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  1. #1

    Making a Swag Offroad 50" finger brake our own

    It has become apparent that the big 250 ton brake press we started designing before we moved, would continue to stay on the "back burner" due to time constraints. The need and desire for a HD finger brake (something able to bend plate and not just sheetmetal) is overwhelming. But the cost of a new brand name unit (new or even just new to us) and all the required tooling can not be justified right now, especially only a year removed from the big shop move. Until it was realized that buying a Swag Offroad ( DIY finger brake kit, plus a few air/hydraulic jacks and some materials laying around the shop, would be affordable option. So a 50" (actually 48.5" useable) kit, extra die kits (48" of Gooseneck and 32" of hemming top and bottom dies), and a few misc other items were ordered during Swag's only sale of the year.

    The kit arrived and was fairly basic and straightforward. Even though the directions seemed to be for an earlier version and really only referenced the narrower 20" brake kits. This wasn't a big deal as they are almost the same, except for width. Here is all the parts and pieces as they arrived, once unpacked:

    Having assembled a 20" kit long ago after they were first introduced, we opted to not exactly follow the instructions, and promptly tossed them to the side. We start with something not in the instructions, to layout and drill some holes down the center of the base plate. These will line up with the bottom of the angle iron that is used as the bottom die. This will allow for the angle iron to be welded to the bottom of the base plate, as well as the top. Adding strength, rigidity, and to help to keep things from moving during welding the long top stretches.

    Next, 2 carriage bolts are installed into the square holes in the bottom die. These will be used to secure the back stop into the assembly. Once the bolts are securely fastened, the head on the inside of the die get welded into position.

    Last edited by BruckerBrothers; January 13th, 2020 at 12:32 AM.
    Brucker Brothers, LTD
    Precision Metalwork-Stout Fabrication-Elegant Design
    Broomfield, CO 720-235-9485

  2. #2
    The base plate and angle iron are then clamped together and to the fab table, once they are planed out to each other. They are tack welded together in a few areas across the top and sides. Then the piece is unclamped and flipped over, and clamped again. And then center holes get plug weled.

    Once cooled, the bottom die assembly is unclamped from the table, and cleaned up.

    With the bottom die tacked together and cleaned up, it gets moved to the small H press to get the side guide rods pressed in. They are then squared up and welded solid from the bottom.

    Once cooled, the bottom die assembly is cleaned up and clamped to the table using a piece of square tubing to keep equal pressure along the length of the die to help keep from moving during the welding process. We opted to weld only certain areas along the top of the die instead of the recommended entire length. Again, to keep from sinking too much heat into it and wraping it even in the slightest.

  3. #3
    The bottom die fully welded:

    And assembled with the back stop:

  4. #4
    With the bottom die being mostly finished, attention gets turned to the top die assembly. The side guide tubes were laid out, tacked into position, and then fully welded.

  5. #5
    After it was cleaned up, everything was assembled together.

    Next up will be designing and building a "H" frame press to house it.

  6. #6
    You take nice pictures. What's the capacity?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Avenger View Post
    You take nice pictures. What's the capacity?
    Thank you. The Swag brake is supposed to be capable up to 1/4" thick at the full width. The H frame should be close to 150 T working load limit, but will probably only ever see about 60 T max.

  8. #8
    Having the finger brake assembled, started on designing a "H" press frame to house it, using stocked materials and some drops that are left from past projects. Wanted to make the load capacity a bit overkill from what is actually needed since this will be used in a shop environment. And because there is a strong possibility that a larger hydraulic system may be attached if the air/hydraulic is too slow. Came up with a chop list and got most of the pieces for the main frame cut. There will still be a few more added in, like all the plasma cut pieces, but this will be a good start.

    The "H" frame design will be fairly simple. The main top and bottom horizontal pieces will be custom I beam fabricated from 2 pieces of 10" x 15.3lbs channel and a section of 3/8" x 6" flat stock. This will give us a slightly thicker than standard 10" I beam. The 2 pieces of C channel are drilled in an offset pattern then clamped together and welded solid, top, bottom, sides, and plug welded throughout the center. Then they will be stiffening plates or ribbing welded into them and then outer 1/4" plates will welded to each sides of the I beam to completely box them.

    You will notice one section was fabricated from 3 pieces of C channel and not just 2. Using drops from different shop projects, we were unable to find enough material in long enough lengths. And since we were already fabricating I beams out of them, it didn't add much time to weld to3 pieces together instead of two. And large gusset plates to cover the sides of the I beam will cut and installed into the frame later.
    Last edited by BruckerBrothers; January 16th, 2020 at 12:43 AM.

  9. #9
    Cut and drilled 2 sections of 3/8" x 6" flat stock that will be welded to the I beams. One to each I beam. This will add some much needed thickness.

    Then clamped them onto their beams

    Also cut a small section of the flat stock for the middle of the opposite side of the beams. These will be for making the fabrication process easier and will eventually be cut off:

    Then welded the plates into position and sanded the welds smooth

  10. #10
    Fabricated 3 top plates that will help hold the jacks into position

    And while at it, made a couple mounting plates for the casters

    Then drilled the needed holes in the I beams using the mag-base so the heavy beams didn't have to come off the fab table.

