Technical Articles Relating To Off-Road Vehicle Development

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JD2 Model 4 Tubing Bender: Part 2

Published by Trails Less Traveled on November 1st, 2006


Installing a Die-Set

forming die and frame pins installed=
Picking up where our last tube bending article left off, let’s install a die-set. All JD2’s dies are labeled with the diameter and the centerline radius (in this example, we’re working with a 1.75” x 5.5” radius die-set). No tools are required to change the dies on the Model 4, so I just set the forming die into position and then dropped the frame pins into place. The center-pin holds the forming die in place and is also the pivot that the pressure-die rotates around. The other frame pin (on the right) just keeps the forming die from rotating.

holes in bender arms=
What are all those holes for? The different sets of holes accommodate more than 50 different dies-sets that are available for the Model 4 bender. Fortunately, they’re all labeled with letters or numbers that indicate where different dies should be installed.

pressure die detail= pressure die installed=
This is the pressure die and one side is clearly labeled ‘top’. It’s important to install this die correctly because the leading contact point (sometimes referred to as the shoe) is set at an angle to follow the tubing around the bend and reduce deformation. The die is also marked with the diameter and the hole position (letter or number) where the die should be inserted. In this case, that’s hole number 6.

clamping die detail=
This is called the clamping die, but the Model 4 bender doesn’t use any type of clamping mechanism to hold the tubing in place (like the Model 3 does). The surface of the clamping die has a series of small ridges machined into it to help keep the material from slipping, and the pressure exerted on the die by the hydraulic ram makes it pretty effective. The material will still slip a little bit, but I’ve found the amount to be pretty consistent and easy enough to compensate for between bends.

clamping die installed= spacer under clamping die=
The clamping die needs to be located in the number 6 hole on the other (fixed) frame plate. I’ve slipped an oversized nut under the clamping die to make it a little easier to feed material into the bender. If you use a spacer to put the clamping die inline with the forming and pressure dies, make sure that it is actually inline with the other dies.

Additional Tube-Bending Tools & Accessories

assorted bending & measuring tools=
Let’s run through a short list of things to have on-hand before you start bending. These are all just common measuring and marking tools and you’ve probably already got most of them; a tape measure, contractor’s level/straight-edge, combination square, framing square, a little kid’s protractor, and some chalk, sharpie markers, pencils, etc. We’ll use these tools to take initial measurements and transfer those measurements onto the shop/garage floor; then to mark material for bends and verify measurements through the bending process.

various angle finders=
Aside from the common tools listed above, there are a few other small tools worth making or buying. First, you’ll need some way to measure angles. This can be something as simple (and cheap) as two flat pieces of metal bolted together at one end. I first saw this tool in Rob Park’s Tube Bendin’ 101 article on Pirate4×4 and I used mine frequently until I bought an inexpensive Angle finder from Van Sant. This tool is great because it has a built-in protractor that saves me the trouble of having to transfer measurements.

digital angle finder=
Whether you need any more accurate measuring tools will really depend on the type of measurements you need to make and how accurate your bends need to be. A simple bubble-level works well enough to make multiple bends in the same plane, but a digital level is a lot more useful when you’re measuring angles that aren’t horizontal or vertical. I’ve been kicking this digital level around my garage for several years now. It’s held up incredibly well and is accurate to within 1/10th of a degree.

dial level & tube clamp=
I ordered this dial level & magnetic base clamp from Van Sant with my Model 4 bender because I wanted to be able to measure the rotation (in degrees) between bends. If you’re not making complicated compound bends, this is probably something that you could wait to pick up until you need it.

Milwaukee’s V28 Sawzall=
You’ll also need some way to cut material to length. This could be a chop saw, angle grinder or even a hacksaw. For the past six months or so, I’ve been using this V28 cordless Sawzall that Milwaukee sent us to review. I really didn’t think it would be able to replace a corded Sawzall in the shop, but these new 28-Volt Lithium-ion batteries are impressive. I’ve been alternating between two batteries and don’t have any complaints about the power or battery life.

sawzall blades=
If you’re using any type of reciprocating saw, I would highly recommend giving ‘The Torch’ cutting blades a try. They’re fairly expensive, but seem to last a long time and make really accurate cuts.

JMR tubing notcher=
Notching tubing is actually a lot more time-consuming than bending tubing, and we’ll write a lot more on this topic. For now I’ll just say that you can get by with a lot less, but JMR’s hole-saw notcher is the best thing going. It’s incredibly well made and works flawlessly. At first glance, a lot of people dismiss it as an over-priced holesaw notcher, but look a little deeper. The shaft is just over 1” in diameter and rides in an open oil bath on sealed Timken bearings. There is ZERO deflection and holesaws seem to last forever (I’ve made over 200 notches with the same 1.5” holesaw). Oh, and I can notch just about any angle in a 210-degree arc. Look for a full product review within the next few months.

This Article was originally published on June 2006
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