Cam Lever Couplings, or Cam and Groove couplings are a common quick connecting plumbing fitting used in ag and turf spraying. They are named for the levers used to “lock” the female and male parts of the coupler together. The simple design provides an efficient means of connecting hoses to pumps or pipes. Cam and groove couplings are manufactured in many different materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, and polypropylene.
Camlock coupler fittings are made in industry-standard sizes and types. Regardless of the manufacturer or material of construction, the male and female ends will connect if they are the same size.
Even if you have a male end that is polypropylene and a female coupler that is stainless steel, they will connect assuming they are both the same size (2 inches, 3 inches, etc.) It is best for the life of the fitting and the effectiveness of the seal that you try to connect fittings that are made of the same material (poly, nylon, aluminum, etc.)
Different Names Used or Cam-Lock Couplers
There are several different names or phrases people use to describe Camlock fittings. Typically, manufacturers refer to them as cam-lever or cam and groove couplings. I have heard them called: cam locks, cam levers, quick-couplers, hose couplers, lever locks, and more.
Regardless of the different vernacular used, these terms generally all refer to the same cam and groove style fittings. The use of different jargon does create potential issues when communicating with others. A picture is worth a thousand words to ensure you are on the same page.
The Different Types of Camlock Couplers
There are six main types of cam lever-style couplings. Each is made of a different combination of either the male end (called the “adapter”) and the female end (called the “coupler”) along with either male pipe thread, female pipe thread, or hose shank.
The different types are labeled A, B, C, D, E, and F. The sizes range from ¾-6 inches. There is also a dust cap and dust plug in each size.
“A” – Male Adapter x Female Pipe Thread
The part cam lever fitting part A consists of the male adapter half of the cam lever coupling system. The other side of the fitting will have a female pipe thread. National pipe thread is the most common in the U.S., but the female thread can be British, fire hose, buttress, etc.
“B” – Female Coupler x Male Pipe Thread
Part B fittings feature the coupler or “female” side of the Caml lever connections. The other end of the fitting is a male pipe thread. As with the part A fitting, this thread is typically NPT but can be another male thread.
“C” – Female Coupler x Hose Shank
Part C fittings are designed to fit directly into a hose. They consist of a hose shank or hose barb and the female coupler end.
“D” – Female Coupler x Female Pipe Thread
Part D cam lever fittings consist of the female coupler end and female pipe thread.
“E” – Male Adapter x Hose Shank
Part E fittings are the male adapter version that will fit into a hose.
“F” – Make Adapter x Male Pipe Thread
Part F cam lever fittings are both male pipe thread and male adapter.
“DP” – Dust Plug, Male Adapter
The dust plug or DP fitting fits into the female cam lever fitting. It is not intended to hold pressure but rather keep out dust and debris, as well as keep any liquid remaining inside the line from dripping out.
“DC” – Dust Cap, Female Coupler
The dust cap, DC, is the opposite of the dust plug. It accomplishes the same task as the dust plug but fits onto the male adapter end.
Non-Standard Cam Lever Fittings
In addition to these standard fittings, there are also several non-standard types available. With options for jump sizes, elbows, flange ends, ferrules, sight gauges, gauge ports, etc., the options are virtually limitless.
The Best Camlock Couplers
Banjo Corporation is a leader in camlock couplers. In my experience, these are the best brand of couplers to use. They are well-made and very durable. They are available in various sizes and configurations, allowing for quick and secure connections between hoses and pipes of compatible sizes.
These camlock couplers are commonly used in industries such as agriculture, chemical handling, waste management, de-icing, and many others. They provide a reliable and efficient method for fluid transfer, allowing for quick and easy connections and disconnections without the need for specialized tools.
When Should I Use Camlock Couplings?
Cam-lever couplings are an excellent choice for non-permanent hose connections. If you have a section of hose that is connected and disconnected from a pump, tank, truck, etc., then cam-lever couplings provide a positive seal for all sorts of different liquids. They are not a “dry-break” connection, nor do cam-lever couplings contain a valve. Valves should be used at the connection point to shut off the flow before disconnecting the hose.
