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Need Feedback on Harbor Freight Pipe/Tubing Bender

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 51ChevPU, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. 51ChevPU
    Joined: Jan 27, 2006
    Posts: 1,076

    51ChevPU
    Member
    from Arizona

    I'm in need of an inexpensive tubing bender. Probably wouldn't do anything larger than 2 inch tubing with .120 wall. I know the Harbor Freight stuff is typically suspect, but I thought I'd throw this out there for some comments from my fellow hot rodders who have used their 12 ton pipe bender. They have two models, one is a horizontal and the other is both horizontal and vertical bender. Your comments will help guide me. Thanks.
     
  2. junk-junkie
    Joined: May 1, 2005
    Posts: 122

    junk-junkie
    Member
    from Arvada CO

    It's a pipe bender, not a tube bender, and it's useless for our purposes. Theres no cheap way around it.
     
  3. e z i
    Joined: Sep 5, 2007
    Posts: 578

    e z i
    Member

    my dad has one. it's useless. all it does is kink the tubing.
     
  4. Bigblock351w
    Joined: Feb 16, 2008
    Posts: 115

    Bigblock351w
    BANNED

    on almost the same subject.

    how about there English wheel?

    any good?
     

  5. topcat662
    Joined: Feb 14, 2006
    Posts: 373

    topcat662
    Member
    from NM


    It beats doing it by hand!! I have some harbor frieght stuff as I'm usually broke and usually you can beef their stuff up a little to make it work better. It should bend the tubing fine just take your time. It won't bend exhaust tube that well though as it will usually kink. Just remember sometimes you get what you pay for.

    Eddie
     
  6. Bending a 2 inch tube with a .120 wall will be a hefty job. Most deff need the proper tool to get it done. Remember tubing is OD. and pipe is ID.
     
  7. ray-jay
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 200

    ray-jay
    Member
    from Buford GA

    One of my buds bought one. They called it a pipe masher.
     
  8. lackluster
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 75

    lackluster
    Member

    The harbor freight jobbies really won't do what you're hoping it will. As ray-jay mentioned, they're really just good for mashing the pipe in on one side, massively kinking and distorting it. It won't give you a radiused "bend". You need something that will help the outside of the radius stretch otherwise you get severely weakened and useless steel. Good luck!
     
  9. Bigblock351w
    Joined: Feb 16, 2008
    Posts: 115

    Bigblock351w
    BANNED

    what about my question?
     
  10. HemiRambler
    Joined: Aug 26, 2005
    Posts: 4,208

    HemiRambler
    Member

    I have used one (the horizontal one) and for it's INTENDED purpose it does work OK. But to reinforce what the others have said - it's INTENDED USE is to BEND PIPE - NOT TUBING. They work pretty shitty if you try to bend tubing with them.

    If your intention is to bend up tubing for a roll cage or similar car type uses - I'm afraid you will be sadly dissapointed in it's performance.

    Do NOT get hung up on the capacity - the thicker the wall - the "easier" it is to bend!!! By "easier" I mean it is LESS LIKELY to kink. The FINESSE (sp?) comes in being able to BEND THIN WALL TUBING - that's why you see all of them with a "wiper" die. Physically it is naturally easier to bend thin wall tubing - the trick is to not kink it.

    IMHO your best bet will be to get one of the HOSSFELD copy cat benders - they work amazing well - as a matter of fact the bends produced on some of them rival a full on MANDREL bender. They aren't exactly cheap - but they ain't real bad either. Last time I looked the bender itself was soemthing like 300 and where they "get you" is on the dies. IF you have a buddy who is INTO the same stuff - you can coordinate your efforts and buy 1/2 as many dies as you need.

    I also see those benders for sale at the "roundy round" swap meets. I've got a small fortune wrapped up in mine, but it was worth every penny. BTW I bought a "Chuck Smith Motorsports" bender. His service has been outstanding. Another thing to consider is what die type are you gonna buy?? Not only radius but DEGREE OF BEND. You need more than 180 deg of die to make a 180 degree bend due to spring back. Granted it's rare that you need to bend 180, but it happens.

    Another thing to consider - I saw a guy (maybe it was right here on the HAMB) save money buying dies by buying a BIG die and then bending a piece of tubing and using that tubing as a reducer sleeve by splitting the tube and using it as a spacer- neat idea!
     
  11. Ingenuity at it's finest.:cool:
     
  12. TopHat
    Joined: Jul 24, 2007
    Posts: 35

    TopHat
    Member
    from NC

    Yes the HF pipe bender will only make your tubing supplier rich and your scrap pile large. I have one and haven't found ANYTHING that it is usable for.

    TopHat
     
  13. slam49
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 165

    slam49
    Member
    from tulsa ok

    i have a pipe bender and like others have said it kinks the tubing, its designed to bend pipe.. pipe is bigger diameter than tubing so the dies are to wide to bend tube. all though you can fill the tube with sand, cap the ends, and take you time usually it works with decent results
     
  14. Rootie Kazoootie
    Joined: Nov 27, 2006
    Posts: 8,134

    Rootie Kazoootie
    Member
    from Colorado

    FWIW- I have no personal experiance with the h/f bender, but I came across this a while back. It appears this guy figured out a cheap and easy way to make decent bends in 1-5/8 .134 tubing using the h/f bender. Scroll down to the first post by 'joescoolcustoms' here: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=266004
     

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  15. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,583

    krooser
    Member

    I have one...kinks tubing every time. Does OK on pipe, though.
     
