Metal Methods


Pavleticís unique craft is done using vintage power hammers. The two main machines stand nine feet tall and have dies for creating the various shapes found in each part.

Starting with the old or damaged piece, a sweep gauge can be used to find the exact shape in the part. Pavletic measures, then makes a pattern before cutting out the blank piece, compensating for shrinkage. In fact, he literally stretches and shrinks the metal to obtain the desired shape. Working back and forth between stretching, shrinking and test fits, Pavletic eventually gets the shape he wants. . . .changing the dies in the machine for each task. He usually uses the same type and gauge of metal as the original.

Itís fascinating to see how Pavletic takes flat metal material and shapes it by hand into an exact replica of the original damaged or rusted piece. Once itís shaped, he rolls the edges if necessary, alternating between stretching and shrinking. Material that has been formed with the Pettingill power hammers is less brittle than their counterparts using shrinking dies.

Sometimes, when the original piece is extremely rusted or damaged, Pavletic finds he needs to trust his eye more than the original. During the entire process, Pavletic continually goes back to the original to test fit.

Finishing touches are done with a planishing hammer. The planishing hammer takes out low spots left by the power hammer. During this, there are still test fits and comparisons to the original. Again, Mike uses his eye to create the right crown, because itís impossible to know the integrity of the original.

After trimming with a hand snips, Pavletic creates the fold. The tool used for this depends upon the metal being shaped. Aluminum is soft enough to use a hand pliers to create the fold. Steel would require a score using a die on the Pullmax.

Before welding, Pavletic once again checks the fit, measures the piece against its older counterpart and flattens the fold. The edges are deburred, cleaned with acetone and then begins welding with a TIG welder. Many times,the welding is tricky, especially on older vehicles on which the original panels have become thin.

Since the welding causes some distortion, all pieces have to be finished in place. Pavletic likes to leave the metal as thick as possible and avoids filing, which can damage the integrity of the metal. Final finish is done using a pneumatic air-planishing hammer.

The finished piece on an Alfa Romeo thatís being restored.

All photos on this page courtesy of Tim Remus of Wolfgang Publications.