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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Brake pipe flaring tools. What should I buy?

I need a new pipe for the Sprite.

I fancy making my own from now on.

There are various kits including pipe on ebay, and there are also just kits with the tool.

Has anyone got a flaring tool, and how do you use it?

Which one on ebay is a good one to buy?

Is this tool kit any good?

Or what from this list is most worth having, value for money?

Lawrence Slater

I would say don't buy the Machine Mart one. I did and had to take it back, as it produces carp flares and gnarled the pipe where it gripped it.

I inherited a Sykes Pickavant tool - fantastic bit of kit, although I should think they cost a small fortune.
Dave O'Neill 2

I have the flaring kit from EASTWOOD here in the states. It is number 25304. It lists for $250. but was on sale for $179. It won't do 37 degree fittings but you can get an accessory kit for $99. The next step up is $400 to $500. I have used it a lot and it works great. I would never go back to the horse shoe design. Good for plumbing flair fittings. Not for brake lines. Yea it's pricy but how much is your life worth when the brakes fail.
J Bubela

I'm with Dave
I have one of the cheap 10-12 ones and they do damage the outside of the pipe and dependant on the softness of the pipe sometimes seem to push the flare out leaning to one side slightly
But saying that it does the job.
I have also borrowed a friends Sykes pikavent 125.00 jobbie that he picked up for a fiver at a garage sale (lucky sod) and it is a far superior bit of kit. The only draw back is that it is vice mounted and as such you can't flare pipes on the car.
I have brought pipe from eBay and halfords and have had no issues with either so far.
Dave Pratt

Lawrence. All the ones with the horse shoe looking thing are absolute crap. I Don't know how they can continue to sell such rubbish.
I've had the Sykes Pickavant one that's on your second link at 137 for about 30 years and it's fantastic.(cost 40 then). I suspect it's the same one that Dave has.
Unless you're doing lots of pipes, it will be cheaper to have them made.
I must say though, that making brake pipes is one of the more satisfying parts of a restoration.
Maybe you could hire a decent one.

bernie higginson

Have a Clarke from MM. Works OK, done all pipes and therefore unions in copper. Marks the outside of the pipe and you need to make sure everything is just lined up to get a good end. Having said that the brakes are still fine after almost two years. Not tried anything harder so don't know if it works well with other materials.
Dave Squire

A couple of questions
what tubing are you using
steel copper or cupro nickel and are you going to be using imperial only or metric tubing

THIS is where most go wrong and buy the wrong tools for the right job
example is if you use a 6mm tool on a 1/4'' tube it wrecks it as the clamp is about ten though too small and squashes/wrecks the tube where it is held
Do you own a tubing cutter as these are esential for a good job
Also are you looking at doing double or single flairs as the kits will be different
You will be a proud man when you produce your first perfect double (recomended) flair

Cheers willy
William Revit

I have one of these...

If the link fails, google this "Expert 3/16" SAE Hand-Held Brake Pipe Flaring Tool Stock No: 23312 Part No: BPF/HAND/SAE
I have the DIN version, not the SAE btw.

I also have a bench mounted version, but the Draper is tiny, fits and makes fantastic flares.

Literally, put tool on pipe,screw in end stop, tighten tool, unscrew end stop, screw in forming bit all the way, remove, flare done - it can't take longer than a minute, never messed and flare up, only used Kunifer pipe.

Malc Gilliver

I have one of the really cheap red box ones and have used it successfully on maybe 2 dozen cars over the last 20 years or so. But I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. That may sound contradictory but: it isn't up to working on steel, only the softer cupro-nickle. You only get a decent flare by spending a lot of time accurately preparing the pipe end first - it needs to be properly square cut, de-burred and then chamfered to just the right amount. Get this right and the flare is perfectly good, any deviation and the flare is poor, splits or doesn't end up right at all. The clamp burs the tube which I then clean up with a fine needle file.

The stirrup shaped clamp that screws the die into the end of the tube needs to sit squarely in line with the tube end and I usually have to use a stanley blade under one or other leg to get it to align properly.

Properly made flares that I have made with this tool always seal OK at first attempt. But it takes care. The seal is formed by the copper male and female surfaces coming together and deforming slightly to create a good seal as the tube nut is tightened. So in a way the final flare is formed when the pipe is assembled, not by the machine.It is important not to overtighten the nut.

