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 Post subject: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 5:51 pm
Posts: 157
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
I'm running into a roadblock on the restoration of our Raritan Arsenal Brookville Rail Car and I'm looking for suggestions. Our car has a sheet metal roof, 20 gauge steel over a steel frame. At the corner, the sheet metal bends both around the bend, and curves up toward the roof as well. The actual corner is a separate piece, spot welded to the rest of the roof panel -- see the photo. The problem is that three of the four corners have badly rusted though. We planned to have new corners made, but haven't been able to find anyone -- in the 'steel city', Pittsburgh, no less -- to bend them. Has anyone else had to repair/replace similar sheet metal parts? Any suggestions?


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:26 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:26 am
Posts: 87
Location: Princeton, NJ
Maybe try auto restoration guys...this is pretty much standard op for them. Either beat it to shape or using an English wheel. Sorry don't know anyone specifically but maybe its a place to start.


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:36 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2004 6:30 am
Posts: 713
American Chopper!! ;)
Seriously, have you tried a hot rod or custom motorcycle shop? They do that sort of work all the time.
To tell the truth if were me I'd do it myself by hammering the metal with a wooden mallet around a similar shaped piece of hard wood.


Last edited by k5ahudson on Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:55 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 541
If you have somebody with the skills, do a male and female mold in wood and use a press to do the shaping.

-Hudson


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:57 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 541
Another way is to find something in a bowl shape that you can cut up.

-Hudson


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:02 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 8:25 pm
Posts: 402
Those parts where typically hammered into a forming body (aka a mold) for low volumes, or stamped in a press for high volumes.

You could try creating a forming body out of a chunk of oak (don't waste your time with pine, it's too soft) with the exterior profile you want, then slowly hammer a sheet of metal into the shape of the oak. Lots of hand work and patience, but that's how it was done. The mold needs to be a little "tighter/smaller/sharper radius" than the final shape you want since the metal will "spring back" some after you form it into the mold.

English wheels are generally for larger parts like fenders, etc. But you might be able to do a small part like this with one. But they are quite expensive.

You might get somebody with a press to make a hollow forming body (mold) and then use a very stiff rubber ball to press a blank into the mold, but I doubt anybody would want to be bothered doing that for a few pieces (you need 3 corners correct ?). And it often takes several tries to adjust the mold shape to generate the desired final dimensions.

I did a restoration that was originally sheet iron over a wooden frame. I used "galvanneal" (a special type of paintable galvanized steel) so the moisture in the wood would not rot out the steel. It had mostly straight line folds and some drip edges. I did it with hammers and wide folding tools.

Check out these folks, they have exactly the tools that you need;

http://www.eastwood.com/panelbeater-san ... t-kit.html

And some other general purpose sheet metal forming tools that will come in handy;

http://www.eastwood.com/autobody/hammers-dollies.html

Good luck, the good news is that you are making a "new" part and sheet metal is fairly "cheap" (whoops I meant "inexpensive"). So you can try a few things until you perfect your technique and get several good replacement parts. It's a bit more nerve racking trying to restore that original 1920's fender....

Cheers, Kevin


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 1:24 am
Posts: 89
Location: Michigan
nickbnwd wrote:
...in the 'steel city', Pittsburgh, no less -- to bend them. Has anyone else had to repair/replace similar sheet metal parts? Any suggestions?


Nick,
Since you're in Pittsburgh, head over to Techshop and get a tour there and consider a membership and some of their classes. You should then be able to make the corner pieces there no problem.
http://www.techshop.ws/

Adam Wright


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:28 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 6100
Location: southeastern USA
Spin it on a mandrel as a bowl and cut it into quarters.

dave

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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
Posts: 620
Maybe a butt-weld steel pipe cap cut into quarters would work?


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:23 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:31 pm
Posts: 50
It they'll take it on, they are the guys to do the job:

http://www.diversatech.com/

Regards,

Art S.


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:16 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2589
Location: S.F. Bay Area
20 gauge? Sounds almost like automotive bodywork. I'd ask around automotive restoration circles.


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:10 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:22 pm
Posts: 401
I agree. A well-equipped race shop will surely have an English wheel. So would most serious classic restoration places.

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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:43 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:16 pm
Posts: 27
Location: Atlanta, GA
You might not find anyone willing to make this part because it is too easy to form and not an interesting project to take. A sheet metal roller (ideally but not necessarily), an anvil, some tin-snips, a grinder or a file, and a mallet is all you need. You should be able to fabricate all four corners in an afternoon.


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:07 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:58 am
Posts: 728
These parts could be easily formed by beating one side of a sheet of steel with a ball pein hammer (applied to the inside of the bend). A bowl- shaped hardwood form would make it even easier to finish the parts to a constant size and shape.

They should take half an hour at most to form.

Steve Hunter


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 Post subject: Re: Complex sheet metal sourcing?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:53 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 5:51 pm
Posts: 157
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I followed up on the custom motorcyle idea this morning, since the curve we need is about the same as a cycle's gas tank. One shop suggested a shop they use that was only about 10 miles away, I stopped by and the owner suggested he can do it and will give me a quote. I saw some of his other work and am optimistic this might be it.

We've been focused on farming this out rather than doing it ourselves since all four need to be consistent and it seems complex enough to be a less-than-ideal piece to learn on, but the how-to advice is welcomed as well! I'll keep the thread updated as we go on.

Nick


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