I have been interested in old cars since childhood. I had a neighbor with a 1924 Star Touring made into a truck. I can remember, at the age of 12, sitting on the front seat in the barn pretending to drive. I bought my first car, a Model A, at the age of 15. When I graduated from high school in 1963, I inherited a 1931 Chevrolet which I used to commute to the local community college. By the time I was ready to head off to a four year college, I needed something newer which was a 1948 Nash Ambassador. I really enjoyed that car, but at 70 mph with six college kids coming home for Thanksgiving break, I blew up the motor. The 1931 Chevrolet came out of storage and got me through the rest of college and my first year as a teacher. I still have that car. While attending college, I acquired a 1928 Erskine which was fully restored in 1999 and is an AACA President Cup winner and also a 1924 Studebaker Big 6 which still needs to be restored. Other vehicles that have joined our family include a 1947 Case VAO tractor, a 1931 Twin Coach bakery van, a 1955 Chevrolet wagon and a 1968 Chrysler Imperial.
In the early 1970’s, I purchased close to two hundred head gaskets. Before long I had traded my other swap meet stuff for more gaskets. Because gaskets involve numbers and shapes, it seemed like a good fit for a high school math teacher to pursue. Early on it became apparent that gaskets for certain vehicles, such as, Packard, Pierce Arrow, Oliver, Mack, etc. were next to non-existent, therefore, we started reproducing them. At the same time, we started a hand cutting gasket service. This has set us apart from our competitors and has continued to grow our business in the obsolete market. In the late 1980’s, we recognized a need that existed in the truck and tractor hobby. At that time, we had expanded our inventory to include antique trucks, tractors, industrial engine and stationary engine gaskets. This now accounts for about fifty percent of our business. More recently, we have acquired a market for the gray market tractor gaskets and the 1960’s and 1970’s foreign car gaskets.
Over the years, the “Gasket” business has continued to grow not only in customers and reputation but also in inventory. In 1989, we purchased the inventory of “Gasket King” which included 9,238 head gaskets, all 1950 and older. This was the end of the Fitzgerald gasket Co. inventory. Since then we have bought all or partial inventories from many dealers including: Gasket City, Rattle Run, Don Williams, Ken Bledso, Egge Machine, Vintage Auto, Easy Jack and many others. In 2009, a few friends and I drove 9300 miles across the country tracking down inventories and attending the major swap meets at Carlisle, Oklahoma and Hershey, Pennsylvania. Over the years, “NOS” or new old stock has started drying up, however, the future is in “NPC” or new production copper.
In 1992, I gave up my day job as a high school math teacher in order to invest more time in gaskets. Since then we have seen growth in the business every year. We currently have three hand cutting gasket tables, a large warehouse and shop building which are all dedicated to the antique hobby. Due to our current inventory of NOS, NPC, new cork and paper products and the hand cutting service, we are able to say “Yes” to ninety nine percent of all the inquiries. We now have a dealer network and have worked with several national clubs on projects putting gaskets back into production.