The construction of the coupe body, although not an insignificant task, was accomplished with minimal expense in tooling. The English wheel and a TIG welder were the two big investments. Over the period of construction, I have added other tools such as a sheet metal brake, bead roller, Beverly shear, slip roller, etc. however these pieces of equipment are more for speeding up progress than a necessity for the process in the first instance. I would also love to have dozens of hammers, dollies, mallets, etc, however again this isn't necessary, it just makes some of the tasks easier or faster to accomplish. This section gives some of my observations on the tooling that I used in the coupe project.
The English wheel is an indispensable tool for much of the panel construction. The following photo shows the wheel that was used in this project. It is based on the plans sold by John Glover, one of the masters of this tool. (Included in another section of this site are the detailed fabrication sketches of this wheel developed by John.) Another key highly technical tool used in the construction is the sand bag, seen here on the lower frame of the wheel.
The first few aluminum parts that I fabricated where made with the approach that I learned up from watching some of John Glover's instructional videos. In these tapes John did virtually everything on the wheel. With his years of experience, he makes it look very, very easy, however it seemed to take me forever to make a panel in this manner. The approach that I used in subsequent panels, was modified based on watching videos of Ron Covel and Ron Fornier in action. Both of these experts used a mallet and sand or shot bag to rough out the basic panel shape first. Only after the panel gets close to the desired shape is the wheel employed to do the final smoothing or planishing. This technique seems to work much better (and certainly faster) for me.
The other obvious task that should receive some discussion is the method of joining the smaller panels into the larger body segment. I have have used both TIG and oxyacetylene welding for this work. Again, I'm far from an expert, however I have picked up a few pointers over the years. I will leave it to others to discuss the specifics of each of the methods, however suffice it to say that each has it pluses and minuses as applied to the welding of the .060 thick aluminum panels used on this project. With the gas (oxyacetylene) approach, the welding seems to go faster and when finished it is easier to metal finish. The downside is the flux which needs to be cleaned off and is toxic. The removal process is often a problem if the back side of the weld is not readily accessible. The TIG process does not have the problems associated with the flux of the oxyacetylene process and it inputs less heat into the part, however in my experience, it seems to be more difficult to obtain full penetration of the aluminum. After TIG welding a part, I often flip the piece over to make a second pass on the back side to eliminate the small hairline to provide complete weld penetration. Kent White, the Tin Man, has an instructional video and lens that make the oxyacetylene welding of aluminum relatively straight forward.