Aluminum vs. steel hand bender shoes

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PetrosA

Senior Member
I recently bought a 3/4" EMT bender with an aluminum shoe since it was less than half of what the steel version cost and it's the first aluminum bender I've used. I recently used an aluminum bender for 1" EMT and had problems with kinking the pipe on 90s towards the center of the pipe unless I used the bender with the pipe in the air. I had also noticed it was harder to get nice bends (especially 90s) with the 3/4" AL bender, but wasn't sure why.

So my question is, have any of you noticed a difference in the way the aluminum benders work? I weigh about 195 lbs, and I get the impression that I don't weigh enough to make them work right in the handle-up position, depending on how close I am to the center of the pipe. It's like I can't get enough weight on the shoe or the finish is too slippery or something. I thought I was at least 25 years past kinking pipe until recently...
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
First guess is the bender's sides are too far apart, letting the EMT oval, then kink. See how loose the EMT is between the bender sides.
 

ohmhead

Senior Member
Location
ORLANDO FLA
Well i can say this is a normal problem most electricians always think its the bender and it could be a bad one new . Meaning if you bend lots of pipe !

But hand benders or electric benders 99 percent of the time its your conduit heres some advise .

look at your conduit emt it is sometimes defective a bundle of 1/2 or 4 inch can be oval from shipping it can be a factory defect in your conduit and not just your bender shoe .

Many times we have bent say 2 inch conduit in a new greenlee 555 or a new hand bender with smaller conduit and have seen a kink look at your conduit if its real silvery looking its cheap conduit !

Look at the seam on the conduit that long looking line that runs down the side on a 10 foot stick of emt roll it to the shoe side and bend on the seam try it most of the time that will help in you question .

But its your conduit we have sent back once a truck load of 2 inch conduit when all we got was kinking .

I only use rigid steel conduit benders once a bender is dropped or miss used a lot like alu there not able to hold up.


I know you are applying lots of foot pressure but try more .
 
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e57

Senior Member
It should not matter... But it is possible you got a bad one - the casting may not be to the right dimentions. It is cast with 2 halves of a form, if they were not put together tight enough, and you have a wider bender than it should be - it'll kink. I know someone who got a bad one - he had to take it back it was useless...

1" you need a bit of constant pressure - more so than smaller sizes... (Good bender or not) 1 1/4" you need to wiegh a lot - like 350 or add a guy if you a thin man.... :D

As for Al over steel - I have damaged Al benders with RMC which the bender was supposed to be made to handle... Afterwards they would mess up EMT. All but my 1" is cast iron now.
 

PetrosA

Senior Member
Thanks for the replies. I do know about keeping foot pressure on the bender, and I know for a fact that I don't weigh enough to bend 1" rigid alone, although I've done offsets in 1 1/4" EMT alone successfully (never was able to make a 90 by myself...). The two benders I'm writing about are the orange handled ones with silver shoes they sell at Home Depot (I don't usually get tools there, but my supply house wanted over $80 for a 3/4" steel bender which I couldn't afford at the time). It's possible there was something not right with the pipe, but I try not to blame materials for my shortcomings until I can prove it :)
 

GUNNING

Senior Member
read the directions again

read the directions again

Is it a rigid 3/4 inch bender? The OD of rigid is different than EMT and will kink as described. I worked at a shop and they got this great new bender to bend 3 inch EMT. It destroyed a bunch of pipe and finally somebody smart (me) read the shoe and directions. It was labeled for rigid. Lots of EMT.

I like the cast steel heads, they hold up better. The cleat doesnt warp as fast, the multiplyers and angles are printed on the head, and the heft helps keep the pipe on the ground without so much foot preasure.

As and after thought. You are using a handle, right?
 
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realolman

Senior Member
Is it a rigid 3/4 inch bender? The OD of rigid is different than EMT and will kink as described. I worked at a shop and they got this great new bender to bend 3 inch EMT. It destroyed a bunch of pipe and finally somebody smart (me) read the shoe and directions. It was labeled for rigid. Lots of EMT.....
I think gunning is on the right track. Ive never had any trouble with aluminum benders.
 

nez

Member
I know what you are talking about. I have problems with GB aluminum benders on the 3/4 and 1". The Ideal steel benders in my opinion are the best. The aluminum needs a lot of foot pressure and sometimes will still ripple the bend. Also the deduction varies for the 90.
 

Cow

Senior Member
Location
Eastern Oregon
One other thing I check on new benders is the casting seam that runs down the middle of the shoe. Make sure you file it smooth if it's not, it'll make your offsets dogleg when your pipe tries to sit to one side of the seam or the other.
 

PetrosA

Senior Member
...