All this fiddling about takes a good while and I think it takes me up to 20 minutes to make each flare properly with this cheap tool. By comparison, I recently borrowed a 300 professional quality Sykes-Pickavent tool with the dies mounted on a rotating turret head which made perfect pipe ends on steel tube in about 30 seconds a go!

Of those listed in your link, I think I might go for this one

Unless I had over 130 to spend in which case it would be the S-P version!

Whichever one you go for, the biggest hazard is forgetting to fit the tube nut on the pipe first - or putting it on the wrong way round - or putting it on and it then quietly sliding off again when you are not looking. Happens all the time. I bet there isn't a single person who hasn't had this happen at least once, however careful they think they are being.
Guy Weller

Thanks all for really helpful replies.

Normally, I would now be in the buying process.

However, after reading all of the replies and checking out the 2 links, and the references given, I've come to the conclusion that I should continue to buy my pipes ready made.

For me this is quite a defining moment. For the first time in my life, I've hesistated to follow the diy approach. And the reason is this.

I need to replace one brake pipe on the rear axle of my Sprite. These are the most exposed, and they are the ones that often fail at the wheel cylinder end, when you try to remove them, -- even with heat and plus gas -- if they haven't been removed in yonks. I last replaced the longer LH pipe over 20 years ago, and that's the one that needs replacing. I replaced the pipe on the other side only a couple of years ago so that's good for many many years to come.

The upshot of this, is that I won't EVER be replacing another brake pipe again in this life. By the time they need replacing again I'll either be dead doddery or senile. lol.

If I buy a nice new tool then only make one pipe, it will then sit there until I snuff it, -- a waste of money --. So for circa 5-8 quid, I might just as well buy a ready made pipe and resign myself to getting too old to make it worth it my while. Satisfaction or not. lol.

Lawrence Slater

All perfectly logical Lawrence - until the unforseen occurs and you buy another unloved midget, the week after you have sold one of your present 2.
Guy Weller

Nah Guy. Really. This was the last trult old car I'll ever buy -- unless I win the lottery and can afford to pay a decent expert to do all the work.

My mortality's calling me. Not more time to waste having fun, when I could be having other fun, lol.
Lawrence Slater

Save your money, pop down to your local MOT man and ask him to put a single/double flare on it for you. Mine did it for nothing but I have been going there for over forty years :}
Jeremy Tickle

Hi Jeremy,

I just rang my local motor factor. Still only 1.50 a foot, and the ends are 60p. So I'll be going there shortly.

In fact, the pipe I took off was a bit too long, and it's only the end that's buggered. So as per your suggestion, I'll ask them to remake the end that has the damage.
Lawrence Slater

Sometimes if you get lucky and buy the pipe and nuts off the right guy ,He might flare the ends for free
Don't forget mate ,if you are riding in on your bike to get it done - wear your helmet
Safety Fast
William Revit

And Lawrence has already given the right answer.

I have one of the horseshoey things too.

Its hit and miss, mostly miss. (see folks I didn't swear!)

They don't tell you how long to make the bit of sticky out pipe that you flare on my kit, either

I have taken to doing just what you have suggested, pop round to my local chap. His pipe isn't expensive and half the time he doesn't remember to charge for the nuts.
bill l

LOL Willy. I walked. But of course, I wore steel toe capped boots, just in case I stubbed my toe, or wanted to give a lycra clad helmet wearing cyclist a kicking, for cycling on the pavement because he's too scared to cycle in the road with all the other adults. :).

100% pure ground beef burger, chips and a salad, and a nice cup of fresh brewed coffee. All consumed whilst sitting in the sun. :).

I walked the 1.75 miles to my local car parts store. I took the pipe with me, freshly cut square to the length I needed it to be, using my MICC ringing tool (some might know it as a pyro ringing tool ) to mark it, and snap it clean.

I Showed it to the bloke behind the counter, and asked if he'd just supply a new threaded end and flare it. "Yes", he said, and disappeared for about 2 mins.

He came back and laid the pipe on the counter nicely flared. I asked how much, and he said, "nah don't worry, you can have it for free".

So on the way back I spent a fiver on the above snack.

I'm a happy bunny I am.

Bill. Swap your horseshoe thing for a burger. lol.

