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The noob guide to building your own regulator: part numbers, sources, and other tips!

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by Matt F., Jul 9, 2012.

  1. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think this thread is long overdue. What is needed, as I see it, is a one-stop place for all the technical info you'll need to build your own regulator. I'm talking about from regulator to tank. I'm going to give you the low-down on sources for specific components, part numbers, and configurations for various regulator builds--all in one place.

    Just a disclaimer: My way is not the only way to do it. Although I invest a lot in top-quality equipment, there are other ways to do the exact same thing. Look at my example as a template. Take it and run in your own direction or adopt it as your own. Regulator building is a creative process.

    So, let's begin!

    You've already decided to get high quality components ~ Swagelok pipe fittings, a Burkert Solenoid, either a Fabco NV-55-18 or an Ideal Needle Valve. Choosing good components prevents headaches later on down the road. Plus these components look, aesthetically, good together. You won't have weird wires or converters hanging off your rig. Durability is the most important thing next to basic functioning.

    Regulators
    Ebay is a good place to look for used or surplus units if you are trying to save money. Do so at your own risk.
    If you want the peace of mind, buy a new unit with a warranty. Find distributors for the particular brand you are after.

    Model numbers vary by maker. A maker's models can vary, too!
    Here is a catalog for Victor Specialty Regs.: http://victortechnologies.com/corp_pdfs/56-0874%20Victor%20HPI%20Catalog.pdf

    Replacement Gauges
    Email them your model number and which gauge you want to replace. They will be able to order it:
    http://jandrweldingsupply.com/

    CGA 320 Nut/Nipple (sometimes referred to as a Nut and Stem)
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/9964-Where-to-buy-CGA-nuts-nipples-(stems)-and-filters-onliine-for-your-DIY-projects

    For those of you wanting to build the old Matheson Model 8s, you'll need a fine threaded CGA stem (same nut):
    http://www.regulatortorchrepair.com/store.php/products/cga-320ft-nut-and-nipple
    You can also order these from Western Enterprises via Airgas: part number CO-7 (thanks again to S&KGray for the part number)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Burkert Solenoid
    *Any of these will work: Part Numbers: 456786 (brass Viton o-ring), 463939 (stainless Buna-N o-ring), or 463938 (brass Buna-N o-ring), 457157 (stainless Viton o-ring). These are type 6011 solenoids. Both Buna-N and Viton are excellent with CO2 gas and liquid.
    http://www.iprocessmart.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=BU456786X&Category_Code=4024T6011
    https://www.freshwatersystems.com/c-496-solenoid-valves.aspx
    http://www.aquariumplants.com/product_p/sol.htm
    You can request to have the dealers install a power cord (and pay extra), or you can do it yourself. It's easy!
    Here is how:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7783-How-to-wire-a-Burkert-type-6011-solenoid
    If you do it yourself, you'll want an 18/3 gauge power cord. I usually use a standard 6' length.

    Here is how to install the Burkert solenoid correctly. Direction DOES matter: http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7864-Burkert-Solenoids-gas-flow-direction-is-important-in-preventing-leaks

    Swagelok pipe fittings ~ part numbers and configurations (90 degree out and VTS-style)

    There are two major out-port configurations for Victor regulators: 9 o'clock or the 7 o'clock relative to the regulator body. They measure 1/4" npt. Regulators with a 9 o'clock out-port I call a 90 degree (90*) regulator and those with a 7 o'clock out-port I refer to as "VTS style." It just so happens that with the VTS model regulators gas exits at 7 o'clock and the HPT/SGT500 models at 9 o'clock. Why is this important? Well, you need different parts to get the post body (all the components: needle valve, solenoid, and bubble counter) oriented in the right directions.

    So, I'm going to show you the way I configure a VTS type regulator first and a 90* after. After each build, I'm going to provide optional instructions after if you want to run, god forbid, a JBJ bubble counter.