As and after thought. You are using a handle, right?
Well, yeah, my big screwdriver, like I always do ;)

I'm pretty sure it was one of the 1" EMT / 3/4" Rigid hybrid type benders (most likely a Klein 56202 head on it). I've always used the iron shoe benders and rarely ever got kinks, wavyness, or any of that. Lately I purchased a Klein AL shoe bender at HD for 3/4" EMT and had a borrowed Klein 1" EMT AL or alloy shoe bender. It was after getting those horrible results with the 1" bender that I started thinking it wasn't me, but the bender itself.

Anyway, I found a 3/4" Ideal iron today at a decent price and got it. I'll have to figure out what to do with the AL Klein bender now...
 

PetrosA

Senior Member
I know what you are talking about. I have problems with GB aluminum benders on the 3/4 and 1". The Ideal steel benders in my opinion are the best. The aluminum needs a lot of foot pressure and sometimes will still ripple the bend. Also the deduction varies for the 90.
That's exactly what I was noticing. I was literally standing and bouncing on that 1" bender with one hand on the wall to keep me steady and couldn't get the pipe to bend around it nicely. I figure if I can get a 30 deg. offset in 1 1/4" EMT I should be able to bend 1" to a 90.

One other thing I check on new benders is the casting seam that runs down the middle of the shoe. Make sure you file it smooth if it's not, it'll make your offsets dogleg when your pipe tries to sit to one side of the seam or the other.
Very good advice. I check my iron benders for that. I noticed that the AL shoes come painted and seem to have the seam already dealt with.
 

big john

Senior Member
Location
Portland, ME
I know what you are talking about. I have problems with GB aluminum benders on the 3/4 and 1". The Ideal steel benders in my opinion are the best.
I'll second this. I'd never used GB benders, but the company I work with now has nothing but GB. I was having all kinds of problems with kinks and the pipe slipping in the shoe while bending in the air. I really wondered if it was me until I brought in my personal Ideal benders. Haven't had a problem since.

With Greenlee and Ideal benders the only problems I've ever had are operator error. Never spent much time using Klein so I don't know. But I honestly wouldn't take a GB bender if they were handing them out free.

-John
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Maybe if they were more digital with pretty led readouts and a usb port for your mp3 player!!
I'd like to see a machine that lets you import a pic of your job, stick a piece of conduit in one end, and it comes out bent and cut (and reamed, if threaded), ready to install.

Maybe there's something like that tucked away in the recesses of the Dr. Seuss archive vaults. ;)
 

PetrosA

Senior Member
I'd like to see a machine that lets you import a pic of your job, stick a piece of conduit in one end, and it comes out bent and cut (and reamed, if threaded), ready to install.

Maybe there's something like that tucked away in the recesses of the Dr. Seuss archive vaults. ;)
I bet something similar could be made today along the lines of a vinyl plotter/cutter. You'd have to input a 3D drawing of the pipe you'd need unless you had a 3D scanner and loads of software, but the technology is out there :)

My guess is it would cost at least 10-20k for something like that...
 

ohmhead

Senior Member
Location
ORLANDO FLA
if you patent the idea its yours.....
Well 10 years ago if you got a patent it was safe today its not read patent law today its for bigg bussiness now .

By just writing this idea on this forum you have lost your patent its not new now anyone can make it now !

But that said Greenlee 555 has had memory on there models since 1985 we bend a offset at degree and hit memory on hand held control button that has been around for a time now.

Your only job is to mark center to center on pipe and it stops at degree every time .

As far as production goes if you have lots of offsets thats a nice feature and all the same offsets are perfect .

Yes good idea there it can be done they do it with metal every day and also plastic injection products in design are cut to order with a program and cutter machines so yes a bender could do that easy with what we have today its called BIM .


But then i would be out of work .
 
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e57

Senior Member
I'd like to see a machine that lets you import a pic of your job, stick a piece of conduit in one end, and it comes out bent and cut (and reamed, if threaded), ready to install.

Maybe there's something like that tucked away in the recesses of the Dr. Seuss archive vaults. ;)
I have given lots of day-dream time to that one - solved it, and there is no market for it... :mad: Why? None of it would be patentable since just about all methods of bending have been around before patent law... And even processes combining automation of the action are combinations of already patented ideas.

Example:
http://www.ercolina-usa.com/ErcoBender-3-Axis-CNC-Mandrel-Machine.htm

I had an idea of combining a multi-axis ring roller into a portable unit - automated or not - you can't beat the price and simplicity of a Gardner bender design, and the resistance to it would be stiff. You might need a global extinction event to get rid of US to kill the skills required to bend a little light gauge pipe with a hand bender... Even then - the hand bender design would find it's way back into use...
 
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