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Old 10-28-2011, 06:25 PM
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Shape pvc pipe.

I'm filing this one under "Future Possibilities". I've often thought that PVC pipe could be handy for various uses if it could be shaped into something other than just straight tubing runs. And I came upon this way of doing it totally be chance while I was conducting some backyard experimentation for an entirely different, non-hot-rod related, project.

There might be even better and faster ways to do this but I'll show you this one simply because it is how I ended up discovering the trick.

Start with an old cookie tin that has been gathering dust in the attic for the last 20 years. Drill a hole in the middle of the top at the exact diameter of the PVC pipe you want to shape. In this case I am using 1/2" pipe, which has a slightly larger outside diameter.



Then cut to length the piece of PVC pipe you want to shape. Also cut a short "connector" pipe and dig up two PVC connectors like the ones shown in this photo. These connectors will slip right onto the pipe but fit fairly snug.



Fit the short piece of connector pipe to one of the connectors and run the pipe through the hole you drilled in the cookie tin. Here is a side view of how it should look.



Fit the second connector onto the other side of the cookie tin cover and then insert the piece of pipe you want to shape. The assembly should look like this.



Remove the cover of the cookie tin and pour about 1/8" of water or less into the tin. Replace the cover tightly and place the tin over a heat source. I did mine on our electric kitchen range but I would imagine even a propane torch would do just fine. But you want to have your hands free for the shaping, so the heating source has to be fairly secure.

Heat the water to a boil. You don't want to overheat things unnecessarily, however. So even though you can not see the water, imagine it as just keeping a slow rolling boil and adjust your heat source accordingly.

After 2-3 minutes, the PVC pipe will begin to noticeably soften and you will need to begin supporting it so it doesn't just flop right over. Use oven mitts or hot-pads to grasp the pipe...it will be VERY hot at this point.

You can now begin to move and shape the pipe. Once you have the shape you want, slide the tin and the pipe away from your heat source and continue to hold it in the shape you want for a few seconds. You can speed the cooling process by slowly pouring water first onto the outside of the cookie tin and then on the PVC pipe itself. Here is what my bend looked like after it was removed from the stove and cooled with water.



Then just pull the pipe out of the connectors and separated it from the cookie tin. This is how my finished shape looked.



I haven't done any further experimentation to determine the limits of the process, like how tight you can make the bends, or how long of a pipe run you can do. But I think the process might have some promise and come in handy for possible future projects.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:01 PM
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Cboy, that is outstanding!

I have considered PVC for a homemade cold air intake, but thought the elbows would be too tacky. Now the bends are doable. However, knowing you made this bend at 220, maybe the underhood temps are too high.

Anyway, thanks for sharing this.
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:16 AM
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There are commercial heating units available for bending PVC conduit. I got one at an auction for cheap. Some versions just use electric heating pads (NOT household heating pads, by the way).
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Old 10-30-2011, 09:21 AM
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I worked a summer during high school under an electrician who had a simple way of bending PVC. He used a commercial heating element that softened the pipe then inserted the softened pipe into a wooden forming box for lack of a better word that was designed in such a way that the pipe was shaped to become the conduit for wiring between floors of an apartment building. Was simple and fast.
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Old 10-30-2011, 04:58 PM
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pizza warmer

electricians use an oven that rotates the pvc conduit as it heats. some are about 6 ft long and 3 ft ones. I bought a non working 3 ft one for $ 20 fixed the switch then let my son (An electrician) use it. One of the guy's in a Ron Covell class I took brought in Pict's of his roadster build. He mocked up the entire chassis using pvc tubing before he started bending steel. You can warm pvc with a propane torch but it's easy to scorch it and the building inspector can reject conduit with burn marks. THANKS again to Cboy for another good idea !!
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:09 AM
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I have heard of people running exhaust through pvc making it easy to bend and shape.
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:11 AM
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Dewey, you are something else, brilliant home made tool!

One problem........I saw a tin exactly like that on Antiques Roadshow and it was worth $8500!

Brian
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MARTINSR
...

One problem........I saw a tin exactly like that on Antiques Roadshow and it was worth $8500!
Yeah, I saw that episode too. But THAT tin didn't have the optional 1/2" "viewing port" in the lid which was available only on the 1879 and 1880 models. As you are probably already aware, the "viewing port" allows users to conveniently determine exactly what type of cookies are inside without going through the agrivation and frustration of "stuck lid removal". According to E-bay, this adds about $46,700 to the value of the tin.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:44 AM
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You could also use your gas grill to this. Just give the pipe a turn every few seconds.
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:05 PM
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I'm no "expert" but I have shaped PVC pipe with a hand held torch! ...It takes abit to get it hot enough ...trick is heating with without burning ...but even if you do it's no big deal. One thing I find, once you have it hot enough to bend easily, it seems like it doesn't want to cool down to harden back up! ...I either have a "helper" to mist some water on it ...OR have a mouth full of water to do it myself (when no one is looking! )
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Old 11-02-2011, 05:12 PM
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Set your household oven to 350 or so, crack open the door to the first opening and hold the pvc in the gap. Rotate the pvc to heat it evenly all the way around. If you heat the end of the pvc it will swell and you will have a hard time getting a fitting on it. A wet rag will harden it quickly.
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