Gary_Ash

1932 Studebaker Indy car build

Recommended Posts

It's amazing what true skilled craftsmen can build from almost nothing. I haven't seen hand work like that in thirty years. It scares me that all the truly talented craftsmen I know are at least my age or a bit older.........twenty five years from now there won't be anyone talented enough to build or repair all the things in life that I like to spend my time and money on. Wray is a true master craftsman, and only a lifetime pounding panels in a shop can get you a skill set like he has. I would be happy to be half the welder he is.........and that's never gonna happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A four-day session with Wray Schelin is a real work-out: start at 9:00 am, work until 10:00 pm - but we learn a lot. I’ve been trying to get the tail section together.  It takes a lot of pounding, shrinking, stretching, planishing, and wheeling to things to fit together and have the right shape. There are nine of us here this time, including a guy from New Zealand, two from Canada, others from AZ, NM, NC. The NZ guy is only 27, pretty skilled.  There are two more in their 30’s, so we are bringing along some youngster.  Wray was teaching how to make paper patterns, form curves over a piece of pipe, using a shrinking disk, hammer-and-dolly work, and other tasks.  Good fun,

 

Some of the students have been working on the build of the Virgil Exner design of a future car from 1947. It’s a complicated body, but it’s coming along. 

 

CB0DDE7E-3ACF-4003-A914-D0EDB13371EF.jpeg

88A3B8D3-7492-4A93-ACA9-52E09FE155A3.jpeg

293D0D34-7F94-4998-80F3-4A6E9DD2E7A1.jpeg

0405E107-392B-4C70-A4D6-E61088F15AAA.jpeg

4AE7C635-A3CC-4D90-984B-BA472B4D4E2B.jpeg

7A910C70-3072-46BD-B939-A80419C54ABC.jpeg

579F4706-0BB2-446E-B2D9-7A8B777C60AD.jpeg

C4D8114A-CE7D-4854-B68D-BFC6A7379C54.jpeg

E3D0D80E-E622-478A-A925-5D930248BFB2.jpeg

6C25F605-CD8A-44FA-ADD1-4F31DAC915B3.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By Monday night, the group was pretty exhausted, and the pace slowed after dinner.  We did get the front 2/3 of the tail section welded together, though the welds still need to be sanded down and dollied to level everything out.  To me, it's amazing that a few light taps with a hammer on the outside and a dolly on the inside can bring up weld metal to the surface where a slight recess existed.  After a little sanding, the weld is invisible to the eye and the probing finger.  Wray has been using his Everlast 210EXT TIG welder a lot more rather than his ancient Miller unit, fine tuning the settings to allow fusion joints without adding filler rod metal when the two edges are in direct contact or only have a small gap, i.e. less than .005"-.010".  He starts in the middle of the section to be welded, working his way out to either end of the joint.  Because of shrinkage of the metal at the weld spots, small gaps get closed up as he goes.  He tacks the front first, fully welds the back side, then goes back and fully welds the front.  I keep practicing my TIG techniques, but I'm letting Wray weld for now because I don't want to burn holes in the panels.

 

The four pieces for the end of the tail cone are 90% done [see earlier post #183], need to be welded together, and joined to the front section.  Hopefully, that will happen on my next visit.  Other sections that need to be built include the 6" deep belly pan from the bell housing back, the "wings" that support the tail on the frame rails, and the seat area.

 

P.S.  Note in the bottom photo the Harbor Freight English wheels on the left in the background.  You can see how Wray modifies them to turn the C-frame upside down so that the position of the large wheel is adjusted from the top.  This gets the adjuster stem out from under the working area so that larger, curved pieces can be worked easily.  He also dispenses with the tilting mount for the lower wheel.  He sells a kit for this conversion, though the kit costs more than the HF wheel.

indy tail welded.jpg

indy tail welded inside.jpg

indy car tail 110518 GAsh sm.jpg

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made another foray to Pro Shaper for more work on the tail section and some bits for the cockpit.  Wray finished up some of the welding on the right side of the tail, then ground the welds down, leveled the surfaces with dolly and metal slapper.  While I'm getting better at using the English wheel, Wray is the artist who can see every ripple, hollow, or bulge and make them disappear with just a little more wheeling.  He makes the finished surfaces mirror-like - much of the secret is keeping the aluminum and wheel clean and polished with 600 grit or better.

 

I got the last four pieces for the very back of the tail shaped and fitted pretty well.  Maybe next visit will see them welded to the rest of the tail.  Along the way, Wray showed me where the "flow" of the wire form buck was poor in the back third, so I and a another attendee cut , re-bent, and moved several of the 1/4" diameter steel wires to obtain a smoother surface without hollows.  This will make joining the pieces together into a smooth surface easier. 

 

I also made some L-shaped pieces for the bottom edge of the cockpit skin.  These will get riveted to the lower edge of the cockpit skin, and a few studs with acorn nuts will hold the cockpit to the angle iron cockpit frame and the chassis side rails.  I had started a pair of these ells on a previous trip to Wray's and had planned to fold over the outer edge to make a 1/8" high lip to cover the angle iron.  Wray pointed out that it wasn't possible to bend a lip that shallow on the .062" thick aluminum and that I had to remake the pieces (sigh!) with the horizontal leg at least a 1/2" overlength.  The L pieces are a little more complicated, as there is a 10 degree bend near the back ends to follow the frame rails.  I tried using the tipping wheel machine (like a bead roller) on a test piece, but wasn't satisfied with the result, so I used a pneumatically-powered press brake to  make a sharp bend after using the tipping wheel to start the bend at the angle.  This illustrates why I am working at Wray's:  he has all of the sheet metal tools anyone could dream of plus lathes, milling machines, big band saws, 500 assorted vise grip clamps, etc.  Of course, this puckered the material at the angle, so it had to be annealed and hand bent and shrunk to get the shape right.  Then I sawed off most of the excess material in a bandsaw and ground to final size with one of Wray's favorite Harbor Freight angle die grinders and 80 grit abrasive paper.  Then I hand sanded with progressively finer grit to smooth out the worked surfaces.  Two simple pieces: 4 hours elapsed time.  Now I have to trim the bottom edge of the cockpit metal and rivet the pieces in place like the original cars.

