Can a needle valve upgrade be done on any regulator?
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:27 PM   #1
Hardstuff
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Can a needle valve upgrade be done on any regulator?


I have a cheaper seems to be generic type lower end regulator. It costs around 70 bucks. I am running a higher than normal pressure to run my green leaf diffuser which is working out great. The problem is I am getting some float from the pressure & I notice some dosage seems to vary a little. I am a little concerned that if I am away I could gas my fish, because if I keep my Kh set at 3 & ideal dosage of 1 bubble every 3 second seems to work out well , however I have caught the ph dipping below 6.4 on occasion even though 6.6 is the norm. I run a solenoid as well.
I guess what I want is a little more control with the dosage with a finer needle valve. Are they expensive & how difficult are they to install. Are there some regulators that cannot be upgraded this way?
My budget is low & I already have put way too much money already than expected so if it costs more than 100 bucks I will pass on it, because I have a 55 sitting an waiting for pressurized CO2 right now , but still saving & planning for the set up. Suggestions would be great.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:45 PM   #2
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What needle valve are you currently using?

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Are they expensive & how difficult are they to install.
Depends on whether you can find good deals or not; there are sometimes good deals on eBay, but you have to be patient. They are relatively easy to install if you have the correct tools.

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Are there some regulators that cannot be upgraded this way?
Some commercially available regulators use products (such as Loctite) that will essentially glue components together. These can be extremely difficult to remove.

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Originally Posted by Hardstuff View Post
My budget is low & I already have put way too much money already than expected so if it costs more than 100 bucks I will pass on it, because I have a 55 sitting an waiting for pressurized CO2 right now , but still saving & planning for the set up. Suggestions would be great.
A Fabco NV-55-18 runs around $40, brand new, I believe. You could get the Ideal 52-1-11 for around $75-80, brand new. Alternatively, as I mentioned previously, searching eBay will sometimes yield much cheaper results.
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:12 PM   #3
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Thanks Anthony. I was wondering , it looks like there is some locking cement on the threads , but it appears whitish in color. Can I turn it off from the outer locking nut which is located just behind the adjustment knob? A new needle valve assembly would just replace that whole section including the part that holds the tubing as well? or just the outer locknut where the dial is located?
The 40 dollar range sounds like the better deal in my case. Thanks again
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Old 02-14-2013, 08:31 PM   #4
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Thanks Anthony. I was wondering , it looks like there is some locking cement on the threads , but it appears whitish in color.
This is probably teflon tape and can be removed easily.

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Can I turn it off from the outer locking nut which is located just behind the adjustment knob? A new needle valve assembly would just replace that whole section including the part that holds the tubing as well? or just the outer locknut where the dial is located?
As I asked in my previous message, what needle valve are you using? In addition, a photograph of your current setup would be helpful.

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The 40 dollar range sounds like the better deal in my case. Thanks again
You may be able to find cheaper options if you are patient on eBay. The $40 for the Fabco NV-55 is what I was quoted for a brand-new, retail priced valve.
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Old 02-14-2013, 11:41 PM   #5
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Anthony the whitish material looks more transparent on the threads. I will try an download a picture but my cheap point & shoot which actually takes pretty good images just eats batteries, so it may be difficult getting an image to you quickly,
However I can try & describe it better. All it looks like is a T that comes off the left side directly off the central hub if you will of the regulator. The top part of the T there is a fitting that the CO2 tube is delivered to the solenoid. Looking just left of the T there is a small hex nut & then the dial itself for adjusting the flow.
Does the needle valve go in that part or does the whole T have to come out & be replaced as an assembly?? Once again looking right now you have adjusting knob then hex nut connecting to the T pointing up which goes to the solenoid, then extending with threads directly to the regulator, this is where I noticed some kind of solvent that is clear looking. Not tape.
Thats it: My guess is that small hex needs to come out to get at the needle valve & then replace with new one.
You asked about which needle I have & I cannot find manufacturer label anywhere on the regulator or needle valve. Looks like no name bran.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Anthony the whitish material looks more transparent on the threads. I will try an download a picture but my cheap point & shoot which actually takes pretty good images just eats batteries, so it may be difficult getting an image to you quickly,
It could still be teflon tape; after it gets used, I find that it does turn transparent. In any case, a photo would be much more helpful, particularly for the next part.

