How to add Hydraulics to a JD2 Model 3 Bender

 

I would first like to start out by stating my reasons for writing this article.  I have made many mistakes in my lifetime and buying a bender from JD2 to begin with was one of them!  The quality of the their products is very high and I have no griped over it.  But ever since the beginning I found them very difficult to deal with.  Their products always seem to be on a 2-week backorder that turns into a month or longer wait.  Trying to get any of their representatives to tell you this at the time that you make the order I have found to be hard.  Once they had my money they finally came out and told me the truth about why my order hadn't been shipped after much questioning and calling.  This has happened to me every single time I have ordered from them.  Which brings me to my next point ... actually getting a hold of anyone at JD2 is a feat of magic as far as I am concerned.  I found that, while trying to make my order for the hydro conversion kit, I simply could not get through to their lines.  I always just got busy signals.  Except for when they are closed, at which point they have no answering machine.  I was able to get through twice, both times during lunch hour.  They had a single person at the phones who was only able to answer basic tech questions about their products.  I asked them to call me back with the answers that I needed once someone got back, but of course no one ever called me.  All my eMails have always been returned also.  As a result, I plan to never do business with JD2 again.  This is only the experience of one person though.  I expect that anyone reading this can take it for what it is worth and do what they please with the information.  This article is an attempt to provide the tech info about their products to those who have them or need them but can not get them from JD2.

There are two basic ways to make your JD2 Model 3 bender bend tubing using hydraulics, thereby eliminating the need for excessive human effort, reducing the amount of time it takes to make a bend, and make your bender more portable.  One way is to get your own pump, an agro-type ram, and a 4-way valve.  This is the cheaper option of the two and is what most people do.  The other way is the way that JD2 recommends which is accomplished by buying their specially machined conversion kit for around $90 and either get a foot-pump and one-way ram from them or someone else.  This is more expensive because the rams for this application are nicer than agro rams and have many more precision-machined parts in them.  JD2 claims that the rams required for their conversion kit are standard porta-power units that can be found anywhere.  This is true in a sense ... some porta-power units are similar, if not the same, but I found that there are THOUSANDS of variants in Port-Power rams and finding the right one in stock somewhere is nearly impossible and finding the right one to order is a matter of finding a hydro-man who knows what he is doing, which I found to be very difficult.  However, I chose to do it the way JD2 recommends because I initially believed them in that the parts would be easy to come by and I just wanted to get it done, wasting as little fab time on the bender as possible.

 

Here is a pic of the simple cart I made to attach my bender to with the hydro installed.
This pic shows a better view of the JD2 hydro kit for the Model 3 bender.  The kit comes with the block that the ram screws into, the yoke that connects to the bender arm, and the threaded rod that connects the ram to the yoke.

The threaded rod is 1" in dia. and has 8 threads per inch.  The main block is 2-1/4" dia. and 14 threads per inch.

The ram that I purchased new was an SPX Power Team series PN#C1014C.  It is a single acting hydraulic cylinder with a built-in return spring and has a stroke of 14.13".  I chose this cylinder primarily because it fit the dimensions called for by the JD2 kit almost exactly and it has a return spring, which some rams do not have.  I have heard people complain that they have to retract their ram by hand.  The return spring eliminates the need for that.
By far the most expensive component of the setup is the air-over-hydraulic pump.  This particular unit has a foot-operated pedal on it.  At rest, the pedal locks the ram in place.  Pushing the tall end retracts the ram and pushing the larger, shorter end extends the ram with over 10,000 lbs of hydraulic pressure!  These units new go for $600+.  I contacted my local hydraulic shop expert who had an old one that he rebuilt and sold to me for significantly less than that.  He had several others laying around that he said he could do the same with, so your local hydro shop may be able to do the same.
 

After making a few 180* bends with my new setup I am extremely happy with it.  Using the old ratcheting handle method would take about 20 mins to accomplish a 180* bend.  The new setup takes about 5 minutes.  I also used to have a hard time bending to precise measurements alone because I would have to guestimate how far to go into a pull on the handle, let it go, check the angle, and then go back.  As a result, I often had someone watch the degree ring as I ratcheted so that I would not go over my mark.  Now I can watch while I control the pump by foot.  For someone who bends a lot, this hydro conversion is a dream.  Being that I plan to do a buggy soon, it will speed up my bending drastically.  However, if you only do occasional to light bending I would think that this conversion would be fairly cost prohibitive.  In the end, I spent about $700 doing it, and that was the economic way of this type of conversion.  I am not sure the exact cost of the other type using the ag ram, but I believe it could probably be done for about $200 less than how I did it.