It’s not exaggerating to say that performance hose and fittings have become something of a commodity in the past few years, bought in bulk overseas and sold with an “it’s all the same” mentality to the end users. But for something as critical as race car plumbing, which we depend on to keep flammable fuel and scorching hot oil and coolant safely contained, it really isn’t all the same.
Aeroquip is a company that gets it – their motto is, “we know it because we make it!” Their AQP hose is made in Mountain Home, Arkansas, and every single inch of it is pressure-tested to two times rated working pressure before it goes out the door. They tell us that there’s nobody else in the industry who can claim they manufacture their own hose and fittings, and they’ve been doing it for 65 years.
Don’t let that long history fool you into thinking they’re stuck in an old-school rut when it comes to new ideas, though – Their Teflon and StartLite hoses are good examples of the future of race plumbing. With more and more exotic chemicals entering the race fuel mix (and even some crazy stuff going on with pump gas!), old school rubber hose isn’t always up to the challenge.
The inner liner of a traditional braided stainless hose can swell and break down due to chemical incompatibility, or dry out and crack if left unused for too long (as it might be with a hot rod that only sees sunshine, or a race car that runs a few weekends a year). Aeroquip’s solution is a braided stainless design with a Teflon inner liner, and fittings in both crimp and reusable styles. When rubber isn’t enough, Teflon fits the bill, and Aeroquip tells us that the price is surprisingly competitive with their CPE-rubber-lined AQP hoses and fittings.
For racers looking to shave pounds (or anyone who just wants the blacked-out look), Aeroquip’s new StartLite hose has a black textile sheath that makes the hose 45% lighter than braided stainless. But thanks to its Nomex/Kevlar weave, it’s more abrasion resistant, and unlike nylon-wrapped hose, it’s effectively fireproof. Compatible with both crimp and reusable Aeroquip fittings, StartLite doesn’t require a hacksaw or cutoff wheel to cut, making it quick and easy to work with.