    Pipe Fitting Catalog: http://www.swagelok.com/downloads/WebCatalogs/EN/MS-01-147.PDF

    Step 1: create an online Swagelok account to order and buy direct. Simple process that takes only a few minutes.
    http://www.swagelok.com/?showLogin=N

    Enter part number in "search" area on website for pics and ordering.
    For stainless steel, substitute "SS" for "B"
    (These part numbers are in order from regulator to tube adapter)

    VTS250 series type regulator:
    B-4-HRN-2
    B-2-SE
    (solenoid)
    B-2-HN
    (needle valve)
    B-2C2-1/3 (male threaded check valve)
    B-6MO-7-2 (tube adapter ~ takes place of JBJ bubble counter)
    B-6M5-4M (tube insert)

    For directions on how to use Swagelok Tube Adapters, see here: http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8226-How-to-use-Swagelok-tube-fittings
    *** SEE POST # 18 Before Ordering ***

    B-4-HRN-2
    B-2-SE
    (Solenoid)
    B-2-HN
    (Needle Valve)
    B-2C2-1/3 (male threaded check valve)
    JBJ BUBBLE COUNTER

    Should look like this:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    HPT/BHT/SGT 500 Series Type Regulator (90*):

    SS-4-HLN-2.00
    SS-4-RSE-2
    (solenoid)
    SS-2-ME
    (needle valve)
    SS-2c2-1/3 (male threaded check valve)
    SS-6MO-7-2 (swagelok tube adapter replaces JBJ bubble counter)
    SS-6M5-4M (tube insert)

    Like this:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Optional:
    B-4-HLN-2.00
    B-4-RSE-2
    SOlenoid
    B-2-ME
    Needle/Metering Valve
    B-2-HN
    B-2C2-1/3
    JBJ Bubble Counter

    The same configuration can be used for the GPT/HPT270 Victor models with a 90* output:

    This one has a JBJ bubble counter instead of a Swagelok Tube Adapter:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is my current set-up (a Victor SGT500 with full stainless post body) (notice the Swagelok Tube Adapter instead of a JBJ bubble counter):
    [​IMG]

    When assembling your components, please be mindful of the gas-flow direction and your Burkert solenoid. If you install the solenoid valve backwards, you can cause leaks. Please see here for clarification: http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7864-Burkert-Solenoids-gas-flow-direction-is-important-in-preventing-leaks

    Needle Valves
    1/8" NPT is much stronger than 10-32 fittings.

    Fabco NV-55-18: http://store.fabco-air.com/proddetail.php?prod=NV-55-18

    Ideal Needle Valve:
    Stainless: V54-1-12
    Brass: V52-1-12
    Call Bill Sand to Order over the phone.
    (701) 352-1164
    sales@idealvalve.com

    Here is how to adjust your Ideal Needle Valve and add/remove the handles:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7971-How-to-adjust-your-Ideal-Valve

    It's pretty much common knowledge that JBJ bubble counters have crappy check valves built in them. If the valve fails, whatever contents you have in the bubble counter can flood your regulator and cause damage. A way around this problem is to "86" the JBJ bubble counter all together and go for an external unit.
    personally I like this set-up:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    On the regulator end you have the swagelok tube adapter, which uses a ferrule system to "lock" onto the the pressure resistant 4mm/6mm tube. See this thread for pictures of how it works:http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8226-How-to-use-Swagelok-tube-fittings

    On the other end, you have the following components:
    ADA Gray Parts kit ~ http://www.adana-usa.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76_1_53&products_id=65
    ADA Clear Parts Kit ~ http://www.adana-usa.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76_1_53&products_id=732
    These two kits come with the best check valve I've found to prevent aquarium water from migrating down the tubing. This check valve provides the first layer of defense against regulator flooding. The Swagelok check valve (built in the regulator's post body) provides the second layer of defence...especially when used with a JBJ bubble counter. Here is the ADA bugger, which comes in the parts kit http://www.adana-usa.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76_1_4&products_id=64

    Pressure Resistant Tubing ~ this stuff works well with the Swagelok Tube Adapters! It's 4mm ID / 6mm OD.
    http://www.adana-usa.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76_1_53&products_id=68


    Bubble Counter ~ http://www.adana-usa.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=76_2_15&products_id=7

    To Perma-Seal or not to Perma-Seal?
    Personally I like nylon/plastic type seals between my regulator and the CO2 tank. I've had three "PERMA"-seals break on me, so nylon/plastic it is. You can get them on ebay, at aquariumplants.com, or any number of places.


    More step-by-step how-tos, check the links I listed on Post # 6.
     
    #1 Matt F., Jul 9, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2014
  2. maknwar

    maknwar Lifetime Members
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    good write up. I will add that any regulator that starts with a E12, Y12 or something like that is a dual stage regulator. The E11 or Y11 are single stage. Matt, if you want I can compile a list of non victor regulators that I like and have used to add to the list.
     
  3. David

    David Prolific Poster

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    Great post Matt. Going to come in very handy.
     
