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Old 26-06-2016, 23:30   #1
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DIY bowrail

Hi Everyone

I wanted to have a custom made bowrail made for the boat I was
renovating at the time but found the cost of having it made locally was to great, and the inconvenience of getting the boat to a fabrication shop was also a problem. So I decided to have a go at it myself. I should add that I have had some experience with steel fabrication in the past but had never done any work of this type with stainless steel tube before this.

I first began by searching the web for info and came across the following video on youtube which solved a lot of the bending problem for me. Very useful video, many thanks to "LiveDontWatch" for making it.



Using the ideas shown in the video I made myself a similar setup (with a few modifications) which I will explain below with some of the photos I took at the time.

I made the bender out of scrap steel and wood and as you'll see in the photos the steel is a bit heavy duty but it's all I had laying around at the time. To make the large, and small, tube bending timber discs I used some scrap marine plywood but found the pressure needed to bend the tube to be too great for the smaller disc so I later made another one out of a scrap slab of hardwood. (if you wanted to use this setup on a continual basis it would be better to make the discs from aluminium I think). I also packed the tubing with dry sand and plugged the ends before I began. I'm not really sure if the sand was needed though.

As my boat was taking up the whole of my shed space I had to set up my workbench outside with a temporary router table to make the discs. I made the discs as per the video using a router with a cove bit. After I assembled the bender apparatus I clamped it solidly to my work bench then tried it out a few times on some scrap S/S tubing before tackling a full length for the bowrail. ...See photos below-

1. These three pics shows the router bit used and my setup, a bit rough but it worked ok. I pretty much followed the youtube video to make the wooden discs.












2. Next pics show the completed bender, a special clamping block I made of hardwood to hold the tube in place (and the end plug holding the sand in), and then trying out the bender on scrap 1" (25mm) stainless tubing. Note the different timbers used on the smaller disc with the later h/wood disc sandwiched between aluminium plates for extra strength, plywood was to soft for this disc.















3. The next pics show the full 6 metre length of 1" s/s tube in the bender. The tube needed support at both ends. I started in the centre, this first bend being that nearest the bow. After I had the front bend formed I laid the tube on the boat deck to mark the position of the rear bends. which can be seen in the last photo of this set



















4. The next pics show how I temporarily propped the bowrail on the boat while I worked out it's position and the length and angle of the four stuts which would be attached, with s/s bowrail fittings









5. This pic shows the completed bowrail The boat needed to be finished before I could fix the bowrail down permanently.








6. Finally here's a pic of my boat when completed before relaunch day. All up with fittings and tubing the bowrail cost me around AU$300. I was very pleased with the result of my first foray into the mysteries of bending stainless steel.



I hope this thread helps someone with similar ambitions.

Cheers,
bony
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Old 27-06-2016, 01:28   #2
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Re: DIY bowrail

Nice work!
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Old 27-06-2016, 01:53   #3
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Re: DIY bowrail

Very nice job cleverly done.
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Old 27-06-2016, 03:18   #4
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Re: DIY bowrail

Nicely done!
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Old 03-07-2016, 08:02   #5
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Re: DIY bowrail

Thanks, I hope someone finds the info useful.

bony.
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Old 03-07-2016, 09:34   #6
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Re: DIY bowrail

Very good post! Thanks for sharing the methods, showing in good photos and adding your notes. The final result looks very nice.
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Old 05-07-2016, 14:49   #7
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Re: DIY bowrail

Thanks for this. Given your experience with the 1" tubing, do you think a similar arrangement would work on 1 1/4" tubing?
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Old 05-07-2016, 14:57   #8
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Re: DIY bowrail

Top job! Quite different from a mate who used thicker wall ss pipe and bent it around a tree!

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Old 22-09-2016, 03:16   #9
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Re: DIY bowrail

Quote:
Originally Posted by babaluey View Post
Thanks for this. Given your experience with the 1" tubing, do you think a similar arrangement would work on 1 1/4" tubing?
Thanks to everyone for positive comments.

Hi babaluey, sorry it's taken so long to reply to your question.

I see no reason why it wouldn't work with 11/4" tube provided you built the bender to withstand the extra stress it would undergo. I used plywood for my large bender wheel and it handled 1" tube ok but it might split apart with 11/4" tube, so perhaps making the large and small bender wheels from a dense hardwood would be the go. (Of course making both bender wheels from aluminium would be even better).

You'd also need a stronger clamp(s) to hold the tube in place and you'd need a longer bender handle to give more leverage. Maybe 11/4" tube might be more prone to kinking, but filling the tube tightly with dry packing sand should help to avoid that problem.

