Met my Match - (Double Flare Disaster)

Last nite the kid comes upstairs from the garage and asks me to show him how to make a double flare an some 3/16" steel brake tubing he's patching up his '95 Honda Civic with.

It's been maybe 20 years since I made a double flare, so I Googled up a nice set of photos for him which showed how far the tubing should project from the tool when starting out. (By using the thickness of the base of the "first stage" button die as a gage.)

All I own is an old single flare tool from copper tubing days, so the kid had borrowed a double flaring tool from Auto Zone when he picked up the tubing and fittings he needed.

The tool looked brand new, but had the earmarks of being a cheap import. There was no recognizable brand name on it or it's spotlessly clean red plastic box, and no instruction sheet with it. But it looked just like the tool I remembered making double flares with a long time ago.

I thought it would be a snap to make the first flare for the son and let him do the rest, but 'twas not to be.

No matter how hard I tightened the clamping screws, even using some leverage on them, the tubing slipped through that #$%^$#@ clamp every time I tried to make the first stage flare. I cut back the tubing a couple of times after a failed try, thinking a fresh start would help. I even tried degreasing the tubing and the tool's jaws with acetone. That didn't work either. (This morning I thought that maybe I should have tried putting a little emery powder in the jaws, but I'm keeping my hands off that project until I get over tha agony of defeat.)

Yes, the tubing miked at .178"-181" and the tool's clamp hole was labeled 3/16". The tubing didn't feel extra hard or too soft, so was it me or the tool?

Try as I could, I couldn't make even one flare for the kid, and it took some will power to avoid flinging that tool, box and all, into the woods behind the house. Only the thought of the $20 deposit he'd left at Auto Zone stopped me.

When I eyeballed the serrations in the tool's clamp hole they looked lousy and were hardly file tooth sharp. They looked more like I'd expect to see on a tool that already had lots of flares under its belt.

I think I probably should have tacked this message on as a reply to one of the "Are HF tools any good?" threads, cause it sure seems like it had to be the tool, not me, that defeated me last night.

Did I miss anyting? Is there something particularly difficult about using a double flare tool on 3/16' steel tubing, or some trick which has to be used to keep the tubing from slipping through the clamp.

Or, am I correct in blaming my abject failure on a cheap copy of a traditional tool design, which when made with proper materials and techniques, has stood the test of time.

I told the kid to bite the bullet and buy a brand new preformed brake line from a Honda dealer or see if he can get lucky at an auto recycler. The original Honda tubing has a pretty heavy plastic sheathing on it too, which looks like it's there to help avoid corrosion, so it might be best to use that instead of naked steel anyway.

Thanks guys,

Jeff

Reply to
Jeff Wisnia
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When you got to this line:

The tool looked brand new, but had the earmarks of being a cheap import.

I knew then you were going to have problems without reading the rest. I've never had luck getting a cheap import to work for flaring copper tubing (especially double flares). I made the mistake of buying one of these pieces of crap once. I had the same problem as you...the tubing not staying put. I finally found a decent tool at work and that one worked great.

Mike

Reply to
mj

Recently had the same challenge, to make up a line with double flare on each end. Bought the tubing from local Canadian Tyre and borrowed their flaring tool (cheap import type). Cut the tube square with a hacksaw, filed the end dead square using the back face of the clamping bars as a guide, removed the burr from inside of brake line, VERY IMPORTANT filed a healthy bevel on the outside of the line, clamped the line using the clamp bolts THEN clamped again in a bench vise, ran the die in, removed the die and ran in the cone. Perfect first try. Important points - no tubing cutters - work hardens the tube/pipe/line. Dead square end, no burrs. Large bevel on outer edge of line/pipe/tube. Extra clamping. A little lube - and good luck.

Reply to
Ray Field

I sure can't see your double flaring tool, but the Taiwanese single flaring tool I have has an eccentric bolt on the handle pivot. There's a roller on the handle that closes the dies. Adjusting the eccentric bolt determines how much clamping pressure is put on the dies. Maybe just a tweak with a wrench might have got the borrowed tool working.

Nevermind said Roseanne roseanna-danna. you had a different type of tool.

. I would have politely told the guys at Auto-Zone what a POS tool it was and asked for a good one. I have used their tools several times and really like this service. If they didn't have one I would have spent the bucks on a good quality tool rather than a factory part. Tom

Reply to
Tom Wait

I had to use one of these imported POS flaring tools to make several double flares and I had the same problem with the tubing not being clamped properly. In desperation I used a Vicegrip pliers to assist in clamping the tube. It worked but what a pain in the a**. Try as I might to find an American made or other quality flaring tool in our town of three hardware and three auto part stores was to no avail. I was told that no one would buy them if they would stock a quality tool. Steve

Reply to
its me

I think I might have tried wrapping the tube with a cigarette paper if it slipped that bad on me. Or two, or three. They ain't as cheap as they used to be, but the old Zig-zags come in real handy every now and then in the shop.

