Pipe Nipples - Bending Brass Tubing

by Charles Supplee

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Pipe Nipples
I spent a lot of time planning how to get the shortest length of tubing, tracker bar-to-pipes, with the least chance of kinking. All tubing has this characteristic - PVC, natural latex, and thicker-walled rubber. The plan, therefore, was getting the most direct "run" from the bar to the tubes. By the way, I am using 1/4" and 5/16" tubing from John Tuttle's player piano repair company.

John suggests, page 14 of the construction manual, drilling a 45 degree hole for nipple/tubing attachment.  This does avoid some 90 degree turns, but still requires a longer length of tubing, so I decided using curved or bent brass nipples which I could "aim" at the direction of the tracker bar.

Bending Brass Tubing
Brass tubing is easy to bend if it is annealed. I annealed mine on the large element of my electric range, for about 30 minutes, and let it cool enough to handle. Then, I slipped a 1/4"or 5/16" ID fairly stiff tension spring OVER the tubing, and found it would bend, without kinking or collapsing easily to any arc (45 degees is the best bend).  To get more consistent bends (and save my thumbs) I devised a bending jig from scrap material, and the task went fairly fast. (see pictures).

Then, I cut them to length with a cut-off wheel on my Dremel tool.  I did add a small plywood collar around the end to add a little strength to the glue joint.  Fibre washers would work as well.

To get the straightest run, I put the pipe board in place and marked the direction to "aim" them to the cut-out in the pressure box.  I put the pipes in their respective positions on the board, removed them and glued the nipples into place.

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