But managed to get by without it.

This is the OTC 4503, which is just like my old flaring kit, except that it has better machining on the clamp, and is probably made of something better than chinesium. There’s also a metric kit available for making bubble flares, item #4504.

Last week, the 1/4" steel brake tubing that I was trying to flare was just slipping through my old kit’s clamp when I turned the press, and I needed something that was going to hold it better than my old GRIP (Grand Rapids Industrial Products) tool (can’t find the part number).

But before taking the plunge on a new kit, I had an idea. Some of the fancier flaring kits use clamping dies that are noticeably longer than the clamp on kits like this, and have more surface area to grab the tubing. So what if I just ran on down to the local Autozone, borrowed their flaring tool kit, and clamped a second clamp behind mine to brace it? That might work!

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I returned home with the second kit (an OEM Tools 27015), and soon realized that this crazy idea wasn’t going to work after all. The second clamp was just getting in the way so that I couldn’t hook the press around the first clamp. Derp.

So I decided to try the one from AutoZone by itself before returning it. I had my doubts, as the machining was better than my Grip, but definitely not as sharp as the OTC tool. It worked... sort of.

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The clamp held the tubing just fine. But the die was worn from other customers beating the crap out of it, and the cone in the press was off-kilter too. I had to combine my press and my die with AutoZone’s clamp in order to make a successful flare.

It worked! I returned the loaner tool and got my deposit back. And that Silverado is back on the road again. I’ll probably buy one or both of the OTC tools once my tax refund comes in (unless I find an even better option). No hurry, though. The GRIP tool will work just fine IF I keep it away from steel tubing. And you already know how much I hate that stuff.