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Thread: Combination 3-in-1 Sheet Metal Machine

  1. #1
    Marty57's Avatar
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    Combination 3-in-1 Sheet Metal Machine

    I'm at the point where I will be needing some equipment to do the sheet metal on my 2+2/PA14 build. I have the entire fire wall forward to build and all the miscellaneous fairings so it may be time to buy a 3-in-1 sheet metal machine. First, is this a necessity for the sheet metal work vs this will make it a lot easier; I'm willing to invest in the right equipment. For a 3-in-1; is 30" large enough and then, what brand? There is everything out there from Grizzly to Harbor Freight. Recommendations and general thoughts ????
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    Marty57
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  2. #2

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    I have a 30" HF 3 in 1. It will never replace a standard brake, shear and slip roll. I also have a brake and other methods of cutting out metal (plasma, nibbler, and Beverly shear). You will also likely need shrinkers and stretchers, possibly an english wheel or a planishing hammer depending on what you are doing. I use the 3 in 1 for small stuff, brackets and fittings and a 12" 3 in 1 may have been a better investment.
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    behindpropellers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marty57 View Post
    I'm at the point where I will be needing some equipment to do the sheet metal on my 2+2/PA14 build. I have the entire fire wall forward to build and all the miscellaneous fairings so it may be time to buy a 3-in-1 sheet metal machine. First, is this a necessity for the sheet metal work vs this will make it a lot easier; I'm willing to invest in the right equipment. For a 3-in-1; is 30" large enough and then, what brand? There is everything out there from Grizzly to Harbor Freight. Recommendations and general thoughts ????
    Thanks
    Marty57
    I have one, I think it is 40" wide. It does everything marginally ok. I suspect that they are all made at the same factory, just different branding.
    Tim

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    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Marty, I bought the Harbor Freight 30" one. If I had it to do over I would get the larger one. I agree with the others re marginal quality, but it's adequate for most small tasks.
    Gordon

    N4328M KTDO
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    Marty57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gordon Misch View Post
    Marty, I bought the Harbor Freight 30" one. If I had it to do over I would get the larger one. I agree with the others re marginal quality, but it's adequate for most small tasks.
    Gordon,
    That's what I was wondering; the size. There are 40"units out there; it's a big jump in price but would be worth it. HF only has 30" I think so I need to find a 40" that won't break the bank. I bought the shrinker/stretchers and used then on the firewall and that worked great but nothing curved yet. I'm hoping someone has a good 40" to recommend, if there is one out there.
    Thanks,
    Marty57

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    I'm kinda in the same boat. I haven't decided which direction to go yet, buy a used brake and shear, or go with the 3 in 1. I've found a pretty good deal on a 52" stomp shear, 52" brake, and he'll throw in a corner notcher for $5500. My other option is to go with the 52" 3 in 1 from Baileigh for $4600. I think it'd be worth it to get the 52" model.

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    Marty57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1934A View Post
    I'm kinda in the same boat. I haven't decided which direction to go yet, buy a used brake and shear, or go with the 3 in 1. I've found a pretty good deal on a 52" stomp shear, 52" brake, and he'll throw in a corner notcher for $5500. My other option is to go with the 52" 3 in 1 from Baileigh for $4600. I think it'd be worth it to get the 52" model.
    I just don't have a place in my shop for a 52" and, too pricey for me. Is a 30" big enough for Cub work? If so, what brand?
    Marty57
    N367PS
    Psalm 36:7 "High and low among men find refuge in the shadow of His wing"
    www.marty2plus2.com

  8. #8
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    The only thing That I can think of forward of the firewall which would be nice to use a slip roll on would be the side cowls and perhaps the bottom cowl. These can be rolled over a piece of plastic pipe. The cowls would also take some practice since the radius varies from front to back. A slip roll would be nice to have for occasional use. I've managed for a lifetime without one.
    The longest pieces of tight bends would be to cowl support channels. Do you have a hydraulic press? You could make a set of press brake dies for this job with some heavy steel flat bar.
    Aluminum comes in 4 foot wide strips. A 30" 3 in 1 won't do the big cut.
    Are there any second hand tool stores where you are? A second hand 52" shear which looks beat up with a nicked blade can be easily made like new for the most part. Both blades come with 4 good sharp edges which over the life of the tool are seldom turned. A few bolts, flip the blade and you are like new again. Make sure the cutting gap is correct (I'll tell you how to do this if you get one) and you are in business.
    A finger brake is good for medium to small pieces as you can remove fingers for complicated bends. Full length bends, not so good as the fingers are too flexible over the length. The bend radius will not be consistent. A leaf brake would be better for long bends. Press brake would be best. You don't have any long bends to do.


