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Is hard line tubing as hard to do as it looks?

Discussion in 'Watercooling' started by Space Monkey, Apr 11, 2019.

  1. Space Monkey

    Don

    Joined: Nov 8, 2007

    Posts: 12,082

    Location: Outer Space

    Hi guys,

    I'm in the process of rebuilding my loop and considering using glass tubes, but being a total dunce at DIY in general, is it hard to figure out where and how to do the bends etc... Just wandering if it's worth the effort and potential head aches?

    Thanks :)
     
  2. Thekwango

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 5, 2009

    Posts: 11,750

    Location: Northern Ireland

    my 1 and only attempt @wc'ing was with petg and i actually found it fine to work with. i bought a couple of extra lengths of tubing to practice on. once you've done a couple of bends you get a 'feel' for when heat etc is correct. truthfully i would never go to soft tubing i just don't like the look and hard tubing isn't (imo) that difficult once you practice a bit.
    never used glass tubing though. time needed to work it properly would probably be too much for me (i've the attention span of a goldfish!)
     
  3. kindai

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 9, 2013

    Posts: 6,737

    Location: Bromsgrove

    Its not hard, can be fiddly.

    As an example one of my graphics cards died this week, removing was akin to bypass surgery...

    [​IMG]
     
  4. LePhuronn

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 26, 2010

    Posts: 4,862

    Location: Stoke-on-Trent

    The benefits are purely aesthetic. You need to be 100% exact with all of your measurements because even 1mm difference means you potentially don't make a perfect seal on the fittings, or applying pressure to the tube. Bending in itself isn't that tricky, just needs some practice. Soft tube is much more forgiving in getting the correct dimensions.

    As for saying "is it hard to work out where to do the bends". that's entirely down to your spacial awareness and your ability to conceptualise. If you can picture in your head how to connect your hardware together, draw it on paper or even just hold some drinking straws inside your case, then you can plan a route. That's not different than planning a soft loop.

    In a silly way, I can see glass tubing being a touch easier since you either use 90 degree adapters to do the bends, or buy pre-bent glass tubes, rather than bending yourself and making sure it's accurate. But cutting and prepping the glass is going to be a pain, whereas cutting and prepping acrylic or PETG is trivial.
     
  5. LuckyBenski

    Mobster

    Joined: Dec 28, 2017

    Posts: 4,450

    Location: London

    I wouldn't go from soft tube to glass. My first WC build was acrylic and I consider myself pretty experienced with wood, plastic and metal. So I was sort of confident i would get the hang of it - and I did, but I still think I'd prefer PETG in future. Just seems easier to work with.

    I think there is enough to learn without adding in glass cutting and splinter risk, but I guess you need to gauge your own confidence. As LePhuronn says, it may be easier using 90s.
     
  6. Space Monkey

    Don

    Joined: Nov 8, 2007

    Posts: 12,082

    Location: Outer Space

    Thanks for the info guys, appreciate it :)

    So a few questions:

    1) So I should be looking at PETG?

    2) What size tubing is best?

    3) Any particular brand fittings better than the others?

    4) What tools do I need? Is there a recommended kit?
     
  7. kindai

    Soldato

    Joined: Aug 9, 2013

    Posts: 6,737

    Location: Bromsgrove

    Yes

    12 or 16mm depending on your preference


    I found bitspower stuff to be of a generally consistent and acceptable quality.

    Hacksaw.

    https://www.screwfix.com/p/monument-tools-internal-and-external-deburrer/75501

    Bending equipment if you want to bend.
     
  8. LePhuronn

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 26, 2010

    Posts: 4,862

    Location: Stoke-on-Trent

    1: I can't bring myself to use it, so it's a no from me.

    Acrylic is clearer but by an almost imperceptible margin. However the properties that make PETG easier to work with are, for me, the very reason not to use it. PETG softens at a much lower temperature so you need less heat to get the bend in, but that temperature is also the same as hot coolant in a failed loop (60 degrees) and there are tales online of PETG tubes deforming and popping out of the fittings, dumping coolant everywhere. At least with acrylic you only have a dead pump to contend with if somethings gone wrong and spiked your coolant to that temperature.

    Also PETG has a slightly flexible nature to it so you can - by a tiny amount - yoke tubing runs into place if your measurements are a teeny bit out, but that puts pressure on the fittings and you run the risk of leaks. Also, there are some coolants that don't work with PETG so you'll need to check that as well.

    Acrylic has none of these issues but it does mean you need to be bob on with your measurements and be a lot more careful with your heating.


