: Tube Benders
Oct 13th, 10, 08:46 AM
I am in the market for a tube bender. I have been looking on and off for years hoping to find a used one with lots of dies. Seems like noboby ever sells these things once they have one.
My question is do any of you have one or experience with one? Any suggestions or things to look out for? For the most part they all work the same (as far as the ones I was looking at). What brands do you suggest?
Summit even carries one now and the dies are a lot cheaper than any of the other models out there. http://www.summitracing.com/parts/HCK-WFB2
There are several Pro tools models as well.
I think I want one that can bend 180* Do I want a vertical or horizontal? I know the vertical ones take up less shop space and can be rolled around.
Manual or hydraulic? Not going into production, but not sure I want a workout in the middle of trying to build something either. Just how hard and slow are the manual benders?
Watching videos of the air over hydraulic benders makes me wonder if it's worth it, the extra noise and they aren't very fast.
I have never owned one nor operated one of these types of benders. I am looking for advice here. I'm ready to pull the trigger on one and I'm leaning towards the Woodward Fab unit because the dies are cheaper and Summit carries them. I don't want it if it's made in China though, I will pay extra and get an American made unit.
Oct 13th, 10, 09:30 AM
What general range of material are you looking to fabricate?
For the normal bracket and fine detail stuff the smaller hand operated vertical units work quite well.
The roller-type units (both manual and foot-pedal operated) units are also pretty nice. But, they use extra material on either end to get the middle to bend correctly, so waste can be an issue.
But, when you start getting above @1" with some of them they can be a real struggle to get the angle and bends right as you trying to brace yourself against something to pull (or push) hard enough on the handle ...
I've used several different types and brands, including a huge 'Pines' and an older Baileigh hand type (It was firmly anchored in the shop and you could get some nice accurate bends on it with a little practice) - again, as long as the material was @0.125 or thinner and under 1~1.5" - it was pretty touch to get any type of >2" material bend to come out right without some practice, lots of bending and trimming to get it ...
The local muffler guy near me uses a "Bend-Pak"(sp?) unit for tail pipes up to 4" - it is a nice unit and has setable deg. stops for accurate bends.
If money isn't the final hurdle, I would look towards a surplus/used unit in a bigger size that will fit all your needs. May cost more (and may need 220~240VAC - but should be single-phase) but it would certainly be able to do bends in thicker/larger material.
If you just trying to do some trick fab stuff in smaller (<1.5" thin-wall) material look for a decent hand operated unit you can mount to the floor.
Maybe you could PM Jodie, Frank or others who do lots of this sort of fab. type bending and see what they recommend ;)
BTW - I tried using one of those 'Harbour-Fright' vertical hydraulic units once to do some bends for someones exhaust - what a waste of time that was ...
Maybe thicker wall stuff would bend okay in them, but the time it takes to set it up and get the material fed in correctly was a mess.
He took it back the next day and we had a local shop bend the system for us :cool:
ps: I :waving: as I went by on 80 Sat. morning on the way to the mountains :thumbsup:
Oct 13th, 10, 01:18 PM
Royce I have a couple I use when making fuel and brake lines. One I can actually make the 360 bends for the brake lines at the master cylinder on the smaller diameter tubing. I'm still in Berlin tonight, but when I get back to USA this weekend I will post the manufacturer and model numbers for you.
Oct 13th, 10, 05:23 PM
I guess I should have been a little more clear. I'm talking material up to 2" and wall thickness up to .120" I thought by saying tube bender and not tubing bender, that would have made it clear. I'm talking roll cages, buggy frames, go kart frames, etc... not fuel lines, I have all those benders coverd already.
I don't think the muffler shop style benders will handle thicker walled stuff. I see those used from time to time.
Oct 14th, 10, 08:23 AM
A friend of mine bent black schedule 40(?) water pipe for a roll bar hoop with a Harbor Freight hydraulic bender. He welded plates to the sides of the die to keep the pipe from collapsing/kinking. I don't know why a muffler shop unit wouldn't bend the thicker wall stuff maybe just not all day every day without failure issues.
