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+Jason Hugo

#49 - What is a Pilot Clamp?

Posted by Jason Hugo & Cameron Sharp on 6/10/2016
The pilot clamp is one of the most effective tools for consistent pipe fitting on-site or out in the field. Trust us on this one, without a pilot clamp it becomes quite difficult to establish and maintain accurate drill positioning on cylindrical pipe. Typically, the challenge lies with getting the teeth of a saw to catch the surface of a pipe evenly when drilling; confined spaces and minimal leverage, often found behind walls or in between trusses, only exacerbate this difficulty.

Before we go any further, we should first discuss the various components of a pilot clamp and the roles they take. The clamp head is the first thing people notice. This component is responsible for the pilot clamp’s ability to fasten durably to any pipe, in any position via two jaw-like ends. A hole-saw guide extends from one of the ends, and once clamped to a pipe, accuracy is accomplished by drilling through the guide. None of this could be accomplished without the vise grip handles that connect to the clamp head. These handles, when squeezed, lock together and ultimately keep the clamp head fastened. 

Moving forward, I am going to talk specifically about when/where pilot clamps are used, how they make drilling and pipe fitting more efficient, and what to look out for when browsing for one. 

Commercial buildings and residential houses alike use piping for a multitude of important reasons, including fire sprinkler systems, sewage removal, and potable water. These pipe systems are accomplished through system runs, or interconnected series of pipe; often made from steel. They are installed on site with pre-drilled holes and made in shops using common fixtures and machine tools. After installation, any spontaneous fixes or adjustments to these structures require on-site attention. This is where a pilot clamp comes in! 

How do Pilot Clamps work?

Pilot clamps utilize a hole saw guiding system to accommodate different guide bushings and hole-saws for drilling through various pipe sizes. Once a pilot clamp is fastened by squeezing the handles together, a hole remains in one of the jaw-like ends; this serves as the guide for where drilling occurs. Once fastened, the pilot clamp requires no additional steps to remain firmly in place. The confidence of a stationary tool maximizes leverage and allows the user to focus on drilling the perfect hole. The clamp head features horizontal and vertical bubble levels, center marking and V-shaped surfaces for easier positioning. 


What to look for in a pilot clamp?

When looking for a pilot clamp we suggest investing in a complete pilot clamp kit. Buildings can have pipes of all shapes and sizes and therefore it is important that your pilot clamp is ready for the task at hand.  The complete Pilot clamp kit features six interchangeable hole saw guides, ranging between 1”-2”, as well as six Lenox Bi-metal hole saws, to allow users to produce consistent results regardless of pipe size. Don’t worry, a hole size chart is provided that helps determine correct measurements! As previously mentioned, a household drill is the only prerequisite to use a pilot clamp, and that’s because the complete kit comes with two Lenox arbors and a pilot bit. These components are the reason your drill can connect easily with any sized hole saw. 

Last, but certainly not least, is a padded carrying case to make sure your investment stays secure. Pilot clamps, despite their overwhelming durability, still have a finite lifespan. To lengthen the lifespan of a pilot clamp, replacement heads or jaws are available as well.

We at QRFS understand the coveted role that pilot clamps have in consistent pipefitting. Because of this, we offer the pilot clamp complete kit, as well as replacement parts for any previous pilot clamp owner. Our complete selection of pilot clamps and parts come at competitively low prices, and show up at your doorstep in a timely manner.

Using just an ordinary drill, you can be on your way to professional looking pipe fitting. 



This blog originally posted by Jason Hugo and Cameron Sharp at QRFS.com/blog on June 10, 2016. If you like what you've read, check us out at Facebook.com/QuickResponseFireSupply or at Twitter @QuickRsponseFS.

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