By David Koehler
copyright 11-30-05
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A Review of Combo-Flo Air Operated Solenoids
Combo-Flo 500 plate air operted solenoid
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In the future, all racecar electrical-activated items will be wireless. You
heard it here first.

Why would I wish for such a thing? I always found the proper wiring of
a race car to be the most time consuming and sometimes annoying of
all race car systems. I want a better way.

In the meantime as I trudged on, dealing with wire, numerous relays,
switches and the labor required to install and maintain a nitrous system
I dreamed of an air system to control the nitrous. An air operated
system could virtually eliminate any if not all of the amp draw, all the
wires, terminal blocks and relays.

A broad statement can be made that 95 percent of racecar problems
can be traced to electrical issues so if I could eliminate some of the
electrical hardware the percentage of potential mystery problems
would decrease. A single stage plate can pull down 10 - 40 amps and a
nozzle system can pull down anywhere from 20 to 50 amps per stage
depending on the solenoids used. This is a huge amount of battery
drain. If I could get rid of that amp draw perhaps but not likely, I could
quit badgering nitrous racers to install alternators and voltage
controllers.

At the very least, a huge portion of the battery capacity could be better
utilized keeping the ignition doing the job it was intended to do. With
less amp draw and likely lighter weight units it would almost be like
free HP. I believed air could be the next step until the no loss battery
and miracle wireless; no amp solenoid coils were invented. I really
wanted to simplify my job but alas, my education was insufficient in this
area so nothing tangible ever came of it.

Air operated systems have been around forever in the industrial world.
If you work in any kind of manufacturing I will bet that there is some
item or function that is air controlled. Air throttle controllers, shifters
and trans brakes have been around in drag cars for a while and proven
their dependability and quick action. The nitro Fuel teams utilize pretty
complicated air logic systems to run their fuel and clutch and I just
figured an air operated system had to happen some day.

Eureka! Doug Mills of Mills Specialty Products has come to the
rescue. His company, Combo-Flo is producing air operated valves for
nitrous systems. They are designed to replace and upgrade nitrous
systems that currently use electric solenoids.

After working with them for a while I felt that calling them pneumatic
operated nitrous valves was a bit long, boring and did not make for a
neat acronym sooo. I hereby dub them Airnoids.