Nov 112012

The lower heater pipe was damaged when it was removed from the bulkhead so it needed to be replaced. Unfortunately the suppliers don’t offer the individual pipes (what a surprise!) so I had to buy the complete set of three pipes.

This should have been the end of my woes but sadly it was far from it! While shifting the various parts in storage, some weighty items were put on top of the new pipes and the new lower pipe was bent beyond use. Another Tourettes moment!

At this point the going rate for new pipe sets, which are essentially only a few bits of bent copper pipe, was the best part of £70. Dick Turpin would have been proud of that robbery! So I ordered sufficient 1/2″ copper pipe to remake the offending pipe myself.

The problem I hadn’t envisaged was that my small pipe bender didn’t go up to 1/2″ pipes and my normal plumbing pipe bender couldn’t provide the necessary tight bend that was needed. Due to the lack of space in the bulkhead the bends in the lower pipe have a very tight radius. I was stumped!

I turned to a friend who works in motorsport to seek help. Fortunately he offered to have a pipe made up, however that was far from the end of the problems! I handed over the remnants of the bent replacement pipe, the new copper pipe and the dimensions.

The repro pipe which I'd stupidly bent the repro pipe beyond use and it's replacment

After a few emails confirming dimensions etc, the replacement pipe was ready for collection a few weeks later. It didn’t fit …. it was slightly too long.

What I’d failed to mention was the bent pipe I’d supplied as the ‘template’ wasn’t the original pipe and I’d not trial fitted it. Like most of the repro parts it looks ok on the surface. That is until you get round to fitting it! The bends in the repro part weren’t tight enough and the flanges had been brazed mid-bend. It would never have fitted and so using it as template to replicate the require bend wasn’t such a good idea! The replicated bend on the right shows the probelm.

Ideally the distance between the Pipe End centres (red) and the Flange centres (yellow) needs to be the same, or at least much closer than they were. The Flange centres distance is obviously set by the spacing between the two bulkhead holes, which are only just large enough to get the pipe ends through. If the Pipe Ends centres distance is greater by any more than 1-2mm then the ends will not fit through the bulkhead holes. Some leeway is available as the pipe can be flexed over its length.

The fitting issues were reported back so I needed to order some new copper piping for Pipe Version 2. I re-ordered the copper piping from the same supplier requesting the same order as before – 30″ of 1/2″ copper pipe. For some reason, only known to the ex-supplier, the pipe was delivered in three small pipes of 10″ as they price it per 25cm! Beyond belief!

I found another source of 1/2″ copper piping however they had a minimum order of 3 metres. Even so, it was still cheaper than 30″ lengths from ‘craft’ retailers. A few days later an articulated lorry turned up with a huge 3m cardboard box with said pipe rattling around inside! This was getting like a farce in one of Tom Sharpe’s Wilt novels!