Building your own hose is easy with Brown & Miller’s reusable hose fittings
Words: Jeff Huneycutt
When it comes to working on your car, we’ve discovered in a very unscientific poll that building your own hoses comes in second only to electrical in the list of “jobs you avoid until the last possible moment.”
One of the reasons is reusable hose-end fittings can be a literal pain to install. Most everyone who has ever worked with steel-braided hoses knows the pain that comes when those sharp metal wires stab into your hand or finger. Plus, the typical “nipple and cutter” design tends to push the hose back out when you are trying to tighten the fitting down, so it can be difficult to get the hose fully seated in the fitting, and failure here means a blown hose.
However, it turns out that not all reusable hose fittings are made the same. Brown & Miller Racing Solutions, which is one of the leading (and most trusted) hose manufacturers in racing has developed a hose and fitting system that eliminates many of the frustrations most often experienced when installing the plumbing on your car. Brown & Miller is popular in racing because its unique hose design can replace traditional steel braid in many instances, saving significant weight. (And even if you are working on a hot rod and aren’t as concerned with weight, the stuff looks fantastic.) Plus, the spiral inner lining is impervious to all types of fuel and most fluids, and allows Brown & Miller to use an innovative “olive” in its reusable fittings that guarantees the hose won’t back out on you.
Unlike many other companies in the plumbing market, Brown & Miller produces all of its own hoses and fittings. Much of the company’s business is in NASCAR Cup and Formula 1 racing, but more and more racers in other areas, as well as general car builders, are utilizing their ultra high quality hoses and fittings on their cars.
In the last issue of Power & Performance News, we took at look at the unique construction of Brown & Miller’s lightweight hoses and crimped fittings. But we understand that for many racers and hot rodders operating on a budget, lightweight plumbing can be quite an investment, even though it is a real advantage on the track. That’s one of the reasons why many prefer to go with reusable hose-end fittings. If anything changes, or a hose gets damaged, you can simply remove the fitting and install it on a new hose.
Brown & Miller’s reusable hose end fittings are interesting because the design is quite unique. Most fittings marketed to racers use a design that bites into the hose. Because all of Brown & Miller’s lightweight hoses utilize a convoluted hose, they were able to engineer a three-piece reusable hose fitting that “threads” onto the hose before locking down, making the process of installing the fittings much easier, while ensuring you will also get a good, strong connection.
The unique system is difficult to explain, so check out the process of installing fittings on various hoses in these photos, and you’ll see what we mean.
All of Brown & Miller’s hoses are constructed from PTFE, making them impervious to practically all fluids, and the polyester braided convoluted hose shown here is some of the lightest available anywhere, making it quite popular. It is also quite easy to cut. Brown & Miller’s John Harper showed us how racers without specialized tools can simply wrap some Scotch tape, or any other tape with very mild adhesive (don’t use duct tape), around the hose to prevent the braid from fraying. Then just cut it with a pair of scissors. For Brown & Miller’s lightweight steel braided line you can use a large pair of hose-cutting shears or an abrasive cutoff wheel.
After cutting your hose to length, slide the collar over the hose and remove the tape.
The olive simply threads onto the hose underneath the braid. Harper uses a pair of pliers with tape on the jaws to protect the olive. With the polyester braid you can usually get by with using your fingers instead of the pliers, but if you are working with steel braided line you definitely want the pliers to protect your fingers from the sharp ends of the freshly cut steel wires.
Thread the olive onto the convoluted hose until a little sticks out beyond the end, like you see here. The braid should be on the outside of the olive.
Now use a razor blade to cut the hose so that it is flush with the end of the olive.
A little light lubricant on the threads of the fitting will help protect them and aid assembly.
Here’s our finished fitting (left) on the hose with one crimped fitting. The reusable fitting can be removed from the hose and used again, but Brown & Miller recommends using a new olive each time.
Slide the fitting in place until the collar is flush against the olive. Next, slide the collar up over the olive and thread it onto the fitting as much as you can by hand. The end of the braid should be covered by the collar.