When exploring why we use hydraulic adapters, we must compare them to the most popular alternative: hose-end fittings. Both are threaded chunks of metal that essentially serve the same purpose, plumbing your system from port-to port. So, why would you choose one over the other?
And here we’d be remiss not to mention the most popular reason for hydraulic adapter use, the great-leveler itself:
Quite frankly, hose-end fittings are costly. If your application or inventory calls for several configurations, the costs can add up quickly. Whereas an adapter may cost fifty cents, that same hose-end could be upwards of five dollars.
Let’s say you stock a hundred-part numbers, and each of those bins contains ten parts. If your shelves contain mostly adapters in this situation you may have five-hundred dollars wrapped up in inventory. Replace them with hose-ends however, and you've now racked up several thousand dollars.
While the savings potential may be great, we must also mention a sever disadvantage adapters have when compared to hose ends. Every thread in a hydraulic system is a potential leak-point. Each thread is also another point to install, monitor, tighten, and eventually replace. Because of this our first recommendation is always the product the best fits your circumstances. For some equipment, adapters may be too risky. We’re writing this article to promote adapters however, so we’ll continue the praise below.
If delivery date is important (always!) and you don’t have the ability to forecast production runs months in advance, hydraulic adapters offer another benefit as they are more readily available and quicker to produce. This applies to special configurations and low quantity orders as well, whereas hose-end manufacturers are still unlikely to break production on popular items until volume is high enough to justify the expense.
Tees and crosses allow the joining of multiple hoses.
Adjustable nuts allow for ease of installation and specific positioning.
Sometimes, what you need now isn't available as a hose-end. Adapters grant more opportunity to make the connection without costly parts.
We mentioned cost and inventory above, but adapters may actually offer design, routing, and performance improvements in your hydraulic system as well.
Have you ever seen a hose-end fitting with three threads? Four? Neither have we. Adapters can join more than just two things together. Tees and crosses are commonly used in hydraulic systems to couple three or four hoses together, a task often impossible with standard hose-ends. Knowing the range of options available may allow engineers or crafty re-builders to improve system performance by understanding what products they have access to.
Have a flow issue in your system? “Restricted” adapters maybe your solution. Restricted adapter’s thru-holes are machined to a specific dimension (of your choosing) which restricts flow accordingly if needed. Need a specific chamfer, shoulder, thread length, hex size, or other dimension? Adapters will by the most economical options here as well. Not only can we produce custom adapters in large volumes, but we can custom-build just about any hose-end/fitting/hose/tube combination your mad-scientist brain can think up.
Consider how easy it is to route or install your hydraulic assemblies. Because of dimensional constraints on some hose-ends, introducing an adapter into your system may greatly increase the ease of installation, which can speed up your assembly or replacement process. Port adapters typically come with adjustable nuts, which allow precise positioning of a hose in space. This isn’t always the case with hose-ends. Using adapters may grant the clearance needed to easily replace a hose in a hard-to-reach area as well.
If you replace hose assemblies often it’s important to note that some adapters can be reused, including JIC, ORB, and ORFS. Hose-end-fittings must often be tossed away with the hose when it fails.
At Mid-State, we work with large with a range of customers, from large equipment manufacturers to direct end-users in the field. For those who replace hoses in the field or generally in a pinch, stocking hydraulic adapters offers the ability to make a configuration “work” as a last resort. If your equipment is down in the field, your adapter selection may allow you to plumb the system, get it back and running, and return to the shop for proper repairs. This may require combining two or more adapters to get the job done, but’s its better than no solution if the hose-end you need isn’t available quickly.
Like a practiced politician, I can only answer that question with a “probably.” Adapters have been used in our industry for decades, often for good reason. Even so, at Mid-State we only recommend using the product that best suits your application and unique circumstances. Using adapters can solve a range of budget issues, and offer unique routing and performance benefits. On the other hand, they may introduce leak-points into a system that cannot allow for leakage, such as lawn-care equipment.
As a major part of our particular business for over 50 years however, we can’t help but hold adapters dear to our hearts. If you’d like to explore whether or not adapters are right for your circumstance, contact us today and we’ll guide you along the way.