Vol. 2, Issue 1
What Is It?
Lead Pipe Expanders
This tool/device appears with regularity at mechanical
hobbyists' meetings and at various other tool-focused
events. It's always at the top of the "mystery-tool"
list at these gatherings, and is almost never identified
The use of lead in the manufacture of pipes has been
documented since Roman times. Lead sheets were formed
into pipes or square channels and used to supply water or remove waste products. Some of these early
examples, which feature hammered joints, still exist
Until about 1900, many North American municipalities used
lead pipes to supply domestic water. (These were gradually
replaced with galvanized and black-steel pipes.) The National
Building Code of Canada was amended to disallow the use
of lead pipe and lead in solder in 1975. Canadian municipalities
and provinces soon brought their codes into adherence.
In 1988, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the United
States restricted the lead allowance in pipe and fittings
to 8% or less. Solders and fluxes are required to have
less than 0.2% lead content. In 1998, another U.S. ban
was put in place regarding the lead content in plumbing
fixtures. Lead was also used to make the transition from
a fixture to cast or clay pipe for waste products. Because
of the flexibility and ease of shaping, lead sheet and
pipe were used in P-traps and closet bends. A variety
of bobbins and other unique tools were used to size and
create the necessary forms for these connections.