Eastwood’s Tubing Bender offers an inexpensive solution to rolling your own.
Geoff Stunkard - February 07, 2013 10:00 AM
The Pro-Former by Eastwood is shipped in a fairly compact box; the unit is packaged in reusable Styrofoam if you want to put it away when you are done.
Only assembly required is to install the jack and get the die you plan to use in place.
The dies are steel, the followers are aluminum. We found that some disassembly was easier when refitting the followers and dies, so we unhooked the jack.
Allen keys attached the aluminum followers, while steel die is a roller below it. We found the round Allen opening was impressed into the inner radius of the tubing being bent.
This steel hoop (in two sizes like the steel dies) supports the end of the metal as you bend it; as it takes the pressure of holding the tube to the die and follower, it was a very tight fit on the larger sizes.
One recommendation we have would be to use light grease or anti-seize on all the pinned components.
Working within the compact area of numerous bends would be a challenge on tubing requiring multiple bends over the course of a yard length or more. We recommend making the bends from the shorter end of your project tube length.
On smaller diameter, this was what came out after a single bend; again, for thicker wall sizes and more serious radius bends, this may not fit the bill, but if you need something that will handle small fab jobs, this may be your ticket.
This 1.5-inch pipe did gall from the die dragging it through the edge of the die. A little lubrication might help, but the pipe needs to be kept firmly in place by pressure to be bent regardless.
This image shows the unit on the bench with the dies and followers unpinned; you can store this with minimal hassle and leave the dies in the Styrofoam packaging.
For most of the hands-on automotive hobby, adding substructures of tube steel to a performance vehicle is considered something to be left to the experts.
And, in truth, you really do want to have excellent gusseting and welding on your life-saving equipment. For people who want to go their own way on fabrication of items like cage construction or crossmembers, specialized tools allow specific forms of bending and shaping of chrome-moly tubing to create the shapes of those structures without damaging or fatiguing the metal itself. Eastwood has come up with a do-it-yourself product that you can use in your garage or backyard to create these bends.
The Eastwood Pro-Former Tubing Bender (p/n 12485) uses a set of dies and follower forms coupled with a manually-operated six-ton hydraulic cylinder jack. Working the tubing against this pressure through an interchangable support loop, careful fitment will allow you to produce bends in several popular thin-wall tubing sizes with ease. The tubing bender is a complete kit – it ships with 0.75, 1, 1.5, 1.625, and 1.75-inch dies and followers, which are keyed and locked into the unit in just minutes to change sizes. You can make bends up to 90 degrees in the smaller sizes (60 degree in larger diameters) with these die sets using only a little arm pressure and a solid unit support.
For people who do a lot of pipework, this might not be an optimal solution, especially in terms of graduated radius changes (this is a one-size die) and time. However, for the backyard wrench who is working on a project where custom-fitted pieces are needed, this bender offers an option as opposed to turning to a custom shop for this work.
For doing small-diameter fabricating work, steel substructure creation in interiors and trunks, and similar projects, the Eastwood Pro-Former may be just the ticket. We found a few tricks with ours during the test; check it out.
For Your Information