A Schrader valve, or American valve, is a type of pneumatic tire valve used on most motor vehicles and aircraft in the world today. In fact, in the world of aviation, one of the components that has not undergone many changes is this particular valve. Whether your tires are tubeless or have a tube, there is a Schrader valve on every wheel, a design patented by August and George Schrader in 1898.
Without the Schrader valve, there would not be an easy way to put air into your tires and keep it there. As such, it has served as the American standard for more than 100 years, and a world standard for nearly 80. George Schrader, August’s son, is credited with the experimental work that contributed to the patents issued for the current housing design which features a removable and interchangeable core and cap.
Other parts of the Schrader valve’s architecture include a valve stem into which a valve core is threaded. Typically, the valve core is a spring-assisted poppet valve that is usually made of brass, stainless steel, or nickel-plated steel. Meanwhile, a small rubber seal situated on the core prevents the fluid from escaping through the threads. With the appropriate tools, a faulty valve core can be readily extracted from the valve stem and replaced with a new one.
There are many different types of valve cores in the aviation industry, with applications ranging from aircraft struts to aircraft tires. It is important to note that one of the most common mistakes is choosing a valve core intended for a tire, but utilizing it for a landing gear strut. This is because, even on small airplanes, the pressures that exist inside of a landing gear strut, especially on landing, are higher when compared to a tire.
For aviation tire applications, the typical Schrader valve is part number 6035 which has a standard operating pressure from 0 to 400 PSI and a normal operating pressure that does not exceed 70 PSI. For an aviation shock strut or hydraulic accumulator, the Schrader valve part number is 2300TV with an operating pressure up to 2000 PSI. To ensure you have the right valve for your particular application, there are a couple of distinguishing features to look for.
On high-pressure valve cores, there is usually an “H” stamped into the head of the valve pin. While it is not easy to see upon first look, a magnifying glass will reveal the tiny letter. Additionally, the plug sealing material is normally made of a black molded nitrile rubber. The plunger sealing material, on the other hand, is a black nitrile material.
For aviation tire applications, the valve core has a white silicone plunger sealing material around the exterior with a natural Teflon for the plug sealing material. For home-built, light sport, and ultralight aircraft, valves cores used for general purpose and commercial applications work just fine. These valves cores can have either white silicone or a black nitrite plunger sealing material with a red or green Teflon plug sealing material.
Keep in mind that all of these materials have limited service lives and deteriorate over time with age, heat, and exposure to oxygen. When replacing a valve core, for example, do not over tighten the valve stem core. More than that, any time a valve core is removed from the valve body, it is standard practice to install a new one and discard the old one. This entire procedure should be consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
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