GotTrikes Tubing Bender

I purchased a set of plans from Frank Takacs at for an air over hydraulic tubing bender.  This bender is very popular at and other sites.

The plans come with options – a simple version, or a more complex version that has neat things like wheels, and the ability to hold the arms whilst changing dies.  I went all out and blinged it up, baby.  Yeah.

I read the plans a few times to really understand what I was doing, and it went together fine.  It was a LOT more work than I anticipated.

I purchased all the steel locally, and only screwed up the arms once. I used tractor pins from, and machined longer pins that I could not buy locally.

Harbor Freight (the recommended source for the Air/Hydraulic ram) neither ships to Canada, nor recognizes Canada as a billable destination.  Too bad for them.  I ordered a ram from, and had it shipped to a receiving company in the states so I could bring it across the border myself.

I also ordered a 1-1/2″ 240° die from  They ship free within the US, so I picked that up at the same time as the ram.

The fancier version of the bender required a 1-3/8″ hole to be drilled.  I did not have one, couldn’t justify purchasing one, and didn’t trust the accuracy of a hole-saw, so I fabricated a “boring bar” of sorts to mount in my lathe, and drilled it that way.

The entire bender was TIG welded together, because I’m a masochist.  Well, that and it’s good practice for me.  I’m getting better at TIG.

I painted the bender Tremclad Orange.  When spraying Tremclad, you have a “re-coat” time window that does not work if you’re spraying the top AND the bottom.  The paint takes longer to cure than you have time to re-coat, and the subsequent coats wrinkle instantly.  This was a horrific disappointment, requiring some significant parts to be sanded down and re-coated.  I am still not impressed.

It turned out fine, and I have to remind myself that it’s just a tool.

I practice-bent electrical conduit to get the feel for the machine and performing compound bends before I ruined the stick of DOM tube I had bought for the Lotus chassis.  An expensive mistake. *sigh*