bending conduit for low tunnels

franktank232(z5 WI)November 6, 2010

I'm seeing some posts about using pipe benders, making homemade forms and buying a pipe bender off of that seed company website. Mother Earth News even has some sort of bender using wheels and a crank (homemade) What is a cheap person to do? I think shipping will kill me here in WI on ordering the premade one (i may splurge). Can i use a conduit bender? I've seen where people make 3 60degree this not a good style of tunnel?

I'm going to shoot for 2 low tunnels to begin with...hopefully 2 24ft long ones. I bought a bunch of 1/2 inch EMT today (1.44 a piece).

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low cost "cheap" tunnels work ok in the summer but crash down under snow. So in Wisconsin I would recommend you bring the plastic fabric down for the winter snows. unfortunately the plastic does not work well going up and down.

There are tools to make heavy duty pipe bending also. They are not expensive. Everything is available on the internet. you have to simply find it. I have seen them all around.

You can buy them used. farmers upgrade and sell off the older ones. Contact the salesman for the new ones. He will know who is selling off an old one.

I am sure you will find things if you do some work with google searches.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 8:49PM
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Hi Frank: before you get too far down the road, consider using PVC. the site below sells fittings that are made for building structures, smooth with configurations that would work very well for a low tunnel. the fabric clips are by far the best price I've seen anywhere but the fittings aren't cheap compared to standard ones used for plumbing. Plumbing fittings could be used but you'd have to smooth them to avoid abrading the plastic. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: PVC Pipe fittings

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 9:00PM
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ralleia(z5 Omaha, NE)

I've had the 1/2" EMT break when being used as trellis supports, but do you really think it would fail under snow loads? If the peak were sharp enough, wouldn't it break the snow at the top and let it shed down the sides? Especially if a pipe ran across the top "spine," I think the approach would work.

Last fall we had a hoophouse put in. I wanted a steeper gothic arch, but the farmer who was selling off his surplus only used the standard arch. We had record-breaking snows. I went and knocked of the snow a few times, but even without air inflation between the layers, never got near to damaging the plastic or the structure. It has a central spine to "split" the snow, too.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 10:15PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Frank: I am very happy with my bender from Lost Creek. Just buy it! It costs $39.99 with free shipping. You order it tonight and you will have it by Friday.

Trust me, I am as cheap as they come. I have built all 6 of my high tunnels from scratch.

After you get it and set it up, you can make a hoop in about 3 minutes or less.


Here is a link that might be useful: Lost Creek Greenhouse

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 10:58PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


What size should i order????? I see they sell 3 sizes. I'll order when i figure that out. Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 9:50AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I'm I asking for too much by wanting one that will make both low and high tunnels? I want to build a high tunnel similar to yours at some point, but i plan on starting with a couple of low tunnels. Should i just start with 6ft? I assume that makes a lower, wider tunnel, vs the 3ft making a taller, shorter tunnel?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 9:53AM
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Dan Staley

High tunnel benders are separate from low tunnel benders. As I stated before, this is a single-use tool and you'll bend maybe 10 pipes. Maybe twice you'll lend it out. Far cheaper to make your own from scraps that your partner is sick of looking at, doesn't take long at all. The width is to the width of my bed, radius drawn with string, side height from height of cool-season plants, disks from keyhole saw, I use the extra pipe around the yard. Took me maybe 45 minutes at most for everything, including keyhole saw and putting tools away, not including waiting for glue to dry.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 12:31PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I ordered the 6 foot wide hoops one. You will need a different bender for the high tunnels. The place I shared has some really good deals on big benders too.

As I see it, yes this tool is a limited use tool in my toolbox, but when you really need that tool there usually very little time to make one.

While I haven't tried, I thought about advertising premade hoops for low tunnels. I could buy some of the EMT and bend them. It would be a pretty easy job, but I am guessing I would only do this until I paid for the bender unless I really sold alot!


    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 3:13PM
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this is the second year I have used my simple plan for low tunnels. I bought 6mil plastic 20' X 100' so mu tunnels are a little less than 20' long and 5' wide. i cut the plastic 13' to go over the top. I use 1/2" sched40 pvc for the hoops. to make clips I buy a 3' length of 3/4 black plastic pipe, run it through the table saw to make a slit cut it on the chop saw 2 -3 " long I use 3/8 rebar 18" long with 6" up for the pvc at 3' spacings I put a 3/4 " lenght of pvc acroos the top fastened with zip strips to keep from sagging uner snow load. the ends are also 1/2 pvc bent around and bolted to a 1X4 and covered with plastic. I realize the snow amount i get here in WC ILL. is not as great as WIS. With the $40 I didn't spendon a pipe bender, I could put up 2 more hoops. John

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 10:49PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I wonder what the spacing is on this? Looks really tall. I think i'd go with 6ft... Not sure if i'd need this much height.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 10:05AM
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Dan Staley

That's too high to effectively retain heat. You just need 8-12" at the very outside for height, then bend inward.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 12:15PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

And if you needed could just raise the sides some using boards.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 1:28PM
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there can be one advantage to a taller hoop, the more excessive temps. are above the crop canopy , the higher the better. In addition, increasing volume makes climate control easier. For cold abatement though, keep it as close to the ground as possible.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 2:24PM
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