Cheers.
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Old 22-09-2016, 04:12   #10
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Re: DIY bowrail

Thanks for this thread bony.
About 4 years ago I had a quote from a local handyman in New England for a similar size bowrail: 3'000 USD...
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Old 22-09-2016, 04:57   #11
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Re: DIY bowrail

Quote:
Originally Posted by bony View Post
I hope this thread helps someone with similar ambitions.

Cheers,
bony
Great job, really impressive work. Thanks for sharing.

I hope you would take a moment to reflect on some overall big picture aspects of the project as well as some specific details such as mistakes you made, things you learned, things you might do differently, and so forth. I only ask because whenever I try and do something new I usually end up with a list of those items.

Also, I wonder if it might be interesting for you to do a show and tell of your picture with the local fabricator who you had quote the job but was too expensive?

I think your project is really great and if I was that guy, I would take it personally that you were so interested in my craft that you decided to watch some videos and figure this all out and I would want to befriend you and help you out wherever I can. Who knows, it might be worthwhile just to talk to the guy anyway, you might pick up some tips or answers to questions that popped up along the way.

Cheers
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Old 22-09-2016, 06:22   #12
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Re: DIY bowrail

Just wondering if you considered renting or borrowing a conduit bender or tubing bender? I use these for heavy conduit and heavy wall hydraulic tubing. Your method shows some exceptional creativity.
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Old 22-09-2016, 07:30   #13
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Re: DIY bowrail

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Originally Posted by ErikFinn View Post
Thanks for this thread bony.
About 4 years ago I had a quote from a local handyman in New England for a similar size bowrail: 3'000 USD...
Ouch! $3,000, that would really hurt! I could have done a pile of them for that kinda money.
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Old 22-09-2016, 07:40   #14
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Re: DIY bowrail

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Originally Posted by 30yearslater View Post
Just wondering if you considered renting or borrowing a conduit bender or tubing bender? I use these for heavy conduit and heavy wall hydraulic tubing. Your method shows some exceptional creativity.
Hi 30yearslater,

Thanks, I did consider hiring a hydraulic pipe bender but didn't know how long the project would take, and also did not feel confident it would give me the smooth bends I wanted, I thought they might distort the S/Steel tube.
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Old 22-09-2016, 08:30   #15
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Re: DIY bowrail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Great job, really impressive work. Thanks for sharing.

I hope you would take a moment to reflect on some overall big picture aspects of the project as well as some specific details such as mistakes you made, things you learned, things you might do differently, and so forth. I only ask because whenever I try and do something new I usually end up with a list of those items.

Also, I wonder if it might be interesting for you to do a show and tell of your picture with the local fabricator who you had quote the job but was too expensive?

I think your project is really great and if I was that guy, I would take it personally that you were so interested in my craft that you decided to watch some videos and figure this all out and I would want to befriend you and help you out wherever I can. Who knows, it might be worthwhile just to talk to the guy anyway, you might pick up some tips or answers to questions that popped up along the way.

Cheers
Hi Delancy,

I live in a small rural town and don't have a lot of options when it comes to having something built to order. My local steel fabricator is more occupied with large heavy fabrication work for the farming and trucking industry so my little bowrail was not worth his bother. I doubt he'd even be interested.

I was inspired to have a go at a diy bowrail after watching the youtube video (see link in my op) which was uploaded by "LiveDontWatch". There were a few mistakes I made and would probably do differently if I was to build another so I'll have a think about it and maybe add those comments to this thread when I have more time.

I've always believed in the saying "Where there's a will, there's a way" and I also like a bit of a challenge, which is why I took on the task of restoring my boat in the first place. The bowrail was just one of the several challenges I managed to overcome during the project. Some problems I faced were solved through the great advice I received from members of this Cruisers Forum and other problems I solved after spending hours researching on the internet.

When my boat was nearing completion I wanted to have a custom made cockpit cover made because the boat would be moored at a jetty when not in use and I wanted to protect it from seagulls and light fingered humans. I rang a few tarpaulin makers and was quoted near a AU$1,000 to have one made! If we included zippers it pushed the price over the thousand dollar mark. So here was another challenge. I ended up making my own cover out of marine canvas for a third of the price and was quite pleased with the outcome. The details of how I went about making the pattern, what materials I used, and how I went about sewing it all together might be helpul to other boat minded persons, so when I get time I might start another thread like this one, with pics, on the topic of diy cockpit covers.

Cheers.
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