bending stainless steel tubing

I've started making sand-bent headers using mild steel. the idea is to pack the tube with dry sand, heat it with a rosebud torch and bend it without
kinks. Actually works quite well after you get the hang of it, the difficulty isn't bending the tube per-se, it's bending the tube in the right place and by the right amount...
I'm using typically 1.5" od .049 wall mild steel. Does 304 or 316 stainless tube have the same sort of heat malleability that could let me use it for this sort of application?
Thanks, Brian
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304 Stainless is the ornery cousin to mild steel. Most of the fabrication techniques transfer from mild to stainless except they don't work as well. Stainless has more springback so you need to overbend. It work hardens much more rapidly than mild steel. It also has a memory, the part will ooze back in the direction of its original shape over several days.
You might want to consider using prebent fittings from somone like this: http://www.headersbyed.com / I've dealt with Ed, quite a character! He buys high quality bends in large quantitys, sells them in small lots. The ovality in the bend area is very good, you can just cut through the bend and weld it together at whatever angle you want.
Brian wrote:

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Thanks for the comments on stainless characteristics, it sounds like it won't work well for this. I need to be able to put the tube where I want it with it still red hot and have virtually no movement as it cools. I can adjust the tubes somewhat after I get them tacked but not much.
I've used bends and donuts to piece together headers. I've also seen mandrel bent one piece tube headers. But the characteristic flowing bend of a piece of tube 28" long that is one smoothly bent piece with constantly changing radius and angle of bend is what vintage cars really should have. "Mike the Pipe" used to make many of the pipes for F1, Can-Am, Le Mans etc. and they were beautiful to behold. It is so far a whole lot harder than piecing together pipes but I suspect that as my "eye" gets better I will be able visualize the shape and get it closer without so much trial and error.
Brian

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http://www.burnsstainless.com/ is another excellent source for parts.

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I buy collectors for my headers from Burns - their SS collectors are works of art.
Brian

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