Anyone who has ever plumbed a car with performance hose and fittings knows what a chore it can be. You are probably also familiar with the original Koul Tools, which are designed to make assembling hose ends a breeze. Koul Tools owner, Dick Raczuk, isn’t a one-trick pony, and has expanded on his original game-changing tool with a new line of tools aimed at further improving the performance plumbing market.
It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention, and in the case of the Koul Tools Fitting Fixer and the Flare Lapping Tool, it absolutely was the mother of those inventions.
“I have a 1935 Packard three-window coupe with a V12, and it had a leaky bung on the fuel tank,” says Raczuk. “I couldn’t buy another tank, so I came up with both the Fitting Fixer and the Surseat flare lapping tool fixing that Packard. I ended up making a homemade one, and it worked.”
With his successful prototypes – which weren’t even meant to be prototypes – Raczuk moved forward with the research and development of the tools, which eventually led to their full-blown production.
The Fitting Fixer
The first tool’s name is fairly self-explanatory; the Fitting Fixer is designed to repair damaged male 37-degree fittings. These fittings are an automotive standard, found in AN, SAE/ISO, and JIC fitting specifications. When used properly, they provide a durable, reliable, pressure-tight seal for both fluids and gasses in far more than just automotive systems.
However, damage to the mating surface of a male fitting is not uncommon, and since the fitting relies on precision mating of the male and female surfaces, one scratch can mean a leaky connection that used to require a new fitting. Besides being expensive to replace, some of these fittings can be hard to source locally—or in the case of the male bung on Raczuk’s Packard, impossible. Repairing the fitting becomes a much more economical and practical option.
The Fitting Fixer consists of two pieces. The first is the mounting sleeve, which both holds and positions the fitting to be repaired by threading the fitting into the sleeve, and aligning the repair tool to the fitting.
The repair tool consists of a diamond dust-coated inverted cone, which is manufactured at the perfect 37-degree angle, with a hexagonal shaft that fits perfectly in a standard drill chuck. In just a few seconds, the incredibly hard—and long-lasting—diamond dust abrasive (with a little lubricant applied) will perfectly smooth out or machine away any nicks, dings, or defects caused by mishandling or overtightening of the fitting.
“I haven’t worn one out yet, but I’m not looking to snow anyone; it’s not impossible to wear out,” says Raczuk. “Diamond-dust coating isn’t anything new, but I have done durability testing. I put one end into my engine lathe and one end in the tailstock, set it to 300 rpm, turned it on and pushed them together for two minutes, and couldn’t see any wear on the lapping surface. So I figure if someone wears this out, they’ve done a whole lot of fittings.”
Another feature of the Fitting Fixer is its extremely compact size, taking up very little space in a toolbox that might travel to the racetrack with you.
“It could really come in handy at the racetrack. If you were to hit or drop or otherwise damage a fitting at the track, that could be the end of your weekend,” Raczuk says. “Now, you can repair a fitting on the spot, and it’s a small enough kit to fit in a drawer.”
Surseat Flare Lapping Tool Kit
The Surseat flare lapping tool is similar in its principle of operation, however, the flare lapping kit is designed to be used anytime you make a flare yourself, as opposed to only repairing a damaged flare.
“I talked to some of the high-end engine builders and asked them with all their fancy new cutting and machining equipment, if they still lapped their engine valves,” says Raczuk. “All of them said they did, so they didn’t leak. So I decided I was going to do the same thing with flares.”
Anyone who has ever used a flare tool knows that even on your best day, it’s cause for celebration if you are able to knock out 100-percent of your flares on the first try, without leaks. “Generally, if you do ten flares, nine are good, and the one that leaks is the least accessible, hardest to get to one in the system,” laughs Raczuk.
What the flare lapping tool consists of is male 37-degree and 45-degree cones coated with the diamond dust abrasive, and a frame that holds your flared line. “You just spin it back and forth a little, and you get a perfect seat at a perfect angle every time,” says Raczuk of the deceptively simple contraption. “Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to see.”
“I don’t care what kind of forming tool you use, the tubing itself can have imperfections and seams. When you look at the flares made by a Rigid tool, which is one of the best, it still has imperfections in it,” says Raczuk. “If you were to take a flare that you were really happy with, put a light coat of machinist’s bluing on it, and give it a quick kiss with the lapping tool, you’ll see high and low spots right off the bat.”
Not only does this create a solid mating surface for the male flare fitting you’re using, but can also prevent damage to the fittings, when using dissimilar materials. “When you start mixing materials, like with a stainless line and an aluminum fitting, that’s when your flares have to be perfect or you’ll start damaging fittings,” Raczuk says. “Then you have to not only remake the flare, but fix the fittings.”
Both the Koul Tools Fitting Fixer and Surseat flare lapping kit, provide a simple, well-thought out solution to something that isn’t really given much thought, until it’s leaking – be it a nitrous line, fuel line, or brake line. With a little extra effort at the outset, and the proper tools in your toolbox, leaky fittings will be far less of a headache than they currently can be.