Sunday, December 19, 2010

Woodward Fab Bead Roller Modification

I've been wanting to try a bead roller. Ever since I began setting up the construction of my '30 Model A coupe I have wanted to be able to form floor panels and body patches that would use beads, grooves and flanges. Problem is, I don't want to spend $1,000 or more for a decent roller and set of dies. But through online searching I've found actually good information on the cheapo bead rollers from Harbor Freight and others. There is just one catch...they need major stiffening side to side and up and down.

The picture below is the one I decided to go with. It is from Woodward Fab, and comes with 6 sets of dies. It is made of solid steel plate, just shy of 1/2" thick, and has an 18" throat. It feels better than the Harbor Freight one, being a thicker plate (HF one is 3/8") and having grease fittings. It is also identical to the Eastwood economy model, likely from the same Chinese factory. Plus, the Woodward Fab tools in general have a good reputation, especially compared to HF.
The above picture isn't my attempt at advertising- I was just too lazy to remove the "super low price" artwork.
So I pulled my Woodward Fab bead roller out of the box, installed it on the vise, assembled it and gave it a try. The dies do their job, and it stays fairly lined up, but the frame plate has tons of flex! And most noticeable was side to side flexing. Now the plans to reinforce (and make it look pretty) begin...

The picture above shows one of the patterns I made for cutting the bottom plate. The green line is where the purchased frame plate would meet the added curved reinforcing plate that this pattern produces. I formed this and a top pattern (after lots of sketching) on Masonite with my little jigsaw, and then aligned the patterns to some 1/2" plate and plasma-cut the pieces.

Here is a picture showing the top plate and bottom plate welded to the Woodward Fab frame. I tried to give it an industrial look, like a tool in a vocational shop that has form-following-function (or maybe the other way around...) with an earlier appearance. You can see the welds are ground down and the paint from the original piece is ground off.

After using scrap from my generous boss Matt (Owner of the company I work for) and a '28 Ford torque tube, I came up with this neat stand assembly. It has an almost antique industrial look, but also spartan. It is still going to be top heavy, so I will bolt it to the floor.

Above shows another view, this of the backside. The 2"x2" square tube is actually the major reinforcement; it does more work than the vertical pieces I meshed with the original plate. This idea was copied from the very cool ideas I found online. The vertical round tube is scrap pieces I cut and lined up for holders of the dies not being used. I like the curvy-shaped plate I added to the pedestal tubing. It calms my fears of weak spots, and looks good too!

Here it is bolted to the floor. I used those female thread anchors that stay level in the concrete, so I can easily remove the bolts and move the assembly out of the way. The paint is the last drops of DuPont Variprime leftovers I had, given to me for free by an old neighbor. It is a 2-part etching primer, and I didn't want to see it go to waste. Plus, now I have something paint can bite to.

These two pictures show the assembled bead roller and the extra dies sitting on their holders.

This above pictures shows the first experiments with scraps from Creer Sheet Metal. This bead roller is going to be wonderful for floor pans, body reinforcements, and even patch panels. I see lots of possibilities!

This last pic shows the completed project including the wheel I made to operate it with. The crank it came with is not nearly as usable. I made this wheel from the foot rest of a broken bar stool, and the spokes/mounting assembly from channel scrap I scrounged from a spiral staircase I helped remove. It works with no noticed flex and cost was very low, unless you count my time and tools. But I wanted to build it...!


Blogger old-goats said...

Hey Cliff-- now you have me looking at rollers! did you get louver dies?

December 23, 2010 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger CRH said...

I didn't get louver dies... I don't even know how to use this thing properly! But I'm getting a little practice.

December 24, 2010 at 3:28 PM  

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