Gary_Ash

1932 Studebaker Indy car build

Recommended Posts

Gee, Al, where did you find those photos so fast?  You must have had a spy in the group!  The pictures were taken at 8:30 last night as we were finishing up the 4-day course with Wray.  All of us were dead tired as that slave-driver Wray (;)) had us working from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm every day.  It's tough on us old guys, but what a great experience.  We got the four most-difficult pieces on the upper part of the cockpit skin formed, well-planished, and Wray welded them together and ground the welds and sanded them smooth.  No Bondo would be needed to send the panels for painting.  The skin is all type 3003 aluminum, 0.062-inch thick, TIG welded with 1100 aluminum rod.

 

We did run out of time, so the right side lower panel is tack welded but not finished.  The left side lower panel still needs some shaping before welding in place.  I'll sign up for another session or two, will finish building the wire buck for the tail before I go back.  It really feels good to have made so much progress in one weekend.

 

The group photo above (missing two guys who had to catch a plane) is around the steel body for a Porsche 550 Spyder.  The guys working on that one spent a lot of time over the stumps and sandbags stretching and shrinking to get the basic shape, then hours of English wheel time to smooth and polish the metal.  It's hard to believe that steel and aluminum can be beaten and bashed so much, then smoothed to such beautiful, finished shapes.  The photos below show Wray "bossing" an aluminum sheet to shrink it by raising ridges, then hammering them down.  Next, the bumps are smoothed in the English wheel to yield a completely smooth and polished surface.  The Porsche steel body parts were hammer formed and hand-shrunk to get the very complex shapes.

Wray bossing aluminum.JPG

Wray planishing.JPG

Wray-planished part.JPG

hammer forming steel.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent cockpit skin, really nice to see the result from some late hours with some skilled metal masters. A inspiration for many of us. Keep the Studebaker racing legacy alive :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm signed up to go back to Wray Schelin's Pro Shaper shop for another 4-day session this coming weekend.  I want to finish off the cockpit section and get started on the tail at Pro Shaper.  I've been frantically working to get the tail buck done.  The old wood buck from circa 1980 that I bought served as a starting point, but doesn't really have enough detail.  I'm not sure how a new tail for the #37 car was made using it.  I got the major part of the rear section together, but need to add the steel rods that will define the seats and the forward part of the tail that mates up with the cockpit.  Here is a photo of the tail section of the #37 car (green) and a 1978 photo of the tail and seat shells of the #18 car for comparison.

 

I've spent many hours on the computer CAD program and staring at old and modern photos of the tails on several of the Studebaker Indy cars to pin down the shapes and dimensions.  Then I draw out a pattern on big sheets of 36" wide rosin paper and use the Eastwood rod bender to form the 1/4-inch steel rod to match the lines.  Getting everything square, plumb, and rotated correctly before welding is very time consuming and sometimes frustrating.  I explained to my 12-year old grandson this past weekend that no mechanical thing will every work unless you cuss at it.  My daughter just rolled her eyes thinking about what I was teaching her son. 

 

I'll post some more photos from the upcoming workshop.

tail buck-cowl.jpg

tail buck rear section.jpg

tail section-car37.jpg.JPG

indy_tail_side_fwd_sharpened sm.png

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 4-day weekend at Pro Shaper went well, and lots more of the car body got built.  I finished forming the last panel for the cowl section, then we trimmed it for welding.  The gap in the butt joint - by Wray's standard of performance - is "zero gap".  This was obtained through tracing the previously trimmed edge of the existing panel onto the edge of the new panel, cutting the new panel, and tediously grinding the edge of the new panel to get a tight fit along the full 34-inch joint.  While not "zero" everywhere, I could barely slip a dollar bill into any gap and the bill could not be slid far along the length.  Wray then tacked the front, welded the back side, then welded the front side.  I still have to grind the welds down to smooth and apply hammer-and-dolly to level things out just a bit.

