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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Picked up a set of sheet metal shrinkers and stretchers on sale at Princess Auto a while back - they got set aside until I had a bit of time to try them out. Today I decided to mount the shrinker tool to a piece of angle iron so it could be clamped in the vise. The block has two 10MM ISO course threaded holes so it can be mounted to a stand and can be made to work with a foot pedal. I cut a piece of 1/8" x 1-1/4" angle iron about 4" long and drilled two holes in it tow allow the angle iron piece to be bolted to the bottom of the shrinker. Then I clamped the angle iron in the bench vise so it was solidly mounted and installed the handle they send with the tool.
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Not sure how much I will use these but I need to make a flange to try and hold a seal in place beside a bearing on the snow blower that my dad built years ago. The seal has a habit of trying to pop out of place in the pipe that my dad used to hold it and the bearing - guessing the bearing is a rear wheel bearing for a 55 Chevrolet car as they were popular to requiring replacement about the time that he built this snow blower. He would install a new one for the customer and if the customer did not want the old one it was usually set aside to be repurposed - might make a little noise in a car but at 200 - 300 rpm on a snow blower they last a long time. He always told me to keep it grease which I have done and never replaced it yet. He used the same bearings on the lower auger and I have replaced them a couple of times and added grease fittings to the housings for them. Not sure if the shrinker can form the piece of sheet metal in a tight enough circle as the outside diameter of the heavy wall pipe that my dad used is about 3-1/2". The jaw depth of the shrinker will accept up to a 1" wide piece of metal. According to the instructions the sheet metal is first bent into a straight L shape and then the one side is inserted in the jaws and the handle moves the jaws together to push the sheet metal together a bit each time. Thought I would share the tool as some may not be familiar with it.
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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9,703 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Took a scrap piece of sheet metal and bent it into a L shape about 2" long and about 1" wide on one edge and about 3/4" wide on the other. Tried it in the shrinker and it did start to shrink the 3/4" wide piece but was not forming a tight enough circle for what I would need - forgot to take pictures - oops! Trimmed the 3/4" wide part to 3/8" and then tried it again and got a tighter radius so it does have potential. Here are pictures of the piece that started off straight after I was done for those interested.

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Mark J.
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A tool that will make life easier when you need it. You have to like it when you get it on sale as well.
 

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Harbor Freight used to sell a foot operated stand for shrinker/stretchers, don't see them on their web sight any more.

I did find one on ebay.

The foot operated stand makes using these so much easier. I have made a few belt guards and some other things with mine. Not used often but great to have when you need it.
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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9,703 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Harbor Freight used to sell a foot operated stand for shrinker/stretchers, don't see them on their web sight any more.

I did find one on ebay.

