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Learning how to build Lotus Seven replicas...together!
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PostPosted: July 12, 2017, 11:31 pm 
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Location: BC, Canada. eh?
Just bought a set of these today from Princess Auto (Canada's answer to Harbor Freight). I've wanted these for a long time, but they've always been either a) way too expensive, or b) sold out.
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Their new "Price Smasher" sale online flyer came out today, with the set offered at $149CDN (roughly $117USD :roll:). The first thing I noticed was that the sale showed them as "sold out" within seconds of the flyer coming out :roll: :BH:

In a fit of pique (or, perhaps, stupid, blind, hopeless optimism), I phoned my local store, just on the off chance (I don't think they've had a set, at any price, in-store for the past couple of years - I've kept checking). The girl on the phone said she'd check...then told me they actually had one set, buried at the back of the shelf!!! I asked her to put it aside for me & said I'd be there in minutes. Sure enough, when I got there it was waiting for me! Woohoo :cheers:

The price was amazing - I haven't found them anywhere, ever, at that price. To make it even better, I had several gift cards (from my kids, parents, etc.) in my wallet - in the end, the set was free!!

Anyway, these are the exact same as the Eastwood ones, and seem to be pretty solidly made. I tried the set out, and quickly made a nice, flat, 24 gauge flat-steel donut on my first try. I was surprised how little surface deformation there was in the steel - nothing that won't sand out, if a smooth final finish is desired.

As my bench space is severely limited, I made a couple of 1"X2"X6" 6061 T6 aluminum bolt-on bases for them (had a couple of chunks of bar stock in my metals bin), which can be clamped in my enormous, old, US-made machinist's vise. This makes for a VERY solid mount, and switching from shrinker to stretcher and vise-versa (LOL - see what I did there?) takes but a second. What's nice is that the set stows neatly on a shelf under the bench, so they're out of the way, but ready right when I need them.

I have a couple of projects on the Locost that have been waiting for a stretcher/shrinker set to come along. I need to make a couple of curved boxes for the undersides of my front cycle fenders (they'll be glued to the fenders themselves with 3M 5200, and bolted to the fender supports), and I want to make a couple of very large "U" shapes to beef up the mounting flanges of my CMC (i.e., cheap & flimsy) rear fenders. These will be 18 or 20 gauge steel, formed into angle iron, and made into U shapes using the shrinker so they beef up the inside of those willowy flanges.

I suspect these will be kind of like my lathe - everything I look at, I'll be considering "I wonder if that could benefit from a pass or two through the shrinker...?"

That's it! Now I have all the tools I want!!...Well, except for an English wheel. And a bead roller...a large press brake...TIG welder...plasma torch...milling machine....louver press.

Okay, there are still a LOT of tools I want & need!! My wife is standing behind me, rolling her eyes... :cheers: :D

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PostPosted: July 13, 2017, 2:50 am 
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Location: Holden, Alberta, Canada
Bought these from PA couple of years ago, they are handy, used them when building the scuttle, great tool. :cheers:

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PostPosted: July 13, 2017, 8:12 am 
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Location: Summerville, SC
I love my little shrinker stretcher set. All of the forming on the patch panels for the Mini wouldn't have been possible without them.

Last summer I did a fender reshaping project for a guy's motorcycle trailer that paid for them in a day.

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OOPS I did it again
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=17496

Blood Sweat and Beers
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=15216


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PostPosted: July 15, 2017, 1:19 pm 
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Location: BC, Canada. eh?
Well, after using these tools for a few hours, I can honestly say...WOW! These things are amazing!! I made two curved, inverted boxes as mounts to fit under my fiberglass cycle fenders (which will be glued to the boxes), and I'm extremely impressed with how well these new tools work.

Bear in mind, though, that they are VERY effective, so caution is called for. I was working with 20 gauge steel, and a pass down one side with the shrinker turned the flat steel box (7" long, 5" wide, with sides 1" high) into a taco chip. Another pass, down the other side, turned the whole thing into a smooth curved box, as I'd wanted.

Once I did a test fit (for the curvature on the underside of a fender), I discovered the boxes were already too curved, so, out came the stretcher. A gentle pass down each side, and voila!! - it was almost straight again! Too straight, that is...

It requires a very gradual approach to avoid going too far. A contour gauge is absolutely essential if you're not free-forming, and need to fit the work piece to an existing shape.

I'd also recommend, if you plan on purchasing a shrinker/stretcher set, to get the kind with the pair of tools (each with its own die set). I went back & forth from one tool to the other, dozens of times, to get the shape just right, and if I'd had to change out die sets each time it would have taken me a lot longer to do the job. I tried my buddy's (1 tool, 2 dies) set, and we spent a lot more time changing dies than we did forming metal.

I'm actually very pleased with these "budget" tools (although they appear to be identical in every way to the more expensive set from Eastwood, for example). They are very heavy & solid, precise where they need to be, and loose where it doesn't matter. Right out of the box, I didn't need to do any setup, adjustments, or anything - I just immediately set to work. It's SO nice when a tool simply works, and does the job it's claimed to do, without any fiddling.

I can definitely see where the foot-pedal mount would be nice to have, although they come at a princely cost. If it weren't for the current cost of steel (and the absence of scrap, ends, etc. in my area) I'd whip up a mount myself. I mount my new tools in my (ancient & extremely heavy) machinist's vise, which is fine, but I still ended up putting a fair bit of force onto the handles - and, as it's necessary to hold the work piece with your other hand, one of your shoulders will get quite a workout over the space of a few hours.

I'll post some pics of my first pieces when I can get back to my home PC.

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http://zetec7.webs.com/


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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 2:49 am 
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Location: BC, Canada. eh?
Here's a pic of one the two curved boxes I made using the shrinker/stretcher tool set. Realistically, I can't think of another way to have made these! They're removable (bolt on to the fender stays), and the fiberglass cycle fenders will be glued on top of them with 3M 5200.

Attachment:
Fender liner box curved small.jpg
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http://zetec7.webs.com/


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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 10:20 am 
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:thmbsup:

Very cool

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OOPS I did it again
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=17496

Blood Sweat and Beers
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=15216


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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 1:03 pm 
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If you radius the edges of the flat sheet before you shrink the edges, you get this shape:


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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 1:51 pm 
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Cool!! I'm going to have fun with these, I expect! They open up a lot of opportunities for custom fabrication I'd otherwise have had to do the hard way...

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http://zetec7.webs.com/


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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 2:23 pm 
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Location: Seattle area
Cool tool Mike. Have fun and don't forget to post pics.

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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 3:30 pm 
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Yep, they're great to have.

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Too much week, not enough weekend.

OOPS I did it again
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=17496

Blood Sweat and Beers
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=15216


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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 4:03 pm 
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Tommy,

Did you do that whole thing with the shrinker/stretcher?

Looks great.

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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 4:24 pm 
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Location: BC, Canada. eh?
Looks to me like there's some seriously skilled English wheel work there, too...

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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 5:18 pm 
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Far from seriously skilled, but there was English wheel involved. I did a somewhat interesting post on making a matched set of fenders in the Oops I did it Again thread.

I wheeled them because I wanted about an 3/4 inch of crown across the surface.

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OOPS I did it again
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=17496

Blood Sweat and Beers
http://www.locostusa.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=15216


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PostPosted: July 16, 2017, 5:52 pm 
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However you accomplished it, they're beautiful!!

And, IMHO, serious skill IS evident there! I'm soooo jealous!

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http://zetec7.webs.com/


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