The Reasons Behind the Numbers
|Ordering AN plumbing fittings can be confusing because the nomenclature does not directly translate into a thread size. Fortunately, each AN size will always correlate with one specific fitting size. There are no exceptions, so there is no guesswork. Measure the thread OD and pitch, and you know the fitting size.|
The idea behind AN hoses and AN fittings was to provide a flexible alternative to rigid tubing in plumbing systems on aircraft and military vehicles. Sizes for rigid tubes were already standardized, with sizes called out by tubing OD (3/16", 1/2", etc). AN hose sizes were designed to match the ID sizes of these rigid tubes. Can you see the confusion starting? Tubing is known by OD, but AN hoses are sized according to the tubing ID -- not the hose OD or even the hose ID.
AN hose sizes are based on the nominal OD of the tubing with a matching ID. It sounds convoluted, but it really is a simple idea that achieves a logical goal. If hoses were called out using the hose OD (following the same system used for tubing), the ID of a 3/8" hose would be much smaller than the ID of a 3/8" tube. On top of that, different hose types have different wall thicknesses. That sytem would make it impossible to predict the hose size required for any application.
The AN numbers refer to the tubing OD in sixteenths of an inch. For example, 8AN hose has the same ID as a 1/2" nominal tube (8/16 = 1/2). 3AN hose has the same ID as a 3/16" tube. This means that 6AN hose will not introduce any appreciable flow restriction in a fuel system designed around 3/8" OD rigid tubing.
Note that this does not match AN Bolt Nomenclature. AN bolt sizes translate directly to bolt OD in sixteenths of an inch. To help differentiate between the two systems, convention has put the "AN" before the bolt size but after the plumbing size (e.g., AN4 bolts / 6AN hose).
The Bad News
When racers adopted AN plumbing, it soon became apparent that engineers in different industries did not work together much. Automotive designers had their own standards and accepted sizes, and some of those were not found in aircraft systems. One glaring mismatch is the popularity of 5/16" (8mm) fuel hose on automobiles. While a specification exists for 5AN hose and fittings, it is exceedingly rare in the aircraft industry. Even manufacturers specializing in AN-style fittings strictly for motorsports tend to skip over the 5AN size for the most part.
The Good News
As mentioned earlier, you can always identify AN fittings based on the male thread size (outside diameter). These sizes are constant regardless of brand, hose type, or fitting configuration. If your fitting has a convex 37 degree flare at the end, the threads will tell you the AN size (and vice-versa).
|Male Thread Size||AN Size*||Equivalent
|Hose ID**||Male fitting ID|
* Note that these are the same as SAE O-Ring Port sizes, but O-Ring Port size numbers are normally called out as dash numbers (-4, -6, etc).
** Conventional rubber-lined stainless braided hose, except 3AN which is PTFE-lined.
Tip: If you don't have a proper measuring tool handy, open-end wrenches make great "go-no go" gauges in a pinch! If a 7/16" wrench slips over the threads but a 3/8" wrench doesn't, you have a 4AN fitting.
Note that we did not list the hex sizes. Hex sizes are not standardized. The hex size depends on the fitting type, the size of the threads on the other side of the fitting, and even the fitting brand. The only sure identifier is the thread size.
If you don't have a male fitting to measure, an accurate measurement of the female thread ID can point you to an AN size. Note that you must be absolutely sure that you have a female AN fitting or SAE O-ring boss port! Many of these internal diameter measurements are very close to those of other port types.
|Female Thread Minor ID||AN Size||Male Thread Size||Could Also Be!|
|0.330" to 0.340"||3AN||3/8-24||M10* (0.330" - 0.341")|
|0.383" to 0.395"||4AN||7/16-20||1/8 NPT (0.36"), M12* (0.398")|
|0.502" to 0.515"||6AN||9/16-18||1/4 NPT (0.47"), M14 (0.499")|
|0.682" to 0.696"||8AN||3/4-16||M20* (0.681" - 0.699")|
|0.798" to 0.814"||10AN||7/8-14||1/2 NPT (0.75"), M22 (0.802" - 0.814")|
|0.972" to 0.990"||12AN||1 1/16-12||3/4 NPT (0.95"), 1 1/8-7 UNC (0.970" - 0.998"), M27x2* (0.978" - 0.993")|
|1.222" to 1.240"||16AN||1 5/16-12||1" NPT (1.20"), M33x2* (1.214" - 1.229")|
* The thread pitch on these metric sizes are also quite close to the thread pitch of some SAE sizes (1.0mm = 25.4 TPI, 1.25mm = 20.3 TPI, 1.5mm = 16.9 TPI, 2mm = 12.7 TPI). You must measure carefully to be sure!
If you compare the male OD in the first table to the female ID in the last table, you will note that (with the exception of 3AN and 4AN), no two AN sizes are even close enough to start threading together. If you try to install a 10AN hose end on your 8AN male fitting, they won't cross-thread or even "almost" fit together. The 10AN male will literally drop over the 8AN fitting and then fall right off.
As long as you are dealing with AN fittings, a proper fit will be obvious and a mismatch will be impossible to assemble.
Next Step: Assembly
Now that you know what size AN fittings you have, and you have ordered matching hose ends or other parts, it's time to tighten the fittings. How tight is tight?
Click here to read our simple instructions for How to Tighten AN Plumbing Fittings!
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