Wrench Tips – Tip #24: Silicone Hoses for Adults
by Dave Coleman
There comes a time in every car dork’s life when you no longer want your engine bay to look like McDonald’s playland. That happened a long time ago for me, but sadly, I’m still so cheap that most of my hoses come from a psychadelic box of scraps, so primary colors still rule the engine bay. What’s a cheap but modest dork to do?
Turn those bright red hoses black, that’s what!
On a recent trip the the local engineering superstore known as The Home Depot, I noticed this Nashua Stretch & Seal silicone sealing tape.
Having toured a few silicone hose factories in my time, I know silicone hoses are made by simply wrapping silicone tape around a metal core shaped like the inside of the hose. After a little time, the silicone fuses permanently to itself and as soon as you can figure out how to get the core out, you have yourself a hose.
To these eyes, that Stretch and Seal tape looks a whole lot like the stuff they make the hoses from in the first place, so I wondered if I could just wrap the stuff around a candy-colored hose to add a permanent layer of black.
Turns out it works! Clean the underlying hose really well, wrap it while its stuck on an appropriately sized pipe, so it has the structural integrity necessary to support the wrapping, and just do a nice, overlapping wrap while stretching the tape.
Perfect example: I had had these two scrap radiator hose elbows spliced together to accomodate the relocated radiator in Project Silvia. Primary colors look lame enough, but when they don’t match…
After installing the hoses on appropriately pipelike things to support the wrapping forces, a simple overlapping wrap made this look like perfectly normal rubber radiator hoses. Sadly, these hoses have been waiting for Project Silvia’s colossally overdue engine rebuild before they can be put to use.
A better example of the successful testing of this silicone tape is this single, gratuitously red hose in the middle of my woman’s otherwise grown up engine bay.
Here’s the same hose after a Stretch & Seal wrap job. The hose has been in the engine bay, next to the turbo, for over two years now and still looks just as much like a perfectly innocent factory hose. This stuff actually works.
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