Cam and groove fittings are available in several different materials to be compatible with just about any liquid. Polypropylene fittings are widely used in the agriculture industry due to their good resistance to fertilizers and agrochemicals. Brass fittings are commonly used with fuels. Aluminum is a low-cost option for general water transfer and stainless steel fittings are used with a wide variety of industrial chemicals.
|Agriculture||Polypropylene, Stainless||Urea, Glyphosphate, water,|
|De-ice||Polypropylene, Stainless||Salt brine, magnesium chloride|
|DEF||Polypropylene, Stainless||Diesel Exhaust Fluid|
|Petroleum||Brass, Aluminum, Stainless||Motor oil, gasoline, diesel|
|General Water Transfer||Aluminum||Non-potable water|
|Waste||Aluminum, Polypropylene||Gray water, sewage|
|Brewing & Distilling||Stainless||Beer, liquors, Brewery waste|
|Industrial Cleaning||Stainless, Polypropylene||Vinegar, Bleach (polypropylene), Varnish|
Camlock Couplers for Industrial Use
The standard camlock couplers are commonly used in many industrial applications:
- Petrochemical and chemical industries: Stainless steel couplers are used in the transfer of chemicals, solvents, acids, and other hazardous fluids.
- Oil and gas industry: Aluminum couplers are commonly used with fuels. They are often used in applications such as the loading and unloading of tankers.
- Agriculture and irrigation: Agricultural applications for tasks like irrigation, fertilization, and chemical spraying. Polypropylene is most common in agricultural spraying and fertilizer application.
- Water and wastewater treatment: Water treatment facilities and wastewater management systems. They are used to connect hoses, pipes, and pumps for the transfer of water, chemicals, and sludge.
Manufacturing and industrial processes: Various manufacturing and industrial processes where the ability to quickly disconnect and move fluid transfer hose.
How to Connect & Disconnect Camlock Fittings
Connecting Camlock fittings is fairly straightforward. The adapter end, also known as the male end, will fit into the coupler, also known as the female end, with minimal hand force. Larger-size fittings or fittings connected to heavy hoses may be more difficult to handle, but once the adapter and coupler are lined up, the adapter should slide in with minimal restriction.
With the levers on the coupler in the “open” position, or out away from the body of the coupler (see image below) simply insert the adapter. When the adapter is seated fully in the coupler, push the levers down into the “closed” position so that the levers are flat against the outside of the coupler. It is not uncommon that one or both levers are hard to close and some slight adjustment to the position of the adapter is needed to get the levers into the closed position.
Disconnecting or uncoupling is just as straightforward as connecting the fittings. Before removing the adapter from the coupler, lift the cam arms to the “open” position. Then the adapter should slide out with little resistance. The cam levers may tend to shift or move as you remove the adapter, so it may be necessary to use one hand to keep them in place. Overall, cam lever fittings in good working condition are generally simple and easy for one individual to connect and disconnect.
Do Cam Lock Couplers Leak?
Camlock and cam lever couplings are designed to seal completely. When the levers are properly closed The male end seals tight against a gasket seated inside the female end. If your cam lever fittings are leaking this is due to improper connection, worn out/damaged gasket, or crack in the coupler itself.
Replacement gaskets and shims are available for the female coupler fittings. If you have a leak and your fittings are not damaged, you can usually fix the issue with a new gasket. Some applications where your gaskets tend to wear more frequently may require extra thick gaskets.
When possible install cam-couplings vertically or at a 45-degree angle to reduce the pinch point on the gasket. When mounted horizontally the weight of the hose and liquid inside forces down on the couplings and compresses the gasket. Over time the gasket can lose its ability to seal.
How to Secure Camlocks
Heavy use and demanding industrial environments can lead to some common points of failure with cam lever couplings. Mobile applications and constant vibration when used on pumps and other equipment put extra stress on the cam lever fittings. Over time, the levers on Camlock-style fittings will become weak and they can open unintentionally.
To prevent accidental opening of the levers, there are a few different accessories and products you can use to prevent leaks and spills. Locking-style lever couplings have buttons on each side that need to be pressed for the arms to open. Safety locks wrap around a female coupler and hold the levers down. This can keep the arms from vibrating open or someone accidentally opening a lever.
Camlock fittings follow an industry standard. This means they are interchangeable as long as you have matching sizes. There is a male and female end that fit together and they can come in a variety of different combinations of pipe thread, hose, or flange connections. It is best to use fittings of the same material, poly, stainless, etc., to maintain the best possible connection and maintain the life of your fittings.