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Anyone else here use sand bending for pipework

Fabrication Everything From JBwelded/Fluxcored downpipes to Equal length SS Manifolds.

Anyone else here use sand bending for pipework

Old 03-13-2010, 02:35 AM
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Location: Sydney Australia
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Default Anyone else here use sand bending for pipework

New on here but been fabricating for years.
Just did a search and came up zero for sand bending of pipes.
I have noticed worldwide various methods of making manifolds for turbo's but most steer clear of Stainless and a number work in Mild steel.
Whilst a lot harder in stainless than mild steel sand bending has major advantages for turbo downpipes and manifolds either intake or exhaust over some of what I have seen posted worldwide,where is the sense of having a curved section 8~12 inches long with a dozen weld seams this is not good for flow.
Sand bending is an old method but superior to all other methods for normal pipe work,even mandrel bent pipe does not retain constant pipe size through the bends.

Sand bending is basically Using a length of pipe longer by a couple of feet than the required length of the finished job at each end,one end is capped with a welded plug,then you fill the pipe with dry sand (use an oven to make sure it's dry) you then ram the sand and pack it real tight.
To seal the sand in you use a section of wood to seal the pipe again rammed in tight,leave about 3 inches for the wood in the tube end.
Once that is achieved by heating with an Oxygen Acetylene Heating torch the tube held securely in a pipe vice at one end you can then bend fairly easily to the bend or multiple bends you require by hand because of the leverage afforded by the extra pipe length.
Obviously allow the pipe to cool before doing the next bend.
I use Aluminium ducting as used in dash ventilation systems which is available in a good range of sizes to mock up the required pipes,this then serves as an accurate template for the finished pipe as far as bends and angles between bends if on a different plane.
The end result is by far the best for flow as there are no joins in the pipe to obstruct flow.
Time involved is about one day to construct Equal length headers including a proper collector with a central diamond section where the pipes meet.

Pros can be done at home with Gas welding and heating gear and a pipe vice as it is really basic old school metalwork and was common over half a century ago,it is still used at the top level in Motorsport and will cost you a pretty penny to have done commercially

Cons none really for our uses,it was simply replaced in industry by machinery that improved production rates even though quality was not as good volume outweighed that aspect commercially,that is also why it will cost big money to pay someone to make it for you that way,but it is quite cheap to do yourself.
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Old 04-05-2010, 11:15 AM
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i doubt the gain for the time invested is worth it. at all. ever.
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Old 04-06-2010, 07:06 AM
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Well we just proved it at work the gain on a 400 suzuki quad LT model the trail version not the LTZ race model went from 29 HP at the wheels to 33.6 HP at the wheels and a big improvement in front side torque as well.
Did a normally aspirated 4AGE Toyota 4>1 system that way made good power from 3500 Rpm all the way to 8000 Rpm,exceptional power ------ for one of those engines.
Time wise the Toyota took about 6.5 hours start to finish.
V8 Circuit race boat Zoomies take about 2 days
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:04 AM
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Sand bending is not a practicable method of bending chassis tubes, as the constant heating and re-heating of the tube during the process would almost certainly lead to failure of the tube if used in a stressed situation such as a chassis.
However, exhaust tube is often very thin walled - 1.2mm-1.6mm (.0469"-.062"), and virtually impossible to bend cleanly without the use of very expensive mandrel bending equipment, and sand-bending is a perfectly suited technique for forming un-stressed exhaust systems. It is invaluable where the exhaust tube must twist and turn in configurations not possible with moderately priced tube benders.

I have covered the making of sectional exhaust systems in Make Your Own Exhaust System, but I offer this article as an alternative method of forming tubes for the more adventurous, or for those who prefer the looks of single-piece “pipes”.

The process basically involves stuffing sand tightly into a tube, sealing both ends, and then applying heat to the tube until it becomes pliable. The sand prevents the tube from collapsing, and in most instances, retains the concentricity of the tube throughout the bend.

