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Old 06-12-2002, 09:54 AM   #1
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Question Question re how to cut aluminum sheeting and get a clean edge...

Hi all,

I am cutting and fitting the new belly pans next weekend (new aluminum .040) and wonder if anyone can shed light on the best way to cut the sheets?

I have an expensive pair of sheet metal sheers (like scissors) that work great but give a slight jagged edge and have also been told that a bi metal blade in a jig saw will give me a clean line.

I have a bunch of patches to add to the upper shell too on the 1958 Traveler that we have been restoring, but am learning about aluminum cutting on the belly first, er where any not quite to perfect edges won't be too visible...

Cheers

Will Henshall

PS Oh yep I have been putting together a detailed web site of the job and will post the url here in a couple of days. More painstaking detail than most would want to know, unless of course you are about to take the shell off yourself and fit a new floor...<grin>
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Old 06-12-2002, 10:31 AM   #2
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Cutting large aluminium sheets

The task of cutting large pieces of sheet metal requires large tools. There are several ways to achieve this goal. My suggestions are...1. plan the under belly sheetmetal so as to be able to remove a part instead of complete pan, the parts will be smaller and easier to handle and install at a later time, 2. go to local hvac contractor's shop to make arrangements for buying shop time, 3. make arrangements with aluminium sheet supplier to supply sheets precut as per trailer's needs. I often buy 4 feet X 10 feet aluminium sheets of 6061 t6 alclad for work on bus outer skins. I also have a 4ft brake and shear, but many times the local sheetmetal shop must make the long cuts for me. The bottom pan sheets will be OK made of .040 but the body skin should be at least .063 thickness. Cutting sheetmetal with just about any saw creates very poor finish/results. Your sheet metal undertaking will be a much easier task with the use of some aircraft tools used with sheet metal.
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Old 06-12-2002, 12:34 PM   #3
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Cutting sheetmetal

I second what Frank said on cutting it, if you can find a shop to cut them as a whole section you will be better off. You can use the old sheets as a template and adjust as necessary and be sure to double check your measurements.

John
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Old 06-12-2002, 12:54 PM   #4
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If you have access to a compressor, you could get a air power sheetmetal nibbler for as little as $37.00 ans cut it all yourself.

"The ultimate sheet metal cutting tool. This air nibbler is many times faster than tin snips, and much more precise. It fits in the palm of your hand and easily cuts through sheet metal as thick as 16 gauge. Front Exhaust protects you and your work. Length: 7-7/8"

Here is a link:

http://www.buybelowcost.com/index.as...om=&adid=27411

I am aware of units that mount on a drill as well, but nothing beats the power of an air tool.
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Old 06-12-2002, 12:55 PM   #5
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Thanks for tip re this!

Indeed, I was saying to my brother the other night how although I am mostly doing this restoration completely on my own, I am not really, it is as if there are a bunch of Internet angels looking over my shoulder nudging my hand to do it right all the time!!!!!

I was thinking about renting an aluminum brake for a couple of days, should be around 40 bucks a day, anyone have any experience of using one?

My big problem with the belly pan is that it was more or less completely chewed up. It fell to pieces as I tried to get it off in complete sections. My plan right now is to do a "school science project" plan as to how the pieces need to go to put a new one in.

I do have an idea as to how it was, but it seemed pretty arbitrary when i looked at it before it came off. The one thing that will happen as before is that the belly aluminum will be looped over and held with a few holding rivets to the u-channel before the shell goes back on and is riveted back all the way round.

More as it happens

Cheers

Will
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Old 06-12-2002, 01:08 PM   #6
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Hand air and electric shears or nibblers

These tools are very good for making cuts that are short and the cuts are not critical as to estetics and quality of cuts. I personally find it very difficult to make long very precise cuts with either tool. I think smaller pieces would be the best method of application, overlaping each joint as needed. I also think the "pop" rivets should have a correctly sized body washer at each rivet. Yep, I know this is not a NASA project. The correct tool for a good end result.....
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Old 06-12-2002, 01:42 PM   #7
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And here's another pic...

of the floor finally bolted on and the wheel arches rebuilt and fitted...it has been about 4 or maybe 5 solid weekends so far since the floor project was started. Right now the next step is the new belly pan and then the super exiting shell back on. Hurrah!

I did go out and invest in a Hitachi compressor. It really speeds things up although my neighbors won't talk to me any more. I used the air hammer chisel and the wrench a lot. Lots of nuts and bolts to tighten. I had to get the missus to sit on the top and tell me when the bolts were being pulled through too much though when I was using the air wrench (that is "spanner" for any other Brits reading this...<grin> )

Well that's the plan for next couple of days work...and then it's on with the rest of the restoration. I can't even tihnk about that right now. The floor seems the biggest task!

Thank again for all help

Will
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Old 06-12-2002, 06:58 PM   #8
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I'm with Frank on the washers. I blew a rear tire near Amarillo, TX. coming back from AZ. After replacing all 4 tires with ST rated tires, I headed on to TN. with torn wheelwell trim and 2' of torn and bent sheetmetal behind the tire. I replaced the sheetmetal with a Lowe's purchased .042" alum. and you can't even tell the part has been damaged. I used tinsnips and a jigsaw with a fine tooth blade. I scribed my marks with a permanent felt tip marker and cut to size of the damaged metal. This is when I spotted where the belly pan had pulled through the rivets in half of the underside. I went back in with alum. washers to spread out the load and I think 5/32 rivets. One area I had to cut 2 squares of .042 sheetmetal to make up for the larger hole torn in the belly pan. I've pulled 800 miles since then and everything is tight as a drum.
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