- November, 2017
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Pipeslice and Monument Autocut
The following only covers only small pipe cutters such as the Pipeslice or tube cutters. Large pipes bigger than 100mm are outside the scope of this discussion.
The History of the Pipe Cutter
Pipe or conduit has been around for hundreds of years and only relatively recently has water conveyance been made smaller and more convenient to use. For instance mains water was conveyed through bored and jointed tree trunks and unsurprisingly would have been cut with a saw but boring the long holes up the centre of the trunks was done using a very long auger bit. Lead pipe took over the conveyance of potable water because of its malleability – easy to cut and relatively easy to bend but unhealthy to say the least.
One assumes that copper tube came into existence in the 1920s or 1930s as the British Standard for copper pipes first came along in 1947 as BSS 659. This is really when then demand for inventiveness and neat designs of good professional quality pipe or tube cutters came about. Steel tube of course played its part and most houses constructed in the 1920s had steel heating pipes connecting radiators and this meant that the steel tube had to be cut using adjustable pipe cutters with either one cutting wheel and 2 rollers or 3 wheels.
Barnes in the USA was perhaps the most famous pipe cutter maker and their pipe cutters were imported until Monument tools started making this type along with C and J Hampton Ltd famous for their Record brand now Irwin Record. There were of course others and these can be found in importers catalogues such as Buck and Hickman.
Copper Tube Cutters and Copper Pipe
Once copper pipe established itself probably because it is smaller and neater than the ugly steel pipes and it would offer superior performance to steel. Copper is very easily manipulated and needs to be cut without swarf and squarely. The use of a hacksaw would seem to be an obvious application but any cut done this way will cause trouble with valves and fittings connected to the circuit.
From Record brand to Monument Brand
One of the first copper pipe cutters that went on the market was made by Fry’s London Ltd with their Enox brand. Shortly afterwards Arthur Collier Jnr, the third generation of the family run Monument Tools, designed two copper pipe cutters of the adjustable type in the early and mid 1950s to compete as The Shetack Tool Works which Monument Tools Ltd was known until 1976. The first two he produced really were not up to much as both designs tended to fracture in use so the two new designs which became the 363 Size 1 and 363 Size 2A now called 265B MON265 and 266E MON266 were launched. All these designs used the one cutting wheel and 2 rollers construction. The bodies are made from zinc die castings and have to be made so that the cutter wheel is perpendicular to the tube being cut otherwise the wheel will tramline or spiral along the tube. Out of square can be rectified, however, but it is essential that the tools cut squarely when new. Most of the very small adjustable pipe cutters for say up to 22mm were being made abroad so to combat these imports in the early 1980s Monument designed and manufactured brought out the Size 0 264Y MON264 for which they won a New Product Award at the British Hardware Promotion Council.
Other brands included Skylux and of course imports from the USA gained a small foothold including Imperial Eastman; mainly for the air conditioning and refrigeration industries.
These adjustable designs ran for many years until Mr Garton from Isleworth invented the very ingenious single sized pipe cutter that became the Pipeslice®. These slicers of Pipslice revolutionised the market and not surprisingly hit Monument’s production of adjustable pipe cutters. Monument successfully sold the Pipeslice product right up until the expiration of the patent, Kopex then refused to supply the product any longer to Monument; dozens of copies of the original Pipeslice design now exist in the marketplace. In the early 1990’s John Collier and a colleague designed and patented single size competing tools based on an entirely different method of cutting compared to the Pipeslice®. These are the 15PC MON15PC and 22PC MON22PC Automatic Copper Pipe Cutters.
Patents though have a finite life – the Pipeslice patent ended in 2005 and when the opportunity arose Monument designed and Made in Britain their own version called Monument Autocut. These tools can be made to cut worldwide copper tube sizes using three die castings and machining component parts to accommodate differing sizes of copper pipe. A restricted access ratchet handle too is made to fit the 1715C MON1715 15mm and 1722Y MON1722 22mm and because of the clever outer profile of the restricted access handle also fits the 15PC MON15PC and 22PC MON22PC. The full spectrum of individual sizes, however, goes from 8mm through to 28mm and capable of cutting copper pipe in Export Catalogue.
Monument have also developed a semi-automatic pipe cutter the 300M MON300 – this manually adjusts from 8mm to 22mm – once tightened on the pipe the springs start their job and as you rotate the pipe cutter the pipe is automatically cut without additional tightening of the cutter.
The original concept of the built in ratchet pipe cutter was Canadian, designed by Heinz Hutt and there are now a proliferation of copies of this and other fixed size pipe cutters. So originally the two most popular current designs emanate from Canada and the UK.
Monument continually look for further develop and enhance its range of pipe cutters and have a prototype ultra tight space pipe cutter due for launch in 2018.
Author : John Collier – Chairman Monument Tools – 4th Generation Manufacturer
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