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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As we all know rolling tube is almost as cool as dimple dies.

I will start off by showing you guys my unique design I drew up last year, as you can tell from the picture it used the HF pipe kinker as a starting point. I never took this design to production due to the high cost of the dies, the best quote I got was $120 per roller and using three rollers I thought the cost would be too much for most people to swallow. So I later redesigned the parts to work with the Pro Tools tubing roller dies, however they sell for $300 a set.

Yeah my design is cool, and one of these days I was going to spend some $ and bring this thing to life, until a month ago I ran across a post on the HF tubing roller. Sure the HF unit is made in China and cheap in comparison to anything I could produce and sell. Once I saw it, my heart sank as I knew there was no way I could compete with the HF unit.

OK on with the review.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I dropped by my local HF today and found the employee assembling the display unit. I asked him how many you of these you have in stock, he replied just this one, I said ok when you are finished assembling the unit let me know, I will buy it off the shelf. So $150 and 20 minutes later I was headed home to put this tool to work.

As you guys have noted they mislabeled the size of the dies in on the product sticker, the sticker says .5” -1.25”, and the dies are stamped .5” .75” and 1”, however the actual sizes are 1” 1.5” and 2”.

Typical HF packaging covered in grease to prevent rusting while on the slow boat from China.

The quality of the dies leaves a lot to be desired, pit marks and casting cracks. The dies are attached to the .75” drive axle with 3 allen head bolts that land on 3 machined flats on the axle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The stamped steel frame is built quite well especial considering this is a HF unit.

They provide you with 6 of the same sized bearing assemblies, 2 for the drive axle and 2 on each outer roller. They are a sliding fit into the ends of the outer rollers, so to change from one die to the next you tap them out and transfer them to the next die.

The captain’s wheel on my unit is a wobble mess, it must have at least 1” of run out and has a dozen or so slag balls on the inside that rattle around every time you turn the handle. I will drill a small hole in the steering wheel and insert a bit of great stuff, expandable foam to capture the slag balls and quiet down the refugees inside.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
On with testing the unit, I don’t usually have a lot of thin walled tubing in the shop, What I did have was 5 feet of 1.25” .065 wall HREW. So I used the 1.5” die and went to work. The unit was easy to operate and you applied downward force on the center roller using a 3/4” socket to rotate the all-thread shaft. I was using a 3/8” ratchet to apply leverage and after every cycle I would turn the shaft another 1/4 rotation, after 30 cycles here is the result.

Yes the tube is crushed but keep in mind I only had 1.25” tubing in a 1.5” die so that is a no brainer. :shaking:

The tubing did not roll in the Z direction, hence it laid flat on the table when I was done.

Over all impression, I think this unit will be a good addition to the shop, and I may just have to turn out dies for 1.25” and 1.75” tubing. For those of you thinking you can hog away at the 1” die to make it fit 1.25” tubing, I don’t think there is enough wall thickness on the die to achieve this, but do it and tell me if it works. In just the dies alone I believe this kit is a deal. :smokin:

If I had to take a stab in the dark on what will break first I would say the cast threads that accept the 3 allen head screws that attach the center drive die to the axle will be the first to go.
 

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Uhm, I don't know about that piece you made. Try another one or make a table or something so we can see how great it works. Would this be able to do roll cage stock, say .120 wall? Nice review.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Uhm, I don't know about that piece you made. Try another one or make a table or something so we can see how great it works. Would this be able to do roll cage stock, say .120 wall? Nice review.
I know the first piece I bent up was piss poor but as I stated earlier what else would you expect from 1.25" tubing in a 1.5" die.

Tonight I will roll up some 1.5" .120 wall HREW and report back.

SWAG Off Road Machined Harbor Freight Tubing Roller Dies - YouTube
 

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As you guys have noted they mislabeled the size of the dies in on the product sticker, the sticker says .5” -1.25”, and the dies are stamped .5” .75” and 1”, however the actual sizes are 1” 1.5” and 2”.
Mislabeled - unless they are talking radius while you're talking diameter... :flipoff2:
 

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Sorry, I saw the
.5” .75” and 1”, however the actual sizes are 1” 1.5” and 2”.
and that seemed pretty straightforward - missed that the sticker had something entirely different...

Ok, so they are totally screwed up... :D
 

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GREAT post, thank you for the detailed pictures. I saw the ad recently with them in it and thought it was useless for my needs since the dies were too small for the tube I typically use. Thanks for the info on the mislabeling, I havent read the other post yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Tonight I threw in ~8 feet of 1.5" .120 wall HREW. Man was that a work out. It worked but you if you were to build a complete cage doing this manually you my friend could beat Popeye in an arm wrestling contest.

I had the great idea to take a .75" shaft collar and weld a 1/2" drive socket to the collar then attach the socket to my old school Milwaukie wrist breaker of a drill to replace the captain’s wheel. After 10 or so cycles I feared it would burn up the drill, so that idea was not so great after all.

Back to manual cranking. The tube you see in the pictures had ~ 50 cycles, back and forth.

Deformation as you can tell from the calipers is right at .025". And the tube did not twist in the Z direction when laid flat on the table.

Here is a quick video of me driving the helm of this ship.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO1FOxscqqM

You would be nuttier than squirrel shit to think of bending this same size tube in DOM.
 

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cool of you to do that write-up.

It doesn't sound like you were that impressed by it. It doesn't look like their is really much fundamentally different between that one and the protools roller...surely no $800 worth.



I would think that the wheel like the HF one has would be better than the crank handle like the PT one. It looks like the the non driven rollers on the PT one are further apart...maybe that makes a difference...I wouldn't think that would make it easier or harder to use as much as the preload you put on the driven roller would though.

Iv'e been eyeing the PT for a while...I may have to think about it some more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Don't get me wrong, I know I am pushing the envelope of what this machine is rated for. However 90% of the guys on this board will all want to know the same question, can it bent .120 wall tubing, yes it can, all be it slow.

I too think the wheel is much better than a crank handle, and by spreading the rollers out it would waste more tubing than the HF unit.

Worth the $150, you bet. Would I step up to the PT unit, not with out a side by side comparison first? That is a huge price jump.

In the video, I'm cranking away thinking to myself if I were to use this when I build cages for people there is no way I could justify charging one hour per tube that is say 40" in dia.

I definitely need to find a motor and gear box to drive the center wheel
 

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SWAG, why did you think your drill would burn up? was it getting that hot? How hard was it cranking on the wheel? Was it the amount of force required, or just the repitition that made it tiring?

I have a gear motor that I use on my bead roller, I was thinking I couldreplace the coupler to make it removeable, and use it on the tube roller as well, seeing as how I already have it wired up to a directional switch and a foot switch. The Gear motor is rated for 250 In Lbs. Any chance you could put a torque wrench on your adapter, and see how much torque it takes?

I was thinking too, if you were to get a cheap digital micrometer and permanently mount it to the top of the roller and the pillow block for the adjustable roller, it should help in reproducing curves that match, as you could get the adjustable wheel with in .001 inches every time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
SWAG, why did you think your drill would burn up? was it getting that hot? How hard was it cranking on the wheel? Was it the amount of force required, or just the repitition that made it tiring?

It was getting hot, and it took all she had to turn that drive axle.

I have a gear motor that I use on my bead roller, I was thinking I could replace the coupler to make it removeable, and use it on the tube roller as well, seeing as how I already have it wired up to a directional switch and a foot switch. The Gear motor is rated for 250 In Lbs. Any chance you could put a torque wrench on your adapter, and see how much torque it takes?

I will put a torque wrench on that, however I doubt 21 ft/lbs will do it

I was thinking too, if you were to get a cheap digital micrometer and permanently mount it to the top of the roller and the pillow block for the adjustable roller, it should help in reproducing curves that match, as you could get the adjustable wheel with in .001 inches every time.
With as little movment as I was getting per cycle, I think it would be pretty easy to replicate curves. You could put a jam nut on the all-thread shaft to limit the vertical travel of the center roller.
 

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With as little movment as I was getting per cycle, I think it would be pretty easy to replicate curves. You could put a jam nut on the all-thread shaft to limit the vertical travel of the center roller.
But the Digital caliper would look so much more high tech

If you cant dazzle them with your brilliance, baffle them with your Bullshit:flipoff2:

It did not look like you were working too hard on the wheel, not any harder than my bead roller was when still manual that is why I was asking. If your drill was working too hard, how about an electric (or Air) impact wrench?
 
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