Stop on by for a free shop tour, We’re here with normal hours.
WHEW! What a blow out!
Three weeks ago I could not have told you if we were going to be able to do this but everything pulled together at 10 after the last minute. Aaron and Jim smoked their pork to perfection all over again. Lorna and Loretta worked without reward and Nick Flores did an 11th hour DJ for us. Fantastic. We figure we served over 120 people, and some even got second helpings.
Chip raffled off a $150 gift certificate with a 50/50 drawing, and we were able to kick back some extra $ to the help. Terry McG won the whole deal, congratulations!
I had quite a few ask what our demo was going to be but because of my work schedule I wasn’t able to finish the helve hammer and shrinker stretcher stands in time. But what I did accomplish got rave reviews. Even had one of our friends want to take the hammer home and display it in his living room. I did see people experimenting with the tools, that’s always cool. We have always been hands on around here so seeing Tom Roth showing the next generation of metal bashers how a shrinker and bead rollers work was pretty cool.
Let’s hope this next year is much better than this one and for our 10th annual open house we can do something truly special
Jessy came to us with his newest acquisition, a 1927 ish Chrysler sedan. It had made the rounds a bit, something about this car going 127 on the salt and being solid build and not a “rat rod” in the description. Well, I suppose you can say anything in this world but I can assure you this car was not capable of exceeding the posted speed limit on our inter city freeways. Jessy complained about the dreaded “DEATH WOBBLE” that had suddenly reared it’s ugly head.
I took the car for a drive after measuring and giving the car a once-over. Like hitting a rev limiter at 56 MPH the front end started to shake, not a tank slapper but a wheel dance! Both front wheels started hopping in an alternate leap of joy consequently scaring the crap out of the occupants they are suspending. Not good.
We tried a few tricks but the front end was poorly thought out and worn out. The axle we assume is from an early 60’s Chevy van, the brakes were Volvo? The leaf spring they chose to use was for a trailer and rated far too stiff for automotive comfort. The shocks while normally acceptable were mounted in such a way they could not control the wayward wheels. You can see someone added a panhard rod to try and tame the issue to no avail. It had to die, we killed it. No other choice.
SoCal forged axle, Bilstein chrome mono-tube shorties and some other choice bits were spec-ed. We trimmed back the frame to give it a more streamline appeal instead of the no-buck and low thought styling it currently had. We tried to use a stock Model A axle, undropped with a set of modified 1935-1940 Ford front wish bones. Because of the mounting point locations and the ride height of the car we had to ditch the idea. Just didn’t look right.
So with consultation of the owner we decided to go with the new So Cal forged dropped axle and upgrade to the Lincoln style drum brakes. Just a few hours of labor and the wave of a magic wand POOF! We had success. A 6″ shorter wheel base, now 115 inches long, slightly wider track width, improved brakes and most of all it actually drove nice.
Wrapping up the next phase in Courtney’s Sedan build up we needed to securely mount the steering box, brake and clutch system. With cowl steering there are some inherent issues to deal with like pedal placement and couple that with an engine mounted high in the frame and make it a manual trans! Well, space is at a premium. Poking the master cylinders through our newly fabricated and clean firewall wasn’t an option and the steering box takes up some real estate so moving the cylinders to the right side of the car is the solution we chose.
The brake and clutch pedals operate through concentric shafts housed in an aluminum tube. The brake tube is supported inside the aluminum mounting tube with PEEK plastic bushings. The inside of the brake tube is machined smooth and it supports the clutch shaft. The clutch shaft itself is made from 4340 bar stock and has three machined journals for needle bearings to ride in. You will notice there are three master cylinders. Two of which operate the brakes through a balance bar system like you would find on a race car. Brake bias is achieved through threading the balance bar left or right which moves the spherical ball mount inside the bellcrank giving a differential force advantage on one cylinder over the other.
The steering gear in this case is a late 60’s to mid 70’s MOPAR steering box with a custom made pitman arm.
Rod and crew,
This comes as a shock to me. One of my worst fears in operating a business is to lose everything to a fire. Rod is old school Phoenix hot rodding. A national standout and someone I am glad to call a friend. As I understand he did have an insurance policy and they are already setting up plans for rebuilding. Let’s hope the red tape doesn’t entangle them for long.
Cheers my friends!
Sheetmetal forming and stamping
Brad came to us with this rusty Stude looking for a full frame build.
He knew the original Studebaker frames were fairly flimsy to start with and his had been laying in the mud for a few decades. After sand blasting it was obvious it wouldn’t be up to his standards. We showed him his options and work on other Studes we had here at the time and made some decisions. Mustang II with custom tubular control arms, Bilstein shocks, power rack, complete new frame with tubular center section and a narrowed C4 Corvette rear. He dropped off the original frame for us to use as an armature and the tube stared flying.