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However I can try & describe it better. All it looks like is a T that comes off the left side directly off the central hub if you will of the regulator. The top part of the T there is a fitting that the CO2 tube is delivered to the solenoid. Looking just left of the T there is a small hex nut & then the dial itself for adjusting the flow.
This sounds like there is an additional valve for adjusting flow, in addition to the regulator. You can probably remove this to clean up the appearance.

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Does the needle valve go in that part or does the whole T have to come out & be replaced as an assembly?? Once again looking right now you have adjusting knob then hex nut connecting to the T pointing up which goes to the solenoid, then extending with threads directly to the regulator, this is where I noticed some kind of solvent that is clear looking. Not tape.
Thats it: My guess is that small hex needs to come out to get at the needle valve & then replace with new one.
A photo is needed. If it is an actual T, then the needle valve can go into the T. In general, needle valves go after the solenoid as well, so I am unsure exactly what kind of setup you have.

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You asked about which needle I have & I cannot find manufacturer label anywhere on the regulator or needle valve. Looks like no name bran.
No name brands tend to have unusual/proprietary fittings, so you may need additional adapters and/or fittings as well.
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Old 02-15-2013, 01:35 AM   #7
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As requested. Whats going on? Can this be upgraded with a better needle valve? Sorry, I should have put the camera on macro but it is good enough for demonstration purposes. What do you think Anthony?
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:25 AM   #8
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The picture is blurry, but if that is the best you have, then I can work with that.

The "T" you describe appears to be the needle valve with a black phenolic knob.

The tubing feeds directly into a solenoid? I suppose your solenoid has some kind of NPT to hose barb adapters.

I am guessing that that from the solenoid, it goes to the bubble counter in the background, which then feeds into your aquarium.

You will need to remove the "T" (needle valve) if you are going to replace it. You might as well take this opportunity to place the solenoid first, and then the needle valve. You may also want to take this opportunity to fix up the wiring on the solenoid, as from what I can see the (green) wires are dangling about, and this can be dangerous.
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Old 02-15-2013, 05:59 PM   #9
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Those green wires you talk about are just support wires to hold the solenoid in place. It is not a hazard! it keeps the hot solenoid from melting the CO2 tubes! You even talked about this solenoid yourself the 1 that gets hot. I read your thread on CO2. This tank was never designed to impress people nor any thought was put into the layout. It was intended as an experiment to see what I needed to do to grow plants in my horrid water that comes out of my tap. That being said after trial an error I figured out what needs to be done & the tank has started to grow on me Now I am ready for a bigger display since I have the plants down.
I am not sure if this solenoid can be screwed into regulators? Are there solenoids that are inline only? I would have to measure the threads on both reg, & solenoid. Either way it is not important that the solenoid even be attached to the regulator, although if higher end needle valves need to be attached to the solenoid that would be a different story. If it could be attached I would prefer to since it has a cleaner look, but all this stuff will some day be inside a cabinet & it will not be seen anyway. The higher end regulators have attached solenoids which look nicer. My next regulator will have it attached , but for now it is not that important as long as the needle valve would screw directly into the solenoid.
So to answer my question, can I screw a needle valve directly into this regulator if I cannot screw the solenoid first into the regulator first? Sounds like you are saying that the T screws out. Any chance the regulator casing could crack since it is a casting? Thanks again
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Those green wires you talk about are just support wires to hold the solenoid in place. It is not a hazard! it keeps the hot solenoid from melting the CO2 tubes! You even talked about this solenoid yourself the 1 that gets hot. I read your thread on CO2.
Ah, my mistake. From the LED I think I see, you must have a Clippard solenoid

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I am not sure if this solenoid can be screwed into regulators? Are there solenoids that are inline only? I would have to measure the threads on both reg, & solenoid. Either way it is not important that the solenoid even be attached to the regulator, although if higher end needle valves need to be attached to the solenoid that would be a different story. If it could be attached I would prefer to since it has a cleaner look, but all this stuff will some day be inside a cabinet & it will not be seen anyway. The higher end regulators have attached solenoids which look nicer. My next regulator will have it attached , but for now it is not that important as long as the needle valve would screw directly into the solenoid.
If your solenoid is the Clippard, it is able to be mounted to the regulator. You can run solenoids inline, but I don't see why go to the extra trouble when it already has 1/8" NPT ports. Check your solenoid model number to see what ports it has (check the specification sheet); in all likelihood, it has 1/8" female NPT ports, while your regulator has 1/4" NPT ports, so you will need to get an adapter (a few dollars).

