Gary_Ash

1932 Studebaker Indy car build

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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.

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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. 

 

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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)

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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!

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cockpit flange 37.png

Edited by Gary_Ash (see edit history)

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

Al

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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!

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studebaker_indy_springs_bushing.jpg

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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?

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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!

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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...

 

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I spent another weekend at Wray Schelin's Pro Shaper shop working on the pieces that will make up the tail of the car.  While the pieces had been roughly to shape on earlier visits, it was time to adjust their shape to best match the wire-form buck and to smooth the surfaces.  Also, the edges of the pieces had to have the right curvature to eventually trim them and weld them together.  We used a 0.010" thick feeler gauge to locate where the aluminum was in tight contact with the wires, and also noted where large gaps existed that would require shrinking the metal at the edges.  A couple of "ruffles" about 3" long from the edge toward the center and about 1" high were created using Wray's ruffling machine, then hammered down in a stump to do the shrinks.  Where stretching was needed, a large Delrin-tipped mallet and shot bag were used to bump out a lot of dimples in a pattern to produce a wide area movement, not just a big bump.  A few minutes in an English wheel removed the lumps and bumps, reshaped the piece, and polished the surfaces.  This process was repeated several times to get the fit just right.  In the end, more wheeling was used to bring the entire surface to a highly polished, mirror-like state, removing all traces of the work damage.  No annealing was required.  

 

Once the pieces for one side were done, I made "flexible shape patterns", one of Wray's inventions, to match the right and left side pieces over their entire surfaces.  I applied a layer of butted strips of low-tack paper tape over the surface of the first piece, then laid on a slightly overlapping strips of fiber-reinforced packing tape at an angle to the first layer.  This two-layer creation was carefully peeled off the aluminum, then coated with plaster powder to make the pattern not sticky.  To mark the location of the lines of curvature, a series of small holes was punched through the tapes.  Then, the pattern was turned over, laid against the roughly-shaped second piece for the other side, and the curve lines marked with a felt pen.  Where the second piece deviated from the first, there was lots of room under the pattern.  We then went to the mallet, shot bag, and ruffler to bring the second piece into conformation with the pattern.  The flexible shape pattern makes it much faster to form the parts since I didn't have keep walking over to the wire form, clamping the parts, and marking the locations for more work.  Eventually, though, the pieces have to fit together on the wire form.  We'll trim and weld next time.

 

Here are photos of the process and the result.  I included a shot of the spacemen who came to watch Wray weld some parts.      

part with shrink tucks hammered.jpg

part being stretched.jpg

part with dimples.jpg

part being wheeled.jpg

part with flexible shape pattern.jpg

wray with finished part.jpg

spacemen.jpg

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There is amazing talent in many countries of the world. I know of fantastic bodies being hammered out in central and South America.

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I got a call from Lee Chamberlin at The Brassworks where they are building my radiator.  It's basically done, but Lee wanted to know about overflow tank, filler, fan, and other details.  He sent photos - it looks pretty good to me.  I sent them my Foamcore mock-up and they built it from that.  I think I need a remote overflow tank.  They will add a threaded bung in the top tank for a temp sensor for the "puller" electric fan.  The original cars didn't have any fan, not good for slow drives or traffic.  I may also put in some very short fan blades, but there isn't height for a full fan.  They will finish the detail work, paint it flat back, and send it here.  Can't wait to get it!

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brassworks radiator w-o paint.jpg

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I spent another 3-day weekend at Wray Schelin's Pro Shaper shop in Charlton, MA.  I brought back the wire-form body buck for the tail and aluminum pieces hoping to get some more of the tail welded together.  Of the four pieces that form the very back of the tail, three had been formed and finish wheeled.  The fourth piece, for the upper left side of the tail, had to be massaged to exactly mirror the piece on the right side so that the sharp end and top of the tail would come together without bumps or jumps.  That proved to be an extended task that took me more than a day - and a day is 13 hours in Wray's shop.  Using the flexible shape pattern made on my last trip, I had to hammer bumps to stretch out the metal in select areas and wheel them smooth again until the pattern fit tightly against the metal without being baggy anywhere.    This technique allows matching pieces to within 1/32 of an inch or better.  Once the shape was right, I then had to gently wheel the metal over its entire surface to get it free of the last little bumps, bulges, and hollows and to obtain a mirror-like finish.  Looking at the reflection of the ceiling-mounted fluorescent light tubes quickly shows even the least distortion from a smooth surface.  It's a little disheartening at points to look at the nice, shiny surface and then say, "I've got to take the big mallet and go pound 20 more bumps to bring a slightly concave surface up to a flat or convex surface."  But, I have learned to read the surface better and whack the metal where it needs it.  My wheeling skills are getting better, too.

