Breadvan_update_030: Coachbuilding the Breadvan Hommage
Starting with a flat piece of aluminium, photo 1
As always, coachbuilder Bas van Roomen starts with a flat plate of aluminium. He starts with roughly giving this sheet the correct contour. The tape template made earlier is used for this. After cutting the sheet, the coachbuilder can only do three things to change its shape. He can bend, shrink or stretch the aluminium. Before he can start doing that, he has to make a good plan. The correct order of each and every operation of shaping is of paramount importance. After meticulously planning every step of the way, the coachbuilder will stick to this. The logical order is one of the most important things of coachbuilding. This is because each action on the material is followed by a reaction.
To shrink or not to shrink, that is the question, photo 2
To start shaping the panel roughly, the outer edge must be shrunk. At the same time the outer bends have to be stretched in the hollow bends. As Bas shrinks and stretches the edges with the Fokker Eckold, he pushes the panel downwards. This helps with gradually applying the bend. Nothing complicated so far. These are only the earliest stages of the coachbuilding phases.
Stretching, the art of coachbuilding, photo 3
At this stage the shape is styled slightly towards the final design. All surfaces are stretched by the powerhammer. This device will ensure the right volumes are applied. The Mechammer is a nice Dutch made product. Ideal for manipulating shapes of exclusive coachbuilt motorcars. On a sandbag the convex upper line is hammered into the panel. This is done entirely by hand. The line at the bottom part of the panel is bent into the material through the English wheel. Most of the panel has now been made. The fine tuning of the surfacing has been done too. However, the tail lamps still need a recessed place.
The tail lamps recesses, photo 4
The start of the process is to cut a hole in the metal. This opening is 10mm too small to make the lamp fit. After the material has been cut, the last 10mm is stretched. Simultaneously the material is bent with a hammer and anvil. Then what remains is the window frame. It still has to be made. This element consists of two kinks, which are each bent one by one. Note that while bending, the bends must be stretched and shrunk again with the Eckold. Just like designing an tailored car, making it is an iterative process. Making this specific piece of the rear end sheet is perhaps the most difficult part of the entire panel. If the coachbuilder doesn’t do this properly, the entire panel becomes a twisted and warped element.