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Old 03-10-2009, 04:38 PM
Scored: 10
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Fender Bender: A Lesson in Metal Shaping.

I already had the center line of the fender marked to position the rib before I cut it in two, so next I marked out the rib actual size on the fender. You can not go straight to the bead roller however and just put the rib in. If you were to just start forming the rib in the bead roller, it would deform the fender shape, the forming of the rib would pull material from outside of the rib and would change the shape of the middle of the fender. Once the rib is formed, the shape of the fender is pretty much locked in. So, A. the fender shape must be finished completely before going any farther, and , B. the material that you will be forming the rib with should be pre-stretched before the rib is formed. So here you can see the rib marked out and it is being pre-stretched in the english wheel.

By pre-stretching the rib you are giving the dies in the bead roller more material to pull up before it starts pulling from outside of the rib. You should pre-stretch enough to see the raise in the material. After the pre-stretching, the rib can be put in.

This is my bead roller, bought on sale at Harbor Freight for a hundred bucks. The bead roller itself needs work out of the box, the frame flexes incredibly bad when even trying to form light gauge sheet, but the set of dies that come with it are well worth the money and take the sting out of having to weld up extra bracing to your new purchase before ever even using it. On the back of the roller frame I have welded 1"X2" square tubing to rid the machine of the flex, and removed the hand cranking handle to replace it with the steering wheel. With the hand crank it was a two person operation as you couldn't possibly crank it yourself and keep your face in front of the dies at the same time. The steering wheel allows you to stand directly in front of the dies to follow your lines and direct the sheet metal with one hand while cranking with the other. The rib is not put in all in one pass, I actually took four passes to do it, going pretty slow. With no material protruding beyond the back of the dies, a fence, or back guide, was not usable to keep the rib straight, so I took the slow approach and steered it straight the whole way.

The first pass was a light one, just to set in the rib. Once I had some form started, I progressively tightened the dies raising the rib more each pass, until I was satisfied with the rib on the forth pass.

Once the rib was in, I fired up the TIG welder, my trusty Miller Syncrowave 180, and dashed the two halves back together. If your careful to make your cut (when it was cut in two) slow and clean, you should have two pieces that butt back together without a gap. If you get the fit up tight like that, then you can easily tack it up using no filler wire. I start at one end, the TIG is normally set at 110 when I do sheet metal, and with the tungsten hovering about a 1/16" above the metal I stab the peddle to the floor for about a second (a fast second) and get a nice tiny, clean little pin tack. I go the entire length of the seam like this. The seam will pull together as you go, and when the metal pulls together too hard and wants to bind or begin to overlap, a hammer and dolly and a couple hits on the tacks stretch it back out and relax the seam again. Once the weld seam is tacked together the entire length about every inch, it's ready to weld.


Last edited by Ace of Spades; 04-28-2009 at 05:38 PM..

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Old 05-12-2009, 09:01 AM
CC Member/Contributor
Awesome Oilburner! thanks for all the info and pictures too. For me this has always been interesting and your article took alot of the mystery out of it. --Drew
Old 05-12-2009, 11:12 AM
Club Chopper Member
fuckin cool ! bravo !
Old 05-12-2009, 06:43 PM
Club Chopper Member
Glad to see some feed back posted up, thanks guys. I wanted to really explain what was going on so maybe people would get something out of it more than just "he used an english wheel and this shrinker thing". I'll answer any questions anyone has about the process if something isn't clear. Mark.
"I go to bed at 10 now".
Old 10-07-2010, 04:06 AM
Club Chopper Member
OMG This post sucks! now I have to go invest in an english wheel, bead roller, and shrinker!!!! LOL

Just kidding about the suckage... very nicely don sir!
Old 06-06-2012, 10:45 PM
Club Chopper Member
Mark that's a great write up and pictures. I appreciate how long that must have taken besides actually making the fender. Thanks lots. I know a bit about machining and welding after 25yrs in the game but sheet metal work is out there.
I now have more of an appreciation of just how specialised those skills are.

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