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What makes a better needle valve?

Discussion in 'CO2 Enrichment' started by scottward, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Hi guys,

    Just refreshing my memory, a good needle valve -

    1. Has metal valve seats, rather than plastic (less likely to shift settings due to ambient temp changes)
    2. Is made of a higher grade of metal than cheaper alternatives (lower coefficient of thermal expansion)
    3. Has a finer thread
    4. Provides better knob resistance contributing to holding setting

    Would I be correct in assuming that the popular Fabco, Swagelok and Ideal valves have all 4 of these qualities (whereas my current ebay needle valve doesn't) ?

    That said, why would the Ideal be better than the much cheaper Fabco?

    Also, before I forget, are all the popular specs of these brands good for both low and high bubble rates?

    For example, could I use the Fabco successfully in both a 1 bubble per second and an uncountable bubbles per second scenario?

    In my case, my bubble rate is currently so fast it's impossible to count on my 100g.

    Scott.
     
  2. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    at higher flow rates, expansion plays a role, not so much at say 1 bubble a sec etc.

    A better method to measure CO2 flow is volume per min.
    A measuring cup is typically okay for this.

    Say the 100 Gallon has some unknown bubble rate.
    Bubble rates vary as does the size of the bubble.

    A 100 "mls /minute" is standard and anyone can measure this with a clear measure cup or if you want to get accurate etc, you'd use a millliter Kimax/Pyrex lab etc graduated cylinder.
    Take the tubing for CO2 and place under water and remove all the air from the cylinder and then bubble and time.

    The typical Nupro/Swagelok/Ideal/Parker valves are quite good, for our application, they are identical.
    As far as user friendly, the Parker with the push down step adjustments, so you do not accidently move the vale when changing a CO2 tank is nice.
    The stuff round adjustments on the out put pressure on the dual stage regs is also a nice feature vs a T shaped adjuster which can be knocked and accidently moved.
    Vernier handles make references and adjustments easier. You can paint on tick marks also with a permanent fine tip sharpie marker.

    It's the simple stuff really that can cause issues.
    A small adjustment is often all it takes to tweak the CO2 into the optima.
    But, this can also be adjusted out of sync just as easily by moving a knob or two.
     
  3. bettatail

    bettatail Guru Class Expert

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    just got this in several days ago.
    it is a mass flowmeter, like a bubble counter. the unit that works like a metering valve, it is call Mass Flow Control meter.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    I've used the Alicat mass flow controllers.
    You need to program them and used, many may or may not work, testing them is also not easy.

    New they are not cheap, you can buy old used, or sometimes near new on ebay etc for cheap, but testing them is the issue.
    Helium is typically the gas used for that.
     
  5. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    I think a quality needle valve like the ones you mentioned is important in preventing headaches down the line. It comes down to controlability and long term durability. After that, it's just personal preference. You do want a needle/metering valve that has a fine thread and lower bps range adjustability.

    These will work:
    Fabco NV-55-18
    Ideal V52-1-12 or V54-1-12

    These have 1/8" NPT female threads.
    Swagelok makes a quality product, but I know less about the flowrates, and I have never had a need to try them. I'll stick with my Ideal Valves.

    FWIW, Bettatail has compiled a comprehensive thread on needle/metering valves. it's worth a search...
     
  6. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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  7. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks guys - appreciate the help.

    Not having much luck finding a decent needle valve at a reasonable price though - starting with Fabco I seem to be only able to buy them in lots of 5....

    Shipping from US to Australia is a killer.

    I have to find something locally.....

    Scott.
     
  8. Matt F.

    Matt F. Lifetime Charter Member
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    Call Bill Sand at Ideal Valve and ask for a quote to Brisbane:
    http://www.idealvalve.com/about.html

    If you buy an Ideal, it's a one time expense. The valve will last literally forever, and they are hand made here in the States.
     
  9. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Hi Matt,

    I sent an email to Bill Sand. I could only bulk buy them and the shipping was again a killer. So, no ideal valve for me.

    Is it possible for somebody to put together a "generic spec" for a good needle valve? I could then try contacting some local metering valve makers to see if they have something that fits that spec.

    I suppose:

    - brass (cheapest, and perfectly fine for our use, must be completely made of brass, no plastic valve seats etc)
    - must have a thread fine enough that it is, say, 6-10 turns from fully closed to fully open
    - must be able to handle a minimum/maximum flow rate of CO2 gas of X and Y (I have no idea here; I have a 100g with bps uncountable)
    - must be able to be locked into position once ideal setting is found?
    - as I wish to use it in-line, it must either have, or be able to be fitted with, 1/8" hose barbs (i.e. to suit standard CO2 tubing inner diameter).

    ??

    Scott.
     
  10. kevmo911

    kevmo911 Member

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    1)Brass works fine, so this one's allright.
    2)Number of turns doesn't matter so much, it's all about the difference in flow between fractions of a turn ...most of the valves we use will be less than one full turn between the smallest aquarium and the largest monster. Most, not all.
    3)Min/Max flow will differ based on pressure, and Cv can be very misleading.
    4)Lockable isn't necessary unless you plan on bumping it
    5)You should be able to pick up barbs easily at a local hardware store, so the ports are less important. Ideally, they'd be NPT rather than compression fittings.

