Roll Cage Fabrication Toolsby Don Kress
To build a roll cage from scratch, you've got to have the right tools to do the job. The reason for this is that during a technical inspection or safety inspection, the inspector or track official is going to look at the roll cage to determine that it is indeed safe to use. If the cage does not pass the inspection, you will not be allowed on the track. Roll cage fabrication requires bending, cutting, drilling and welding tools, and cannot be accomplished without them.
Welding tools are used to join the bars of the roll cage together. You can use metal inert gas (MIG), tungsten inert gas (TIG), flux-core or gas welding. Each form of welding results in the same final product, with the differences being in how the final product is accomplished. MIG is the most typically used and generally least expensive type of welding. TIG uses tungsten as a weld filler material. Gas welding is the process of using torches to weld without the benefit of electricity. The most commonly used welding type for home applications is flux-core welding, which has the shielding gas suspended in solid form within the welding wire.
Metal band saws are used to cut the roll bar's individual pieces to the necessary length. They produce a straight cut, meaning that you'll have to use a tubing notch tool if you are joining the end of one roll bar tube to the midsection of another roll bar tube. The band saws that are most commonly used for roll cage fabrication are set up like chop saws. For example, rather than the tube being pushed against a fixed blade, the blade is fitted to a hinged fixture. With the tube secured in one place, you use a handle to draw the blade down onto the tube, cutting it.
Tubing Notch Tool
Tubing notch tools are fixtures that use a typical electric drill and a metal hole saw to cut round notches in the ends of tubing. This allows you to perfectly fit the end of one tube together with the middle section of a second tube for a much stronger and more attractive welded connection point. To use the fixture, you place a hole saw into the chuck of an electric drill and then secure it to the fixture. The end of the tube is clamped in place on the fixture and then the drill is lowered by means of a lever to cut into the end of the metal tube.
Tubing benders work by applying pressure to a die that is the same size as the tube being bent. When the pressure is applied, the die forces the tube to bend. These tools typically use gauges you can read while you are applying pressure to the hydraulic ram that does the actual work. This allows you to create the perfect bend in any size roll cage steel bar. The importance of bending the roll cage bars rather than cutting and welding them is that round structures are stronger than straight structures. It is for this reason you see so many roll cages in race cars with round edges, rather than straight.
- "Metal Fabricator's Handbook"; Ron Fournier; 1990
- "The Race Car Chassis"; Forbes Aird; 2008
- "Chassis Engineering: Chassis Design, Building & Tuning for High Performance Handling"; Herb Adams; 1992
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