The tail buck got put to work immediately.  I had a helper to form up the 8 sections that will make up the tail.  We got the four most-difficult ones done and one of the easier ones, but they weren't really ready to weld.  To make the four pieces for the end of the tail, we had to do a lot of shrinking and a little stretching.  Wray has a couple of special machines he built form old, large arbor presses to produce "ruffles" on the edges of sheets.  These get hammered down on a wood stump with a heavy nylon-tipped mallet to drive the Vee-shaped ruffle material into itself, producing a shrink.  The procedure was:

     1. Make a few deep ruffles about 4 to 5 inches long

     2.  Hammer the ruffles to set the Vee shape tightly, pound them down mostly flat to gather the metal together

     3.  Use the English wheel on the part until the surface is very smooth

     4.  Check the fit on the wire form buck with the pieces clamped in place

     5.  Bash the part with the mallet on a shot bag to stretch where necessary

     6.  Repeat 1-5 until a good fit is obtained, i.e. the skin fits to the form within about 0.020 inch everywhere

     7.  Wheel the part with light pressure until a complete mirror finish is obtained, no waves, humps, or dips are visible, and the fit is still good

See the photos below for the steps.  Incidentally, the Bosch cordless electric shear makes cutting out the blanks from steel or aluminum sheet incredibly easy, and it turns tight-radius corners as it cuts.  Expensive but oh so good!

There were 12-15 students there from all over the U.S. and Canada.  They worked on Wray's wire forms of a Porsche 550 Spyder and a Maserati 300S.  As before, the 9 am to 10 pm days are exhausting but instructive, satisfying, and fun.  My whole body was sore from swinging the mallet into the stump, shoving the pieces through the English wheel, and carrying pieces back and forth through the shop.  With a dozen guys hammering, wheeling, grinding, and planishing, ti might as well be a boiler factory!  If you want to learn to shape car, airplane, or art metal, Wray is the guy to go to.  I'll have to go back again, perhaps for a day or two at a time, to use Wray's shop to finish up the tail, but it feels like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least for the body.

 

  

weld_prepping.jpg

Wray_on_ruffler.jpg

Wray_shrinking_2.jpg

Gary_wheeling.jpg

Indy_sheet_metal.jpg

Maserati_300S_team.jpg

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm trying to get some more work done on the body at home.  Based on Wray's comments that the main anvil wheel of an English wheel should be well-centered and polished, I put a dial indicator on the frame of the HF English wheel and found it to be out by about 0.010 inch.  The small wheels were pretty good, mostly around 0.001 to 0.002 inch.  I hauled the big wheel over to my local machine shop where they used a ceramic insert bit to true it up and polish it some.  It still needs more polish and I should probably grind off the edges so the wheel doesn't mark crowned panels.  With the base of the dial indicator on the bottom part of the frame and the tip on the anvil mount on the top part of the frame, I measured deflections of 0.010" to 0.030" when wheeling some 0.050" aluinum. depending on how much pressure I dialed into the lower wheel.  This is supposed to be OK as long as there is enough pressure to move the metal around.  

 

While Wray has a couple of big ruffling machines he built for shrinking, a stump and big mallet will also work.  We lost a lot of trees during the March snow storms, so I pulled a 16 inch tall hunk of a maple trunk out of the pile of sawed wood.  I had planned to use a longer piece that had been at the base of the trunk, but it was so heavy I didn't want to move it now or later.  I took the smaller piece and cut a bowl in it with a 7.25 inch circular saw.  I had seen photos on-line of people making a bunch of saw cuts and chiseling out the wood.  It would have taken days to chisel the bowl and smooth it, so I just kept at it with the circular saw until most of the wood was out, then used my angle grinder/sander to work through various grades of paper - 24 to 50 to 80 to 100 to 150.  Now the bowl is mostly smooth.  Since I'm going to bash metal into it with a mallet, I didn't think it had to be perfectly polished.

 

I bashed and wheeled a small piece of aluminum as a test, got satisfactory results, but will give the wheel a better polish.  It struck me that, as I approach being finished with the body, buying and making all these tools for sheet metal fabrication is a little like the old military guys who prepared to fight the last war all over again, like building the Maginot line or stocking up on jungle boots before the Iraq war.  I'll have all this stuff in the garage but it isn't likely to get used again - and I'm NOT building a body for anyone else! 

HF wheels-sm.jpg

stump2.jpg

stump3.jpg

stump4.jpg

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is a novel idea to use a piece of tree to make a bashing bowl.  I have a nice chunk of elm that will work nice for such a thing.  Keep up the good work.

Al

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Gary, I congratulate you for the excellent work you have been doing. I am about to embark on something similar. In the 60's my father competed in a category of monoposts here in Uruguay, called Fuerza Limitada. His first car was a modified Ford T chassis with Studebaker 6-cylinder engine. This car was dismantled and now my brother and I are rebuilding it but we are thinking of reformulating it to be two seats and be able to compete in the historical sports car races. Your publications are very interesting to me, especially the photos with details of the construction process, thank you very much for publishing them. Greetings. Humberto Tartaglia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now