Hose clamps are ubiquitous in plumbing, and clamping a hose to a fitting tightly is critical in any plumbing system. Traditional hose clamps work great, but they can be bulky, and they don't work well around irregular shapes. Using stainless steel lockwire (also called safety wire) and a tool called a Clamp Tite, a custom clamp can be fabricated quickly and easily.
Using this pocket-sized tool with lockwire, lots of types of connections can be fabricated, not just pipe clamps. This instructable will illustrate a simple example for fabricating an easy pipe clamp for a rain barrel.
Step 1: Problem?
When collecting parts for a rain barrel, I neglected to test the fit of the outflow hose on the fitting. The hose barb end of the fitting was 1" but the hose was 1-1/4" inch. The fitting is not under pressure, so some sealant could have served to attach the hose to the fitting, but I wanted something more positive.
Step 2: Solution! Components
The Clamp Tite tool uses the properties of lockwire to create a clean, custom-fit fastener. The tool draws wire tight around the fitting, then folds the wire over itself to lock the clamp in place. The clamp is weather-resistant and low-profile.
Stainless steel lockwire is used in the manufacturing industry and in racing to create fastenings that will not vibrate loose, and to provide quick visual inspection that work has been completed. It is a great resource that has uses in many applications.
Lockwire can be found from lots of sources, and if it is to be used in industry, make sure it meets industry quality and safety specifications. If you're using it outside of regulated areas, look for decent quality and price. This is the niche Harbor Freight owns. A 1-pound spool of 1mm (0.041") stainless steel wire will cost about $7.50, which is far cheaper than almost any other source I've found. The least expensive Clamp Tite tool retails for about $30, but it can be sourced more cheaply from Lee Valley and other tool sources. There are more expensive versions for serious applications, but this model is easily used with bare hands and light-gauge wire.
For the purpose of a hose clamp, measure and cut wire twice the circumference of the area to be clamped, plus 12 inches to attach the wire to the tool and tighten.
Step 3: Position the Wire
Bend the wire in half, place the wire around the area to be clamped and pass the ends through the loop.
Step 4: Attach the Tool
Start with the wing nut at the end of the threaded rod inside the tool.
Attach the Clamp Tite tool as shown in the image. Make sure the wire passes over the pins at the tip of the tool, and that the end of the loop is in the notch on the end of the tool.
Loop the wire around the rear pins and twist the wire ends on top of the body of the tool.
Step 5: Tighten the Clamp
Twist the wing nut clockwise to draw the threaded rod out of the body of the tool, moving the rear pins away from the tip of the tool.
Continue to tighten until the clamped area has sufficient tension.
Fold the tool over the clamped region to lock the wire ends over the loop. This locks the joint.
Step 6: Trim the Ends
Loosen the wing nut and slide the body of the tool back from the clamp.
Snip off the wire with wire cutters to create small ends about 1/2" long.
Step 7: Dress the Joint
With the tool removed, use wire cutters to press the wire ends down in between the wires to bury the ends in the joint.
Rotate the hose so the joint is hidden behind the fitting.
The clamp is now complete!
Step 8: Examples of Other Uses
- The truck had a rattle underneath, which turned out to be a loose heat shield on the catalytic converter. A length of wire and several turns of the screw later, no more rattle.
- The bamboo tiki torches in the garden were showing their age, but the oil canisters were still fine. Some new bamboo and a couple of clamps made for good-as-new torches at whatever height I wanted.
- One of the cross dowels on the laundry rack broke in a long, diagonal splintered fracture. Instead of having to replace the dowel, I used some wood glue a couple of wire clamps, made sure the joint was facing down and dressed nicely so as not to catch on hanging clothing, and the rack was back in action in less than 10 minutes.