  16. While we were racing dirt cars a tube bender was a must. Picked this one up at a sale. Bender was a bargain and came with a ton of dies. None of which I could actualy use but nevertheless they were included. The 1-1/2" tubing die cost more than the bender so I made the spacer die to accomidate 1-1/4" tubing. The degree wheel on top comes in extremly handy. Dies for this bender can be bought for 2" tubing,and it will not kink. Just shop around these are for sale quite often. The brand name is Hossfield.
     

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  17. jacksdad
    Joined: Aug 2, 2007
    Posts: 6

    jacksdad
    Member
    from San Diego

    For those of you who bought one and have given up on it, it takes some modification but you can bend tubing with the HF pipe bender. I used mine to bend all the tubes for a mini dwarf chassis I'm building for my kid (in fact he did some of the bends himself and he's only eight. His mig welding is coming along nicely too...).
    The first problem is that the rollers on either side will kink the crap out of the tubing (I used 1 1/4" od x .095" DOM), so I slid two 6" lengths of 1 1/4" id thick wall plumbing pipe over the sections that run through the rollers and solved that problem for about $6. A word of warning though - one of the pipes will get trapped on the tubing if you did more than one bend on a single length, but I found a short section of the DOM tubing I was bending sliced along the middle and taped in place where the rollers make contact did just as good a job as the thick wall stuff.
    The problem that seems to have given the HF bender it's bad reputation is that instead of putting a smooth bend in tubing, the die simply pushes it up until it kinks in the middle. I got around that by making a clamp using exhaust U-bolts, a couple of clevis pins, mild steel angle iron and other odds and ends to hold the center down as you operate the jack. The two holes in the bottom of the die were opened up to locate it with the pins and you simply tighten the U-bolts down to seat the pipe securely in the die. I can go a little over 90 degrees, and without using heat or sand the bends come out pretty nice. It's never going to be JD2 quality, but the bender cost me about $70 on sale, and the mods set me back maybe $20 in materials. For what I have invested in it I'm more than happy. If you make one be sure to check it's not too wide to fit between the top plates on the bender - I didn't think of that when I made mine but luckily it just squeezes through.
     

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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  18. scott 351 wins
    Joined: Dec 22, 2009
    Posts: 434

    scott 351 wins
    Member

    i have a jd squared bender nice unit.
     
  19. jacksdad
    Joined: Aug 2, 2007
    Posts: 6

    jacksdad
    Member
    from San Diego

    I'd love a JD squared, but it's too expensive for what I need right now. One day...
     
  20. grant598
    Joined: Mar 20, 2010
    Posts: 16

    grant598
    Member
    from georgia

    ive got one and it works pretty good so far without any mods.i made a bumper for my truck with a bull bar on it and didnt have any problems.it was made out of 2in tubing my bull bar is over ninety degres and it kink the tubing just a little but that was because it did not have any more room to bend.
     
  21. I'm hoping that in the 2+ years this thread was dead the OP figured it out...

    BTW, aluminum sheet "sleeves" in the main die will usually keep the tubing from kinking unless it's very thin wall. For example: 1 1/4" pipe has an OD of 1.660". To bend 1 1/2 tubing with the same die, you would need to shim it with .080 aluminum (1/2 the difference). To do 1 5/8 tubing, you would need about .017"...etc. I'd use a Roloc disc on the die and rollers to get the casting imperfections out as well.
     
  22. jacksdad
    Joined: Aug 2, 2007
    Posts: 6

    jacksdad
    Member
    from San Diego

    "I'm hoping that in the 2+ years this thread was dead the OP figured it out..."

    Hopefully, but I just wanted to pass on an idea that's worked out pretty well for me. HF still make them and I'm sure there are guys kinking tube with them in their garage as I write, so I thought that even given the date of the first post it was worthwhile passing it on. Right now - for about a hundred bucks - I have a tubing bender. Not top of the line, but good enough for me to fabricate most, if not all, of what I have planned on the never ending list of ongoing projects.
    I agree about the casting imperfections. As cast the dies could use a clean up as they do leave some marks - nothing major but it's there. I like the idea of shimming the dies as they're meant for pipe and they don't exactly match the o.d of tubing.
     
  23. jacksdad
    Joined: Aug 2, 2007
    Posts: 6

    jacksdad
    Member
    from San Diego

    One day I'll ante up for some of the tubing bender plans I've seen online and a couple of dies, but for now the HF bender is doing everything I want it to do. Anything significantly over 90 degrees is out of the question unless you cut and weld 2 pieces together (not ideal if its stressed), but otherwise it's worked out nicely for my needs. That said, I'm going to try shimming it with aluminum to see if I can improve the fit of the tubing in the die.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010
  24. Chuckles Garage
    Joined: Jun 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,366

    Chuckles Garage
    Alliance Vendor


    I sincerely doubt that you bent 2" tubing over 90 degrees with one of those and it only kinked a little.

    Well......unless you used a torch, and the tubing was really solid bar haha.
     

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