    Of course it's always nice to have a shop chock a block full of tools of all types. There is always one you don't have that you would give anything to get your hands on.
    N1PA

  9. #9
    KJC's Avatar
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    Funny. I just bought a 52” foot shear from a mechanical shop for $700. As it was being loaded by forklift on my trailer, the previous owners commented that they couldn’t justify the price for having the blade sharpened professionally. My son then promptly asked “Why didn’t you just flip the blade over?” They both looked at each other and started head scratching. I think I left a dust trail on my way out.
    PA-12 N418BS
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    I have been trying to collect all the tools needed over the past year. When I picked my fuselage from Jay I got a 52 in finger brake, bead roller, and english wheel from Northern Tool, brought it all up in a trailer. I ordered a 52 in 3-1 but it never showed up and none to be had in the region. So I kept looking and trying to find a way to get one up here without paying 500 or more for shipping. I found one on Amazon and had it shipped to Span Alaska in Seattle, they brought it up for 240 bucks. I have put the big machines on custom cabinets so I can wheel them around. It took about 6 hours of playing with each one to get it adjusted, will start using them this fall hopefully. I also ordered a power hacksaw off Amazon. That took a full day to get it set right, but it is a dream to cut metal with and so much cleaner than a abrasive disk chop saw or cut off wheel.
    DENNY
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  11. #11

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    You can do it all with bits of 4 x 2 and G-clamps if you have to. The trouble with buying sh!t tools is they have your money and you're back to the 4 x 2 and G-clamps. I've always wondered about those 3 in 1s, thanks guys for confirming my suspicions. If you do the boot cowl on the Super Cub the Piper way the fold along the front isn't straight anyway, though I can see you're not doing it that way.

    You're a wood worker Marty, so you probably have a router. They're a good way to cut sheet metal; you get a machined edge instead of a sheared edge. For small budget, small shop I think one of these is worthwhile:
    https://www.eastwood.com/eastwood-6-...ess-brake.html
    and a shear like this takes up little room but will slice through a wide range of material:
    https://www.eastwood.com/8-in-bench-shear.html

    You can shape cowls around a tree trunk, fence posts or pipe as mentioned previously. The tree trunk and fence posts don't clutter up the shop. Trees won't move, I've often used a V between limbs of a particular tree to put a curve in tubing. The bark is soft and gives to support the tube. There's a bunch of tiny bits on baffles and they can even be bent with a pair of duck-bill vice grips.
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  12. #12
    courierguy's Avatar
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    I always wanted a hyd. press for my shop, then I realized my crane's down function on the outriggers is or can be used similar.
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  13. #13
    Marty57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MainlandCub View Post
    You can shape cowls around a tree trunk, fence posts or pipe as mentioned previously. The tree trunk and fence posts don't clutter up the shop. Trees won't move, I've often used a V between limbs of a particular tree to put a curve in tubing. The bark is soft and gives to support the tube. There's a bunch of tiny bits on baffles and they can even be bent with a pair of duck-bill vice grips.
    The tree in my front yard is my friend! I have done a lot of bending on the trees over the years; great for trailing edges on rudders. I didn't think about using the router with a laminate bit to cut the aluminum, great idea. I have that sheer; bought it from Grizzley many years ago and I have a HF press that I have mamy dies for shaping parts; I like the vise one and may need to get one to use in my press. I may find an area where I can support the ends of a plastic pipe to hand form like has been mentioned; I can see how that would work easily. With limited space, I don't want tools that i won't use.
    Thanks for reminding me that simple is often best. When I made the flange for my firewall, I bend the aluminum angle using two pieces of oak and a rubber mallet. By time I used the shrinker and stretcher no hammer marks were visible. Time for some practice work.
    Thanks.
    Marty57
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    Psalm 36:7 "High and low among men find refuge in the shadow of His wing"
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  14. #14
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KJC View Post
    Funny. I just bought a 52” foot shear from a mechanical shop for $700. As it was being loaded by forklift on my trailer, the previous owners commented that they couldn’t justify the price for having the blade sharpened professionally. My son then promptly asked “Why didn’t you just flip the blade over?” They both looked at each other and started head scratching. I think I left a dust trail on my way out.
    I have an 8 foot shear that came out of a trailer house plant. They dropped it and bent the back and I paid $500 for it. A friend that worked at Air Tractor and I took it apart and he took it to work on a Saturday and put it in their big milled and milled it flat. He then took it to a friend of his that sharpens blades. Deal was I only use it for aluminum because he builds dragsters and wanted to cut 6 foot dragster body panels on it. Now he gets them made in carbon fiber. I have a 52" shear I use for steal. It is funny the stories behind all the good old shop equipment.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
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