    2: preference; the bore in a fitting is always 10mm regardless of tube size. Aesthetically big tubes look great in big cases, little tubes look great in little cases. The bigger the tube though the bigger the bend radius is going to be i.e. you can't get as tight a bend. But of course you need to make sure your fittings are the same size AND in the same units (e.g. don't go using 1/2 inch tube in a 12mm fitting because it will leak, and it won't fit in a 13mm fitting).


    3: it seems that anybody who does metric fittings are the better quality. Circumstantial perhaps but there seem to be more horror stories about Monsoon and Primochill fittings than anybody else, and they're imperial. So you're looking at Bitspower, Barrow and Alphacool. Apparently the new Thermaltake fittings are incredible, but I won't give those thieves my money.

    Barrow have 13mm and 14mm OD options too with the tubing to match. Alphacool do 13mm fittings as well.


    4: you'll need a hacksaw and small mitre block for acrylic, but PETG can be cut with a pipe cutter. Both will require a pipe deburring tool to clean up your cuts and get the required chamfer in place. Some fine grit wet n dry paper is great for that extra polish on the chamfer (strongly recommend).

    As for bending itself, you'll need a cheapo heatgun to apply the heat and unless you have some crazy-ass requirements perhaps play it safe and buy in a mandrel kit to make your bends (but do check that the generated bend radius isn't going to be too big for your tubing run). You'll also need a silicone insert to support the tube as you bend. That pupper needs to be fractionally smaller than the ID of the tube, so 9.5mm OD for the insert for 10mm ID tube. Plenty around but it might be best to get one from the same place you get your tubing (although there is a premium involved). I use a 9.5mm silicone fuel hose for Shakmods 12mm acrylic tube because I have some insanely tight bends, and solid inserts just don't bend tightly enough for me.

    I think Alphacool do a bending kit with everything you need.
     
  9. LuckyBenski

    Mobster

    Joined: Dec 28, 2017

    Posts: 4,450

    Location: London

    Above advice is all good. I would add/stress that in general, issues with mismatched fittings and tubing can be avoided by buying both from the same producer/brand.

    Some things that I found useful doing my first loop:

    Flat board to screw bending mandrels to

    Loads of distilled water for testing, filling, flushing radiators etc. I went through maybe 5L over all my experimentation and building.

    Funnel, filling bottle, big white bowl (mixing bowl). Helps flush things as it catches crud in the bottom rather than recirculating.

    File for cleaning up the tube ends so they're square. Also helps to make bigger bevels.
     
  10. vapor matt

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 19, 2003

    Posts: 1,872

    Location: west sussex

    I like the look of hard tubing, but with soft I can remove my CPU block and GFX card with out draining the loop, unlike removing hard tubes to do so. also with soft tube you can have very shallow bends which help flow rates. no sharp bends.

    just aesthetics look better with hard tube, practical not as good as soft.
     
  11. LePhuronn

    Mobster

    Joined: Sep 26, 2010

    Posts: 4,862

    Location: Stoke-on-Trent

    Sharp bends like a 5mm deep channel in a water block suddenly turning 90 degrees through its 18mm terminal block before coolant even reaches the tube? Tightness of bends in a tube are the least of your worries when it comes to flow rates.
     
  12. vapor matt

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 19, 2003

    Posts: 1,872

    Location: west sussex

    this can be true, but the more 90 bends used you reduce the pressure at the most restrictive parts the blocks which in turn reduces flow rates even more.
     
  13. Distracted

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Aug 30, 2018

    Posts: 2,134

    Depending on the bends needed it can be frustratingly difficult, but that does depend on what needs bending and how.


    It looks amazing imo.

    It makes changing anything in the pc a royal pita.


    I wanted to do it but because I keep changing things in my pc I have had to stick with soft tubing. The bends I envisioned were also rediculous and take a level of patience I don't have right now. However, hard tubing is still something I want to do in the future.
     
  14. MikeTimbers

    Soldato

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 6,866

    Location: New Eltham, London

    I've not done it because I'm constantly tweaking and as said above with hardline I would have to drain every time. I like the look and will do it one day if I ever decide to stop tinkering :)
     
  15. tyler_jrb

    Mobster

    Joined: Aug 24, 2013

    Posts: 4,023

    Location: Lincolnshire

    It’s not difficult no. It will take a length or two to get used to how it melts and bends but otherwise it’s quite easy to work with.

    It’s probably more difficult getting the measurements correct, bends in the right place etc.

    I’ve had hard tubing before and it does look great. But I just find soft tubing easier to work with and still my main preference just because it makes things much easier to work on, can remove blocks and parts without draining as I swap things over regularly.