Tag Archives: tech article

  • Leading a Body Panel The Gene Winfield Way.

    Only a few guy from the golden age of kustomizing and hot rodding are still with us, and even less are still working on cars. One of the best is Gene Winfield and even today, well into his 80's he's still traveling the world kustomizing old cars and teaching classes about metal shaping, leading, and anything you want to know about custom cars. I was lucky enough to catch up with him at one of his recent metal working seminars to get the process he uses to apply lead to a panel.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Sheet Metal Fabrication: Basic Machines & Techniques

    Sheet metal fabrication is the act of forming, shaping, and joining metal together to build and or repair a tangible part. There are many techniques and tools. It’s been done since the beginning of time when even the simplest tools were used. In this article we will share the most common and important tools, machines, and techniques for the DIY fabricator.  Click Here To Read Full Post...
  • Hollywood Hot Rods- How To Chop a Mercury with help from Eastwood

    Chopping a Mercury with help from Eastwood
    By Jim Aust/Hollywood Hot Rods

    Every since the first sleek new 1949 Mercury hit the street crafty restylers have lusted after examples with the roof a bit lower than the factory offerings. Sam Barris was among the first to chop his own personal Mercury, and the process would be repeated thousands of times over the next seven decades. Just as the title “custom” means, personally designed customs each have a unique style and equally unique method of creation.

    The guys at Hollywood Hot Rods have built a series of much loved custom vehicles so it’s only natural that they would have chopped a few Mercury’s along the way. Refining the process to a science, Hollywood Hot Rods get the job done lowering a lid on a Mercury (or any vehicle) with the help of various tools from The Eastwood Company. For this demonstration an Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher is used to a few of the vital steps in the process completed. Follow along as Hollywood Hot Rods shows how they lowered a roof on this 1951 Mercury.

    Chopping the top on a Mercury is so popular at Hollywood Hot Rods that they have to wait in line for their turn under the knife.

    The easy part is removing the top, the tough part is putting it back on correctly.

    After lowering the roof the desired amount, the corners of the windows now require reworking to close up the gaps created in the process.

    This view shows the great deal of work that will be necessary to reshape the rear corners of the quarter windows.

    The first step is to trim out the rear corners so that new corners can be fitted in place.

    To fill the corners small strips of sheet metal are cut and folded 90-degees in a sheet metal brake.

    Next up the Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher is used to shrink one edge of the custom new pieces to replicate the look of the factory corners in the newly required radiuses.

    The newly fabricated pieces are carefully fit into in the trimmed out window corners.

    The new window corners are tacked in place and checked again for proper placement before final welding is completed.

    Once the final welding is finished the corners are shaped with a die grinder equipped with a barrel drum sanding head.

    On this particular chop the decision was made to round-off the upper rear door corners rather than retain the square factory style corners.


    Rather than cut the original door corners into multiple pieces, Hollywood Hot Rods prefers to create new sweeping corner from fresh sheet metal.

    Repeating the earlier process, new inner door corners are made with the Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher. Once the new door corners are in place they are welded and smoothed the same way as the window corners.

    Just a few steps transformed this Mercury from a stocker to show stopper! Hit the Hollywood Hot Rods Website to see more of their work, enlist their services, or buy some sweet HHR gear!

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  • Customizing a Chevy Corvair Van Bumper to Fit Project PileHouse

    PileHouse is starting to shape up and we can now envision what the truck will someday look like when it's "done". But I still felt that the front end needed "something more". After staring at it over lunch one day, I decided that the truck needed a custom bumper to "complete" the front end. My only rules were that it had to flow with the grill trim and relatively flat front end. So I took some measurements, snapped a few reference pictures with my Iphone, and headed off to one of my favorite places; the New Ringgold U-Pull-It junkyard. This place is HUGE and they're nice enough to drop all of the "classic" cars and trucks in one section where you can rummage around. It's there you'll find everything from a 40's Ford to an El Camino or even obscure European classics like a Renault LeCar. This place is a hotrodders dream! All you need is a battery powered reciprocating saw, some hand tools, a tape measure, and a good imagination to find parts for your custom project.

    So I set off with my bag filled with Eastwood Hand Tools and the portable reciprocating saw in hand. After a couple hours measuring bumpers, and scratching our heads, my buddy Matt R. and I narrowed it down to two vehicles. Eventually we chose the front bumper off a 60's Chevy Corvair van (obscure enough for you?!). The length and shape was pretty darn close to the stainless grill trim on PileHouse, and I was sure I could make it work. We quickly got down to business and cut the bumper off so I could bring it home.

    With bumper and truck meeting for the first time, I can see that although the size was "close", the bumper was still going to need a few inches chopped off, and the radius changed to match the front of the truck.

    I started by marking the corners of the bumper where I wanted them to sit and noted some measurements of the bumper and the front end while on the truck to give me some reference points throughout the project. Next I pulled out the angle grinder and cut the bumper in half in the center, and laid it back in place.

    After test fitting the bumper halves, I overlapped them in the center to give me an idea of what had to be removed to get the bumper to the correct length. Once I cut the excess off I found an additional cut had to be made to allow the bumper halves to lay back to match the curve of the front end. With this last cut made, they were sitting exactly how I wanted and I spot welded them in place until I could join them together. Finally, I welded some small strips of metal in place to join the halves temporarily.

    With the bumper now shaped to fit the front end of PileHouse, I removed the tack welds on the corners and put the bumper on the work bench to add braces to the backside and ground off the temporary front braces. Next I had to fill the opening that was created when the radius was changed. I found that the last piece I cut off was a good fit after a little sanding. With the filler metal set in place, I began welding it all together with the Eastwood MIG 175. After welding the seams up on both sides I took the angle grinder with a flap disc and blended the welds. A few minutes of grinding I had a smooth, invisible transition where I had modified the bumper.