    And tapped the holes with the tapping arm

  11. #11
    Dave McDonald's Avatar
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    I love looking at builds like this - and wishing I had the time and talent to create something that nice.
    Lunatic #15
    "A government big enough to give you a righteous buzz is also big enough to harsh your mellow." -Zapp
    Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

  12. #12
    Just a few pictures that represent so many hours of work.

    Good job!
    Don't tell me violence doesn't solve anything.

    Look at Carthage.

  13. #13
    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
    John F. Kennedy

  14. #14
    Thank you for the kind words.

  15. #15
    The vertical legs are next on the agenda. Each leg will consist of 2 pieces of 3" x 3" x 1/8" wall square tubing welded together to create a section of 3" x 6" rectangular tube. But these will offer much more strength with the 1/4" thick center wall. Then there will be another piece of 3" x 3" square tube run perpendicular at the bottom of the 3" x 6" to create a wider base. The ends of that section will have mounting plates for casters welded on.

    The verticals and top caps fresh off the saw:

    They are clamped together and to the table. The top cap is tacked on, then everything is welded, and unclamped and sanded smooth. They are flipped over and the same process happens again, minus the sanding.

    The bottom pieces are capped, welded, and sanded smooth.

  16. #16
    Once cool, both sections are fitted together with the addition of some gusset tubes. Then the entire assembly is welded solid.

    Once cooled, the caster mounting plates are welded on.

    All assembled:

  17. #17
    Dave McDonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruckerBrothers View Post
    Once cooled, the caster mounting plates are welded on.

    I don't know nuthin about art, but I know what I like - that right there.

  18. #18
    vb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McDonald View Post
    I don't know nuthin about art, but I know what I like - that right there.
    What he said

  19. #19
    You do really nice work Aaron. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.

  20. #20

    Join Date
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    Great work as usual Aaron.
    Contact me for all your firearms needs. Guns, ammo, accessories, NFA......

  21. #21
    Thank you all for the kind words

  22. #22
    Having the uprights and the horizontal pieces mostly fabricated, means we can finally start assembling the H frame. The fab table is cleaned and then a long, straight section of 2x4 is clamped to it to be used as a stop. One upright is then clamped to the table perpendicular to the stop, with the top of the upright shimmed 3/8" away from the stop.

    The top horizontal beam is clamped along the stop. The ends are shimmed the same 3/8" but the middle isn't, as it already has the small section of 3/8" welded to it, and is the reason the other pieces need to be shimmed.

    A couple sections of scrap tubing are cut to be the exact same length and are used as spacers for the bottom horizontal beam to be clamped into position.

    Then the other upright is clamped into position, and the assembly is tacked and welded in certain areas.

  23. #23
    Took a little time to design the outer plates for the press. These will be 1/4" thick and will sandwich the I beams with gusset plates between them perpendicularly in the webbing to create some pretty burly beam assemblies.

    Top plates as in Solidworks:

    Bottom plates as in Solidworks:

    And how they turned out fresh off the plasma table:

    All cleaned up:

    Also cut some gusset plates for the webbing out of the same 1/4" plate while the plasma table was running.

    And received in some goodies from various vendors. Three 20 Ton air/hydraulic bottle jacks and a 3 way coupler from HF:

    Three thumb knobs for the bottle jack releases from Swag Off Road:

    And a foot pedal switch meant for compressed air from Amazon:

    And some 8" x 2" locking swivel casters to match the rest of my equipment from a local supplier:

  24. #24
    Test fit the freshly cut plates to the frame:

    Since they fit like they should, they were removed and the web gusseting was tacked into position:

    The gusseting was welded solid. Then the top plate was fitted into place and plug welded to the gusseting and tacked around the edges:

    And the same was done to the bottom plate:

  25. #25
    If there were ever an earthquake, you could seek refuge under this thing!! Very cool to watch it come together! got the contract to build the cybertruck body?
    God Forgives, Rock's Don't
    1973 Bronco, 351 SEFI, Locked, discs, 35's ZF-5spd and Atlas 4spd. 235:1 Crawl Ratio

  26. #26
    Dave McDonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 74BuckinBronc View Post
    If there were ever an earthquake, you could seek refuge under this thing!!
    If there were ever an earthquake, it's probably because this thing somehow got knocked over.

  27. #27
    cheftyler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McDonald View Post
    If there were ever an earthquake, it's probably because this thing somehow got knocked over.

    Lookin' great as always Aaron
    "Blow and Hookers can change the World. - Gags
    Quote Originally Posted by scottycards View Post
    MJ has no lethal dose. You might crawl under your couch and eat M&M's all day if you get too high, but it ain't gonna kill you.

  28. #28
    Thanks again for the kind words.

