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Consider Making Your Own Parts

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  • Consider Making Your Own Parts

    Sometimes parts are unobtainable, so you have no choice but to make the needed parts.

    In a recent thread about headlamp visors, Brent mentioned metal spinning, so I thought I'd share my brief experience with it.
    I'd never heard of metal spinning until about 25 years ago when I was at a threshing show. There I saw a man take a disc of aluminum and spin it over the shape of a bell. As I recall the bell was made from a piece of hardwood and spun by his lathe. I think he pressed on the spinning aluminum with a hardwood rod lubricated with bees wax. He turned out some very nice aluminum bells about 3" diameter and about 3" tall.

    About 10 years ago a friend asked me if I could make a hard to find part for his 1929 Stutz, so I thought I'd give it a try. My plan was to make a two part mold and press it out of steel. After I made the first part of the mold I started thinking maybe I could use that form to metal spin the part. I only knew what little I learned by watching the bell maker from 25 years ago, so this was going to be trial and error. First I thought a roller on the end of a 2' aluminum bar stock might make a good rolling tool. That didn't work as well as I'd hoped, so I made another roller on a piece of steel bar stock and clamped it in my tool post. That wasn't really the answer either, so I rounded the end of a piece of brass bar stock and tried again. This worked pretty well but I don't remember if I used oil or bees wax for the lubricant. I should have taken notes, but I figured this would only be a one time thing. After the first one turned out nice, my friend asked me to make a dozen of them so he could sell them to other Stutz owners needing them.

    In the end I only had a couple rejects (due to tears) in about 15 tries so that wasn't too bad. I started with a 6" or 7" disc of the correct gauge of steel plate, then drilled a hole in the center to mount it to the mold. I then spun the outer part to shape and cut off th excess. I then made a two part clamp to hold the outer part of the ring so I could press the inner part to shape. Once it was removed I then had to use my Dremel with a cutoff wheel to remove enough metal to create 3 mounting tabs. The part was then ready for polishing and chrome plating. BTW, this is a 4 1/2" diameter part for the cover to snap into.

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    Last edited by Tom Wesenberg; 08-11-2017, 10:11 PM.

  • #2
    Tom what lathe do you have?
    3~ Tudor's & 1~ Coupe
    Henry Ford said,
    "It's all nuts and bolts"
    "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

    Mitch's Auto Service ctr


    • #3
      Being a retired Journeyman machinist and Tool and Die maker, I applaud the fine craftsmanship done there Tom.

      I know first hand how hard it is to turn sheet metal and I say you have learned a valuable lesson. Very Well Done!!
      You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!


      • #4
        Originally posted by Mitch View Post
        Tom what lathe do you have?
        It's just a smaller South Bend built in 1932. I'd have to measure it, but I think it's a 9" by about 24" between centers.
        I don't have any change gears to do threading, but I have a 12" Atlas with a quick change gear box.


        • #5
          Great job Tom. I have made a lot of things on a lathe in my time, but never tried that. It looks like it would be trouble.


          • #6
            Originally posted by George Miller View Post
            Great job Tom. I have made a lot of things on a lathe in my time, but never tried that. It looks like it would be trouble.
            Thanks George.
            I never heard about metal spinning until I went to a threshing show several years ago and saw a guy making bells.
            Threshing shows are always a great time, with lots to see.


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