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Bending Strut Tubes


winstontj

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Is there a science? Do you need a torch, heat & bend? Am I stupid for trying this on my own?

Also, its my understanding that its either 1* or 1.5* bend, do you get any extra tire clearance if you bend that extra half degree or even go to 2*?

This stuff seems easy - but not soemthing I really want to mess with since its such an important suspension piece.

THanks!

EDIT: Worried about weakening the base of the strut tube, worried about not bending the right way (not bending 90* from the spindle), and a few other things...

Is it as easy as putting it in a vice, heating, stick a pipe in the end and bend & measure?

'79 & '80 Vespas, R75/6 + R90/6 (and a Triumph), '76 IH Scout II

E36 

'71 VIN: 2574356 - Nevada, Sunroof, RUST and a really nice '76

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One shop I worked at had a a good old school tire shop next door and we had them use their strut bender on a few customer cars...

Roger Kraus Racing in Castro Valley CA http://www.rogerkrausracing.com/ has a strut bender and once bent my buddies 02 front struts 1.25 degrees. He had et33 15x6 MSW mesh wheels and 195/50-15 tires.

I've seen quite a few old school tire shops that have strut bender tools...

BTW bending the strut for negative camber reduces tire/wheel clearance to the strut... increases to the fender. Many big tire/wheel combos on '02s I have seen are pretty close to the strut, so if you let's say have 15x7's with et25 and 205/50-15's you will only have room to bend the strut about 1/2 to 1 degree before you have wheel to strut clearance problems. I don't think there's room in that scenario to bend the strut more than that.

In Ireland's catalog they note that they can only bend an '02 strut up to 1.5 degrees... food for thought.

I would also think seriously about gusseting the area between the bottom of the strut to the spindle aka Alpina and the Sachs racing struts of yore once the desired camber is achieved.

HTH

Tom Jones

BMW mechanic for over 25 years, BMWCCA since 1984
66 BMW16oo stored, 67 1600-2 lifelong project, 2 more 67-8 1600s, 86 528e 5sp 585k, 91 318i
Mom&Dad's, 65 1800TiSA, 70 2800, 72 2002Tii 2760007 orig owners, 15 Z4 N20

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You are right, I was thinking larger bend/degree = smaller tire, smaller bend = larger tire. No idea why I stated that backwards - probably the late night watching the Sox lose to the Rays...

I'll ask around about a strut bender. Is this a tool that I could buy on the cheap or is a big $ item?

I take it since you are talking strut benders you would reccomend against a torch & pipe?

Will be adding reinforcements to the base of the tube. Thanks!

'79 & '80 Vespas, R75/6 + R90/6 (and a Triumph), '76 IH Scout II

E36 

'71 VIN: 2574356 - Nevada, Sunroof, RUST and a really nice '76

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TJ- here is what I would do. I would find a piece of U channel the wider than the brake mounting ears and longer than the strut. With the U facing downwards, near one of the ends make a big hole for the spindle and 4 holes to run bolts thru to the brake ears. Having done this you can bolt the strut to the U channel and take the whole thing over to a hydraulic press. I was told to insert a shock in the unit and bend it cold.

I would also make a stop and bend to that stop so that the process is easily repeatable. And I would add vertical "guides" that rest against the sides of the strut to be sure that the bend didn't have any chance to work its way off to either side (i.e. be sure it bends straight down.)

I just completed my shortened struts and I thought I would bend them but I was running out of time and I really wasn't sure I would need it since I have - camber plates dialed all the way in. After driving the set up at the cars limit I'd say that I do not need any more -camber- yet.....

On wider r- compounds- maybe. But first I'll try to reduce the roll as much as possible.

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peteinjp method sounds quite good. Otherwise I would be very concerned about getting them both bent same amount and in right direction. 1 degree is very little when bending tubes but huge difference when talking about alignment.

Racing is Life - everything before and after is just waiting!

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I've had it done at wheel/alignment shops, but only to factory spec because my car had kissed a curb & bent one. If you are brave enough to make your own tool like Pete mentions, please show us photos if it works out. The tool the tire shops use has a degree guage on it, & if they want 1 degree of bend, they push/pull the tool to more than that, say 1.5 or 2, then when they release, it comes back at 1 degree, is how it was explained to me. This is with the car on the lift of course.

2002 owner since 1980

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One shop I worked at had a a good old school tire shop next door and we had them use their strut bender on a few customer cars...

Roger Kraus Racing in Castro Valley CA http://www.rogerkrausracing.com/ has a strut bender and once bent my buddies 02 front struts 1.25 degrees. He had et33 15x6 MSW mesh wheels and 195/50-15 tires.

I've seen quite a few old school tire shops that have strut bender tools...

BTW bending the strut for negative camber reduces tire/wheel clearance to the strut... increases to the fender. Many big tire/wheel combos on '02s I have seen are pretty close to the strut, so if you let's say have 15x7's with et25 and 205/50-15's you will only have room to bend the strut about 1/2 to 1 degree before you have wheel to strut clearance problems. I don't think there's room in that scenario to bend the strut more than that.

In Ireland's catalog they note that they can only bend an '02 strut up to 1.5 degrees... food for thought.

I would also think seriously about gusseting the area between the bottom of the strut to the spindle aka Alpina and the Sachs racing struts of yore once the desired camber is achieved.

HTH

Tom,

this is a lot of good info here, thanks for sharing your knowledge. Not only do I know now, but what is more important what could actually go wrong. Time to look at my strut clearance!

FAQ Member # 91

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Guest Anonymous

I don't know much about bending strut tubes, although when I was cleaning out some old BMW "stuff" just in the last couple of days I ran across an old "Hardy & Beck" price sheet from the early 80's, they had a listing for a "Bilstein Green Dot negative camber strut, 1.5 deg. negative camber, 36mm strut tube......" $275.00/Ea (early 80's like 1980-1981). The strut ALPINA also sold (made by Bilstein, damping to ALPINA's specifications) also had the 36mm tube and 1.5 deg negative camber. With regard to Roger Kraus Racing, I have purchased all of my BBS O-Rings, and hardware from Roger for my ALPINA 3-Piece racing wheels, along with the AVON racing rubber. He is probably the only guy in northern California that can mount these special wheels. I have seen some pretty hot racing cars in his shop having their suspensions worked on/set-up. So with that said, I would suggest that if he does have a strut tube bender he would be the guy to send them to. At least you can be sure that both struts will have the same amount of neg camber in them. I'm afraid if I tried it at home I would end up with one with -1 in it and the other with -2 (or something like that). Good luck.

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I've heard Toby mention that larger strut tubes would be nice for the track but not that benificial for the street - would it make any difference? if so what is the next size up that would make a difference? Was thinking about cutting the tube down at the bottom with about an inch or two sticking up, then welding on another larger tube which has an ID that is the same as the OD of the stock tube... make sense?

A friend suggested that if the welds were good, and it was gusseted properly then you could use the stock tube as the spacer, run a larger insert and get your camber adjustment by welding the outer tube at a slight angle.

Is this taking things way to far? I saw pictures not too long ago of a flared strut tube... this is similar no?

'79 & '80 Vespas, R75/6 + R90/6 (and a Triumph), '76 IH Scout II

E36 

'71 VIN: 2574356 - Nevada, Sunroof, RUST and a really nice '76

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