  4. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    that sounds great! Also if someone wants to write about swagelok metering valves, that would be great, too. Let's make this thread an all-in-one for folks so they don't have to do an in-depth search. I've gotten tons of PMs regarding issues that this thread is attempting to address. LoL

    I'm still working on the original post. I'll add/edit more later. If you guys want to coontribute, that would be great. Let me know if we need to correct anything, too.
     
  5. bucilini

    bucilini Junior Poster

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    Wau... this is awesome. Thanks Matt. This really needs to be a sticky at the top. As someone who's just beginning diving into the aquatic world, the learning curve is very steep. Just the past couple of days i've been reading constantly about DIY Co2 regulator vs buying one. I happen to have old regulator from a oxygen/acetylene setup i've used in the past. Thank you. This really brings everything into one post and its very helpful.
     
  6. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Here are some of the earlier DIY threads I did. Relisting them just as a reference.

    Here is an updated list of DIY links:

    How to build a VTS253B-320:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7785-How-to-build-a-Victor-VTS253b-320

    How to build a Victor VTS 253A-1993:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7787-How-to-build-a-Victor-VTS253a-1993

    How to wire your own Burkert type 6011 solenoid:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7783-How-to-wire-a-Burkert-type-6011-solenoid

    How to install a CGA 320 on a used Victor HPT 500:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7786-How-to-change-a-CGA-on-a-used-regulator

    How to prep a used Victor HPT270 for a post body kit:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7788-How-to-prep-an-Victor-HPT-270-for-a-post-body

    Why gas flow direction is important when installing a Burkert solenoid:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7864-Burkert-Solenoids-gas-flow-direction-is-important-in-preventing-leaks

    How to build a Victor SGT 500: (90* output regulator)
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7879-How-to-build-a-Victor-SGT-500-Regulator
    Happy reading.

    How to adjust your Ideal Valve:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/7971-How-to-adjust-your-Ideal-Valve

    How to use Swagelok Tube Fittings:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8226-How-to-use-Swagelok-tube-fittings

    DSR: Total Conversion From JBJ BUbble Counter to Swagelok Tube Adapter:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8227-DSR-Total-Conversion-from-JBJ-bubble-counter-to-Swagelok-Tube-Fitting

    Gerryd's DSR Build:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8190-Gerryd-s-regulator-build-thread

    Swagelok part numbers for two regulator configurations (regulator to tube adaper):
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8332-Basic-Swagelok-Parts-needed-for-90*-and-VTS-Builds?p=62668#post62668

    How to build an SGT 500 (2):
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8516-How-to-Build-an-SGT-500-(2)?p=64375#post64375

    Rainydazs' regulator build (GPT270):
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8538-rainydazs-s-Regulator-Build

    Samuel's VTS252D-350 Build:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8595-Samuel-s-VTS252D-350-Build?p=65021#post65021

    My two SGT500s:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8632-My-two-SGT500s-(thanks-to-Left-C)

    Regulator Body Thickness?
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8671-Regulator-Body-Thickness?p=65564#post65564

    Conversion from Swagelok tube adapter SS-6M0-1-2 (male) to SS-6M0-7-2 (female):
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/9103-Conversion-from-Swagelok-SS-6M0-1-2-(male-NPT)-to-SS-6M0-7-2-(female-NPT)?p=72227#post72227

    Where to buy CGA NUTS NIPPLES AND FILTERS for your DIY project:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/9964-Where-to-buy-CGA-nuts-nipples-(stems)-and-filters-onliine-for-your-DIY-projects

    Swagelok's online pipe fitting catalog with pictures!
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/9867-DIYers-Swagelok-s-Pipe-Fitting-Catalog?p=80678#post80678

    Swagelok's Metering Valve catalog:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/13315-Swagelok-Metering-Valves

    Updated tube adapters on my SGT500s:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/9103-Conversion-from-Swagelok-SS-6M0-1-2-(male-NPT)-to-SS-6M0-7-2-(female-NPT)?p=72227#post72227

    Jiinx Regulator Build: Victor VTS250 Series:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/10305-Jiinx-Regulator-Build-Thread-VTS250-series-brass-regulator

    Camilo Castro Alvarado's Build:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/12560-6-output-regulator-build

    I'm building high-end regulators with factory ordered components:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/12641-I-m-building-high-regulators-with-brand-new-factory-ordered-components