Lawrence Slater

Nice one Lawrence - if you don't ask you don't get! Glad you enjoyed your lunch and you'll have walked off the calories consumed :]
Jeremy Tickle

Pyro, that takes me back.
Dave O'Neill 2

Yeah me too Dave. Of course if you add 'maniac' to the end, you might get an entirely different interpretation. lol.
Lawrence Slater

Nice one Lawrence - That's the way to go - I hope you wore a nice hat just in case of sunburn -
Cheers willy
William Revit

Oh the shame of it! I've been reading with interest Lawrence's recent posts and....
He's joined the too old to be bothered brigade ;) It's almost like the oil sucking on his latest 1275 has also sucked the life out of him ;)

I mean, fancy walking 1.75 mile each way to save a few quid in MM! How old is he getting ;)

Ps. I have a MM horseshoe unit and used it many times. Yes it's rough and yes it takes a bit of working out how much of the pipe to stick out (BTW use the shoulder of the dia as a gauge and all is well) but it gets the job done.

PPS. I've still got the tool I made as an apprentice to strip the outer casing from Pyro! Never been used in far too many years, not that I'm a hoarder you know....

Lawrence, hope you find your MOJO again.... perhaps another project will do it. I've got a few you could take on if you fancy a grown-up's MG (oops need to be careful where I say that ;)

Best of...
M McAndrew

Hey Willy. Factor 4000. LOL.

Hi Mike.
Stripping's different to ringing. To strip pyro, all you need is a pair of side cutters, then a flat screwdriver blade, a straightened out junior hacksaw, or even just a pair of long nose pliers on the smallish stuff.

You show me your tool, and I'll show you mine. LOL.

It's not the oil sucking engine's that've sucked the life out of me, it's the oil sucking threads on the f*cking subject. LOL. It's such bloody hard work saying the same things over and over and over and over -----

I walked not just to save money on petrol, but to save the parking fee. There's hardly any bloody where free to park in TW these days, unless you risk a ticket. Besides, I need to keep the old hip mobile. LOL.

If I could have got hold of a tool for free, I'd have made my own flared end. I even contemplated just inventing my own tool. But Jeremy persuaded me to see if I could get it done for free. :).

Grown up MG? Is there such a thing? They're all toys aren't they? ;)
Lawrence Slater

"bloody hard work saying the same things over and over and over and over" That Lawrence, is a sign of madness, doing (or saying) the same thing over and over and somehow expecting a different result!

And if not madness for you, then it most certainly drove a few others mad!
Guy Weller


I agree with the others - the horshoe cheap ones are tricky and time consuming to get a good flare. Sykes Pickfant ones comr up on fleabag and gumtree - the postal charges can put people off, so buy local. Sone independent too hire shops do hire thee out.

For one pipe if you have a good independent motor factors or garage you could,d get a single pipe made up. What about the MASC Kent people - may be one if them would help with lending a decent flaring tool, or even making up a pipe if you ask nicely (you are a MASC member?)

Final thought, one pipe goes - what is the condition of the others like? (And flexi hoses?) If you need full brake pipe kit, go direct to Automec who do ones for specific cars -
- rather than the usual Spridget parts people.

M Wood

Hi Mike, you obviously haven't read the latest. -- See below --. I already got it done for free. :)

And there you have it Guy. A perfect example of my "madness" as you put it. I have to keep saying the same things over and over again, because some other people, don't take any notice the first half dozen times. It's maddening, isn't it? lol.
Lawrence Slater

Sorry Lawrence, on a quick read this morning after careful reading of your initial question, it looked like the later posts were personal, incomprehensible in jokes and thread drifts.

Still info on Automec kits might be of use to others.

Good result on the brake pipe. Sounds like a motor factors worth continued support.

M Wood

Yup one of the old ones Mike. But who knows if they'll be in business next year. They get so much competition from the web/ebay, that they've stopped stocking a whole load of stuff.

I hope they'll last long enough to see me out. :).

Lawrence Slater

This discussion makes me want to reconsider an abandoned, independent gas station I saw near Seattle (where I'll be retiring). Beautiful old place in need of some TLC but hardly warranting a tear-down. Brick with a peaked roof, small, two-pump island (sans pumps) beneath sturdy awning for customers to shelter under in the drizzle, and a roomy, two-bay garage with clerestory windows encircling the bays on the side and back walls. I'd love to snap it up on the cheap, hang out a shingle that limits business to old Brit machines, and provide precisely this kind of service for old codgers fiddling with their cars in the area. Much of my time spent tinkering with my own Jenny, naturally.

JM Young


Have you had a look at the garage journal forum ?

Some places you would just kill for, look up Mark's Monster Garage, or the BIG Party garage.

There are also some really cool old style repaired service station garages

Malc Gilliver

This thread was discussed between 16/09/2014 and 20/09/2014

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