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Old 03-27-2016   #1
norcal, California
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 101
Bending aluminum for cooler mounts?

I was thinking of trying to make a cooler mount using two 1/8"x3"x48" pieces of aluminum. Inspired by this NRS one but mine would be a giant "U" with hooks on both ends, so not adjustable and no cam strap. I know zero about metal working. Questions,

Is 1/8" strong enough?

To curve the ends, I was thinking to take a 1.25" wood dowel, screw the end of the alu to it, clamp the alu about 4" from where it's screwed, and then "wind" the dowel. I'd drill a couple of holes radially through the dowel and put big screwdrivers through for winding leverage.

Think this will work? Alternative suggestions welcome. Thanks.

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Old 03-28-2016   #2
Atomicrider's Avatar
Arco, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 74
I like the idea. Make sure the alloy of aluminum allows for bending. Some of the alloys are so hard that they crack while bending or after being bent. Sometimes annealing the aluminum with an oxy acetylene torch helps. Also, I think that the width of each bracket will need to be looked at, may have to have two wide ones it multiple narrow ones depending on the material. I think 1/8 would be the thickest I would try to bend in that configuration, and that still may be a bit tough without some mechanical tooling. I do like the idea and think it's worth trying, especially compared to a sewn strap that allows the cooler to roll.

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Old 03-28-2016   #3
Atomicrider's Avatar
Arco, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 74
Thinner material, like .080, might be easier to bend by hand.
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Old 03-28-2016   #4
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 52
I may have made mine a bit thinner (0.080) I placed the piece of aluminum between two boards in a vice. Then I used a dead blow hammer to "bend" it over the wood. I rounded over the piece of wood similar to the contour of a dowel. I'm not sure you could roll it before the dowel would break.

Maybe try a pipe if that is the method you choose.

For the 90 degree bends just turn it over and hammer away. They are simple to make and look good.

Also make sure you use an aluminum made for bending!
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Old 03-28-2016   #5
norcal, California
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 101
Thanks for the feedback, keep it coming! I watched and he makes bending 1/8" alu look pretty easy. I'd was looking at 6061 which claims to be quite workable.

A different approach I'm considering is to forget about bending hooks into the end and use some of these instead. More work to attach to the boat, but maybe more secure and certainly easier to fab.
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Old 03-28-2016   #6
GC Guide's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 520
I would suggest 5052 as it is marine grade and bendable. 6061 will crack with a 90 degree bend.

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