Grille Fabrication IV

2/7/00 Grille Fabrication IV

Today, Rudi was busy trying get the die cutting machine set up to accurately cut the slots in the aluminum. He wanted to fabricate a guide for the machine so when we cut the pieces out, they will all line up perfectly with one another. Once he has the machine set up, four slots can be cut precisely without measuring anything. A lot of measuring was done, and a few test pieces were cut, and soon we had a good system worked out. Now it’s all up to me to finish buffing, and the cutting will begin.

After I sanded the aluminum pieces that will make up the grille to a satin finish the other day, I spent today buffing them to a mirror finish. It is necessary to buff all the aluminum before cutting because if we cut them first, they will have a higher chance of distorting on the high speed buffing wheel. It took 20 minutes from start to finish to buff one piece of aluminum, but I had to alternate between pieces to let them cool, otherwise the metal gets too hot to handle. I also had to take breaks pretty often to rest my hands. The vibration of the wheel, and the noise of the buffer leaves very little to be desired. It has a similarity to cleaning parts in a blasting cabinet; you can really see the results, but the process is extremely fatiguing. Buffing also makes you filthy from the buffing compound you have to constantly apply to the wheels. This stuff gets everywhere, especially on the person standing in front of the buffer! I walked around the shop for a good twenty minutes before someone pointed out that may face was covered in dirt except for where my safety glasses were! It’s a good thing I didn’t go out to lunch like that!

On Friday, while I was at my shop working on the car, Rudi cut the wood buck for the grille. With the original grille slid into place, you can imagine how the new one will be made to match. The plan is to trace the contour of the original grille onto the buck. Then a cardboard template will be made, and laid out flat onto a new sheet of aluminum. Once the aluminum is cut to shape, it will be carefully shaped over the wood buck. It may take three sections of aluminum to complete the whole oval because we don’t have stock long enough, but the seams will be heli-arc welded together, grounded down, sanded smooth, and buffed to a shine. I have also picked points on the grille for the seams that will be least noticeable in case the buffing isn’t perfect, but with Rudi doing the welding, I somehow doubt we’ll see anything.