The Old Timer Part 19: Same Valve, Twice the Flow

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Some 5-pored air valves can be plumbed to act like a pair of 3-port valves.

The Old Timer of Royal Oak, Mich., was a regular contributor to H&P years before we ever even heard of the internet. But most of his advice is just as useful — and interesting — today.

So rather than leave his wisdom printed on pages archived in our storage room, I pulled out issues from the late 1980s and early 1990s and have been reproducing relevant entries in this blog. Here is my 19th entry, which was originally published in the July 1989 issue:

Same valve, twice the flow

We had a pneumatic nut runner on trial in the field using a standard 5-port spool valve plumbed as a 3-way valve — not an unusual arrangement. We got an emergency call from the production people there. A product redesign called for a different nut, and the operation with the new nut was too slow.

They calculated that they needed twice the flow to meet the time requirement. However, the existing valve was already flowing near its maximum capacity, and space didn’t allow for a bigger valve. Could we help? Quickly?

We dug out the catalog on the valve and were delighted to learn that it was a multipurpose design — it could accept pressure at any port. This meant it could perform like two 3-way valves in the same body.

We told our field people to install larger supply lines and bring air into ports A and P. Then we told them to tee lines from ports B and EA together, and connect the combined flow to the nut runner.

They did as we suggested, and the valve performed as predicted, putting the nut runner back in business.

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Alan Hitchcox

Alan joined Hydraulics & Pneumatics in 1987 with experience as a technical magazine editor and in industrial sales. He graduated with a BS in engineering technology from Franklin University and...
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