In general, needle valves are attached downstream of the solenoid (take a look at my guide for some helpful pictures).

If you are going to replace your current needle valve, you might as well fix up your solenoid as well, so it will look neat and tidy.

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So to answer my question, can I screw a needle valve directly into this regulator if I cannot screw the solenoid first into the regulator first? Sounds like you are saying that the T screws out. Any chance the regulator casing could crack since it is a casting? Thanks again
You can connect the solenoid to the regulator first (in fact, you should). The needle valve then goes after the solenoid. Your current needle valve (the "T") should be able to be unscrewed from the regulator.

Regarding the regulator casing (? I am not sure what you are referring to here; the regulator body? Or are you referring to the gauges?): The body itself will not crack. The plastic covering the gauges can crack, but only if you are not careful.

You will (likely) need a bench vise and the appropriate sized wrench to take off the current needle valve.

Some fittings (brass or stainless steel, your choice) will be required to connect the solenoid to the regulator, and then the new (or your current) needle valve to the solenoid.

Hope this helps.
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Old 02-16-2013, 05:58 AM   #11
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Yep that helped answering all the questions.
I was wondering if the gas company would have the fittings needed maybe even the needle valve but I guess looking around E bay & the internet will help to get a better price than the gas company. Probably would not hurt since they could provide the fittings & I could check out their needle valves for info anyway. I am sure their prices would be higher.
I will check out your threads on CO2 to further educate myself on the solenoids & regulators. Thanks Anthony for your time spent. You have been very helpful. Roger
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Old 02-16-2013, 02:40 PM   #12
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I just put together my first regulator and i ordered my needle valve directly off the fabco site. It was the fabco nv-55 18 and i got if for $44 with shipping. I got all the fittings i needed to put this together from my local lowes and home depot. I used watts brass fittings and they are only a couple bucks a piece.
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Old 02-16-2013, 02:42 PM   #13
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Another quick note, the smallest fittings that i saw there were 1/8
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Old 02-16-2013, 06:05 PM   #14
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Thanks FIRSTMR: That's a good idea, I will check their fittings out. A new problem I discovered with my setup is the Clippard solenoid runs so hot I am not sure if it would even be a good idea to connect directly to the regulator? It may not be a problem with the heat need another opinion on that . If the soleniod heats up the regulator a little I am wondering if it would be bad for the system. Another issue is with the addition of the clippard solenoid + new needle valve or even the current stock needle valve I would have a long extension of metal hanging out to the side. Probably not that bad, but for me I do not have a standard cabinet to store all my equipment on my set up. Like I said it is more of a science project than display even though I spend too many hours each day looking at it. I guess I should not complain the regulator was given to me by a friend & I believe it costs about 70-80 bucks compared to $200-250, regulators you get what you pay for, however it makes a good starter system for people who want to get into a pressurized CO2 system for less money. I guess I could find an elbow & a straight to make it work. Thanks
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
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A new problem I discovered with my setup is the Clippard solenoid runs so hot I am not sure if it would even be a good idea to connect directly to the regulator? It may not be a problem with the heat need another opinion on that .
You will need some adapters to connect from the regulator to the solenoid anyway, so the solenoid will not be connected directly to the regulator.

Many people do this, and it seems OK; though you are correct in mentioning that the Clippard solenoid does run quite warm.

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Another issue is with the addition of the clippard solenoid + new needle valve or even the current stock needle valve I would have a long extension of metal hanging out to the side. Probably not that bad, but for me I do not have a standard cabinet to store all my equipment on my set up.
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I guess I could find an elbow & a straight to make it work.
That's the way to go. If you want to save space, use elbows.
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