Unusual project. How strong are sweated copper joints?

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by Joelk, Apr 7, 2012.

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  1. Apr 7, 2012 #1

    Joelk

    Joelk

    Joelk

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    I am doing a unique (as far as I know) project and am pretty sure it will work, but not sure how well.

    I have a LOT of air tools. I have not counted, but well over 50 of them. I am going to construct "racks" out of copper pipe and tees to hold them.

    I am using air tool couplers that are much larger than typical couplers. They fit almost(but not quite) snug in the "ports" of a 1/2" copper tee.

    I have purchased 100 tees and am cutting type L copper pipe to connect them together leaving 1/4" between the tees. The branches that will hold the tools will come out at about a 30?? degree angle and at the ends of each "run" I will put a tee vertically to keep the other tees in the correct position. My plan is to drill a hole through the end tees to hold the racks onto the wall/rafters. If need be, I will drill holes through the pipe in between the ends to keep it from bending the copper and/or breaking the solder joints.

    If I can, I will probably run 20 or more tees on each "rack" as I would like to put them near my work areas.

    My question is, how many of these can I run in a row before the pipe and/or joints will bend or break?

    I realize this will largely be dependent upon how long and/or heavy the tool is(and also the angle). Some will be lightweight, like tire chucks/inflators, some medium weight, like small die grinders, and some fairly heavy, like air ratchets and impact wrenches.

    Will a rack support 10 average 1/2" impact guns with just a screw through a tee on each end? If I need screws "in the middle" how far apart should I space them?

    How strong are soldered joints? Will the joint bend/break before the pipe/tee will bend/break?

    How strong is 1/2", type L pipe? How much twisting force will it withstand before it will bend/brake?

    Any suggestions on how to keep the tees in "perfect" alignment while I solder them?

    What angle would you suggest that I hold the tools at?

    Thanks, Joel
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  2. Apr 7, 2012 #2

    mccmech

    mccmech

    mccmech

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    As copper is a soft metal, in addition to being on the expensive side, I would not recommend it for any racking/shelving system. If, for some reason, you want to use copper because ya have a bunch of it laying around, I would suggest scrapping the copper & using the proceeds to buy either 3/8 or 1/2 black iron pipe & fittings to do your shelving. Just my .02 worth. You do what ya want or what someone else may suggest. Best of luck with your project though. :)
     
  3. Apr 7, 2012 #3

    Joelk

    Joelk

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    Thanks for the reply, but I'm not sure you understand the design I am planning.

    I plan to insert the air tool coupler into a port of the tees to hold the air tools. If I used iron it would quickly cause wear damage to the couplers. I WANT a soft metal so that it will not cause a significant amount of wear on the couplers.

    I will have less than $50 in materials, so if it works well, I am not concerned about the expense.
     
  4. Apr 8, 2012 #4

    Fansplumbing

    Fansplumbing

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    It'll work but I'm not sure how much weight they'll hold. Have you thought about going up to 3/4" or 1" copper?
     
  5. Apr 8, 2012 #5

    Joelk

    Joelk

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    Using 3/4" or 1" would no doubt be stronger, but would significantly increase the cost.

    I got 1/2" tees for under $0.60 each. I have not shopped for the best price on 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/2" tees, but I would guess they would cost 3 to 4 times as much.

    I think I will build a "ten post rack" using 1/2" tees/pipe and see if it will support the tools. If it holds up, I'll make more like it. If not, I'll cut back on the # of posts per rack.
     
  6. Apr 11, 2012 #6

    Joelk

    Joelk

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    I have proceeded with the project and it seems to have worked out very well.

    The first rack I made had 40 "ports". I put an "attachment tee" at each end and one between each 10 ports. I ran a 4" piece of pipe up from each attachment tee and put a screw through each attachment tee and one through each piece of pipe that runs up from the attachment tees. I have it fully loaded with tools and have "tugged on it a little bit" and it seems like it will hold the weight just fine.

    After constructing the first rack, I made a couple more. On these I just put a screw through the attachment tee at each end. It seems like one screw at each end is adequate and at this point I do not plan to put on the pieces of pipe at the attachment tees. One of these racks has 10 ports, and the other 15. I only plan to put lightweight tools like tire chucks, blow guns, etc. on the one with 15 ports.
     
  7. Apr 16, 2012 #7

    speedbump

    speedbump

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    I can tell you that copper is very tough and the soldered joints are real tough. I once repaired a fitting on my Dad's Backhow that got knocked off. I got the broken thread out of the boom, screwed in a 3/4" male adaptor, a short nipple and a Street Ell soldered in place finished the job. It was supposed to be temporary as I didn't think the copper joints could take the 2000 psi + that a hydraulic pump puts out. It did, and was on there for several years and lots of use.
     

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