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Old 03-10-2009, 05:38 PM
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Fender Bender: A Lesson in Metal Shaping.

Once the fender was a tacked together I fully welded it. This is another important area to know what your doing. Most times you see pictures of something someone has welded up, you see a bunch of welds all about an inch or so long one after the other the length of the panel. If your MIG welding, then yes, you should use small stitch welds every six inches or so until the whole seam is welded up to keep the heat down. With TIG welding, this is not necessary. The weld should be one long even weld, with a heat affected zone (the blued area) about an inch or less wide. It should not get wider and narrower over it's length, it should stay constant. The reasoning behind all this is this... When you keep the weld all one long, constant, weld, it all shrinks evenly. It WILL warp the panel. The idea is not to keep it from warping, but to be able to get the warping smoothed out. Obviously, the more shape or "crown" in the panel, the less it will warp. After you make your weld, and it is all even and constant, you can pass over it and stretch it back out with a planishing hammer, your english wheel, or your hammer and dolly. Just like you did a nice, even, and constant weld that shrunk evenly, when you stretch it with your tool of choice, it will stretch back out evenly. In other words, just like everything from the beginning, when you wheel it, you do it evenly, when you use the shrinker, you use it evenly, when you weld, you keep it constant and even, and when you planish out your weld... Yep, you got it, you stretch it evenly. Don't hit one area of the weld harder than the other, and go the entire length before hitting one spot more than another. After your first pass over the weld stretching it back out, you should be able to feel with you hand what still needs more work to bring it up the same as the rest.

You can see one spot where I had to stop welding and start again, sometimes you just can't make it all in one weld just because of the space you have to position it on your welding surface, but the less stop and starts you have the easier it will be to planish out.

I have no room for my air compressor or planishing hammer in my garage/shop at home right now, so all my weld planishing lately has been with hammer and dolly and the e-wheel. I planished out the weld and when I was done I went over it with a blending wheel, more or less a coarse scotch brite type wheel on a grinder. It removes material, but not near as aggressively as a hard grinding wheel, and leaves a nice semi polished surface.

Next was a small bead around the outer edge of the fender, not quite a wired edge, but an edge detail to give it more character. I laid out the lines on the edge to follow, and again pre-stretched the material and then used the bead roller with the smallest bead die I had to add the edge detail.

Basically all that was left at this point were mounts, but at this point, after placing the fender over the tire and standing back, we decided that we didn't want any fender below the seat, soooo... we cut the fender almost in half!

Now we could move on to the mounts, I I had a nice short fender piece to hang on my wall. I made the strut tabs with the bead roller also. After drawing a couple different shapes on card board and holding it up to the fender on the bike, I decided on one and set the dead roller up with a set of stepping dies that were the same depth as the small bead I formed around the edge, as they would both transition together.


Last edited by Ace of Spades; 04-28-2009 at 06:38 PM..

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Old 05-12-2009, 10:01 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, 12:12 PM
Club Chopper Member
fuckin cool ! bravo !
Old 05-12-2009, 07:43 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, 05:06 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, 11:45 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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