Oct 14th, 10, 08:35 AM
I have seen electricians on jobs bend conduit up to 4 inches with GreenLee benders they were hydraulic and were obviously portable and worked great.
Oct 14th, 10, 08:37 AM
I figured you were talking about 'bigger' tube sizes - knowing how you like to "go big" most of the time :D
I agree that some of the lighter duty benders used by muffler shops would probably struggle to do the big thicker wall stuff - I checked the spec.s for the 'Bend-Pak' unit at 'Greg's' here locally and it says it's up to 0.095" wall for 3" tube ...
Also found one for sale on CL - http://sacramento.craigslist.org/tls/2004542032.html
Other than used, sites like 'Trick Tool' ( http://www.trick-tools.com/tube_bending_machines.htm ) and others may be your best source.
I'll keep my eyes open for prospects :thumbsup:
Oct 14th, 10, 08:25 PM
There is a difference between pipe and tube. The HF bender and Greenlee benders are "pipe" benders. I've bent pipe/conduit before (worked as an industrial electrician). Tube is measured OD (outside diameter) pipe is measured ID (inside diameter). Meaning 2" will actually be larger than 2" tubing. Pipe benders can't be used to bend tubing, they will kink and crush tubing. You thread pipe, you don't thread tubing.
I actually have one of the HF pipe benders, and they are just about useless, for any kind of precision or fabrication work. Just pay shipping and I'll send it to you, lol.
There are a lot of tubing benders on the market, none are really low cost, but if I'm going to lay out the cash I just want to make sure I get a decent unit that will last and works right. The Woodward Fab unit is very similar (read copy) of some of the more well known benders. What I like about it is, the dies are cheaper. You can easily have a couple grand tied up in dies alone with many of the benders.
I guess my main questions were. Do I want to go full hydraulic? How hard are the manual units to use/ Are the air over hyd. units decent? (they seemed fairly slow and loud). Are vertical or horizontal benders prefered? Why?
Oct 15th, 10, 10:07 AM
... You thread pipe, you don't thread tubing.
... I guess my main questions were. Do I want to go full hydraulic? How hard are the manual units to use/ Are the air over hyd. units decent? (they seemed fairly slow and loud). Are vertical or horizontal benders prefered? Why?
Nope :noway: - I "SwageLok" on 'tube' :D
And you can't thread EMT 'Pipe' ;) (just being a smart ars ...)
I would think full hydraulic (specially if you are thinking of going DOM) would be more accurate for most work.
They have a predictable linear pressure application and should be easlier to get precision bends from.
I would think the Air-over would be harder to control and the bend result different for each given application of 'pressure'. High take-up at first and then reduced travel as resistance builds vs. a hydraulic. May seem 'faster' though ...
Seems like you more inclined to want repeatable consistance localized bends in the pieces your fabricating rather than 'sweeps' or radius' that are more common with the hand operated or roller forming units.
That pretty much limits you to a fixed die type system to get that result.
So I guess dies are going to be the necessary evil here ...
Isn't there a 'shop/tool guy' that displays at the GoodGuys shows ???
Don't remember a 'brand' he sells, but he did have a lot of different home shop type equipment.
Maybe he will be at the Nov. meet.
Oh, I think the shipping cost of your old HFT 'pipe-crimper' would be more than the fuel to drive to Pete's house and use his - so I'll pass l:)
Oct 16th, 10, 05:13 PM
Nope - I "SwageLok" on 'tube'
And you can't thread EMT 'Pipe' (just being a smart ars ...)
Ok smarty. I flare tube and use tube nuts.
Oct 17th, 10, 08:51 AM
And you can't thread EMT 'Pipe' (just being a smart ars ...)
EMT stands for Electrical Metalic Tubing so it's not "pipe" (takes one to know one!)
RMC or GRC on the other hand must be threaded (Rigid Metallic Conduit)
Oct 17th, 10, 02:22 PM
:yes: Jeff :thumbsup: Dang near any legal conduit with an "R" in it 'could' be threaded - but I don't let my contractors do it on all of them, to many short (or long) cuts can happen ... ;)
I got tired of walking around with a tape measure to find where they were 'running' fittings before the inspectors caught it :sad: