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# complete circile bending (aluminum)

#1
11-29-03, 10:34 PM
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complete circle bending (aluminum)

How would I go about bending some aluminum round bar stock into a perfect circle? I could get hold of a pipe bender, but I don't have a clue how I would go about getting a perfect circle with it.

Mathius

Last edited by Mathius; 02-29-04 at 01:14 AM.
#2
11-30-03, 01:01 AM
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Mathius:

A pipe bender will not do it for you. It is only designed to make a 90 deg bend.

Depending on the diameter of the aluminum and radius of the circle you could use a round object of the same diameter as what you need.
I have done this many times for a quick circle.

What size aluminum and what diameter circle are you working with?

#3
12-04-03, 12:04 AM
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I'm not sure on the thickness yet. I'm thinking of making a custom steering wheel out of aluminum. The diameter would be 15". So that would be pi * d, which at 3.14 * 15 = 47.1, or 3.15 * 15 = 47.25 I think. If I cut it at 47 inches, bend it into a circle, and weld the gap closed, it ought to be close enough, right?

The school I'm attending actually has a machine to bend circles and it'll run round bar through it. I didn't realize this, but when I asked my instructor, he told me about the machine. I'm taking adult courses there, and he said I could bring any projects in. Do my measurements sound correct to you?

Mathius

#4
12-04-03, 08:56 AM
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steering wheel

It depends on which diameter is going to be 15 inches, which may bring rod diameter into the equation. Your calculations are ok if you want the axis through the center of the rod to have a 15" dia. But, if you want the 15" to be the INSIDE dia of the wheel, then you should add the rod dia to the 15" dia and then take it times pi. (Similarly, if you want the 15" to be the OUTSIDE dia, then subtract the rod dia from 15".)

In your calculations, you've determined that the length will be between 47.1 and 47.25 inches, so you're opting to cut it to 47" and fill the gap with weld. If you can cut the rod accurately to 47", then you can cut it just as accurately to 47 1/8 inches, which is much closer to the real deal. It should also make set-up easier, since you can fixture end against end, instead of against some imaginary point out in space. It's going to take some alignment and clamping because of the springback of the material, so anything you can do to minimize frustration will add to the enjoyment of the project.

#5
12-04-03, 12:24 PM
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Location: Mountain Williams Missouri
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Roll

I have found when I want to make something round into a ring. Make it to long then roll it to the size. This way when you cut it to size in the middle of the over lap You have cut off the two flat tails and the ends will fit and be rolled like the rest is. ED

#6
12-05-03, 08:17 AM
OudeVanDagen
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FYI & My question

FYI:

The charts on my rebar bending machine show 47 and 1/8 inches for a 15 inch circle .... charts also have +/- 1/2 inch stamped on them.

I tried some aluminum stock in my bender .... I'm not really sure what is is ... T5, T6 ... don't know ..... but I had problems with fractures .... with AND against grain .... even at slow PSI .... hope you have better luck.

My question:

What's the best Alum for this type of project?

#7
12-15-03, 09:23 AM
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T5, T6 ... don't know ..... but I had problems with fractures

The T5 and T6 refer to heat treatments applied to the aluminum. You might compare your bend radius to your material thickness to avoid cracking - as a rule of thumb, your bend radius should be equal to or greater than your material thckness.

As to material for this wheel project, either 3003 or 6061 would work well. The 6061 will have about twice the strength of the 3003. Other alloys are available, but are not as common, and do not have as wide a range of dimensions.

Good luck, have fun.

#8
02-29-04, 01:13 AM
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Ok, I have to dredge this one back up from the dead. I purchased the aluminum bar some time ago. I got 48" lengths of 6061 aluminum, 2 of them are 1.25" and the other is 1" even in diameter.

I was going to have these just ran through the ring rollers at my vocational school, but I had a break in classes, and when I came back after the holidays, my welding instructor informed me that the ring rollers wouldn't be able to handle anything of that diameter.

Back when I originally posted this, I didn't realize the difference between a pipe and a bar bender. Is there any chance maybe something inexpensive like this would do the job for me?

http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=44094

If that won't work, how much would a machine shop typically charge me to bend these for me?

Mathius

#9
02-29-04, 06:39 AM
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Mathius :

I have the same bender but in a floor model.
The thickest bar stock you can bend with it is 5/8" or 5/16" flat.
Besides you say you need a 15" circle which would mean you need a 15" die!

I know what you are trying to do and paying a fabricator to do it for you would be the way to go.

#10
02-29-04, 05:08 PM
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Greg, what would be my best bet? Looking for machine shops in the phone book? I've tried personal connections (friends, etc.), but no one has returned a reliable connection, they all know someone who "might" be able to do it for me. You know how that is.

What would they charge for something like this? I mean it's just 3 aluminum bars, I can't imagine it would take that long, and it certainly wouldn't take any resources outside of electricity and the miniscule amount of wear that time puts on a machine.

Lastly, I'm going to want to weld the ends together. Should I bevel the rod before having the circle run, or does it matter?

Thanks,
Mathius

#11
02-29-04, 05:31 PM
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Mathius:

What you want done is more of a job a welding/fabricating shop would do than a machine shop.

When you own a business with literally hundreds of thousands invested in equipment and building, payroll and other expenses they will certainly charge you for more than the cost of electricity and the wear that your job places on the equipment.
There is equipment designed specifically to do what you want done but you do not just dial in a size and let 'er rip.
The set up would take quite a bit of time compared to the 15 seconds it would take to actually spin one end around to meet the other.
Also, set up often consumes material in the process. A fabricator would not be able to guarantee proper fit the first time.

Some projects are deceivingly simple and this obviously is one of them.
Just consider that even if you do get this to the point of having welded the edges together, grinding and polishing the weld to have it look like a continuous ring would take countless hours in itself.
I don't often discourage diy projects but I think this one is a loosing proposition.

So, what kind of car are you going to put this steering wheel on anyway?

#12
03-01-04, 07:14 AM
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Location: Mountain Williams Missouri
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GregH told you how it is for sure. I have never been able to get a round wheel if I didnt have it about 6" longer than I need.Then cut it off to get a true round in the wheel. at the weld

Why not just go to J C Whitney they have steering wheels from \$21.99 on up to about \$239.99

www.jcw.com

ED

#13
03-02-04, 09:00 AM
scrapiron
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You may want to check with a local vehicle inspection station if your state requires inspections. Several years ago a local mechanic would not pass my car because of the steering wheel, however I think this was because of the size ( too small diameter) and not the construction method.

#14
03-02-04, 11:18 AM
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Posts: 54
Originally posted by GregH
Mathius:

So, what kind of car are you going to put this steering wheel on anyway?
'76 Chevrolet Chevelle/Malibu

Was hoping to get 3 done though. I told a friend I'd try one for him if I could get someone to bed the rod for me, and I'll probably make an extra for the camaro I wanna buy.

Mathius

#15
03-02-04, 11:19 AM
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Posts: 54
Originally posted by Ed Imeduc
GregH told you how it is for sure. I have never been able to get a round wheel if I didnt have it about 6" longer than I need.Then cut it off to get a true round in the wheel. at the weld

Why not just go to J C Whitney they have steering wheels from \$21.99 on up to about \$239.99

www.jcw.com

ED
Billet Aluminum steering wheels all cost more than I'd like to pay.

They don't really have an abundance of styles that I like.

The satisfaction of making my own and possibly coming up with a completely custom interior made 100% by me.

Mathius

#16
07-16-04, 01:30 PM
Dirtydeeds
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You need to make a jig to bend that bar. something like a small length of pipe thats outside diameter is the same inside dimension you need(might be hard to find but possible) tacked to a bench with a small pice of steel tacked the thickness of the mat'l away from the round pipe. Then you need to fabricate a pulling bar to give you the leverage to bend the mat'l over the radius. Use lots of extra mat'l ( about 20 inches on your project) and put the mat'l between the piece of steel and the pipe and wrap it around until it overlaps. Alum is pretty easy to bend if you have the right mat'l like mentioned above. If you are stuck you can anneal the cheap alum with a torch just heat it up until a piece of wood slids on it like a bar of soap on a wet bathtub. This changes the molecular structur of the Alum and makes it more pliable. I have done this many times in our shop with a variety of sizes its just the time to make the jig that adds to the cost of the progect. Good Luck and no one will trash you for having a bought steering wheel!

#17
07-18-04, 09:28 AM
Letsfixit
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I have been in a few welding/fab places over the years and they all had rig rollers. They were usually homemade. You need the bar longer like someone mentioned above to get past the flat ends. The ring roller won't roll right to the end. You start rolling at a very large radius and gradually adjust the ring roller to bring the radius in as you roll the bar back and forth.

I would just let whoever is going to weld the two ends together be the one to cut and prepare the ends for welding. I'd assume it would be tig welded. If they do a decent job I'd think you could finish it off so no one could see the joint. Besides you need to weld it to the spokes too, so put the joint at a spoke where it won't be as noticable.

The biggest challenge I see is jigging it all up so its all concentric to the steering hub, and that's not a very big challenge. Just takes a little time.

You could always make your own ring roller if you have the time. The concept if fairly straight forward. You could also bend it around a wooden homemade form. The form would probably have to be a little smaller in radius to take into account the springback. I have done it that way with steel bar and rod on a few projects.

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