Bead roller.

December 27th, 2017

I should be assembling my clutch so I can then take all the rotating bits off top be balanced. But I was looking at the clutch lever pins and they are slightly worn so I think I will get new ones. That means making an order to the UK so first I want to go through all my parts to see what else I might need (I do need bonnet edge rubber strip for example). I can do one big order when everyone is back in the new year. Is nice having money again! I also want to clean up the gearbox I have an look into getting some close ratio gears for it.

So instead of doing anything useful today I spent the day fiddling with my bead roller and lathe and so on. I think I mentioned it before but never posted much about it. It’s the standard cheap hobby grade one. Same as the Eastwood ones shown here ( I am sure these things all come from the same factory in China. It does work fine. It comes with 6 sets of dies, 3 flanging ones and 3 beading ones.

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The flanging dies are on the left and the bead dies on the right. It comes with three sizes of each. The beads are great for really adding stiffness to panels of course.

The first thing I did was stiffen it all up somewhat by welding steel square section tubing to it. This stiffens the machine no end. It’s amazing that the 1/2 inch steel plate the machine is made from will flex as much as it does. The square section makes it much more solid.


The reason I got the roller out again is because I want to use it when I do my bonnet as well as for making a seat and a fuel tank. The bonnet has flanges in it and the roller will be far easier than trying to make the flanges by hand without a brake as we did the valance folds. That was over five years ago!

To help with that I made a little guide to go on the machine. That was made from some angle and a piece of square tube from my scraps bin. A 1 inch clamp holds it on the machine.

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I had to grind the sides of the clamp so it would fit into the tube but it works very well. This provides a fence you can guide the edge of panels against.

I then started looking into tipping dies. This is a different die that allows you to roll 90 degree flanges, like you need to do when wiring an edge. You can buy them but they are f-ing expensive! A set of dies for those machines costs more than the machine itself. This does show what the dies look like and what they can do so I thought why not make my own.

I went through my junk boxes and came up with some bits and pieces. The machine has 22mm diameter shafts. I found some galv pipe almost the right size so I cut that up and, using the lathe, machined up some spacers. I also found some hardened steel washers and was able to bore out the hole in the middle to fit on the machine.


I also found a piece of plastic, nylon I think, to make the lower wheel. That’s the problem with scrap boxes, you never know what material anything is! The standard thing to use is a skateboard wheel but I have never had a skateboard and I am sure I am too old to start now!

The tipping wheel is just 3mm mild steel that I turned on the lathe and then filed the edges to make a nice, rounded profile. The proper ones are all hardened and chromed for long life but I think this will work fine on ali and on thin panel steel. If it wears out I can easily make another.

The spacers mean you can arrange things in different ways on the machine. I might actually make up some more spacers to allow more configurations.

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The proper wheels actually have an allen key in the side to key them to the shaft. I found that wasn’t necessary. The ends of the shaft are threaded for an M8 bolt. I found the wheels work fine just being nipped up by those. They don’t even need to be that tight.

You can also set up the bottom roller so you have an edge (a washer) to run the edge of the panel against as a fence. By stacking the spacers in different ways I can set up the right width to do a fold for a wired edge like that on my boot lid (which was 15mm from memory).


To turn up the edge you roll the panel and push with one hand to bend the panel around the line. With my home made wheel I can’t get all the way to 90 degrees, the panel would hit the bolt holding the wheel on. But once you have the break in the panel it’s easy enough to do the rest by hammer and dolly. All I want to be able to do is have a nice clean break.

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One thing I want to try is a lower plastic wheel with a V notch machined in it. I am not sure that will help or not.

One other thing that is interesting is when bead rolling a panel it distorts the crap out of it. You expect this as it is of course stretching the metal to form the beads. The only videos I have found that explain how to deal with this are some of the Lazze ones here. He also has this good film on how to nicely finish the ends of the beads with tools made from punches. I have a set of them and they are cheap and crap as punches so I will repurpose them for this.

More experimentation needed then I can tackle the bonnet I think.

2 Responses to “Bead roller.”

  1. Renaud in Brittany Says:

    Hi Simon,
    Very interesting as usual.
    That one “That’s the problem with scrap boxes, you never know what material anything is!” had me laugh because I’m in the same mess usually! Trial & error’s the solution…

  2. admin Says:

    I am hoping to be doing more on the car now. It’s been bloody long enough!

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