    Build with new MINI Victor Dual Stage Regulator ~ the HPT100
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/12914-Introducing-the-HPT100-Victor-s-Mini-Dual-Stage-Regulator

    Part Numbers for Replacement Ferrules and Tube Inserts for Swagelok Tube Adapters:
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/12928-Swagelok-Tube-Adapaters-Part-Numbers-for-Replacement-Ferrules-and-Tubing-Inserts

    Swagelok sells tubing and hose by the foot!
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/12929-Swagelok-is-another-option-for-PFA-or-Vinyl-Tubing

    Parts and Service Bulletin for the Victor HPT500, see the internals here:
    http://victortechnologies.com/IM_Uploads/DocLib_2350_56-1315%20%20HPT%20500%20Series%20High%20Purity%20Regulator.pdf

    Victor's Specialty Equipment Catalog (how to order HPT500s, SGT500s, and HPT270s from the factory):
    http://victortechnologies.com/corp_pdfs/56-0874%20Victor%20HPI%20Catalog.pdf
     
    #6 Matt F., Jul 9, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2014
  7. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    DUAL STAGE REGULATOR or SINGLE STAGE: the debate continues

    I wanted to address what seems like heated topic on most forums. whenever someone talks about buying a new regulator, you hear shouts from two camps. One will tell you that single stage regulators (SSRs) are fine and others say that dual stage regulators (DSRs) are better because they prevent EOTD (End Of Tank Dump), which is characterized by both the droop effect and the supply pressure effect.

    For a well written discussion on the basic differences between dual and single stage regulators, please read through the first page (at least of LeftC's monster thread--the one that started it all!):
    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/6470-Dual-Stage-Regulators

    A majority of us start out with single stage regulators because that's what's commercially available, and most of us don't have a problem. I mean leaks and solenoid failures are much more common that killing your fish and shrimp with an EOTD. I started out with a Milwaukee MA957A (I think that was the model), and it was still working the day I sold it. I think our own Tom Barr has used Victor Single Stages for a long time without issue.

    Thje question in my mind is how much of a problem is the droop and/or supply pressure effect for aquarists, and is this problem exacerbated by... cheap parts, inconsistent workmanship, or a single stage design?

    to be continued tomorrow...
     
    #7 Matt F., Jul 10, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2012
  8. Left C

    Left C Lifetime Members
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    Great writeup, Matt!
     
  9. oldpunk

    oldpunk Guru Class Expert

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    Great job, Matt! I just added this to the guide on tpt. (Right at the top :) )
     
  10. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Thanks for getting this info out. If you guys want to add stuff, too, by all means go for it.
     
  11. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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  12. David

    David Prolific Poster

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    Matt,

    Can you suggest an online source for the non-hardening thread sealer that you use?

    I have woes about using teflon tape now, especially after seeing the inlet port of the high pressure gauge on Jiinx's rig lol.
     
  13. oldpunk

    oldpunk Guru Class Expert

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    That's what happens when someone doesn't know what they're doing. Teflon tape on high pressure fittings is a 'must'. (unless you want to glue/epoxy your fittings)

    When using tape, you must be careful not to get it on the ends of the the threads. The threads will cut it off and you can see what happens next. Also, when redoing fittings, you need to take great care in making sure you've done an good job cleaning out the ports/fittings.

    Edit:

    Matt, have you tried any of the Swagelok sealants?
     
    #13 oldpunk, Jul 24, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2012
  14. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    I agree. Telfon tape on all high pressure joints and also on stainless steel components to protect the threads.
    The ARP stuff I have used is actually an automotive brand that specializes in high quality and strength bolts, nuts, etc.
    I think I got mine at summitracing.com back when I was into Mustangs in a big way.
    LeftC uses Oatey brand, which is good. You can do a google search or check at your local ace hardware.

    I've tried using ARP thread sealer with teflon on a high pressure port before, and I sprung a gas leak. Took the part off, cleaned off the threads with a toothbrush, and used teflon tape. Problem solved. This was on my brand new SGT500. That's the only reason why I suggest teflon tape on high pressure joints/ports.

    Oateys or ARP teflon thread sealer is good for low pressure parts (basically the post body).

    Haven't tried swagelok sealants. Still have most of that old tube of the ARP stuff.


     
    #14 Matt F., Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2012
  15. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Here is where I got my ARP teflon thread sealer:
    http://www.summitracing.com/parts/ARP-100-9904/

    Oateys is equally as good and probably cheaper, so check around before you order it from the link above. Remember you also have to pay rediculous UPS shipping if you buy from summitracing.com.