The rear axle assembly gathered most of our attention. To narrow one of these this much you lose the ability to shorten or otherwise use the stock spring. We converted the stock shock mounts to take Bilstein Coil overs and had to rebuild the steering rod assembly to clear the frame rails. I totally screwed up and didn’t get any shots of that work, I do have the 3D files of the center mount.
First up was getting the body mounts, frame contour and suspension located. We used one of our existing frame clips for the front end and mocked up the rear suspension to see if we needed any special considerations before laying out the 2X4 box tube. Mid build it was decided that we needed a few more inches of space for the rear wheels, this threw a minor wrench in the works but it all worked out.
Frame done we got the nod to fix the rusty parts and fit the body to the frame. This also gave us a chance to change the body mounts and add some really nice bellypans. Most of the rust was concentrated in the trunk area. Both front footwells needed to be replaced and the superfluous rear seat footwells were also eliminated.
The stock firewall was lacking in style for a build this serious, same for the inner fender wells. Wes tuned up his hammers and knocked down some good stuff.
I took on the custom hood hinges. In these shots you might be able to spy the firewall mounted brake power booster, inside is a custom pedal bracket with the option of adding a clutch. Wes got to do some extra detail work, the upper control arm openings got a nifty support and rubber boot.
Wrapping up the project before it left us, we got a few drawings from Jim Smith
This old truck came to us as a “street rodded” finished truck. Decent maroon metallic paint and gray vinyl interior. Didn’t drive worth keeping.
Braking was wishful and the steering was about as good as guiding the truck down the road with the same rope steering you used on your first go-kart. The new owner really liked the truck but wanted to actually drive it, he also wanted to make a few changes like a Tremec TKO five speed and a correct dash instead of the street rod billet affair the truck had. It had to come apart after our initial inspection. It had a very poorly installed Mustang II kit from Speedway. The best we could determine was the kit was actually for a 1935-1940 Ford. Not even close enough to work with the Studebaker. The wheels were inset too far and just looked goofy, the anti-dive was backward, the caster and camber settings were not good and the frame wasn’t even boxed, everything flexed and popped.
So “off with it’s head” we chopped out everything and cleaned it back to the bare frame rails. There was a bit of minor repair work to be done but fortunately the stock frame was salvageable. I drew up some boxing plates and a new crossmember system that was two inches wider than a stock Mustang II and adjusted the upper and lower control arm connection points to put the instant center where we needed it and to correct the camber curve for the 1″ longer control arms we were going to build and use. You can also see the tubular frame support and adjustable transmission mount Court bent up and the new Flaming River steering column Kelly installed.
David (the customer) wanted a manual trans, a Tremec TKO ! The stock below floor brake assembly was butchered beyond use and David likes swing pedals better anyway. Kelly fabricated a new sheet metal box to accommodate the odd Studebaker firewall/dash board arrangement. Then he modified an aftermarket brake and clutch assembly provided by the customer to fit.
The rear got some attention too. The truck came to us with a GM Corporate 10 bolt that was a touch too wide, 5 on 5″ bolt pattern and 2.56:1 gears that just wouldn’t work with the overdrive five speed. The springs themselves were shot, so they came out and got rebuilt over at Valley Spring service. New spring mounts were also in order to eliminate the lowering blocks. We also boxed the frame and installed a 2″ deep C-notch.
In the meantime we got the new control arms fabricated and installed. We used a Dodge Dakota front anti-roll bar also. Bilstein shocks and stainless steel brake lines and a bit of clean up on the frame. We shot it with catalyzed enamel paint. The new Currie rear axle got stuffed in as well as a set of fresh Bilstein shocks. New stainless steel brake lines and the fuel system got treated and reinstalled.
Interior wise the street rod dash had to go. Horrid rust sandwich with a gallon of bondo frosting. These are integrated pretty well into the cab. We acquired a donor cab and Kelly cut it out, then carefully trimmed out the offending piece to install the donor dash. While he was busy doing that I designed and built a plenum box to mount under the dash and distribute the cool air from the air conditioning. We also made provisions for the AC unit to draw air in from the cabin instead of hot underhood air. All this got covered up by a nicely fabricated aluminum panel on the engine side.The engine and new transmission got stuffed back in, new through the floor gas pedal from Lokar, the battery box got fabbed, wiring panels got mounted. The cab got undercoated with multiple layers of Second Skin spray on Damplifier. In fact so did the bed and all four fenders.
We buttoned up the remaining pieces as soon as the undercoating dried and delivered it to Scott of Steel Dreamz where the paint was attended to and and interior got redone. We hadn’t seen it in a while but were surprised when it showed up at the Studebaker International Drivers Club show. Here is the letter we got from David:
All,Below you will find photos of our 1952 Studebaker PU aka “The Cow Island Express” nearly finished (but shown anyway) in time for the Studebaker International Meet held last week in Glendale, Arizona. The PU was built with loving care by Scott Cawley of Chandler Arizona for Lori and me.