GWE

its me wrote:

Reply to
Grant Erwin

All good points, and they included a couple I didn't know about.

I didn't mention that first end I was trying to flair was under the hood. There was enough room to fit in the tool and operate it, but 'twarnt a piece of cake.

As it happened I didn't use a tubing cutter, but not because I was smart enough to think about work hardening, there just wasn't enough room to swing a full sized one around all the way and my mini tubing cutter was out on loan. I cut the tubing end off square with a cutting disk in a Dremel and deburred the center of the tubing with the point of a three edge scraper and the outside with coarse emery paper.

The web page "how to" on double flaring I'd Googled up:

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didn't say anything about beveling the outside of the tube, but that makes sense now.

I couldn't do much about adding any additional clamping where I was working and from what I could see the two clamp bars were kissing each other already. Maybe the tubing being a few thou below 3/16" had something to do with it, but from what I've read on this thread so far, it prolly wasn't all my fault.

Probably that side clamping screw in the yoke of the tool set on the web page referenced above would have helped a lot.

Looking around, the name brand double flaring sets cost around $100 and the POS import ones can be got for less than $20. Cheap is cheap.

What happened to "Experience is the best teacher" and "Learn from mistakes." (If I'm going to learn from mistakes I prefere they be other's mistakes )

I've no doubt that given the right tools we could make decent double flares, but there's something comforting about putting a factory part into something as critical as the brakes on a car your kid's driving. That's the way I'm gonna go on this one.

Thanks guys,

Jeff

Reply to
Jeff Wisnia

I think these cheapo tools are designed only for copper pipes. Yeah - I had the same problem, only I was trying to use the tool on a brakeline in the car! The line would have been a pig to disconnect from the master cylinder, so I cut the line & replaced the corroded section. It was (when are they not?) a rush job , so HAD to be done that night. After about 5 attempts & trying to anneal the pipe end, all of which failed misreably, I was running short of room to fit the tool on the pipe, so something had to be done. I ended up by cutting a small piece of 600 grit wet & dry exactly to the circumference of the pipe. Sandwiching this (grit side toward the pipe) inside the clamp jaws enabled me to do the flare first try.

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Reply to
jrlloyd

Try to FIND a good, quality double flair tool in most towns or cities across the USA or Canada. They don't exist anymore, because they "cost too much". Yea, right! Ten cents is too much for one that doesn't work.

Reply to
clare at snyder.on.ca

My snapon set was close to $200, 20 years latter it still works first try. Cheap tools are false economy, and good only for cheap tools. Pat

Reply to
Pat Ford

FWIW, the last time I had any need to double flair was about 20 yrs ago when I was rebuilding an old XKE. I don't remember ANY problems, but I had an American made flair kit. I still have it some where out in the shop. Think I might have to go out and dig it up and see what brand it was just out ot curiosity. Bill.

Reply to
lathenut

And on an "E" type you didn't double flare - you bell (or bubble) flared, if my memory serves me correctly. The double flair kit I used for many years was a "blue point" made in the late forties.It did single, "bubble", and double flares.

I think the tools from Inlinetube.com are likely of pretty decent quality. The KD2190 is a good heavy duty unit, with a price to match. A Rothenberger set will serve you well too, but IIRC they are also pretty pricey.They are used by a lot of AC and refrigeration guys - might not work well on hard (like stainless) lines. If you need to make a couple hundred, get a Samson 800.

Reply to
clare at snyder.on.ca

This may sound like a silly question, but why is he using inch sized fittings on a metric car? Isn't everything metric, including the tubing and fittings?

Reply to
carl mciver

Very not recommended but I have repaired many brake lines using compression fittings and flexible brake line tubing.. Never had a single leak or defect.

Reply to
daniel peterman

Not silly.

The metric equivalent works out to be 3/16" (4.75mm IIRC)

Reply to
aarcuda69062

A bit late now, but why use steel instead of Monel or copper?

Mark Rand RTFM

Reply to
Mark Rand

I would not have a problem with a quality compression fitting like a Swagelok. It is certainly as good as a flared fitting provided it is installed properly.

Randy

Reply to
R. O'Brian

Monel would probably be OK except for the cost. Copper work-hardens by the repeated deformation produced by the brake pressure pulses and would crack in a short time.

Randy

Reply to
R. O'Brian

Copper work-hardens by the

This, I discovered with the rocker arm oiler kit installed on my '57 Ford 272. Gerry :-)} London, Canada

Reply to
Gerald Miller

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