There are a number of safety issues concerned with applying pressure to (hot) plasticised metal that must be observed. Any latent pressure within the sealed tube could rupture the tube wall, particularly if it were red hot, and shower hot or molten metal about the place. Therefore, the sand used for stuffing into the tube must be bone dry to avoid the production of steam and consequently, internal pressure.
The best sand to use is a coarse sand such as washed builder’s sand, but it must be thoroughly dried overnight on a shallow tray placed in a low oven.

Before any bending begins, you’ll need to make a “squash pipe”. The squash pipe is a very simple tubular device, which is stouter than the thin-wall exhaust tube you’ll be using, and must be securely welded to the tube you wish to bend. Being thick-walled, the squash pipe can be held tightly in a vice while you work on the attached thin-wall exhaust tube.

The squash pipe incorporates a mechanical tamping device for ensuring the sand is soundly packed into the tube to be bent. It sounds highly technical and complicated, but consists of nothing more than a large nut welded over the open end of the pipe into which a bolt is inserted. Tightening the bolt further compacts the sand inside the tube to be bent.

Most motorbike headers you’ll come across will be 38.1mm (1") OD so the best size of pipe to use for the squash pipe is DN 32 x 3.2mm wall CHS (1" x .125" NB pipe) which is the standard black pipe available at every steel yard. You’ll need a piece approximately 250mm (10") long.

The only other items required are a 1" UNC nut and bolt, and a length of 32mm (1") wooden dowel or curtain pole to use as a ram rod.

Putting It All Into Practice.

* Using a set square, make sure the ends of the length of pipe are perfectly square.
* Place the nut face down on a flat surface and carefully centre the piece of pipe on top of it.
* Make a few tack welds to hold the nut onto the pipe. Screw the bolt into the nut and check that it can enter the pipe without fouling it. If all is well, finish welding the nut to the pipe.
* To form your first bend, cut a length of exhaust tube slightly longer than the proposed finished tube.
* Flatten one end of the tube with a hammer or in the vice, and weld the flattened end to seal it.
* Carefully weld the other end of the tube to the open end of the squash pipe.
* Start pouring the dried sand into the tube through the large nut.
* Thump the welded end of the tube onto the floor as you pour to help settle and compact the sand. The ram rod can also be used to help compact the sand.
* Continue filling with sand until it reaches the bottom of the nut, and then give the squash pipe a couple of taps to clear any sand from the nut's threads.
* At this point, the bolt is inserted into the nut and tightened down onto the sand.
* Secure the squash pipe in the vice and then taking a piece of softwood, start tapping lightly (so as not to dent the thin wall tube) up and down the length of the tube while tightening the bolt.
* When the bolt won’t tighten any further using reasonable force, the tube is ready for forming.
* If possible, place the whole thing into a hot oven to pre-heat the tube and, more importantly, the sand. The sand can really suck heat away when using the Oxy set to heat the tube.
Make sure you wear heavy leather gloves when handling the heated tube.

Using a rosebud tip (not a welding tip), uniformly heat the area of the tube to be bent to a dull red colour.


Slowly start bending the tube, pulling it as you bend it to help avoid any sharp kinks.


Regularly check the progress of the bend against any wire or sheet patterns you may have made.

If making multiple bends in the tube in close proximity, make only one bend at a time, allowing the tube to cool between bends.

When the bending is completed, and the whole tube and pipe has cooled down, remove the bolt from the squash pipe and empty out the sand.

Cut the squash pipe from the tube and clean off the welds on the grinder ready for the next time you need it.

If the freshly bent tube has a lot of scale in the heated areas, it can be cleaned off with some emery ribbon wrapped around the tube and pulled to and fro.
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Old 07-11-2010, 03:50 PM
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Here's a video I found one day on this. Never tried it, probably never will.

YouTube - dopescustoms's Channel
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:00 PM
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This should be stickied,

Any mods agree??
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Old 07-20-2010, 08:33 AM
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My neighbor has used the sand method quite a few times w/ decent results. He has a cheapo harbor freight roller bender w/ the jack in the center w/ various sized dies. He wanted to help keep shape since the tubes got ovaled. No heating or anything, he just packed them w/ sand & bent, it helped quite a bit, but still wasn't perfect.
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