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August / September 1999


OK, so the BWRC newsletter isn't exactly monthly like I originally intended.  In fact, it's been about 8 years since the last one.  Sorry.  I'll put up a new one as soon as I get some good free time (meaning probably never).   Until then, please enjoy the ones below.  

NOTE:  I've edited out some of the original material that is no longer relevant, but left the stuff I still liked.    Ric - 5/30/07

Welcome to issue #3 of the Big Wig Newsletter! To see previous issues of the Newsletter, click on the appropriate link below:

In this issue:

- Updates on Customer Cars  deleted
- Big Wig Race Cars Contingency  deleted
- Cool Tool of the Month
- Tips and Tricks for Making Alum Panels
- Big Wig Music Selections of the Month
- New Finds on the WWW  deleted
- Where to see the Big Wig Cars  deleted

If you have other ideas or want to contribute an article, helpful hint, interesting tidbit, or whatever, send it in!



Cool Tool(s) of the Month

Hopefully this will be of benefit to some of the beginners out there. Having done a fair amount of aluminum work over the last couple of years there are some tools that I’ve come to depend on very heavily. At first, I think I might feature a couple of tools a month, one basic and one more specialized (or in some cases, simply – inexpensive, and more expensive.) That way, I can cover more tools faster and you can get a feel for some of the tools I consider required and those which might be just "nice to have."

Basic: Hand Punch – This tool comes with different size die sets to punch holes in sheetmetal. I almost exclusively use the 1/8-inch dies. It’s incredibly handy for punching holes in the aluminum sheet for using clecos to temporarily hold your panels together. It also does not require any deburring like drilling does. You will have to practice a bit to be able to hit your mark dead center. The good thing however is that it’s got a point on the male die which you can use to "center-punch" the spot, then pull back a bit and verify that you’re centered on the correct spot before handpunch.jpg (6490 bytes)
actually punching through. The one I use is from Harbor Freight and was less than $20. I wasn’t sure it would be that useful when I bought it, so I opted for the cheapo version, but I’ve been using it for about 4 years now with no problems at all. The Harbor Freight one is a copy of the original Roper Whitney hand punch that sells for about $65.
Advanced: Shrinker/Stretcher – This tool is used to draw or stretch metal along an edge. It is very useful for making curved pieces, such as wheel tubs. You can take a large flat piece of aluminum, say shrinker_s.jpg (2398 bytes)
12x48-inches, put a -inch wide brake down one of the long edges, and use the shrinker along that -inch lip to draw the piece into a large curve. Now you have the "top" of your wheel tubs and have a flange all the way down the inside edge to rivet, bolt, or weld your side to. The dies are interchangeable on this tool to make it stretch the metal rather than shrink it. I used this tool extensively while making Eric Ellis’ roof tunnel, to make the curves around the rear window. (See that work here.) The tool does leave tooth marks in the metal as it grabs the metal and pulls or squeezes. Less expensive options for making curved flanges are wooden hammerforms or cutting slits in the flange to allow it to spread. I got my Porto shrinker/stretcher combo from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty and paid about $200. It came with one body and two sets of interchangeable dies. I built a stand for it to make it mobile so I could get it out in the open for working with large pieces like wheel tubs.


Big Wig Music Selections of the Month

Please remember - I wrote this in 1999.  Still a good CD though!

A critical item in the shop has to be the stereo. If you’re like me, spending so much time in the shop you get tired of listening to the same stuff on the radio all the time. So, I occasionally listen to CD’s while I work, and here are my current favorites that you would find in the player if you came by the BWRC shop:

Lenny Kravitz - "5" - Cool, funky rock.

Tips and Tricks for Making
Aluminum Panels

Bead Rolling tips:

- First, as stated in earlier Tips, I do all my aluminum forming with the PVC sheet still on the panel so it does not cause any scratching.

- I use fine point Sharpies for marking all my beads. The entire bead pattern is drawn on the panel before any beads are started. I use a circle template for all the corners and typically try to keep all the radii the same for the whole car, if possible. Some areas simply look better with a larger or smaller radius, so use your judgement here.

- For uniformity, try to make all the beads the same distance from the edge of the panel. I often use the width of my ruler, which comes out to be about 1.25-inches. That makes it easy on the straight edges.

- For curved edges, I clamp my Sharpie to a small square at the desired distance in, and use that to trace the edge. (See picture. Sorry for the blurry shot, but you'll get the idea) sharpie_square_s.jpg (3107 bytes)

- Start your bead in the least visible area of the panel, if possible, because until you become a master bead roller, you’ll be able to see where the bead stopped and started.

- For more precise lines using a die-set such as the good old half-round bead, put the male die on the bottom and use one of the sharper edges of the female die as your reference to follow the drawn lines. (see picture) If you do this, don’t forget that the rolled bead won’t be centered on the drawn line, so you’ll need to compensate for that. beadrolls_s.jpg (2469 bytes)

- On large panels that might exceed the throat capacity of your bead roller, spread the dies and slide the panel through on a pretend run, just so you’re not surprised in the middle of putting the real beads into a panel and have to stop in the middle of a curve because you run out of room.

- In most cases, you’ll need to roll the beads before putting any brakes in the panel. Otherwise, it won’t fit through the bead roller throat.

- Make sure you know where your DZUS buttons will go before rolling beads near the edge, and plan for that if possible. (See picture) Otherwise, you’ll squash the bead when you use your countersink tool. Besides, I think it looks bead_detour_s.jpg (3300 bytes)
cool to detour around a DZUS button – to me it shows that you put some forethought into the panel, rather than doing all the bead work first and then putting in the DZUS buttons last.

- Don’t make any abrupt changes in direction if you get off your path on a long straight line, or you’ll see it in the final product. Slowly and gradually get back on your line, or adjust for it at the next corner. Wavey beads look incredibly sloppy.

- When marking for step beads, indicate "up" or "down" on the appropriate side of the bead to avoid confusion when you get over to the bead roller. It’s easy to get screwed up here, especially if you’re putting decorative beads into a panel and also putting step downs along an edge for an overlap. Typically, you’re stepping up in one area and down in another, so it’s not hard to make a mistake that ruins the entire panel.


Coming in future newsletters – a pictorial on making a panel from start to finish.

Send me a message if there's something specific you're interested in.



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