- Here are the elements of a hose end for braided steel line. The collar (red) fits over the hose and the nipple (blue) threads into the collar. As the fittings are tightened, they increase clamping force on the hose for a very secure fitting.
- Two of the keys of a leak-free assembly is to cut the end of the hose as square as possible and warp the hose before cutting it to avoid fraying the outer braided steel layer. We wrap the end tightly with duct tape and use a cut-off wheel for quick, clean cuts.
- We find that twisting the collar in one direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) onto the hose usually works best. If you work it back and forth it often loosens the braided steel around the outside and fights you more.
- Push the collar on until the hose is just below the bottom thread on the inside of the collar.
- Use a dab of engine oil on the threads and the nipple part of the insert. Don’t use a silicone-based lube as these will usually cause the rubber to swell on contact, making the installation very difficult and compromising the assembly. There are specialty lubes available for this, but engine oil works well and you probably have some.
- The hose may push out of the socket while you tighten the two pieces of the fitting together. Earl’s recommends marking the hose at the base of the socket. I have a different method I’ll show in photos number eight. An 1/8-inch of movement is okay, but any more than that, and you should take apart the hose assembly and try it again.
- The final assembly is much easier if you use a vice. You can use two wrenches, but it is more difficult, and it is less likely that the hose end will install properly. We use a shop rag to cushion the aluminum hose end in the vice jaws. There are special inserts you can buy for a vice that further protect the hose ends (and special aluminum wrenches for that matter), but you’d have to assembly a lot of hose ends to make these worth purchasing. Earl’s recommends that you clamp the insert in a vice and rotate the hose and socket onto the insert threads.
- I have a slight variation from Earl’s recommendations on the final assembly. I find it easy to cross-thread the fittings trying to rotate the hose and socket. And if the hose is long enough, this process just isn’t possible. Instead, I gently clamp the socket in the vice as shown. If the vice is too tight, it will make the socket out of round. I then thread the insert in place using a wrench. I also hold my thumb nail tightly against the hose at the base of the socket. Doing this, I can tell if the hose is pushing too far out of the socket as I tighten the assembly. I find this quicker than marking the hose, and I don’t have to clean permanent marker off the hose when I’m finished.
- The biggest question is when do I stop tightening? The insert and the socket shouldn’t actually bottom out on each other. On smaller-diameter hoses (-6 and -8) the gap should be about 1/16-inch. With larger hoses (-10 and -12) the gap may be around 1/8-inch. I’ve assembled dozens of hoses in various sizes and never had a leak at one of the hose end. With both ends of the hose assembled, use compressed air to clean debris from the inside of the hose.
Heard horror stories about assembling braided steel hose, or have a few to tell yourself? Cut hands, marked up hose ends, more fighting and cursing than a hockey game? It doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve assembled over a mile of braided steel line in our lifetime and it can be painless to do if you follow a few steps. Let us know how this works for you. And please share any tips of your own in the comment section below!