Inline Tube - Shop Tour
Inline Tube is
located 40 minutes northeast of Detroit in Shelby Township, Michigan. Nine years ago
this company started with 2 partners out of a small 2 car garage, making a few
different line sets. Today Inline Tube produces thousands of undercarriage
There is an extreme amount of hard work that goes into every part made.
In order to make a part, you need to have an original part to reproduce. Where do you find a
set of transmission lines for a '56 Buick Special? You hunt them down at swap
meets, in junk yards, or find them on parts cars. Once the part is found,
it is time to start the duplication process.
First, an exact duplicate of the
part must be made by hand. This is the prototype. The prototype is then scanned
by a laser to get all the measurements of the lengths, bends, angles, and rotations.
Once the blueprint is made and the bender is programmed, youíre ready to make
parts. The entire process can take months for one part.
You can never predict what you will
sell and there are usually some surprises at the end of the year. In the top 100, you have your Chevy Trucks, Camaro, Chevelle and
GTO, but who would guess International Scout, Ford Bronco or Pontiac Fiero? If
you make an exact reproduction in the right market and it is a part that is not
currently being reproduced, you have a good start. If you listen to the phone calls,
the customer will also tell you what to make because it is the items they are
asking for the most. So, always listen to the customer. In the market of low
production parts, what brings you to the top is having phone techs that can walk
the customer through the process and know their brake system better than they do.
step is to get the product to the customer in a few days. As car guys, we know
waiting for parts for more than a few days is frustrating. We have waited 16
weeks for chrome to be polished and 12 weeks for the engine shop. So when our parts come in a few days,
we are repeat customers.
Inline Tube has grown to be the largest tube company in the
country that specializes in classic car plumbing products. We make tubes for
all American cars and trucks from the 1930s through the 1990s. We not
only have the brake lines, but carry all the tubing for each particular vehicle.
If you need fuel lines, choke tubes, caliper lines, transmission cooler tubes, or
the wiper line for a 1952 Buick we are sure to have it in stock. If somehow we do not have your tube in the thousands of patterns
we keep, it is as simple as
making your new part from your original.
Once Inline Tube secured patterns for all the American cars
and trucks, it was time to move on to other products. Inline Tube is the only
company in the country that makes reproduction parking brake cables the way the
factory did with the spiral wrap. You can still get some cables from the auto
parts store, but it will not look like the original. We have reproduced
the correct housing, rubber boots, and end fittings for a factory correct
reproduction. These cables are offered for all the popular muscle cars and
trucks from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Over the years, Inline Tube has expanded to make many of the
undercarriage parts that transfer fluid. Another expansion included the street
rod market. Inline Tube manufactures stainless brake fittings, and
carries everything needed to plumb a custom application. Products include:
straight tubing sets, master cylinders, valves, stainless braided hoses, and any
combination of fittings you can dream up. Other products include stainless and
OEM rubber flex hoses, disc brake conversions, brake and fuel line clip sets,
proportional valves, distribution blocks and even the sending units. If you plan on moving any fluid,
whether it be brake, fuel, or power steering, Inline Tube makes the products that
connect the components.
Here are a few of the employee's
cars at the, bring your car to work day. We not only sell the parts but we use
them on our own cars.
When you call Inline Tube, the phone will always be
answered by the friendly office assistant and the sales guys, that will
answer any questions you may have before placing an order. Before the order is
placed, the process has already begun.
The owner has spent many hours taking lines off original cars to build the
pattern library to what it is today. This day is spent working on 1968-70 Buick
Electra. This is one hunting trip resulting in a few good finds.
This is a 6000 square foot pattern room. Every original part is measured, scanned,
blueprinted and then downloaded to a CNC bender. They are then stored for future reference.
Every part starts as a straight tube with some sort of fitting on the end. They
have miles and miles of tube on hand in all the different sizes and in both
stainless and the OEM tin coated steel.
Fittings are also made on the premises in every size, shape, and color. There are
over 60 different tube nuts to make any line combination. The large bins hold
15,000 fittings each.
Now the parts can be made. These are computer benders so there is no hand
bending and a perfect part is made every time. Inline Tube has thousands of dollars invested in 4 of these machines.
Now that the bender did its job, the tube fitting will be installed and one of 16
forming machines will double flare the end. After each part is matched to the
prototype in orange, they will get labels and are stocked for future orders. The part
you see is a '49 Chevy truck pump to carburetor line.
Now thatís a lot of lines! And this is only one of the part aisles. We are
looking at Chevelle and GTO fuel lines in stock by the hundreds. Having all this
inventory ensures your parts go out the next day.
There is over 6000 square feet of new part storage with thousands of parts in stock.
These racks hold 275 parts on each side and there are 10 sides. That is a lot of
parts in stock.
In this area, parking brake cables are
manufactured exact to the originals with the spiral housings, ends, and rubbers.
You can see the raw materials and the finished Chevelle cables to the right.
Once your order is put together, the shipping department will check, pack, box,
label, address, and then ship the order. This entire process will ship over 100
packages a day.