    With a complete front bumper bar, I test fit it one more time. I'm happy to report I now have a bumper that fits perfectly and I'm only out about $30 and a few hours of work! From here I'll fabricate some simple bumper mounts to bolt it to the chassis, and then we can move on to the next step in making PileHouse road worthy!


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  • 10 Tips to make you a better MIG Welder

    How to MIG weld

    Ok so you've got your MIG welder and you can finally make two pieces of metal stick together, but now you want to learn how to make those welds look nice AND be strong. In this quick 10 step guide we will give you the tips to make your welds look great, and be as strong as possible.

    1. Cleanliness is King- We understand that there are times you can't always get a work area surgically clean when MIG welding, but you should take every step possible to do so if you want a clean, strong weld. The work area should be free of ALL rust, grease, and coatings. We have found that using a wire wheel on an Electric Angle Grinder makes quick work of rust, undercoating, and other coatings. Be sure to prep the work area before and after welding with Eastwood After Weld. You will amazed at how much better your weld puddle will form and look when performed on a clean surface.

    2. Check your Gas- In order to make a clean weld, your weld puddle needs to be purified while it is being formed. This is where shielding gas comes into play. It is one of the other essential keys to making a clean weld. Make sure you have an adequate amount of gas coming out of the nozzle when welding, the amount needed can vary on the conditions where you are welding (try to be out of any direct moving air like fans, wind, etc), and the surfaces you are welding on. MIG welding can be done with machines that only use Flux Core MIG wire, but we suggest choosing a MIG Welder that is versatile enough to use gas as well. Welding with a shielding gas is the best way to make the cleanest weld with little to no clean up.

    3. Sounds like Bacon- You want to set up your machine correctly before welding anything. If you aren't sure of the correct setting for the job, we suggest getting some metal that is the same gauge, and taking the extra time to set up your machine properly. The key to quickly dialing in your machine is listening to the sound of the arc when welding. You ideally want the arc to sound like "sizzling bacon", not too much popping or spitting, just a nice even sizzle/crackle sound. The next is to make sure the bead is nice and flat. A common error with beginners is that the bead is sitting very "proud" and piling up on top of the metal. In those cases you often times need to either turn the wire speed down, or the heat (voltage) up. Once you learn to listen to your welder and how the arc sounds, and how the bead "should look", your welds will instantly improve.

    4.Proper Joint Construction- Another mistake when a beginner is welding up a joint, is that they leave too large or uneven of a gap in between the two panels they are joining. On some joints you may want a very small gap, but most there will be next to no gap between the panels when welding. Too large of a gap, and you will have difficulty with the bead burning the edges of the two panels away and opening the gap up even more. Again, taking the time to put together an even, tight gapped joint will make the final appearance and strength of the job much better. Our favorites for proper joint prep is our Intergrip Panel Clamps, Clecos Panel Holding System, and our Welding Clamp Plier Set, they really make the job much easier!

    5. Check your Ground- Found your welder is welding poorly or inconsistently, even after testing your settings on some scrap metal? A good chance is that you have a poor ground. Not only do you want to have as clean of a work area as possible, but you need a clean surface to ground the machine through. A little tip if you don't have a good spot to clamp to, is to tack weld a bolt or a stud to the work area to get a good continuous ground. Try it, it really is handy!

    6. Auto-Dimming Helmet; it's not just for NASA!- The age old tradition was to use a static darkness welding helmet when welding. These work "ok" if you are in a very well light area, or if you are good at flipping your helmet down and striking an arc all in one quick motion, but with the advancements in modern day welding accessories, it isn't necessary anymore. Now you can find affordable, quality Auto Dim Welding Helmets pretty easily. Being comfortable when welding helps you make quality welds, and allows you to properly see your work area before, during, and after you weld.

    7. Stickout makes a difference- When setting up your machine, you need to make sure that you have the contact tip sticking out the correct amount for the type of welding you are doing. The general rule of thumb is that you want your welding tip to have less than 1/2" of stick out. If you are welding on thinner sheet metal like body panels, you can get away with a little more, but you need to stick in that range for most applications. Always check your stick out each time before welding.

    8. The Angle matters- The angle of the tip when welding can also be just as important when running a bead. Ideally you should be straight on when doing quick spot or plug welds, while keeping approximately a 10 degree angle when welding with the pushing or pulling method is satisfactory.

    9. Choose the correct wire size- In this case "bigger is better" is not always true. It all depends on the type of welding you are doing, and the surface you are welding on. If you are mostly working with thin metal like body panels of a car, you'd want to stick with .023 solid core wire. This will allow you to keep the temps down versus using a much thicker wire. And if you didn't know, too much heat equals metal warpage, which is BAD in the autobody world. Keep in mind though, if you are doing suspension or chassis work where the metal is substantially thicker, you'd want to upgrade to .30 or .35 solid core wire. This will require 110V machines (like our MIG 135) to run at the higher end of their voltage spectrum.

    10. Be Safe- There are a lot of hazards when welding, a lot of them are quite obvious, while others can easily be overlooked. Make sure to wear the proper attire when welding. This means closed toe shoes (preferably leather work boots), long pants, Leather Welding Gloves, and a Welding Jacket. Dressing properly can save you from being severely burnt from the intense light and heat produced when welding. Also keep in mind that you need to keep your work area safe, which means covering or removing all flammable objects from your work area, as well as allowing for proper ventilation from any fumes that could be produced when welding.


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