Metal Shaping a Porsche 550 Dash: Part 1


Hi, it’s Wray from pro shaper workshop in Charlton Massachusetts, thanks for watching. Wasn’t that a great video hi, it’s ray from pro shaper workshop in Charlton Massachusetts. Look what we got here! This is a 550 poor spider. This is a project that belongs to a friend of mine, Adam from unobtainium, I add himself 356s all over the world, and he had this desire to build a 550, probably about eight years or so ago, when he had a fiberglass body, and I had the fiberglass Body, I borrowed it from them and we made a wire form off of that, but the fiberglass body was missing a lot of information.

It didn’t have it had the dash in there, but it didn’t have all the details and everything and actually we had this firewall piece, but I didn’t know if it was right at all and we had these in fiberglass.


But I don’t know if those are right either and I think we had this in fiberglass. I don’t know if that was right, so I didn’t trust making those fiberglass parts and it’s not every day that you have access to a 550. We have one friend who has a 550 and it was very difficult to be able to go and copy. All we were able to do is take some measurements and some photographs of the car, so Adam has a big network and he found this shaper in Arizona.

Bruce kimmins, who is a superb, absolutely top of his field shaper, he does beautiful work and what you’re looking at here, this dash and this firewall – and these longitudinals here are all Bruce’s work and he had access to two original 550s, and that is one of the Most important things is having access to primary information that you know is correct and he apparently made a couple of these dashes two or three of them for projects over the year over the years, and he made this one for himself with his intent of making a 550 from scratch for himself and apparently he banned in the project and they had been sitting around and Adam through his network found out that they existed so he negotiated a deal and bought all this stuff from Bruce and Adam brought the project to me.


The project you see here is he’s, got a 356 front grafted on there and that’s Adam’s doing. He wants to be able to title it really easy. It’s got a vin number on it there and he bought this used. Uh older uh back frame that made in Indiana um beck’s been making these 550s for years out of fiberglass.

The frame is pretty decent and he’s got uh a motor in here. Now it’s uh, it’s a Porsche motor but there’s another Porsche motor. That’s going to go in eventually, so Adam came down Friday and we worked on it Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the deal was to try to make as much of the car as possible. So we took Bruce’s parts and we assembled them on the back frame and also Adam has been able to purchase a lot of new uh original pieces.


These were actual pieces that were made by Wendler.

He’s got the tail. He has the hood. He has the doors he’s got the inner fenders there’s quite a few original parts and Adam is a preservationist and he wants to use as much of this and use this patina on here and it just the way it is eventually it’ll all be stripped and, and Will weld it all together and smooth it all up and everything it’s got cracks everywhere, and but he wants to show it the way it is.


Apparently, this back end came off a card that was off of on trips, 550 back in the 50s or something so anyways. Now we have access to this info for about three weeks or so, and I thought it’d be a great thing to do.

Is to copy this stash because we have a 550 that we’re building and I didn’t really have good information on the dash uh and all these other pieces, so I’m going to have mark and we’ll make a flexible shape pattern in gauges of this dash. Now this dash and this whole car was designed by Erwin, commander and built by Wendler coach building. It’s incredibly complicated the way they did it. It’s uh, I think the originals might have been either 050 or 0040 aluminum Bruce made this all out at 0.50.



Probably 3003 He’s a gas welder, he gas welded a lot of the stuff together and he’s got a lot of little jigs and fixtures to press this press these in and press these in, and you know the work is superb and uh. It’s an opportunity for us to copy this stuff and I’m sure there’s other people would love to have this uh beautiful dash and it’s just a masterpiece of shape that Erwin Commenda came up with the way that all tapered radiuses and it flows all together and comes Part of the structural part of the body here it’s just an astoundingly beautiful design, and so right now we’re going to have I’m going to mark it out with blue tape.


Where I want to break this up – and I probably will break it up in a little bit different spot than what Bruce did and I’ll have mark uh show you the process he’s going to video the process of him taping this all up to make the flexible Shape patterns will be multiple ones, it might be three or four pieces to make this whole dash assembly, and we use the blue 1 8 inch. Vinyl tape to make the barriers and then mark will tape up to those and then and then tape the other sections that haven’t been taped. We had a little intro before on this.

It was on the car, but it was only about eight bolts that we’d put in it to fit it on there there’s just a temporary fitting so to speak.


Now this was the dash that was made in Arizona by Bruce kimmins off an original one, beautiful job 050. I think 3003 aluminum, it’s funny how uh different you can take a different approach at making the dash now we’re using the flexible shape pattern system uh. I don’t know what he had. He might have had a whole bunch of different little formers that he shaped a lot of this stuff on.



