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viega [not] bagging press sleeves
don't know if this is old news although I couldn't find any references when searching.
I've been using the viega press sleeves for water and heat connections for about 4 years I think.
They had a good rebate on the 1/2 and 3/4" tool set and I think I got the pair for $100.
It might have been $200 but pretty cheap compared to what they want these days.
Like many folks on the wall from the posts I did find searching on the topic, if you are going to use a crimp system, this is perhaps the most convenient and reliable.
So I got a job with a bunch of 3/8" connections and I decided it was time to branch out and maybe get a 3/8 and 1" tool to finish filling the box I got with my first purchase that has the blow molded spots just waiting for them.
After I got over the sticker shock of what they wanted for a 1" crimper ($339 was the best I found - but obviously I got a good deal on the pair in the box so I was spoiled) since I don't find the system prevalent among the plumbing distributors in southern new england or on the internet, I thought I'd cal veiga and just make sure they weren't phasing out these crimps and joining the more universally available crimp world.
I didn't know at the time I started looking into this yesterday, because my regular counters don't carry viega, that they have started selling loaded fittings, i.e. with the shields already in place. So it seems like they are committed to the format, but there is a caveat here.
They are no longer going to sell press sleeves separately.
Of course I invested in this system when that was all you could get. And like many folks in the industry I know, I mix and match crimps and fittings. I know that means that you don't get a 'warranty' but all my work is in house - I'm the warranty - and 5 years of nary a drip has me feeling reasonably secure in this approach, not to mention that I see this approach taken in the field by industry professionals as well. This was mentioned on another thread here 3 or 4 years ago and the poster said something to the effect that viega would throw a hissy fit, but the sleeves and fittings are interchangeable. I use them on my older polybeautiful installs as well on the rare occasions I need to make a join (with PB fittings of course)
Well Viega is fighting back. guess they want to sell fittings and only selling them loaded is how they think they are going to do it.
When I spoke to the local sales manager for our area he acted like - everybody has know this for a year and a half. this is old news. The factory is selling out all the sleeves they have on the shelf but when they are gone you won't get any more.
So I head on down to local supplier to buy a decade supply of press sleeves while i wait for this to sort itself out or the patent to expire so somebody might make generics and the supplier wants to know why I want to buy 2000 rings. So I figured he knew they aren't going to sell them anymore. The sales manager told me everybody knew. He says no, they told us when they came out with these loaded fittings that they are going to continue to support loose sleeves as well. And to add irony to their lack of knowledge as a distributor of what viega was up to, the viega regional sales manager used to work for them.
Now I know viega wants to sell fittings and if they want to take their ball and bat and go home relative to us early adopters who don't feel like paying 3 times as much for a loaded fitting, well, that's their option.
When put on the spot by a couple plumbers round here I got worked up about this, some folks at viega say they aren't 'discontinuing' these rings for a couple of years and that makes sense because some of their valves aren't even available loaded yet. But the person I talked to said they are only selling what is on the shelf. Maybe those two representations are not incompatible in that they may believe that the stock they have on the shelf serves two years of demand, but they are out of 1" sleeves at the factory so no more will be available to distributors according to the woman I talked to. That is pretty important information for me when I was about to drop $350 bucks on a 1" crimper.
And, of course, I wonder how long that stock is going to last when everybody figures out the jig is up. In appreciation of the help, comradeship, and thoughtless . . . eer I mean thoughtful . . . critique I've found on heating help over the years, wanted to make sure this audience is at least in the loop in case you want to start hoarding.
If anyone has any other info, and the folks I talked to were smoking crack or something even though they answered the phone at Viega, by all means chime in.
one plumber I know said he had seen a vanguard sleeve that looked similar to the viega sleeve at a trade show. I did find a picture online of a sleeve that has numerous inspection holes around the top rim of the thimble as opposed to the single hole high on the side of the viega sleeve, however this picture was virtually free floating out there on google. can't find these for sale anywhere. and couldn't find them when searching vanguardth. if they exist somewhere might be an alternative.