Pro­fes­sor Ham­mer

Street Rodder - - Contents - Ron Covell

QI en­joy your col­umns and read them ev­ery month— gen­er­ally two or three times to try to un­der­stand bet­ter. I just bought a Porsche 356 coupe that I want to add some hot rod touches to (which will prob­a­bly get me kicked out of the club). I al­ready have Amer­i­can Rac­ing Salt Flat wheels mounted and I plan to chop the roof about 2 inches and do a SoCal-in­spired paintjob.

I’d like to add a small “peak” to the cen­ter of the body­work from front to back—hood, roof, deck­lid, and so on. I thought about tack­ing a weld­ing rod to the pan­els and then mak­ing a fil­let with body filler, but this vi­o­lates the “it ain’t steel it ain’t real” credo. An­other thought is us­ing a die set to make a strip, which has a shal­low peak, and weld it into place.

I may be dream­ing too far, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. CharleyBrownIII ViatheIn­ter­net

You have sev­eral op­tions for putting a peak in a panel, and not all peaks are the same. On some cars, the peak is ex­tremely small, less than 1/16 inch in height; even a peak that size can re­ally change the look of a car. Many peaks are larger, with a height of 1/8 to 1/2 inch or more. Some peaks are quite sharp while

oth­ers have a rounded pro­file, so there are many pos­si­bil­i­ties here.

The ap­proach you men­tioned, tack weld­ing a rod onto the sheetmetal and us­ing plas­tic filler to cre­ate a fil­let, will prob­a­bly not hold up well. If the rod is only tack welded, cracks would most likely ap­pear in the plas­tic filler over time. If you weld the rod con­tin­u­ously you would get an alarm­ing amount of dis­tor­tion, which would be ex­ceed­ingly dif­fi­cult to straighten.

If you tack-welded a rod into place you could use lead (au­to­body solder) to form a fil­let, and this would be a rea­son­able ap­proach. The lead would bond to both the base metal and the rod, join­ing them se­curely to­gether.

I think the very best ap­proach would be to find or make strips of metal with the peak you want and butt-weld the strips into place in your pan­els. This is quite a large job, es­pe­cially when you are faced with work­ing around the in­ner re­in­force­ments in the hood and deck­lid, the stepped ar­eas for these pan­els, and the wind­shield and rear glass, but I think it would give you the best re­sult. I like to keep all the metal the same thick­ness when I do panel work, since any area where you have a dou­blethick­ness makes it very dif­fi­cult to con­trol the metal as you are work­ing the dis­tor­tion out.

You could start by look­ing at a lot of cars to find a pro­file that might work well for yours.

One ap­proach would be buy­ing pan­els from a wreck­ing yard and cut­ting strips from them to get the peaks, but I think it would be bet­ter to cre­ate them from new metal. A bead­ing ma­chine with ei­ther stan­dard or spe­cially ma­chined dies could be used to make any pro­file you de­sire.

An­other ap­proach is us­ing a bend­ing brake to put a peak in a strip of metal—and then shape it to match the con­tours on car’s body with a metal shrink­ing ma­chine.

I’ve used a brake to put a peak in a metal strip, and then “un­fold” the strip by push­ing the sides out. This makes a small fil­let in the metal next to the peak, giv­ing it a very at­trac­tive pro­file (see im­age).

I hope this is enough in­for­ma­tion to get you started, but feel free to con­tact me again if you have more ques­tions. Oh—if the guys in your club kick you out, you can start your own Porsche “out­law” club.

✦ One way to make a peak is to bend a panel in a brake and then flat­ten it down, which cre­ates a beau­ti­ful, soft fil­let.

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