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Thread: Bending a Scaffold Pole

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Friesland, Netherlands
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    Default Bending a Scaffold Pole

    Looking for some "how-to" suggestions here...

    I am building a shade for a patio. It'll consist of standard diameter (48.3mm) scaffold poles up to 5m in length used to keep shade netting panels stretched tight. The panels have eyes every 15cm or so, and these are attached to the scaffold poles by hefty rubber rings and S hooks. There's a fair tension in each of the rubber rings, enough to keep the panels taut. Maybe 5 or 10Kg.

    I have seen similar arrangements, and in many cases, the scaffold poles get bent inwards by the rubber rings. Although this doesn't matter from a structural point of view, it doesn't look nice (my OCD kicking in again).

    So I would like to pre-bend the scaffold poles outwards, such that when the rings are in place, they pull the scaffold poles nice and straight. The amount of bend isn't much - about a diameter, a diameter and a half over the entire length. I only need to bend one pole of 5m length - the others are all clamped to walls and can't go anywhere.

    Any thoughts on how to do this? I thought of running a bead of weld down the length and *hoping* it bends the right amount, not sure. The hard part is getting an even bend along the entire length.

    Ideas?

    Ian
    All of the gear, no idea...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    NW Illinois USA
    Posts
    760

    Default

    How about an oxy/fuel torch? Look up heat straightening. Such a gentle curve should be easily done I think.

    Is the material galvanized? Might need to clean off the zinc before heating or welding.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    142

    Default

    Set the poles at a slight angle to begin with. No need to bend. I assume you are not going beyond yield point.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Atascosa County, Texas
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    8,131

    Default

    Weld straight beads along the length. The more you weld, the more it bends. The weld doesn't have to be continuous. If you make clean and low welds, it will just look like part of the pipe. Paint for weather resistance.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Friesland, Netherlands
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    Default

    The material is indeed galvanized; they're standard scaffold pipes.

    If the poles were cantilevered from the wall, I'd indeed set them at an angle. In this case, however, they're effectively pin jointed at their ends. To bend them, I think I'd need to go just past yield point, or they'll spring back straight again. Scaffold pipe is remarkably resilient when you don't want it to be!

    I was thinking about grinding the zinc off a narrow strip along one side and running a bead along the poles with my MIG. Doing short stitches is a good idea, that way I can build up more of a curve by filling the gaps in.

    Ian
    All of the gear, no idea...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
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    Chilliwack, BC, Canada
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    Default

    The short stitches with spaces between will give you your curve through a series of small kinks. But the eye will never see that. And as mentioned after the first set of these cools off and shrinks if it's not enough just do a second series of short stitches between the others.

    Maybe start out with one inch stitches ever 6 inches? Or even 1in every 8 inches? If that's not enough of a curve fill in additional 1inch long stitches between those? It shouldn't take much to get what you're after.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Just support the ends with blocks and step on the middle with your feet. If you aren’t heavy enough find a friend or two. The block height can be adjusted so you don’t overbend. I done all kinds of pipe straightening this way.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    S.E. MI, Metro Detroit
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyhlucas View Post
    Just support the ends with blocks and step on the middle with your feet. If you aren’t heavy enough find a friend or two. The block height can be adjusted so you don’t overbend. I done all kinds of pipe straightening this way.
    I use this same method to straighten or bend steel, but use my truck and a floor jack to supply the weight.
    The truck tires don't mar the steel.
    Larry

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    317

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyhlucas View Post
    Just support the ends with blocks and step on the middle with your feet.
    But by application of a point load midspan, you are likely to get a pronounced bend at that point rather than a more graceful curve the full length of the pole.

    If you have the kit, imagine making a 5m long longbow.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    Ashburton, near Christchurch New Zealand
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    I am doubtful that prebending will give the result you desire. I think the pipe will need to be stiffened but putting something inside it.

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