Posted: 23 February 2020
Purchasing my first air compressor was a life-changing decision. I have slowly amassed a collection of air tools and couldn’t imagine life without a compressor. The main downside with air tools is hoses requiring regular maintenance. Hoses and connectors used with hand-held tools often fail due to the constant flexing. The connectors are usually comparatively expensive quick connects, and if they are attached to your hose from the factory, are typically crimped or swaged, they cannot be reused. Buying hoses with threaded connectors can save a bit of money on quick connects, but these too will eventually fail. The cheapest solution, at least given my choice of quick connect (ARO), is to buy 1/4" threaded barb fittings and attach these to the ends of hoses myself. These are both cheap and reusable.
Originally, I was searching for a crimping solution which would provide a low-profile secure join, reducing the risk of injury associated with the sharp edges on worm clamps. On the advice of a DIY forum, I was on the verge of purchasing an Oetiker clamp tool, when I stumbled across the ClampTite product. Intrigued, I decided to do further research, eventually purchasing the $US39.95 Deluxe ClampTite. This model is a little more expensive that the Standard ClampTite ($US29.95). Both are significantly cheaper than the Premium ClampTite option ($US69.95). I live in a humid environment, where the Deluxe model made from stainless steel and aluminium is likely to last much longer than one constructed from plated steel. If you live in a humid region or plan on using the ClampTite in a marine environment, stainless steel should be your first choice.
Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re already familiar with the ClampTite and how it works. If not, there are numerous videos on the subject which will do a better job of explaining how it works than a few static images. My review will therefore concentrate on my experiences and address a few common misconceptions or errors in many of the brief product reviews posted on Amazon. As with any tool, the ClampTite does require a bit of practice. It’s not the tool per se, rather it’s manipulating the stainless steel wire that takes practice. Keeping the wire as tight and as straight as possible will assist greatly. I did not use the included wire nut and generally feel this is unnecessary.
I first practiced on hoses for my sandblaster which only carried air or media to the gun (not pressurised), before moving on to garden hoses, a 1" irrigation hose coupler and finally 3/8" and 16mm (~0.6") air hoses (115psi). To date, not a single leak has been observed. It’s important that sufficient wire be left to twist together as per the included instructions. A single short twist isn’t sufficient. Two twists ought to be enough, and they don’t need to be tight, just enough to not come apart with moderate force. Without this extra wire, it will be difficult to secure the clamp. While this does seem wasteful, it is necessary. The small offcuts of the 0.041" (1.04mm) wire I have been using are perfect for hanging many items for powder coating.
Regarding wire, there is a common belief that the ClampTite can work with any size wire, including a coat hanger in a pinch. While there are Commercial and Industrial tools that can handle thicker wire, up to 0.250" in the latter case, the Standard and Deluxe tools are designed for at most 0.051", and the Premium 0.062", significantly less than the thickness of coat hanger wire.
Space around the tool is required to tighten and secure the clamp. This does take some planning, ensuring the direction and positioning of the wire allows for the final tool rotation. Reviews often mention the need for the tool to be flipped 180 degrees, making it difficult to use the tool in a tight space. Fortunately, a secure connection can be obtained with a bend of 90 degrees. The lower figure is stated in some videos from ClampTite, while documentation included with the product indicates 180 degrees. From my experiments with 1mm wire, a little over 90 degrees appears to be sufficient, so don’t worry too much if you need to bend the lock wires up a little one at a time to cut them off, the clamp will remain tight.
While it is claimed the Premium version with the T-bar can handle slightly thicker wire, for 1mm wire I have found the wingnut on the Deluxe model to be more than sufficient. Certainly no need to pay another $US30 for my particular requirements.
The ClampTite tools are not a cheap, especially when considering the high-end models. Despite their cost, I recommend them without hesitation.