If you’ve been following our project cars lately, then you’ve probably noticed our incredible Project BlownZ being built right here in our shop. This insane fourth generation Camaro is a purpose built drag car being built to compete in the National Muscle Car Association (NMCA) West X275 Drag Radial class.
This supercharged beast is being outfitted with all the best hardware and electronics that our shop dawgs can get their hands on. They’ve been working long days trying to get it ready for the upcoming races, and with 1,300+ horsepower being force-fed into the 388ci LSX, the last thing we want to do is cut corners and use unreliable parts. When it comes to the hoses and fittings, we wanted to make sure all fluids are being transferred with hoses and fittings that can take all the abuse we intend to inflict.
This is why Fragola Performance Systems was called upon to supply Project BlownZ with braided hoses, fittings and hose ends from their Series 3000 Race line of products for fuel and cooling purposes throughout the car. Their Series 3000 Race Hose handles pressures up to 1500 psi, with two woven layers of woven stainless steel. The inner layer keeps the hose from collapsing while the outer layer resists abrasions. Altogether the combination is compatible with hydrocarbon or alcohol based fuels and any natural or synthetic based lubricants, withstanding temps from -40 to over 300 degrees. This hose is designed to be used with their Series 3000 billet swivel hose ends.
Expanding the business
Company owner Frank Fragola began the fitting business back in 2002, starting out as more of a private label manufacturer. In 2005, they began pushing the brand and have been supporting all series of racing, including the grassroots racers, dirt late model, drag racers, Monster Truck Series, and anything in between. They are proud to support the grassroots racers, keeping in mind that these racers make up their customer base. A sister company to Fragola Performance Systems that you may have heard of is FK Rod Ends. They are the largest manufacturers of rod ends and spherical bearings in the United States, and one of the last still around. You can find their rod ends and spherical bearings used in all forms of racing, as well as industrial applications.
Fragola Performance Systems is located in Southington, Connecticut, and they are a genuine American manufacturer that employs a little over a hundred people. They have always manufactured their own parts and that tradition will always hold true. “We are pushing quality and being American made,” says Jeff Stacy, President of Sales and Marketing at Fragola Performance Systems. He says their employees are dependent on them to sell these parts to people who want American-made products.
Jeff Stacy is no stranger to the racing industry, either. He joined the company in 2009 and brought his experience and knowledge of the racing industry with him. Jeff spent several years as a drag racer, followed by part ownership on a circle track race team for about eleven years.
Fragola bases their material designations on military spec tolerances, and they have a certification that they get when they buy 6061 aluminum for the fittings their manufacture. Fragola says it’s aerospace quality 6061 aluminum, not a supplier’s interpretation of it. They will not settle for less, and they stake their reputation on the quality of their products.
Their own design
Brazing can sometimes lead to stress cracks in the aluminum due to the high vibrations generated with a race engine. -Jeff Stacy
Frank Fragola designed his own fittings with a funnel-type design on the nut that makes the hoses fit together much easier. This design also makes for a better seal and allows for the reuse of many of their hose ends. Another aspect that makes their fittings a great choice is that they’re a one-piece design, and are manufactured without any brazing. “Brazing can sometimes lead to stress cracks in the aluminum due to the high vibrations generated with a race engine” Stacy tells us. These cracks can be brought on by fatigue from the vibrations in a dedicated race car like BlownZ, causing leaks at the fitting ends which can lead to a catastrophe. The one-piece design eliminates potential cracking, while improving the flow and appearance of the fitting.
Fragola’s lineup of fittings includes the Series 3000 Direct Fit and Race Hose Ends we used, as well as the Series 2000 Race Hose Ends and Series 8000 Push-Lite Race Hose Ends and Pro-Crimp Professional Series Race Hose Ends. They also have a new line of hose ends called Real Street Reusable Aluminum Hose Ends. Their hose fittings are available in the classic red/blue or black anodizing, using a process called “bright-dip”, or you can get them in nickel/chrome finishes.
The Series 3000 Race Hose Ends employ the “cutter” method of attaching the hose. The cutter method is the original A-N spec that has been around since World War II. Stacy said, “That was the best way they had to retain the hose end on the hose to meet the requirements they were trying to achieve.” This method of attaching the hose ends cuts into the end of the hose, creating a leak-proof seal between hose and hose end.
“With the improvements in technology, Fragola has gone to a compression-style hose end with their Series 2000 Hose Ends and is able to achieve the same results as the Series 3000.” Fragola is one of the few companies that offers both cutter and compression style hose ends.
Unlike other fittings where you must insert the hose end completely into the nut, with Fragola’s design you insert the hose into the nut up to the shoulder. As you tighten the nut, it pulls the hose onto the nipple to make the seal, cutting into the end of the hose with the Series 3000, or compressing the hose with the Series 2000. Two Viton O-Rings form a redundant seal to ensure there are no leaks at the hose end.
Getting all the hoses laid out, and deciding on what fittings to use and where, is like planning an elaborate party for distinguished guests and celebrities. Don’t take it lightly, and don’t rush yourself. You have to match up the hoses to the proper fittings or you’ll have problems before you know it. Getting hoses cut to the proper length will also help with installation, too short and you’ll find yourself with too much stress on the line, too long and you’ll have hoses that don’t fit the way they should, and that can also add stress on the hose and fitting as well.
The old rule is to measure twice – and cut once. Stacy recommends a little anti-seize on the threads to keep the threads from galling, this helps to thread both parts together and to get a snug fit. We use billet wrenches on the fittings for a reason, and if you’ve ever tried to snug up two fittings with a couple of adjustable wrenches, you’ll find out why. Even when you use tape on the fittings, it doesn’t keep them from marring, and it just becomes a waste of good tape.
Stacy tells us Fragola Performance Systems doesn’t manufacture hoses, but they sell hoses that are manufactured for them by Parker Hannifin, a world leader in hose manufacturing, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. They also have a partnership with Telefex, a major manufacturer of PTFE-lined hose designed specifically for racing. Fragola has a variety of hose styles to meet your needs, including stainless braided, lightweight nylon braided, blue Parker Push-Lok, and their PTFE-lined Stainless and Pro-Crimp Professional Race Hoses.
If you’re wondering where else you might see Fragola fittings and hose ends on other serious drag cars besides BlownZ, you don’t need to look too far. Fragola has a partnership with Aeromotive to supply all the fittings and hoses that are used on the Ford Mustang Cobra Jet Factory Race Cars, the Dodge Challenger Factory Race Cars and the COPO Camaros. You can also find Fragola fittings exclusively on Steve Matusek’s Aeromotive Race Team, and on Billy Glidden’s cars, to name a couple more.
For BlownZ, we didn’t want to use parts bin hoses and cheap fittings. This car is pushing over 1300 horsepower and sees the traps in a matter of seconds. When you’re building a car like this, you need to be sure that your fittings and hoses are going to meet the demands of the engine, and the car itself.
When that hammer is dropped and the tires start to spin, we need to know that the fluid transfers are being made, and that the hoses and fittings are not going to come apart on us. Proper installation is paramount, and using quality parts is a must.
You can try to save a few bucks, but in the long run you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Why spend tens of thousands on an engine, and try to save a hundred or two on hoses and fittings? It doesn’t make sense.
So if you’re building a car and you need to depend on it to deliver it’s best for a few seconds at a time, make sure you spend the time getting the right hoses and fittings – those few minutes you give up on proper parts could cost you more than you think at the track. Keep following our updates for BlownZ – it’s been hitting the pavement lately and we’ll bring it all back to you and let you know how it’s doing.