Parker Colorflow valves have been a global standard in industrial and mobile applications for more than 60 years. The exclusive colored rings found on metering, flow control, and needle valves provide users highly visible checkpoints that allow for accurate and quick set/reset of valve positions. Though they have changed very little since development, they are quickly adapting to a new digital age.
Colorflow inventor brothers, Ted and Julius Zajac, were born to Polish immigrant parents in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood, a solidly working-class neighborhood overlooking Cleveland’s vast industrial valley and the Cuyahoga River. They were raised, like our founder Art Parker, in the same area surrounded by industry and innovation. Although the Parkers and the Zajacs were separated by a few decades, their family homes were located only a dozen blocks apart.
During their lifetime, the Zajac brothers would found several companies and author 20 patents. One such company was Manatrol Corporation, a company known for innovative fluid control, founded in 1958. Within a few years, they would receive their patent on a unique flow control valve (Patent No. 3,085,592) that they named their Colorflow line. It is hard to imagine if the brothers could have foreseen that tens of millions of their valves would be manufactured over the course of several decades, but as they filed their patent, they began the story of their Colorflow line.
In 1963, Manatrol Corporation merged with Perry Fay Corporation in Elyria, Ohio, and in 1969 was acquired by Parker. The Manatrol Division of Parker Hannifin was created, the foundation of what would eventually become the Hydraulic Valve Division (HVD) of today.
Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood, childhood homes of Art Parker and the Zajac brothers—also the first location of Manatrol Corporation during the 1950s. Interestingly enough, Art Parker’s first location of the Parker Appliance Company was in the adjacent neighborhood of Cleveland’s Ohio City during the 1920s. Photo by Glenn Petranek @ glennpics.com
Over the next several decades, manufacturing of Colorflow flow control, needle, metering and check valves continued to grow. Based on a common design standard and footprint, Colorflow valves control flow in a variety of applications. With steel, brass, and stainless steel options, nitrile and fluorocarbon seals, as well as NPTF, SAE, BSPP, and BSPT ports, Colorflow valves from Parker offer the flexibility to adapt into any system. You’ll find them in industrial applications like tire presses, pulp, and paper equipment, and die casting machines. They are also common to mobile applications such as agricultural sprayers, forklifts, and wheel loaders. Colorflow valves help customers everywhere get the job done.
Check valves (C series) are offered in metal seated configurations for particularly aggressive applications with high temperature or contamination or with proprietary soft seating poppets that combine the rugged benefits of metal seated valves with the low leakage performance provided by soft seated designs. While these valves are not used in place of load-holding valves, they offer reliable performance on a variety of power units around the globe protecting pumps and sensitive equipment from downstream pressure spikes.
Needle valves (N series and MV series) provide hydraulic technicians and machine operators a method of variable speed control that can be coarsely adjusted through the use of the Vernier indications on the needle stem. These valves are indispensable when creating a variety of flow and pressure conditions on test stands and for tuning in a power unit or the speed of a cylinder or motor. A micro-fine needle with special milling is available for applications that require extremely fine control.
By integrating needle valves with the metal poppet and seat from the C series check valves, flow control valves (F series) provide for the ability to create meter-in or meter-out hydraulic circuits which can be particularly useful in controlling overrunning loads. By integrating these functions together, a system benefits from fewer fittings and fewer potential leak points. Flow control and needle valves can both be set in position by use of a set screw, a finger-adjustable screw, or by permanently installing a tamperproof pin.
Pressure compensated flow control valves (PC*K and PC*M series) incorporate a pressure-reducing compensator spool to a standard flow control valve. This compensator provides for a constant motor or cylinder speed regardless of any fluctuations in supply pressure or in downstream loading either by the flow setting provided by a fixed control orifice or the variable needle with Vernier graduations. These valves can be ordered with or without an integrated check valve depending on whether a system requires reverse flow through the valve to be restricted through the control orifice/needle valve or to be free flow. A particularly interesting application for series PCCK valves is for subsea blowout preventer (BOP) control. PCCK valves can be used in combination with hydraulic motors, like those from Parker Calzoni, to actuate BOP rams with predictable response speed.
In 2021, an initiative began to bring the valves into the digital space. In a modern era where society is increasingly coming accustomed to both seeing and scanning 2D barcodes using smartphones, Parker’s Hydraulic Valve Division adapted the manufacturing and computing changes to incorporate the 2D barcodes on every valve manufactured. Customers now have a unique access point of information and capability.
For the first time in history, each valve now comes individually serialized, embedded inside the 2D barcode. Traceability and quality assurance are inherent to individual serialization. With an increase in counterfeiting and imitation, customers have increased confidence they are receiving genuine Parker parts.
With this ease of access, buying additional valves through eCommerce has become even easier. After scanning the Colorflow valve, a convenient “Buy Now” button provides a streamlined path to order valves and get them delivered to your address. Our vast network of Parker Distribution functions as eFulfillment.
For a customer physically holding an existing product, information on the valve is now at their fingertips. Pressure drop curves, an installation guide, Colorflow FAQs, and performance limits provide all-encompassing confidence and understanding for an end-user of the product.
The primary tool to access all this information is the Parker Tracking System (PTS) Mobile app. Initially scanning the barcode links a user to download the Parker-backed mobile application.
To download the mobile app and view a Colorflow F400S example, scan here:
From origins in Cleveland’s Industrial Valley to incorporation into the digital space, Colorflow valves are built tough and here to stay. Countless industries worldwide will continue to enjoy the proven quality and performance and will gain access to important product information at their fingertips.
Parker Hydraulic Valve Division is proud to bring Colorflow into the modern era and looks forward to manufacturing these valves for decades to come. As was in the days of the Zajac brothers, these Colorflow flow valves are made in America—built by the hard-working people in Elyria, Ohio.
This article was contributed by Mike Giammo, product sales manager and Mitch Eichler, business development manager, Parker's Hydraulic Valve Division.