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Metal Shaping Seminar With Fay Butler at Eclectic Motorworks
By Peter Pleitner
January, another year, it was time for the Detroit International Auto Show. And it was time for Fay Butler and Phyllis to return to Michigan from Wheelwright, Massachusetts, for what we will call our annual sheet metal fabrication seminar in Holland. I cannot imagine a better venue than that provided by Carl Heideman and the fine shop he named Eclectic Motorworks. Readers of Grassroots Motorsports and Classic Motorsports magazines might recognize Carl’s name due to his valuable and informative technical articles.
Whereas Fay devoted the whole day last year to the theories, arts, tools, and techniques of shaping sheet metal, this year Fay reviewed that subject very well but added many valuable insights for troubleshooting problems when welding. Unlike any book or course I have been exposed to, Fay stressed just how much contamination and metallurgy control your success in joining sheet metal.
Fay Butler conducting seminar at Eclectic Motors
In many cases we would like to create a successful joint along a butt seam which is less than a millimeter thick, and do it with as little input of heat as possible to minimize the creation of unwanted shapes in the surface. Therefore we have no room for errors and need the knowledge to cover all those pesky "gotchas" in detail. We all know that unexpected and inexplicable fizzles, pops, sags and blowholes, will destroy our confidence and ruin our work. Knowing the reasons and how to anticipate and avoid them is a fine fresh start.
A few metal shaping highlights:
- Form vs. shape — a flat surface can be easily formed into a cylinder, cone, box, etc.
- A shape can be created on a rigid surface by local shrinking or stretching — like getting a sheet of paper to behave like skin.
- A shape can be analyzed by using a sheet of paper to detect and map out areas where shrinking or stretching has or must occur.
Whenever you introduce stress in a metal panel it is very hard to remove that stress — it wants to return or relax back to its flatter state or former shape.
- Compressing metal (making it thicker) imparts a low state of stress.
- Stretching metal (making it thinner) imparts a high state of stress.
A few welding highlights:
- Controlling chemistry of a puddle of molten metal requires cleanliness. Oil introduces carbon, paint thinner leaves a carbon residue, and acetone is best. This also applies to oily skin touching filler rod. A small fraction of one percent carbon is significant.
- Oxidation is another aspect of chemistry. This is especially time critical when working with aluminum. Also, other contaminants must be avoided.
- Apply the right amount of heat in the right area at the right time.
- Plan for cooling shrinkage.
For more information about Fay Butler’s work, tools and seminars visit www.faybutler.com. Already a couple of guys from the Ann Arbor area have signed up for a three-day workshop with him this spring.
Lastly a great general resource for metal working tools, etc. is www.tinmantech.com.