    If you can find a shop you trust, I'd bring them the specs to an Ideal, or Swagelok S series (which they'd probably know about) and just tell them you want something that does that.

    Alternatively, find somebody here, or in the US, that you trust, and have them grab something and send it to you. Shipping might be be surprisingly reasonable for something small.
     
    #10 kevmo911, Mar 26, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2013
  11. kevmo911

    kevmo911 Member

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    One last thing - financially it may not be realistic, but if you really wanted an Ideal and were willing to spring for 5 of them, you're definitely not the first Aussie here looking for a good valve. I'm sure you could eventually get rid of them.
     
  12. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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  13. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    Group buy. Buy 10, sell them just above cost to pay for yours and the shipping.

    Or everyone go in on them equally.
     
  14. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    I tried contacting a few LFS's; no interest, they just want to sell their regular brands (which are crap).

    No mater - I have a representative from Swagelok here in Brisbane who is very helpful...

    So now I'm looking at Left C (etc) posts as there are lots to choose from.

    Basically, for Swagelok, I just focus on the LOW flow models (not the medium or high models).... is this correct considering I am using it with a 100g and bubble count is "uncountable"? A LOW flow model won't be too restrictive???

    Can I pretty much pick any of the LOW flow models? Doesn't matter whether it's chrome-misted brass or SS, nor does it matter whether it's angled or straight? I will be running it inline now, but I suppose it makes sense to buy one that could be fitted to a regulator down the track....

    I know that to run it inline I need adaptors for the 1/8" standard CO2 hose; I believe swagelok sell these too and you just lock them in with the compression fittings on either side of the needle valve?

    Scott.
     
  15. Darkblade48

    Darkblade48 Guru Class Expert

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    For a larger aquarium such as yours, you may want to try the medium flow rate needle valves. Though, I have used a low flow model for a 90 gallon before as well (though not Swagelok).

    Chrome plated brass and stainless steel will be different; the other parts that you intend to get will determine what you should be looking for. I was told by a Swagelok representative that brass should not be mixed with stainless steel parts (at least their products) to avoid any possibility of a leak.

    Regarding angled vs. straight, this is up to you; I like angled since it seems smaller and more compact :)

    Correct; the hose barb adapters will lock into both sides of the needle valve via the compression fittings.
     
  16. kevmo911

    kevmo911 Member

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    An S or M series would probably be fine, preferably one with a vernier handle ("-VH" or "-MH" at the end of the model number). It's possible that an S series will be too little flow, but if you can increase your regulator pressure to a decent amount, it should be fine, and the S is more precise than an M. Straight or angle pattern will work (straight is standard, "-A" is angle). It's difficult to find an S series with NPT threads, but I think there's one that has one NPT and one compression. M series will come with either.

    For attaching 1/4" compression fittings to tubing, you'd need (if you're using 1/4" OD 1/8" ID tubing) SS(B)-405-2 OR SS(B)-2-HC-A-401.

    They'll both be semi-permanent, as you'll need new ferrules to attach something different, but the first one will be a more secure connection, while the second allows you to remove tubing, though not the adapter. Converting to 1/8" NPT threads will require SS(B)-4-TA-1-2 if you want to be able to mount it.

    If you go with compression fittings on the valve, 1/4" will be easiest. If you go with NPT ports, you can add barbs or mount them more easily.

    Here's the catalog link, and breakdowns of port types are on page 5. http://swagelok.com/downloads/webcatalogs/EN/MS-01-142.pdf

    They should (probably) all be available and brass, as well (substitute "B" for the first "SS"). And the vernier handle will be an option no matter what model you pick. And you can always buy the handle separately (S and M series have two different types of verniers).
     
  17. oldpunk

    oldpunk Guru Class Expert

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    If your only real option is Swagelok, get a B-SS4. Since you're going to run it inline, all you'll need is a couple tube inserts and you be set. Don't get a medium flow valve. Stick with low flow. Even with the low flow models, they will probably be only ~ 1/3 open for a 150G tank.
     
  18. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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    Thanks guys.

    I'm thinking B-SS4-A, this one: http://www.swagelok.com/search/find_products_home.aspx?part=B-SS4-A&item=1acb7133-8c34-4ad2-b0c5-74ad982a58ce

    And I just need to buy 2 of these? http://www.swagelok.com/search-results/search-results.aspx?qs=B405-2

    ...and that's all I need?

    I'm not sure I understand the difference between the alternative parts you listed kevmo911...

    So one of these is going to be way way way better than the $10 ebay one I have? It bloody better be its 12 times the price!!!!
     
  19. kevmo911

    kevmo911 Member

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    Yeah, that works. And yes, those two inserts are fine.

    Of the two parts I listed, one is the insert you just linked. The other fits into the compression fitting, and has a barb at the other end. The tubing would slide on over it. The advantage is that you can remove the tubing and then slide it back on later (if you wanted to rearrange things, for example). The barb adapter essentially turns the valve ports into barb ports instead of compression ports.

    The inserts will work fine, but they're kinda permanent in that if you ever want to remove the valve from the tubing, you'll have a heck of a time removing the insert, and you'll need new front and back ferrules (which go inside the nut, and are the things that get squished to form a compression seal). You'd need new ferrules if you ever wanted to remove the barb adapter, too.
     
  20. scottward

    scottward Guru Class Expert

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