I Hate Thread Tape

Okay, maybe I don't actually hate thread tape. It's pretty handy stuff, and it doesn't get all over your fingers and everything you touch afterward. But I hate it and here's why...

Sometimes you have to insert and remove a given fitting routinely. I know, pipe threads aren't meant to be used as quick disconnect fitments, but there are some cases where insertion and removal of a threaded fitting is part of the routine process. In a case like that, if you use thread tape, the stuff just starts to wad up toward the base of the thread after a few uses. The first few times you just pile more on each time you screw it in. Then after several cycles you find yourself spending, like, a minute or two on each one digging the old tape off the thing with your finger nail, fastidiously unwrapping it like you're unwinding a bobbin of thread—only the stuff just tears off over and over again, and never quite comes clean. Finally you just say, "screw it," wrap some more tape back on, and then actually screw it... in, that is.

I also hate pipe dope.

The stuff never hardens, which, I suppose, is a good thing. Otherwise you'd never get the thing apart without a torch or some other unseemly "tool." But the stuff never dries. It just keeps coming back off your fingers, transferring itself onto every cotton-pickin' surface of every object in the shop. It's like the Prussian Blue we always put on the milling machine handle just before the new guy starts his second day of work. It just keeps going and going. It gets everywhere: on his forehead, his glasses, his face. Hilarious, right? Pipe dope is the same way. I hate that stuff.

So here's my solution... A timely tip, from me to you. Three letters:

  • RTV

I love this stuff. First off, sure, it kinda stinks, and it can be a mess. But if you keep a rag handy, you can actually wipe it off your fingers. And unlike pipe dope, it actually dries and [sort of] hardens up in a reasonable amount of time. Not only that, but it actually seals. Plus, you can clean the old stuff off the used fitting with relative ease.

I'm not suggesting you use it on a 2000 psi hydraulic system, but for low pressure applications, such as cooling lines on an injection mold, RTV is my go-to goo.

My favorite brand? Permatex. They've got your High-Temp, your Sensor-Safe, your Oil Resistant... Whatever you need.