    Help out a local mom and pops hardware store. They will have Oateys in stock.

    remember, don't use this on high pressure joints or any joint that connects to the regulator body. Use teflon tape for high pressure stuff. And please use teflon tape on on ALL Stainless steel components to protect your threads--especially your stainless steel regulator 1/4" npt ports. In most cases, the port threads on stainless steel regulators are not repairable.
     
  16. David

    David Prolific Poster

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    So, what's the best way of ensuring tape isn't cut by the threads and blown into any orifice to which it is applied?

    Should one thread along the bottom of the fitting be free of teflon tape? I find that cutting teflon tape often leads to fibres coming apart with the end not laying flush on the threads.

     
  17. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    The teflon tape should cover the threads of whatever component you are installing. The tape is what creates a leak free seal. Just make sure the teflon tape does not cover the face of the component or obstruct the orifice. I'll do a demo with photos and upload them later tonight.


     
  18. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    For those of you using Swagelok tube adapter (For 4mm/6mm ID/OD tubing), I just wanted to make something clear:

    You will need to buy extra ferrules and tubing inserts for your tube adapter. For pictures on what I am talking about, please refer to this thread (which was also linked in the first post):

    http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php/8226-How-to-use-Swagelok-tube-fittings


    For those of you who know what I am talking about when I say "ferrules" and "inserts," here are the part numbers (from Post# 21 of the linked thread):

    "Here is the response I got from swagelok's tech dept regarding the replacement part numbers for the front and back ferrule and nut for the tube adapters we are using.

    You need to replace these parts everytime you change your tubing. As will all Swagelok Parts (SS) before the part number means stainless steel, and (B) means brass.

    Here is the email (thanks Jason at Norcal Swagelok):

    To: Matt,



    The part #’s for the replacement ferrules are as follows:

    Tubing Inserts for 4mm/6mm Tubing:

    Stainless: SS-6M5-4M (Each)
    Brass: B-6M5-4M (Each)



    These are purchased individually

    SS-6M2-1 (NUT)

    SS-6M3-1 (FRONT FERRULE)

    SS-6M4-1 (BACK FERRULE)



    This is a set purchased in increments of 10

    SS-6M0-SET (FRONT AND BACK FERRULES ON AN ARBOR)


    OR


    This is a set purchased in increments of 5

    SS-6M0-NFSET (NUT, FRONT, AND BACK FERRULE ON AN ARBOR)

    The best pricing is if you are going to buy the sets of 5 or 10 depending on what you need.

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks,
    Jason
     
    #18 Matt F., Jul 27, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2012
  19. David

    David Prolific Poster

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    A question for you Matt (or anyone else with experience for that matter);

    As far as the SS-2C2-1/3 (male threaded check valve) is concerned.....

    How important is it to have a crack pressure of 1/3psig? This item appears to be a factory special from Swagelok and retails around $100 with a lead time of 2-3 weeks.

    I'm able to get the SS-2C2-10 (10 psig crack pressure) for $63.00 in half the lead time.

    Most diffusers take 25+ psig to start diffusing CO2 at any significant rate, could we get away with using the less-expensive 10psig model?

    What if we were going to be connecting our regulator to a venturi outlet on a fractionating pump? Would the line pressure have to be drastically reduced to avoid gassing a tank's inhabitants (to the point of
     
  20. kevmo911

    kevmo911 Member

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    I realize you're in Canada, so prices and availability will be different. But at swagelok.com, for other options, I'm seeing:

    SS-2C2-1/3 $63.45 (1/8" MNPT, 1/3 psi crack)
    SS-2C2-1 $54.12 (1/8" MNPT, 1 psi crack)
    SS-4C-1/3 $48.69 (1/4" tube, 1/3 psi crack)
    SS-4C-1 $48.69 (1/4" tube, 1 psi crack)

    The brass version, B-2C2-1/3, is $23.48, and the B-2C2-1 is the same price.

    For the 1/4" tube fittings, you might want a tube adapter - SS-4-TA-1(7)-2. Or you could just get inserts (SS-405-2) and run the valve inline.

    Also check Ebay, and find a compatibility chart for specific fittings. Tylok, Duolok, Parker A-lok, Hoke Gyrolok, Hylok, Bi-lok, D-lok, Kor-lok, Dk-Lok... they all use the same type of tube fittings, so parts are interchangeable.
     
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