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A Giant Leap Forward

How the Tylox SuperSeal Gasket from Hamilton Kent Changed Everything

Picture this. You’re a contractor down in the trench, installing a 36-inch sanitary pipeline alongside a dusty rural road in the heat of summer. Before fitting each pipe together, you must install an o-ring gasket, applying a gooey lubricant to the o-ring to create what you hope will be a watertight connection with no damage to the bell or spigot from the insertion forces needed to slam the two pipes together. Only somehow, that lubricant on the o-ring attracted dirt and recently mowed grass clippings, so you’ve got to struggle to clean the joint and then equalize it before you can move on. Assembling the pipeline is a long slog if you want to make sure the joints are watertight.

That was a common scenario in the pipeline installation world until the mid 1990s. That’s when Hamilton Kent introduced the Tylox SuperSeal gasket for concrete pipe and box culvert. It changed everything. While o-rings, butyl sealants and joint wraps are still used in some situations in some parts of North America, the Tylox SuperSeal represented a giant leap forward in the evolution of the industry, going hand-in-hand with labor-saving automation and sustainable, long-lasting infrastructure for the 21st Century.

With its revolutionary internal lubrication inside of a rolling tube, the SuperSeal made creating watertight connections much simpler. Installation was now quick, easy and nearly foolproof. Contractors did not need to develop any special expertise in lubing the joint and equalizing the gasket after the connection. SuperSeal significantly speeded installation and improved watertightness of stormwater and wastewater pipelines.

Randy Reimer, Hamilton Kent director of sales and marketing, said the gasket solved four main issues for contractors:

  • The SuperSeal is pre-lubricated, with the lubricant encased inside a rolling tube. So the gasket is dry to the touch on the outside. When the gasket touches the ground, it’s not covered with lubricant so it doesn’t pick up any debris.
  • The rolling tube significantly decreases the insertion force needed to join the pipes and eliminates the need to equalize the gasket, saving time and labor.
  • The faster, cleaner connection and decreased insertion force reduces breakage and joint failures in the field.
  • Safety is improved because workers do not need to climb a ladder to lube a large pipe or stand underneath a heavy piece of precast suspended on a crane by a chain.

Sounds almost too good to be true, and at first, contractors were skeptical. Would it work? Hamilton Kent’s technical team wanted independent verification of the viability of the SuperSeal process, so they enlisted the University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering for testing and Waterloo Concrete Products (now Rinker) as the test site.

The resulting 1996 report confirmed that the SuperSeal gasket would not only meet the 13 psi standard for hydrostatic testing, it would enable more uniform stress distribution than the standard o-ring gasket and would meet all ASTM and CSA standards.

“Contractors were using o-ring gaskets and sealants and they didn’t understand how the SuperSeal gasket would meet specifications,” Reimer said. “The resulting research document, which describes the successful test results, became instrumental in gaining acceptance across Canada and throughout the United States.”

The pipe and precast manufacturing experts – the Waterloo Concrete team – believed the SuperSeal would outperform the o-ring and would provide a labor-saving service to their contractors. Over the years, the Hamilton Kent research team continued to enhance the design and expand the product offerings.

“When we started, we had three or four different profiles,” Reimer said. “But there are many different joint designs across North America. Big annular spaces, short steps, long steps, low clearance small annular space joints – there are all kinds of different joint profiles. Now, essentially any single offset joint can accommodate a SuperSeal gasket from Hamilton Kent. We have really tried to bring that to the market to help them improve.” Thirty years and countless successful installations later, the SuperSeal gasket remains the gold standard in coupling with quality pipe and precast components to create watertight, nearly maintenance-free, 100-year-plus infrastructure throughout most of Canada and much of the U.S. Has it made a difference? Just ask that contractor installing pipe down in the trench.

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