Why Pop-Up Valves are Safer than Camlocks


By Tom Enger, MS, CSP, CHMM, CFM, Clemco Industries Corp.

The Danger of Camlocks

Ever wonder why camlock closures have so many bolts, locks and lugs, and require many steps to seal and release? Camlock closures need extra security measures, because otherwise they would not stay safely sealed. If an operator misses or misunderstands any of a camlock’s locking or unlocking steps, unlocks it too soon, or if the camlock develops a leak, a blowout could occur.

A pop-up valve in Clemco’s Big Clem bulk blaster.  photos: courtesy of Clemco industries corp.

a Naturally Safe choice

Blast-machine manufacturers have used pop-up valves to seal pressure vessels for decades, because pop-up valves have proven to be a safe and reliable pressure-vessel closure system. Their plungers naturally rise to seal the pressure vessel after pressure inside pushes the plunger up. Then after a pressure vessel depressurizes, the pop-up valve plunger releases on its own. As long as a pressure vessel is pressurized, the pop-up valve plunger remains tightly and safely sealed.

Pop-up valves harness the natural power of pressure to their advantage, which is why we use them in Clemco’s Big Clem Bulk Blasters. No guesswork, extra steps or extra locking mechanisms are required with pop-up valves. You don’t have to rely on busy operators to take time away from blasting to climb a bulk-blaster pressure vessel to open or close a pop-up valve.

one contractor’s experience

“One of our California facilities was using sand cans [bulk blasters] that weren’t Clemco,” said Jose Corona (right), a coatings superintendent for multinational construction and maintenance contractor PCL Industrial Services. “We became aware of safety issues and decided to look for replacements.” 

“I told the facility operations manager that the Clemco blasters at my [Phoenix-based nuclear power generation] site use pop-up plungers, not camlocks—and we haven’t had a hint of safety problems,” he added. “We replaced our fleet at the California site with Clemco Big Clems, not only because of their safety, but because of the service we have received.”

One of the two 160-cuft Clemco Big Clem Bulk Blasters that Corona's crew uses at the nuclear generating facility.

To learn more, visit clemcoindustries.com/bigclem.

Claims or positions expressed by sponsoring authors do not necessarily reflect the views of TPC, PaintSquare or its editors.


Tom Enger, MS, CSP, CHMM, CFM, Clemco Industries Corp.

Tom Enger is Director of Product Safety at Clemco Industries Corp. He is a Certified Safety Professional with more than 30 years of environmental, health and safety experience. Expertise: construction, explosives manufacturing, government affairs, abrasive blasting. Experience: adjunct faculty at Maricopa CC (AZ), author of many articles and safety seminar presenter.