The pickup is entirely modified beginning with a Mustang II/Dodge Dakota style custom front end and suspension (built by Steve Szymanski at Industrial Chassis), GM 383 stroker motor (Tony Sanchez), Tremek TKO 5-speed, 4-wheel discs, Currie 9″ rear end and a custom interior by Doug Stinson at All American Upholstery that includes massive amounts of dynamatt insulation. Scott did the flawless body work and the stunning 2-tone paint which is tweeked current Cadillac CTS-V red metalic and champagne. The gold leaf pin stripes and lettering was applied by Tony Perez as was the freehand lettering. Chuck at Metro Plating did the chrome. Particular note should be made of what I consider the signature piece on the truck; the gold and chrome Studebaker hood piece that Chuck spent rediculous time on. Blow it up and take a good look at it.
Did I mention it also sound terrific. It had Flowmaster 50s on it that sounded too motorboatish. We went to Scottsdale Muffler and had them put on some Flowmaster Hushpower mufflers that are small and look kind of like glasspacks. With the new tips, the sound is deep and throaty.
It drives at least as good as it looks. Nuff said.
Besides Scott and the others above, Eric, Big John, Johnny, John the audio guy, Ty and many others worked on the “Cow Island Express”. If you don’t get the significance of the name, ask Scott or Pam Contes and they’ll tell you.
I mentioned that it’s almost done; it still has a few minor issues and needs like a dead speedometer, door handle, cruise control and the console with stereo and the critical two cupholders.
This unit has a date with Lori and me for Biloxi and “Cruising the Coast” in October.
Oh, yeah, it won First Place in the Modified Trucks category at Glendale.
Here are the pictures he sent of the finished product.
Our background is in fabricating. This reaches beyond just building cars, but to industrial equipment as well. From building simple fixtures to short run low tonnage stamping and forming and as far out as full machine building of a complex nature.
Recently we built new movable stands for our shrinker/stretcher machines. Their modular design allows for reconfiguration for different styles of head units to stave off obsolescence. Designed in our 3D solid modeling software, cut on the CNC plasma and press brake formed the 1/4″ steel body is fully TIG welded. Future machines will be welded with Dual Shield MIG to save time. The pedal arms are cut from 3/8″ steel and are bronze bushed with 3/4″ CR axles and all high quality hardware was used. This is meant to last.
And we are now in process of building a new Helve Hammer/Planishing hammer hybrid. This hammer will be modular and reconfigurable also. This machines primary function is for sheet metal forming. Traditional Helve hammers are very large and hit very hard. Mostly used by armorers and for roughing in compound curves in heavy gauge sheet metal, our needs require a softer touch. The purpose of this machine is for the rapid forming of automotive body panel and trim. It will have multiple hammer arms and drive linkage to tailor the style of hit from a heavy fall of a Helve to a rapid plannishing action.
The body is made fro 3/8″ and 1/2″ HR A36 steel and will be welded with Dual Shield. The stabilizing legs are 1 1/4″ 0.125″ DOM tube and will be gusseted. The body assembly will be mounted to the floor with anchors and high density polyurethane mounts and machine feet for leveling. This will absorb some of the vibration and dampen the machine for slightly better user comfort.
Earlier this week we produced a simple stamping die to press a design into 18 gauge sheet metal for a firewall on the ongoing 1931 Model A sedan build. This die and punch was made from 3/16″ HRPO A36 steel and will actually last on a short production run.
These are just a few recent examples of what we can do for you. Feel free to contact us about your project, fixture table, art design, structure or small machine. We have the experience in metal fabrication and forming , tube bending, notching and pneumatic power, hydraulic power, plumbing and and mechanical power transmission to meet your goals. We can build from your spec or if you need our design services to turn your napkin sketch into a reality, we are here to service your needs.
Last left off with the frame fab, we have done a ton since.
This HAMB thread covers quite a bit of the progress: http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=404411
This is one of those things that gets overlooked in the details. The aftermarket has come up with some stellar components and some not so stellar. But when you use high volume production parts, your car will look just like everyone elses. This car does use SoCal hair pins and a SoCal forged heavy beam axle but that’s about where it all ends.
This car runs the spring behind the axle, what is commonly known as “suicide” and requires special batwings or hair pins to mount the spring and carry the entire load of the front of the car. Not one to skimp out we cut and machined a nice pair for this car. Our initial mock up was using the supplied SoCal stainless steel pieces. Very nice with a shock mount integrated. Just not the parts we really wanted.
With a way to attach the spring to the axle, we needed to attach the hair pins to the frame. The shape of the frame plus the location gave us a few different options. Most people would weld a tube or bung into the frame to attach a HEIM or bushing to. We opted for stainless steel tie rod ends from So Cal and fabricated this nifty little plate that cancels the angle between the frame and hair pin.