Doing custom pipes and hoses for our builds may sometimes be challenging! Many people use styrene rods, but you'll need to heat these at the right temperature to get them in shape. The temperature is very important or you'll end up melting them instead! Then they're inserted in cold water to hold that angle right there! I've used this procedure before, but was never happy with the outcome. So I needed to find a new, more effective and reliable method to make my own custom pipes and hoses, in the diameter I required. The solution also needed to be something I could buy easily from local stores, in the length I wanted and bendable too. Sounds like I wanted too much, but I did infact find something!
Before this procedure, here's what I was using! The styrene rod together with a lighter or hair-dryer to heat it up and bend it to shape. It does the job, but quite tricky to do!
Even before that, when I built the Tamiya Skyline R33, I had no styrene rods and instead used another method: Tamiya 2-part putty, mixed together and rolled into a cylinder. Then, cut to size and bent in place. This procedure was also very challenging since the putty would still be soft and it tends to bend slightly back from your desired angle while drying
Now, the solution I found were in fact electrical wires! The first time I tested these wires was when I was building the Tamiya Subaru BRZ featuring a custom turbo conversion. Since I needed specific bends and diameters, I was struggling getting the job done with styrene rods! This is where this method came to mind and it gave me all the necessary hoses, bent easily in all required angles for that build. Let's have a look at how it's done...
Let's begin with a preview of all the piping for the BRZ custom turbo and intercooler set-up before going for primer. All were made from 3 different thickness of electrical wires
The main positive thing about wires is that they're easily bought from a local hardware store, quite cheap and they are perfectly round too! I got several of them, in different thickness and length to be handy once any need arises in the future!
Another good thing about electrical wires is that they're available in many different diameters. Above I'm showing 4 diameters I bought easily from a local hardware store. You can go even thinner than 1mm, or thicker than 2.5mm.. whatever you need!
However, wires have a big disadvantage. Inside they feature multi-strand copper and this is a soft material. If you try bending, it won't keep in that shape due to this. Solution?
Here's the solution.. Metal Wire! This can also be bought easily from hardware stores in different diameters, so that makes it ideal! I actually have 3 different diameters
Procedure is very simple. Cut the wire to size, pull out the copper from inside the rubber, and instead insert a piece of metal wire. I tend to leave the metal wire longer than the insulation, as seen above. This is to help attach better in place, where I drill a hole on the part (like the intercooler for example) and it'll hold exactly in place much easier
Before beginning to bend the wire in shape, I like to sand the surface with a high grit sand paper so that it'll remove that glossy surface and be ready for primer once it's ready
With the sanding done, it's time to start marking the cable and begin bending. To do this, I use a combination of pliers, the one seen above and a long nose plier for narrower bends
As can be seen above, this procedure lets you bend the wire in any position you require, no matter what diameter you're using. Above, the black wire is a 2.5mm so I've used a thicker metal wire for it. The best thing is that the wires will stay in the position when done and if you're not happy with the bend, just straighten it once again and restart bending
Well, that's all! So whether you're plumbing that intercooler or building a new roll-cage, just go the easy way and bend some wires! It can also be used for your custom exhaust pipes... well, the only limit is the imagination here! If what you require to create is in the shape of a rod and bent in different angles, it can be done with wires, and easily too!
Let's go back at the BRZ project and see step by step what was done. 3 different dimensions of wire (blue, brown and yellow), all with metal wire inside. You can notice that not all wires have the metal wire protruding out of the edge. This was obviously done since not all connections are the same, depending on where you're attaching the wire. The second blue wire will insert directly into the air intake, so I cut the metal wire short for this
Following that, all of them were airbrushed with primer and then in their respective colour. The turbo exhaust was covered in masking tape and airbrushed white. This shows you won't have problems airbrushing the wire in your required colour once it's bent in place. The blue hoses are just paint and the jubilee clips are 1-strand of thin wire glued in shape
And that’s my whole procedure! Really hope you find it interesting and that it'll help you out with your next custom rod/hoses job, whether you're using it around the engine bay, a new roll-cage or for that custom exhaust! If you have any questions, feel free to sign the guestbook or ask on the jdm24scale facebook page.