 

Eventually, Wray approved of my work, and we set about welding the pieces together.  I trimmed the top edge of the lower piece to a straight line, then clamped the metal over the upper piece and scribed a cut line.  The upper piece was trimmed with the Bosch cordless metal shears just wide of the line, then sanded exactly to the line.  When the two parts were butted for welding, the gap is less than 0.010" and near zero over most of the joint length.  Wray TIG'ed the joint on both sides, ground and planished the weld, then sanded it smooth using 50, 80, and 220 grit disks.  [My TIG welding skills are not up to this part of the job yet.]  He finished up by wheeling the entire joint area and around it to remove any distortion caused by welding.  We got the other two pieces for the left side trimmed and tacked.  Once the two sides are ready, the big challenge will be to join the two sides together, especially at the very back edge - but we have a plan.  Maybe next visit I'll have the whole tail shape together.  

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wheeling_after_welding.jpg

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Great job.    You wont want to drive it when it's finished in case it gets dinged.

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If it gets dinged doing this kind of stuff, I could live with it...

 

Now I know how to take out the dings or make new panels.

 

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Looks great, and it's impressive that you are develpoing your own skills and making it yourself. Shaping metal is an interesting skill.........it's incredible how many different ways people attempt and complete the same process. 

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The radiator just arrived from The Brassworks.  They did a fantastic job, made it to exactly the dimensions I asked for.  With the 3.5", 4-row copper core, tanks, and fan, it weighs nearly 50 lbs.  They installed a "puller" electric fan and shroud for me because the hood is too low to allow a belt-driven fan (original cars the same, no fans).  There is also a "bung" in the top tank for the temp sensor for the fan and a control relay that will be mostly invisible when mounted.  There are mounting flanges on the sides of the core; I just have to determine exactly where to drill the holes so that the vertical position is correct.  It's a tight fit in the shell.  Progress!

 

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radiator_full_back.jpg

radiator_mount_front.jpg

radiator_mount_rear.jpg

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I bet the radiator gets your juices flowing!  Nice job, when you get a fit with your radiator shell, share a picture or three.

Al

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I got a few other things done on the car.  Having received the radiator, I realized I needed a fitting for the lower tank to connect to the hose leading to the water pump.  In my naiveté, I assumed that I could just go online and buy the fitting, assuming it was the same as a Ford AA truck fitting. Nah, it's a special!  So I had to draw it up in the CAD program, get a 3D print, and have it cast at a local foundry.  Part way through the process, I bought a 3D printer (because they are now very cheap - and I WANTED one).  I printed out the part in clear PLA plastic (3.5 hours) and sent it to the art foundry for casting in silicon bronze.  A week later, they had the part ready, needing only a little finish machining and drilling of the bolt holes.  It turns out that you can use a 3D printed PLA plastic part instead of a wax master for investment casting, making the process cheaper and faster.  

 

I also sent off a bunch of Houdaille shock absorbers to Apple Hydraulics for rebuilding.  Four of the six were successful, and Apple was able to bend the arms 90 degrees in two places to get the shape I needed.  They did a great job and provided quick service.  The shocks now fit on the mounts and the links line up with the front axle.  The rear shocks are also done, though I need to buy the links for those.

Creality Ender 3 printer.jpg

water outlet in progress.jpg

water outlet print clear PLA.jpg

bronze casting and PLA pattern.jpg

bronze casting on radiator tank.jpg

houdaille_shocks_group.jpg

Houdaille front shock 1.jpg

Houdaille front shock 2.jpg

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Looking good!

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