View Full Version : Making a body for the Indy car project - boot camp

04-03-2011, 09:08 PM
I still consider making the body for the Indy car replica by beating it out of aluminum by myself. So, I signed up for a 4-day intensive course with Kent White at http://www.tinmantech.com in N. San Juan, California. [Google map that!]

Kent is a master body worker and restorer, spent 25 years on the cars for the Harrah collection. I and 9 other wannabees
learned how to pound, stretch, shrink, weld, planish, and wheel aluminum and steel sheet from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 pm for 4 days.
Exhausting but great fun and worth the investment!
If nothing else, I learned that it takes lots of skill and practice to do this well. Will I live long enough to acquire it?

Kent teaches gas welding of aluminum, including making butt joints in .050" thick type 3003 aluminum. After making a weld, he beat it with a wooden mallet to show it wouldn't crack, then planished it flat agin to show how to repair body damage and make welds disappear. Impressive! If you ever wanted to learn how to use and English wheel or an air hammer, this is the place to go.

Back at the ranch, I've finally got the '61 Buick Electra rear backing plates to fit on the 1928 Studebaker Commander rear axle after making some adapter plates and modifying the parking brake links. The front adapter plates for the 1929 President front axle are also welded to the 1963 Buick Riviera backing plates after hogging out 7"x3" holes for the steering knuckles. Springs and wheel hubs come next.

Bob Andrews
04-03-2011, 09:28 PM
Very cool, Gary. I took a one-day course last July with the legendary Gene Winfield, which was mostly about metalworking. I have some experience with "tin-knocking" and miss doing it. On my bucket list is slowly backing my schedule down so I can get back into the garage and reclaim some of that skill.

Good luck, and most of all have fun!

04-03-2011, 09:36 PM
Fantastic! Not only are you recreating a great icon of the past. Looks like you are equipping yourself to provide first class skills and processes in your effort. And, to top it off, you are having a huge adventure and tons of fun. :)

My CASO method would probably have been to look for an old discarded tin water heater cover and attempt to hammer it into shape.(believe it or not, this hillbilly already has one stored away for a future project) :rolleyes::p

We are cheering you on for this project. Keep up the great work! :):cool::)

04-04-2011, 04:44 AM
Hey Gary, let's see some pics of the brakes!

Dan Timberlake
04-04-2011, 05:23 AM
"Kent teaches gas welding of aluminum"

Did he use blue lenses or regular green or ??
A few weld suppliers have told me the blue ones are no longer available, and one said its because they were found to be dangerous, letting some harmful light thru

Dan T

04-04-2011, 05:49 AM
Wow! What a learning experience. I am envious of anyone with the abilities to do what you learned in those classes. I can't wait to watch your progress with this project.

04-04-2011, 06:20 AM
What an experience, Gary. Cool beans. BP

04-04-2011, 09:14 AM
Dan T., the lenses that Kent White uses for gas welding are ones that he got a patent on. He found some green-colored filter glass that effectively blocks the light emitted by the sodium and potassium salts used in fluxes. He sells goggles and glass inserts for standard helmets on his web site www.tinmantech.com (http://www.tinmantech.com). He has lots of really good stuff for sale - not cheap, but very good! I bought a MECO gas torch and some other supplies, thought I could find another source for the special glass. I know where it comes from, but I can't buy one piece cheaper than Kent sells it since he gets it in quantity. I guess it doesn't pay to be too CASO, especially when it's my eyes. And, yes, the old cobalt blue ones were not effective, and many welders got cataracts from using them.