 

It's taking a long time to make the body, but it will be excellent when done.  I get frustrated that it takes me a long time to make what Wray can do in a few minutes, but I am getting better and we are making progress.  I'll go back again after Thanksgiving.   For anyone interested in learning how to form aluminum or steel sheet metal for car bodies, airplanes, architecture projects, or art work, I highly recommend Wray's classes - just be prepared to work your butt off every day!

tail_side_welds_ground.jpg

cockpit_side_angleiron.jpg

cockpit_angle_cover.jpg

cockpit_side_covered.jpg

cockpit flange 37.png

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice work Gary.  You must be getting excited at the prospect of having your body work completed and in a very professional manner.

Al

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got the drilled Grade 8 bolts back from the machine shop for the spring eyes.  The bolts will be inserted into the bronze bushings in the spring eyes and the chassis mounts.  Each bolt was cross drilled with a 1/8th inch drill about halfway down the unthreaded length, then drilled down the center of the bolt with a 1/8th inch drill to intersect the crosshole, and the bolt heads tapped for a 1/4-28 grease fitting.  The machine shop spent about 3 hours drilling the ten hard bolts. 

 

I'll be able to grease the spiral grooves in the bronze bushings (from Eaton Detroit Spring) and distribute the grease along the bearing surfaces.  The bolts are way oversize at 3/4" diameter, so I'm not worried about compromising the strength of the bolts by drilling them.  My plan had been to use aircraft-grade NAS bolts with even higher strength, but it wasn't easy to locate bolts with the right unthreaded length; and, at $50 or so per NAS bolt, the standard Grade 8 cap screws were a bargain at 10% of the NAS price.  I did learn about the differences between loading bolts in tension (clamping) and loading them in shear, as in spring mounts.   The key is to avoid having an extended threaded portion (more than 2 threads of 3/4-16) in the hole so that the threads don't chew up the metal.  The hex cap screws have tightly controlled diameters on the unthreaded length, better than regular hex bolts, so there won't be slop in the bushings.

 

I'll use nylon-insert locknuts, though the exposed threaded length could be cross drilled for a castle nut and cotter pin.  Each bolt will have a hardened washer under the head and under the nut.  To allow clamping with less than 2 threads in the bushing or mount or too many exposed threads for the nut to clamp, washers will be selected from the NAS-style ones in .032" or 0.090" thickness or SAE-style ones of .134" or .188" thickness.  Ideally, no more than two washers should be stacked on outer end.  In principle, Grade 8 hex cap screws are available in 1/4" increments, but odd lengths are tough to find in bolts over 4" long.  Ziegler Bolt and Nut has a good selection at fair prices.  All in all, Grade 5 bolts would have worked just fine for this, and original bolts would not have been even Grade 5  and they would have been smaller in diameter.  But, anything worth doing is worth overdoing!

bolts_spring_eyes_drilled.jpg

studebaker_indy_springs_bushing.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very nice. I replaced the spring bushes and bolts in my 1939 Coupé Express; they were threaded with a square thread and the bushes were steel. They were worn at the ends of the bolts, especially the nut end which I suppose (guessing here because it was 25 years ago) is the rear side. Do you think the brass or bronze will be hard enough?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It always amazes me what a lifelong skilled craftsman can do in a few hours will tank a novice a week or more to produce. As I get older I find that I still enjoy improving my current skill set, but trying to master new ones isn’t as rewarding as it use to be. Not too far from Wray’s shop is a master metal sticher that I have been going to for years that only does cast iron crack repair, I was considering taking up the skill and asked him point blank how long it would take me to get from point zero to the level he is at......he’s been doing it for forty years full time........his answer was eight to ten years............full time.........and that surprised me as I thought two or three would be his answer. As in most trades, you learn ten times more from your mistakes than you do from your successes. Now as I approach my mid fifties I see the improvement to my skills taking longer and longer to accomplish........and for a different reason than I would have expected. My eyesight is slowly changing as it does for most people, and it’s frustrating to struggle fixing something and not be able to clearly see what your are trying to repair. I can see getting old gracefully isn’t going to be easy!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Spinneyhill said:

Very nice. I replaced the spring bushes and bolts in my 1939 Coupé Express; they were threaded with a square thread and the bushes were steel. They were worn at the ends of the bolts, especially the nut end which I suppose (guessing here because it was 25 years ago) is the rear side. Do you think the brass or bronze will be hard enough?

The design solutions either with steel bushings (not common to my knowledge) or the older style bronze bushings all comes down to the philosophy of which part to wear out first. Common is a hardened pin/bolt in combination with a softer material which also add some sort of softness to the equation of the moving joint. I have myself fabricated replacement bushings in bearing bronze for my 35 Stude truck, which can easily be reamed to fit the bolt/pin very nicely. As Gary have added means for lubrication, so did I. This is a field proven solution before the auto manufacturers changed over to the more common steel/rubber/steel vulcanised versions of today. 

On the GTHawks the outer king pins are type of round threads with matching caps. Those are actually steel against steel...

 

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