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Has anyone built a motorized twisting machine? I'm considering building one, but I'm not well versed in what motor kr motor/gearbox combo I would need. I'd like it to be able to twist up to 2 inch square. 

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2 inch square will require a lot of torque if you want to do it cold. Slow and strong goes without saying.  

Built mine for 1/2 square and 2 inch would require 16 times the torque plus some.

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Good Morning,

Use a pipe threading machine with homemade DIES. OR Use an old metal lathe with the reduction in very low rpm.

Easy peasy, just make twisty!! Sometimes you have to dimple the sidewall to get it to start.

Neil

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Twisting 2" cold is very very dangerous; the backlash can kill. Hot is a big problem with radiant heat.

How long a section will you need to twist? That will be a major determiner on how many tons it may need to weigh.

Unless you get a mega industrial lathe it won't handle 2" solid cold!  Neither will a pipe threader!

Lets see: if you are cold twisting 2" square solid A-36 you will have 4 square inches of steel you will need to take above it's yield point; so 4 x 36000 would be about 144000 pounds of force involved.  (Folks please check my assumptions and math here!)

I've twisted a 7" long section of 1.5" sq solid.  But we did it very hot indeed and had a custom built twisting wrench with 6' crossbar on it and two fairly stout blacksmiths pushing in a 6+" postvise extremely well mounted such that we could walk around it. And we considered it a bragging piece!

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Check out the one Ric Furrer made:

 

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I think I read once that Albert Paley, from Rochester,  used an elevator motor for hot twisting. It makes sense since it already has the reduction gearing. A lathe sounds easier to find, but were they really designed to withstand that much force? (144000)

2 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

But we did it very hot indeed and had a custom built twisting wrench with 6' crossbar on it and two fairly stout blacksmiths pushing in a 6+" postvise extremely well mounted such that we could walk around it. 

Sounds like a great shop day! Is there a video?

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I built mine from a hydraulic reduction box for elevating a naval gun not sure on torque but more than Ric"s as I remember emailing him (na na na na) ! previous incarnations were a lift reduction box and an altered pipe threader (hand twisting) which would easily do 2" square carbon steel hot ,easy work out that is..

they don't have to be that big and motors are not ott if you have enough reduction. but need to have a stiff frame or your machine becomes a pretzel.

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Very ambitious. 

I built mine to twist 1 1/4" cold. 

I used an old pipe threader connected to a very large 10-1 gear reducer. 

As Thomas said, that kind of torque is dangerous.

Thomas; I would posit that 36 K is a minimum.

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If you want to make a road trip to Cleveland, HGR Surplus has an impressive supply of used lathes and gear reducers in all sizes.

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Well when we are working in the shop we are working in the shop NOT making videos and "working on the web".   I believe that Pep Gomez put a picture or two on FB; but as IFI is the only thing approximating social media that I participate on...

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Albert Paley's twisting machine used an elevator worm drive with a v-belt reduction (small pulley to large pulley) from an electric motor but I do not know the hp of it - could have been as small as 5hp but I am guessing it was 10hp - so motor - v-belt - worm drive.  Everything was twisted hot up to about 3" square.  The big stuff went into the forge first  to get hot and a garden hose and a oxy/propane rosebud torch were used to  control the twist as well as the motor on the twister itself.  Smaller stuff could be heated locally with the rosebud.  The first chuck was a large 4 jaw lathe chuck which essentially exploded the first time the twister was used.  Then a large Charles Parker machinist vise was tried which also came apart the first time it was used.  Cast iron could not handle the load.  The chuck that worked was welded up from heavy plate and had a square socket in the middle and used 3/4" cap screws and shims to hold the workpiece somewhat centered.  The tail stock was a large pipe vise which had wheels to allow it to move as the twisted piece got shorter.  I've never found any videos of it being used but I guess there is some film footage of it in operation out there.  A Beaver pipe threading machine was tried first with one end of the workpiece clamped in the post vise and the other end  in the beaver.  That failure was spectacular as well the first time it was tried - the pipe threader was not fastened  to the floor and it it just spun itself around smashing itself to bits.

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Gazz, thanks for writing all that. Amazing to read; you really brought the legend of the Paley twisting machine to life.

I read on the Paley website that he is going to downsize. I wonder if that means some of this equipment will go up for sale.

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He is downsizing.  From the last time I was there it sounded like the shop was done sometime in August, and the auction for his equipment would start in September.

I also got the impression that if you wanted something before the auction you could make them an offer.

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Ric - Yea, I saw that. I like it a lot

gazz - I did a residency with albert and I was just visiting him last week actually. Jesse james bought his twister in which he used an elevator motor for

zip - I was there last week and they still dont know exactly what's going on. Everything is still up in the air from what I was told. 

I'm not sure why some of you assume I want to twist 2 inch square cold. I never stated that. I also didnt state that I would do it hot, so I apologize. 

I dont really need a twisting machine, but I've been seeing a lot of motors around places lately. If I can get a 120/240 motor for cheap, it's one less thing to worry about

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Sky, while there is lots of hot work done in twisters, the ideal is too twist cold, if possible. 

The reason for cold twisting aside from economy of fuel and time is the consistency of temperature across the bar. 

My old free from the dump Beaver pipe threader would twist 3/4" square steel bar cold.

When I tried to twist s.s. 11/16" the torque was insufficient.  In the end I incorporated the uneven twisting into design elements in the rail but there were a few anxious days while I developed even that process. The idea of addition torch heating and cooling while twisting didn't work well at the speed of pipe threading. It happened too fast. Hence my impetus to build a unit to twist 1 1/4" inch cold. (Which can twist much larger hot, my biggest twist so far is 1 3/4" cold finished square.

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SFMW; why we assumed----well we read your original post:

"Has anyone built a motorized twisting machine? I'm considering building one, but I'm not well versed in what motor kr motor/gearbox combo I would need. I'd like it to be able to twist up to 2 inch square." 

Notice where you clearly state what temperature you want to design for? As twisting cold is the common method due to uniformity for things like pickets we were left guessing.

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Skyforge, I worked for Albert for 4 years 1(979-1983) and spent many days at that twisting machine.  I would get a cart of double ended tapers, 50 or 100 or so and Albert would say twist them up how you like.  I would sit there with the large oxy propane rosebud and a garden hose and do whatever came to mind .  The twisted pieces would then go back on a cart and rolled over to whatever project he was working on and he would weave them into the piece.  The Victoria and Albert screen comes to mind as well as numerous plant stands.  Overall a great experience for me and I learned a lot.

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arftist, the ideal in my opinion is not a cold twist. The ideal is to recognize that there is a very big esthetic difference between a hot twist and a cold twist. Meaning the visual difference is huge.

Thus, the ideal is to choose the proper esthetic for the job at hand.

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