Spades and Spacers

Spade and Spacers are part of a family referred to as Line Blinds. Together they perform the same function as a Spectacle Blind as essentially a simplistic valve. The Spade or Spacer is fitted in the line between two flanges and is bolted in place. The Spacer is used when the line is required open and the Paddle Blind or Spade is installed when the line is required to be blocked or closed. To change it from open to closed, only half the bolts need to be removed and the Spade or Spacer is swapped over. The removed bolts are then installed and tightened. The handle protrudes from the pipe and provides an indicator of whether a Spade or Spacer is installed.

For smaller Spades and Spacers it is common for the Spacer to have a hole in the handle and the Spade or Paddle Blind to have no hole. For larger sizes Spectacle Blinds can be very bulky and occupy a lot of space so Spades and Spacers are preferred.


When maintenance is required, it is usually used to isolate a section of pipe or isolate a device. Because this is a semi-permanent isolation, it is very safe and safety is often the mentality behind the use of a Spade and Spacer in maintenance operations. They are cheap and robust compared to a valve. 

Spades and Spacers - Identification

So the item in the line can be identified easily, a Spade and Spacer will be clearly marked with the word “SPADE” or “SPACER” stamped on the handle.  Additionally it will be clearly marked with its size, rating, standard, material, heat number, Balcombe Engineering stamp and production traceability code. We are able to stamp any additional part identification and process traceability on the Spade and Spacer.

Spades and Spacers - Handles

The handles provided on Spades and Spacers vary according to function, assembly weight, project specifications and site preferences.

Where the pipes are lagged there may be a requirement for longer handles so they protrude past the lagging. Larger sizes can exceed 25kg so sometimes a lifting attachment on the Spade or Spacer is required. This may be put on the handle or be additional to it.

On some sites there is a need for a indicator to make it obvious whether a Spade or Spacer is in the line. For these sites the Spade and Spacers are fitted with handles with visually obvious indicators.

Spades and Spacers - Standards

Balcombe Engineering manufactures Spade and Spacers in Australia for a variety of industries. The most commonly used standards are ASME B16.48 (similar to the API 590) which covers Spade and Spacers for pipes up to nominal bore of 600mm depending on the pressure class. This standard refers to B16.5 which provides the dimensions for the mating flanges.

Other standards exist and Balcombe Engineering are able to rapidly manufacture Spade and Spacers to comply with these standards or company specific drawings.

Spades and Spacers - Sealing Faces

Typically Spade and Spacers are produced as a flat face, raised face or ring joint sealing surface depending on the application requirement. The spiral sealing face is a specified finish typically Ra 3.2µm-6.3µm.

Spades and Spacers - Materials

As an Australian manufacturer, Balcombe Engineering are able to manufacture the Spades and Spacers in a material with the testing as required by the client specification. Typically Spades and Spacers will be manufactured from carbon or stainless steels. Typical carbon steel materials are AS1548 460NR, A516 Gr70 or forgings like A105, A350 LF2, A350 LF3. In corrosion resistant materials A240 P316L, A240 P304L, UNS31803 are common. Less common but easily supplied are Super Duplex 2205 and Incoloy 625.

Additionally, specialist finishes are available, for example - galvanising, PTFE coatings and linings and various epoxy finishes.

Spades and Spacers - Corrosion Protection and Packaging

Each Spade and Spacer will always have 2 sealing faces so significant sealing face protection is required.  Whether you want the Spade and Spacers protected for 2 weeks or 2 years, Balcombe Engineering have a packing system that the Spade and Spacers arrived at the installation in good condition.  Our sales team are happy to provide additional information if more robust corrosion protection is required.

Spades and Spacers - Special

Sometimes a specific engineering requirement may dictate the need for special material and construction type required to produce the Spade and Spacers. Balcombe Engineering are a manufacturer with full ISO 9001 certification and are able to produce to your requirements including detailed testing and documentation.   All material is traced through the Balcombe Engineering system and ITPs and MDRs are available on request. Your order can be packaged in line with your engineering or project specifications and we are set up to complete the tasks within remarkably short delivery time frames.

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