC-equipment, patented machinery and processes, and quality assurance procedures that reach down into minute tolerances that would make Ant Man envious.

Together, Total Seal produces piston rings for engines ranging from stock rebuilds to the upper echelon of motorsports including NHRA pro stock, NASACAR, FI and more. They’re able to build custom rings for rare and unique applications and when it comes to recommending ring packs for your engine, their experienced techs can help guide you to the best application, but be ready for a lot of detailed questions.

We were able to get a tour of the Total Seal facility and walked away amazed at their capabilities and technology. Take a look.

Spools of proprietary steel and alloys line the production area where they are formed and finished into the thousands of piston ring applications that Total Seal offers.

The steel is pulled through from the spool and into a CNC cam coiler. This precision specialty machine takes the straight metal and forms it into 360°. The machine can form the material every 0.5° and is adjustable to control the free gap and tension for different applications. Talk about fine-tuning!

Precision lathes and craftsman such as Tuan, machine the inside bezels, gapless rings and other minute forms that a true performance ring requires. It’s the attention to details that make all the difference inside a cylinder.

A number of CNC machines are used during production as well. In this application, gas ports are being machined and deburred into a Total Seal top ring.

This is as close as Total Seal would let us get to their patented lapping process. This proprietary operation takes place in several stages, depending on the desired finish. The process, as well as the machinery, were developed by Total Seal with the goal of tighter tolerances with the best finish. As an example, their new Diamond Finish Series, has an axial tolerance of +/-.000050” with a surface roughness <4 microinches – the flattest, tightest rings available anywhere.

How would you like to sit in a cool, dark room all day? Actually, in the Phoenix summers this is the place to be. The unique dark room light-tight inspection tests the circular seal of every ring. The ring is placed in a “cylinder” secured and lit from behind. The technician inspects for any bit of light to come through from around the edges. If there’s light, the ring fails the test.

We found this Tangential tension gauge in one of the R&D labs at Total Seal. This precision device provides an accurate way to measure the pounds-force required to compress a piston ring to the bore size. Very useful information for engine builders!


Total Seal logo


Total Seal





(800) 874-2753


22642 North 15th Avenue

Phoenix, Arizona 85027

ABOUT Total Seal®

In late 1999 we moved into our new 32,000 square foot facility in Phoenix, Arizona. It houses the latest in research and development equipment, manufacturing machinery and technology focusing on developing and manufacturing piston rings for any and all applications.Our rings continue to show up on the world’s fastest, from NASCAR and IndyCar, from marine to drag racing, oval track to off road – nobody builds piston rings that seal better than Total Seal.