Of course, high-dollar competition vehicles often employ high-dollar solutions to this problem. For many years "Wiggins clamps" have proven to be an extremely reliable and effective method to join intercooler piping. Unfortunately since the cost of each Wiggins-clamp connection is in the neighborhood of $200 (3-inch), $300 (3.5-inch) or $400 (4-inch) dollars, very few street enthusiasts make the investment.
A New Solution
Recently Hargett Precision Products (HPP) developed a technology that is designed to offer the reliability of Wiggins clamps at just a fraction of the cost. Dubbed as the Quick Disconnect Coupling (QDC) system, QDCs provide a dependable leak-free solution, require no tools to disconnect or re-connect and cost 60-percent less than Wiggins clamps.
Two-piece or Three-piece
The two-piece QDC is designed for locations that allow one of the two joined pipes to be moved at least one inche along the connector's centerline to disconnect the two pipes. In cramped quarters, HPP's three-piece QDC is the ideal solution. The three-piece design doesn't require any axial clearance. Instead the sleeve can be slid along the O-rings and moved out of the way once the retainer clips are removed.
Get Yourself Connected
To assist in the assembly of the end fittings there is a mild taper along the inside of the sleeve. This ensures that the O-rings are not damaged during assembly or disassembly. HPP designed the QDC sleeve to be long enough that the end fittings can move around. The sleeve can still maintain a seal even if the coupler is pulled on. This mobility allows for things to move around with out breaking as the car is operated.
With the three-piece QDCs, each of the weld-on end fittings uses two o-rings to seal along the inside of the sleeve. Along the inner bore of the end fitting there is a mild taper which is designed to provide a smooth transition between the end fittings and the coupler sleeve. On two-piece QDCs, the sleeve is permanently affixed to one fixed transition end; the other end fitting is identical to one of the end fittings used on the three-piece design.
No Tools Necessary
Once the QDC ends have been welded to the piping, the couplers provide easy assembly and disassembly. Rather than having to hold several components together while fitting a retainer as you would with high-end clamshell-style couplers, the QDC allows for the assembly of one end at a time. When welded on to an intercooler pipe, the sleeve can be slipped over the end and the lock installed on the back side. When the pipe is mated up at its connection the sleeve can then slide over both ends and once the sleeve has traveled far enough the second lock can be installed.
To put the QDCs to the test on a real street car, Fred Su of Evolution Racewerks welded the couplers into place on our Project Civic EK. Fred was quickly able to weld the end fittings onto the charge pipes since fittings were ordered to match the size of the plumbing. With the intercooler system now fitted with the new QDC system, the pipes took just a fraction of the time to assemble compared to our previous silicone-coupling-and-clamp arrangement.