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Hose Hype: Pushing Plumbing To The Extreme

HotRod & Restoration MagazineHotrod and Restoration

June 2006

By: Lori Lovely
Photos by: Lori Lovely

Water, fuel, oil and other fluids are as vital for your vehicle as blood is for your veins. Innovative options are cropping up to handle the need for high-performance fluid transfer.

Plumbing. Pipes. Whether for a hot rod or a house, plumbing constitutes a baffling, complex, often overlooked, yet crucial element of any operating system. Maintenance is frequently neglected, repair is often complicated and, let's face it, most of us would just as soon ignore it in favor of more "glamorous" improvements.


"Street rodders will be using stainless forever." Paul Fix, of Classic Tube, says things haven't changed much in 17 years "except the cars we're putting stuff on." That, he says, is evolution, because as the cars get newer, their plumbing needs become more complex. "It's easy to manufacture braided hose for '60s Mustangs; it's not so easy to make it for new Mustangs. They have more factory bracketry and more engineering."

That's why the Lancaster, New York company serves two markets with two product lines: hard tubing built to factory specs and a Stop-Flex® line of braided stainless hoses for fuel, brakes, carbs, etc. "We excel in manufacturing hard steel tubing as OEM replacements, but braided hoses are more difficult. Instead of making generic hoses with ends that just' fit, we make special fittings incorporated into the hose. It costs more, but we get rave reviews, especially from the restoration market. Guys don't want to engineer this stuff; they want it built in, so we go to the extra effort."

Classic Tube offers more than 20,000 different patterns of hoses and hard tubing for different applications, ranging from 1935 to 2001 cars and trucks - imports and domestics. "Our product line is specific to model. It's a new revelation on the theme of plumbing. For instance, every year of Mustang is different: 6 cylinders, V8s, hardtop convertibles, big block, small block, mid-year split" Their Stop-Flex(R) braided hose for brakes spans a similar range of years, but Fix says because it's not a big seller for early models, the catalog lists only mid-1960s to current.

Another innovation they've implemented is offering different lengths of braided hose and different ends. "The factory didn't do all hoses in braided steel. Due to volumetric expansion, they used the shortest pieces of hose they could get away with. They plumbed in hard tubing first, then short hoses - no mushy brakes that way. These are mostly unseen parts; they have to perform properly."

Fix says they "get more custom orders than regular orders" because they're willing to build to custom specs. "Everyone wants something different." The benefit to customers is that there's no need for fabricating or cutting; it's all bolt-on. Classic Tube also offers two options: original steel, which is about 25 percent cheaper, or everything can be stainless steel for corrosion resistance. "Eight out of 10 will choose stainless. It outlasts the car with no worries; it's a great selling point." He stresses that the stainless steel used is not industrial grade. "It's ASTM spec, which is soft enough to bend and flare without cracking. There are multiple grades of 304 steel; it makes a difference what you use."

Fix's final suggestion to boost sales: advertise! "Retailers should devote more pages to their product lines. You have to tell the story to sell product." No longer should plumbing be hidden in the bowels of obscurity. Education, knowledge and awareness will keep all systems looking good and performing at peak.

Classic Tube Brake Lines

Classic Tube offers more than 20,000 different patterns of hoses and hard tubing for 1935 to 2001 cars and trucks. Their product line is model-specific, like these brake lines that are pre-bent to OEM specifications.