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Sheetmetal repair

PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:51 pm
by hennesse
Bill is a retired metalworker, who worked for the National Park Service in Washington DC, where the main customer was the White House. If it's made of metal, he can fabricate or repair it. I had a trailer accident with my 1962 XLCH, and put a horrible crease in the gas tank. Since this was one of the two-bung tanks, it needed to be repaired, not replaced. A fellow AMCA Highlands Chapter member recommended Bill for the job.

The Horrible Crease
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I took the gas tank and fenders to Bill, intending to just drop them off. He insisted on working on them while I waited. He made an "anvil" (I'm sure that's not the correct name for it) that fit inside the gas tank, mounted the anvil in a huge floor-mounted vise, and then positioned a laser-pointer to mark the anvil. He proceeded to hammer the dent out, explaining what he was doing as he did it. Much of the hammering was done "off-anvil" to straighten the metal without stretching it. Towards the end, he started hammering on-anvil to stretch the metal to bring it back to the desired shape. While my explanation is probably not technically correct, I got a real education on how metal forming and shaping worked. Well, it's kinda like quantum mechanics - I now get the general idea, but I could never do such good work myself.

I was amazed at how well the crease came out. At one point he stopped, and told me I could either use a thin coat of bondo to final finish it, or he could spend another 8 hours hammering it and make it absolutely perfect, but that would really cost me. We agreed the thin coat of bondo was probably the most reasonable choice.

Next he rolled some dents out of my front fender with an English Wheel. Dents-B-Gone. He straightened out the lip with a hammer.

My rear fender was dentless, but there were two small cracks on the sides, where it looked like the previous owner had backed over something, and then nyerk-ed the fender when he pulled away. Bill TIG welded them and ground them down. Cracks-B-Gone.

The pricetag for all this work? $100, which I think works out to about $60 or $70/hour.

I was so pleased with his work that I'm gonna be a repeat customer. Next I'm gonna take him the original K-model front fender I got from Scott L. - very nice, with just a few small dents back at the bell end which can be easily straightened with Bill's English Wheel. I'm also gonna take him a early 1960's chainguard I picked up at Davenport - it's very nice, but has a small crack in the usual place. I'm pretty confident he can weld that back up and make it look perfect.

Bill works out of his HUGE home shop, which has about every kind of metalworking tool imaginable - large and small. He's located about halfway between Washington DC and Baltimore. And he's really into "Then Came Bronson" bikes - see his website!


Bill Gibson
Burtonsville, MD

Re: Sheetmetal repair

PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 2:14 pm
by hennesse
Sorry to report that Bill Gibson is no longer taking in outside jobs - he is busy working on his super-secret Hot Rod project.

Bill recommended Kirk Demadaler, who does the same kind of work, and just happens to live five miles from me in Warrenton, Virginia.

My first experience with Kirk:

(1) K horn trumpet - slight ding in highly visible part of body - Kirk made it good as new
(2) fork front panel - broken at the mounting slots - Kirk repaired by welding
(3) fork side panels - pretty bent up - Kirk straightened them
(4) instrument panel cover - bent, not flat, and a little chunk missing - Kirk welded in the missing chunk, and straightened it out, and made it sit flat
(5) oil tank mounting bracket - cracked at top bolt holes, stress crack in center around bolt hole - Kirk drill-stopped and welded
(6) -56 chainguard (just starting to crack in the usual place) and a few other items for an opinion / rough estimate

I was happy with all the results. He will do the quality of work you desire (obviously 100-point restoration quality takes more time than farm equipment quality) at $60/hour. He'll suggest finding a replacement part rather than an expensive repair. Give Kirk a call at 540-422-0837 (cell 703-209-2504)


Re: Sheetmetal repair

PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 2:34 pm
Thank you Dave, that's a great source. Welding and repairing Tins is fine work. Have a few needing help.