Almost there!" you exclaim to no one but yourself.
The driveway is dark and cold, and your new front bumper is finally beginning to take shape after months of scheming and mental note-taking of others' designs. Yes, you're about to fabricate the baddest bumper ever to grace the front of an off-road truck. You finish one last pull on the bender handle, and then release the tube from the bender's metallic grip. Finding the mark for your second bend, you line it up with the corresponding "start of bend" mark on the forming die and begin the process anew. A tug on the actuating handle snugs the fresh tube between the main and pressure dies. Your finely calibrated eyeball lines up the tube with the die, and the second bend is completed after a few more pulls of the handle. After releasing the tube from the bender, you lay the tube down on the concrete just for kicks. It rocks - and not in the good sense of the term. It rocks back and forth, mocking you with a metallic clank.
While a slightly crooked bumper may not be a big deal, a pair of asymmetrical control arms, or a pair of banana-shaped framerails can be a real problem. Crooked trucks don't handle consistently. At best, this slows a truck down. At worst, a crooked truck is unsafe to drive on or off the road.
Fortunately, there are readily available tools that can help your fabrication projects turn out straight and true, whether you're building a bumper or back-halving a prerunner. With careful measurements and a little practice, "that thing rocks!" will be a compliment every time.
Van Sant Enterprises is a purveyor of fine metal-fabricating equipment, whether you need to notch a tube or build a complete chassis. Owner Bruce Van Sant is a racer himself, competing in the high-adrenaline world of motorcycle drag racing. Van Sant's Pro Mod race bike is powered by a 1,428cc Suzuki Hayabusa engine producing 450 ponies. The Pro Mod's chassis was produced in house using tools available through Van Sant Enterprises. Seen above, the Tube Bender Survival Kit equips the fabricator to make accurate bends and to minimize wasted tubing. The AF II angle finder helps to track bends in progress or to measure existing bends for replication. The ALB Combo includes a dial level and bracket that attaches to tubing up to 2 inches in diameter, helping to track rotation of bends and make sure that the bends are made in the desired plane. The TC1 tube welding positioner adjusts to different angles and holds the tubes in place for accurate tack welding. Paste Lube enhances bending by allowing the tubing to slide through the pressure die with less friction. Finally, Bend Tech EZ software simplifies bending and allows users to plot their projects out in advance before creating them in metal. All of these items are available separately, but the Tube Bender Survival Kit offers them as a carefully selected group with package-deal pricing and single-part-number ordering.