How to Create Peaks
Curves are usually graceful, except when continuous as on a car's body. Break up the monotony of curves on your custom by building up a classy peak.
Peaks over hoods, fenders, parking and tail lights have long been customizers' favorite design tools. They break up the monotony of continuous curves and add a light touch to your custom. Visits to recent autoshows and the reading of magazines must certainly have given you a number of ideas on neat peak designs with which to crown the hood of your car.
Building a peak from from sheet metal is usually impractical and plastics are too prone to cracking. So we turn to lead. Some customizers combine the making of peaks with the nosing of hoods. Others peak at later stages, when the idea hits them.
Conservative peaking adds just the right touch to the nose of the hood and the upper section of the grille shell.
Wax will prevent new coats of paint from sticking, so the first step, one which can save a great deal of trouble during the final painting stages, is to use a good grade of wax remover before starting to sand or grind the paint. Sanding will grind the wax deeper into the paint instead of removing it, while the wax remover gets the troublesome coating out of the way. A grinding disc is used to remove all the paint from the area to be reworked.
A completely clean metal surface is essential for good lead work. If the peaking is carried out in an area covered by welding or brazing, carefully grind out all the pinholes and pock marks to avoid the possibility of the lead blistering. Mike and Larry found sand-blasting to be the best way to prepare metal for leading. Sand cleans out most minute cracks and crevasses, insuring a perfect surface.
Leading requires either a special torch or tip to use on your regular torch. Welding tips throw too much concentrated heat. A leading tip burns only acetylene mixed with outside air, like a bunsen burner or the gas range in your kitchen. The flame is cooler and more diffused than the one used in welding. For occasional use, a leading tip on a regular torch is sufficient.
Tin provides a bond coat between the sheet metal and the lead. The metal surface is cleaned with acid, heated and coated with a tinning stick. The tin is carefully rubbed in with steel wool while to torch is passed over the surface to keep it at the right temperature. Use only the top grade tinning materials. The "lead" is actually an alloy of tin and lead. The Alexander Brothers preferred 70-to-30 lead/tin cast lead stick. It flows better and remains workable over a greater temperature range. Other alloys, such as 80-to-20 and 90-to-10, are less expensive but have limited working ranges. At one moment they are too cold to be worked easily, and the next moment they are ready to flow like candle wax in the hot sun.
Wooden paddles are used to work and shape the lead, and are available from any auto body supply house in a number of contours. For getting into tight corners, the paddles can be whittled down to suit. To prevent paddles from burning and to provide a coating which separates them from lead, dip them into melted wax before touching them to the lead. Simply play your torch over over the wax to melt it and dip your paddle when necessary. When a paddles becomes excessively carbonized, sand down the burned surface until you expose fresh wood. Leading requires quick work with a torch and leaves you little time to search for the right tools in the middle of the job.
While building the Victorian for Sy Gregorich in the 1954, they opened their garage doors to Rod Builder magazine to provide a tutorial on creating subtle peaks.
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