    FYI- The bare press frame welded together (so without casters, hydraulics, or finger brake) is right about 550 lbs. So heavy to move by one's self without casters, but light compared to most of the things around the shop.

  29. #29
    Got the frame off the table with the forklift so it could be flipped over.

    Welded the web gussets into position:

    Then clamped the outer plates and the frame to the table again to weld everything solid:

    Then took the assembly off the table to get wire wheeled:

    Then outside to get blown out with compressed air:

    Then it came back inside and the casters were put on so it could be moved easily around the shop without the forklift:

    Should be ready to start mounting the brake and the hydraulics soon!

  30. #30
    Was debating adding some gusseting to the top crossbeam and finally decided to just do it. Cut some 4x4 square tubing:

    And welded them into position:

    Then mounted the top plates and eye bolts:

  31. #31
    Drilled a couple holes into the base of the finger brake assembly to be used for mounting:

    And mounted the base into the frame:

    And assembled the brake:

    Then got to work on the bottle jacks. They need to have the knobs added to them for ease of use. And to have the return springs and plates removed. The jacks as they come:

    The knobs:

    Pressed the roll pin out of the release valve:

    Then added the new knob and pressed the pin back into position:

  32. #32
    Installed the jacks:

    Then quickly plumbed them together using the HF 3 way coupler to test the system. They worked! But were not in sync. We have a solution for that, stay tuned:

    Knowing that the system will work was a relief. Reading up on what others do is great, but getting the same results isn't always likely. And since it works, the decision was made to plumb the air lines in a much cleaner fashion then using the bulky stock rubber air hoses and HF coupler. So it was plumbed using pex tubing and fittings, as well as uses the foot pedal that was mentioned earlier:

  33. #33
    crashXJ's Avatar
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    Looks good man!

    Step 1: build a brake press
    Step 2: prepare for the 'Pocolypse
    Step 3: build this and get all Mad Max on fools

    This is my boom stick.

  34. #34
    Looking awesome! You going to have a place to stow the foot pedal so the whole rig can be rolled around the shop and not have to worry about running over it's own hose?

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by crashXJ View Post
    Looks good man!
    Quote Originally Posted by 74BuckinBronc View Post
    Looking awesome! You going to have a place to stow the foot pedal so the whole rig can be rolled around the shop and not have to worry about running over it's own hose?
    Thank you for the kind words.

    The plan as of now is that the pedal and lines will be stored on a hook to be welded into place along the side of the frame, or around a handle that may be made for the side of the frame.

  36. #36
    Time to get started on the mid plate. This piece will be crucial to making the press function correctly as well as making it easy to setup and operate. The mid plate will tie the bottom of the bottle jacks all together and keep them aligned. It will also act as a mount for the different press attachments, with the finger brake being the main attachment used. The assembly will be made up of a series of stacked plates in the center with sections of tubing on the outer edges. It will also feature a pair of removable guides that will straddle the vertical legs of the press frame, keeping the assembly aligned within the frame and parallel to the horizontal beams.

    Start by cutting and cleaning up the pieces needed for the main assembly:

    And since the brake press works, and are excited to try it out, the guides will be first to be made. Start with two pieces of 3/8" x 2" flat bar cut to the identical length:

    Then bend them using the new brake:

    Drilled some holes in the bottom of them:

    Prepped the bent pieces and a set of 1/2" thick plates to be welded together. Clamped them to the fab table and welded them solid including filling the drilled holes by plug welding them for extra strength. Then cleaned them up:

  37. #37
    The main body will be made up of stacked plates with tubing run along the edges. Cut a couple plates, one 1/2" thick and the other 1/4" thick, then drilled a couple holes in the 1/4" thick piece to use for plug welds, and welded them together:

    Capped and sanded the ends of the tubing:

    Clamped the pieces together and to the table using another piece of 1/4" thick material to help keep things aligned. Then welded the assembly together:

    Then sanded the ends smooth and clamped the assembly back to the table in order to weld on the end pieces:

    Finished sanding the assembly smooth then drilled a hole in each end and drilled and tapped the guides to match:

  38. #38
    Placed the mid plate assembly into the press frame using some scrap tubing to keep it off the bottom beam:

    Nice tight, but not too tight, fit:

    Moved the assembly closer to the bottle jacks to begin layout of their mounting and the layout of the through holes needed for the different attachment mounts:

    Machined a few hold down clamps to keep the bottle jack in position:

    Positioned the clamps near the spring mounts since that area will see the most force:

    Then used transfer punches to mark the centers. Also laid out the locations of the through holes. Then removed the assembly and drilled the holes:

  39. #39
    Assembled everything back together:

    Tested it and the mid plate worked well all round. The jacks do not release fully and start to recede until each knob is turned. And the jacks now work together as one can not move without the others. Happy with the results. Now just need to make the mount for the brake, fab a handle for the frame to help ease of moving, assemble the gooseneck and hemming dies, and then come up with a storage solution for the die sets.

  40. #40
    Impressive work as always Aaron!

    What are you going to finish it with, spray paint or powder coat?

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