Small diameter pipe bending
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  1. #1
    Junior Member gdcone's Avatar
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    I am going to build luggage racks for my TW (based on Yamaha's factory rear rack) and for my boys bikes. Does anyone have any pipe bending techniques for those of us that 1--do not have a bender for 1/2 inch black pipe, and 2--do not have a dedicated shop to accomplish the work. Most of the fabrication will have to take place in the driveway. I do have a wire feed welder and grinder. I'm apprehensive about tight radius bends without a bender for that size of pipe. The material is 1/2 inch OD heavy walled seamless black pipe. Any advice?

    If this works, I want to try some case guards too...

    No, purchasing the right tool for the job is not an option...neither is it any fun...
    1976 XL 350 worn out

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  2. #2
    Member jimgoose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdcone View Post
    I am going to build luggage racks for my TW ... I'm apprehensive about tight radius bends without a bender for that size of pipe. The material is 1/2 inch OD heavy walled seamless black pipe. Any advice?

    If this works, I want to try some case guards too...

    No, purchasing the right tool for the job is not an option...neither is it any fun...


    I am not a welder or metal worker, but I wonder if you could design a rack with no bends? Butt weld the ends together at 45 degrees?
    Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through hell.

  3. #3
    Senior Member peruano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimgoose View Post
    I am not a welder or metal worker, but I wonder if you could design a rack with no bends? Butt weld the ends together at 45 degrees?
    If you want bends and round pipe, I can't help. But . . . I found it much easier to work with square steel stock; I believe I used 1/2" and by cutting 3 walls and bending the fourth, I was able to weld up some big bends which had the strength needed. Please let us know how you solve your problem. Tom
    Tom - TW200 2002, Kawasaki VN 500 2006

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  5. #4
    Member NVarmr1's Avatar
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    Depends a lot on what you have available for tools.

    With a little imagination and some more common shop tools you can bend smaller pipe pretty well.

    A torch or even a good hot bbq can heat pipe that size to red or beyond for a much easier bend.

    If you have a bench vise or better yet one of the wide jaw woodworking vises available you can make a functional bender with some wooden blocks and a little creative drilling and filing. Basically cutting a channel like a proper bender around the center of a piece of hardwood. Use the vise to support the wood from the ends it will not push apart, then use a heavy clamp to hold the pipe and bend away.

    Pipe benders just make the job a lot faster. Make-shift benders can work well if thought out a little bit, but are likely to be a lot slower. All depends on your expectations.
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  6. #5
    Senior Member TW_in_BC's Avatar
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    How about using elbows as bends? Grind off the shoulders and weld the pipe into the elbows?

    If you're going to use jigs, make sure to fill the pipe with sand and plug the ends before bending; that will (hopefully) keep it from kinking.
    2008 TW200
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  7. #6
    Senior Member uktw125's Avatar
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    Plug one end of the pipe, pack tightly with sand then plug the other end. Heat the pipe red hot only on the point of the bend.

    This should work for you reasonably OK but the pipe may go a bit oval on the bend.

    It's worth a try.

  8. #7
    Junior Member gdcone's Avatar
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    Good stuff--I like the idea of a hardwood jig, and heating in the BBQ...I do not have an acetylene torch, but I do have a hot propane torch I used to sweat the copper in my house.

    I think I will try the wood jig, heat to red before bend, and pack the pipe with sand...it all makes perfect sense.

    I want to stay away from blunt corners and I have to use the pipe--it was free (7 each 10 foot sticks from a small grizzly set up on a chip box)...I have a bad habit of doing twice the effort and time with 'free stuff' than it would take to go buy the right stuff or have the right person do the work. You might say I am a 'bone head'. It will take a couple of weeks to complete, but I want to do some progressive pics from the 'driveway' fab shop.



    Thanks for the input and suggestions...
    1976 XL 350 worn out

    1983 CB1100F sold

    2006 TW200 for me

    2007 TW200 for wife-who just sold it

    Jimbo shield for both...

  9. #8
    Member Black Hawk's Avatar
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    If that pipe was strong enough for a griz.

    that is going to be a heavy-duty rack.
    Summer in the Black Hills of SD

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    2004 TW

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  10. #9
    Member jimgoose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Hawk View Post
    that is going to be a heavy-duty rack.


    Eh, huh, you said rack.



    Eh, huh, you said doody.
    Hold back the edges of your gowns, Ladies, we are going through hell.

  11. #10
    Senior Member JarrodWeaver's Avatar
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    I know it's not as much fun but I have seen benders at Harbor Freight that were pretty reasonable. Maybe less than the propane and plywood you will need. It's worth a look.

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