The foot operated stand makes using these so much easier. I have made a few belt guards and some other things with mine. Not used often but great to have when you need it.
Thanks for the information - looks like Princess Auto also have the stand option available - https://www.princessauto.com/en/shrinker-stretcher-stand/product/PA0008536815
Not sure my old arthritic knees would allow me to work the pedals - will try the lever method for now and see how it works out.
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Didn't have to do snow duty this morning so I decided to give round two a go with the shrinker. Took a piece of sheet metal about 12" long and gave it a 90° bend so that one side was about 1" wide and the other 1/2" wide - the 1/2" wide section will be what is worked in the shrinker jaws. I took a hose clamp that I am hoping will hold the piece in place against the seal when I am done and set it to 3-1/2" diameter to use as a pattern for the bend shape.
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Started to work on forming a bend in the piece and within a few minutes I had a section that was starting to look reasonably close to what I was trying to achieve.
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Not perfect by any means but for a second attempt I was reasonably happy with the results. The first little bit was not formed as well as the rest of it (which I expected) so I cut about an inch off.
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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Since the bend is tighter than the length of the tool I found that once I had done 180° and gotten it very close to the shape I wanted the piece of sheet steel hit on the tool and i could not shape the rest of the piece very tight.
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Decided to cut the 180° piece and then I was able to form the remaining part to get close to what I want. The finished product will have to slip over a shaft (about 1-1/4" in diameter) so there will be a gap in the flange when I am done. I have the two pieces to the point where they are reasonably close to the final shape I want to achieve.
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I think next I will test my sheet metal welding abilities and see if I can join the two pieces together and then go from there. Supposed to be a bit warmer tomorrow and not quite as windy so will see what happens. Since the shop was about 30°F this morning I called it a day.
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Did a little bit more tweaking on the two pieces so that they were a nice fit on the pipe that holds the seal. Then I clamped the half round piece to the hose clamp and trimmed the other piece so it was a nice close fit and clamped it in place. Since the hose clamp was holding the round shape nicely figured I might as well use it to align the two pieces while I tacked them together. It took a few pairs of vise grips and a slight bit more tweaking but finally I was happy with the way the two pieces matched up so the ground clamp got connected to one of the pairs of vise grips.
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Then the mig got set on a slower wire feed and a lower heat range and the metal marriage began - I was careful only to only weld spots where the hose clamp was not contacting the inside.
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The vise grips and hose clamp got removed and the rest of the pieces got welded together.
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Then the die grinder with the cut off wheel and the right angle die grinder with a small sanding disc were used to remove the excess weld so the weld was flush with the metal.
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Not perfect but I was quite happy with the way the two pieces became one and think the shrinker is well worth the money as it permitted me to only have to do one weld rather than taking a piece of sheet metal and bending it in a circle and then bending over the edge, trimming the bent pieces to match, welding them together and then grinding up the welds - this is the method that I would have normally used to make such a piece.
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
For those interested this is the seal, bearing and shaft set up on the snow blower that the piece will go around to hold the seal from walking out (I hope).
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I had to grind a little notch in the edge of the band to clear the grease fitting and then the hose clamp sat nicely in between the grease fitting and the inner edge of the housing.
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Then I slid the piece into place where it will sit and be clamped - as you can see the piece is a nice fit around the pipe housing - I am actually impressed that it fits so nicely for a first attempt.
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Slid the piece back off and gave it a splash of paint - still cool in the shop so it probably won't stick great but there will probably be enough grease around the piece to keep it form rusting much.
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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Looks good, hope it helps!
Thanks Kenny. I installed the flanged sheet metal piece on the bearing and seal housing this morning as the paint was dry to the touch. Tightened the hose clamp down and it seems to do a nice job of holding the flanged piece in place so it cannot slide or rotate. Thinking it should work well to keep the seal in place where it belongs - time will tell. Hope I don't have to use it very often but getting it ready so it is available if we get dumped on this winter.
 

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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Greased the bearing and the seal stayed in place and a bit of grease came out around the shaft which was fine. Before the grease would attempt to push the seal outwards so I think this will work fine and I am happy with the result.
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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Decided I might as well try out the stretcher as I have a couple of round drain openings in the basement that I need to make covers for. Cut another piece of angle iron, drilled two holes and bolted it to the other shrinker so that it can be mounted in the vise as well. I also cut and bent a couple of sheet metal pieces and will use a hose clamp to pattern the shape after. The piece of ABS is the correct size on the ID that I will need the covers to sit inside.
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Mounted the stretcher in the vise and worked one of the pieces for a few minutes to see what results it would produce. It did start to form the sheet metal in a curve but I am not sure if I can achieve a tight enough bend as it seems to take more force to stretch the sheet metal than to shrink it. Will play with it some more in the coming days but it was cool in the shop so I called it a day.
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A Little Off Plumb
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9,703 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Played with the stretcher and after some more working I got the piece formed into a half round shape just under 6" in diameter.
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While it looked nice it was not near a tight enough radius and I was afraid that if I stretched the edge much more it would get thin and start to crack so I opted for plan B. I marked the piece every 3/4" and then cut the metal with a pair of tin snips. This allowed me to achieve a tighter radius as I shaped the piece around the outside of the ABS pipe unitl it looked reasonably close to circular.
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Then I shaped the piece so it would fit inside the ABS pipe which is the size it needs to be - looked kind of squarish when I was done.
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Clamped it at one end with a small pair of C clamp vise grips and then worked my way around with another pair of C clamp vise grips to obtain a rounder shape which I was happy with.
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A Little Off Plumb
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Then I cut a circle piece of sheet metal which will function as a cover that the piece that will slip inside the pipe will be spotted to on the underside. Won't be perfect but then again I am not either. By then I was getting cold so called it a day - eventually it will get done (I hope).
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