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.