I don’t know, but he did he gas welded it and he welded it in the curve, something I generally don’t do and then he had some lows and he picked it all out here and that leaves permanent scarring in the back in the back of your panel. Is not nice at all? Now we counted up the pieces and he’s got like 10 pieces in this, and we’ve made it into four sections pretty much, but there’ll be a fifth section covering the instrument uh cluster. So for this video we’re doing this top section, which is probably the easiest section to do, uh again, these videos take a lot of time. So I think this is a doable one for one video.

Now we do analysis of this surface and we see that we put the straight edge on here. We’ve got a rock going this way, and that implies a bend and if we have a rock going this way it would imply a compound, but it’s pretty dead flat right up in here. So all that is is a bend pretty much. But now, if we go over in this radius zone here, we’ve got a rock there and then we’ve got a rock here.


So there is some compound in here and it’s a tapered radius.

A tapered radius is always a beautiful feature and it’s a little difficult. Sometimes, to get them just right now he didn’t put. This is where it goes into the gutter part of the front boot lid here or a trunk, and he didn’t put the flange on here. He had the piece as a separate piece which would leave a raw edge, which I don’t believe is original, but it’s possible that it is but we’re going to put a flange on there see.


This is the gutter piece and it just bolted together, like this, is probably going to be welded or something.

Maybe it’s going to weld it on the corner, which isn’t a good practice either because it’s very difficult to get the distortion out when you weld on corners, because every time you do weld you’re going to get some shrinkage, so we’ve got. We took the flexible shape. Hat and mark made the flexible shape patterns they made all the gauges, and here is the flexible shape pattern right here and I took the flexible shape pattern set it on a piece of regular craft paper added a bunch of extra around the edges.


So we’d have a little bit extra and I made this paper blank and from this paper blank I cut a piece of 0.50 3003.

So that’s going to be our dash piece right there. So now I’ve got a lot of feedback from a bunch of different people. Saying these flexible shape patterns, they just don’t work when someone says that all they’re saying to me is they just don’t understand how it works, because it does work and I’ll.


Explain you exactly what’s going on here if we put it flat on the bench like this, all these edges are touching but notice this edge is not touching. You see how it’s popping up right there and what it’s doing is it’s telling you it needs all.

This extra material right here this is going to be stretched, and it’s only stretched from this point over to this edge and that’s where the weld is going to be now and that’s putting a weld in a spot that you can easily hammer out now over here. This is where that tapered radius is there’s extra material there. So this needs some stretching right here. This is pretty much all flat, so we don’t have to do too much here and mark has made a slew of gauges and here’s all our gauges.


Now it took a bunch of time to do this, to do it all accurate, and this is the most important part of making any panel, and this is a very difficult panel to make a very difficult assembly.

This panel is not that tip tough. The toughest part is going to be right here, but this whole assembly is as tough as it gets. This is a really complicated little piece and overall Bruce did you know I’d on a 100 scale. I’D give him probably a 97 on his effort. It’s just really nice there’s a couple little flaws here and there, but uh I would.

I would not nitpick those at all. So I’m very appreciative of the fact that I have the opportunity to copy this, because this is a really hard part to get. They only made a hundred of these cars and they’re selling from four to seven million dollars now so not everybody’s gonna. Let you borrow this to copy the surface information now you could scan it if you had access to one and scan one and then build the buck, but you can imagine how complicated that wood buck is going to be.


I might make multiples of these because I think there’s a market for them and it’s a good fun little project.

So I might make some type of hammer form tooling. That will be molded and I can’t mold it off of this one, but the new one that I make I’ll be able to mold off of and I’ll make the hammer forms off of that. So first order of business is transforming this piece of metal, which we cut, which is a little oversized into we’ve, got to follow the blueprint here, we’re going to mark some corners on here, so we got a home, so we got plenty of extra here.


This is where it’s going to merge in the middle, and some people might ask well why didn’t you make the whole thing one piece on the top? Well, if you do that, then you’re working with the panel this long and it’s very difficult to work with that longer panel, Bruce did it by making it he made the long section in one piece, but this is a very easy weld right here.

It’ll, go away really easy to planish out so uh. He made the top one piece I believe, but then he added all the other little details with separate pieces. So, first, the order of businesses is finding the homes here make sure we have enough extra material. So we’re gonna have to stretch this out like crazy here.


So we don’t need too much extra over here uh we need.

This is where the flange for the gutter for the hood is going to be, so we need a little bit extra there. This is a weld um. No, it’s not a weld, that’s the edge of the panel um. It gets welded to the fender. I believe actually yeah, so this is a weld.

This will get trimmed off eventually, all right, so that’s about where I’m gonna move it over just a little bit, and I got a home here, a little home there I’ll put that there and these will move. Sometimes too, as you work the panel it’ll curve it and stuff so, but always leave yourself a little extra insurance here. So there’s our spots now that dotted line is the uh the peak of the radius.


So that’s where that radius is, is going to go. So I can, I can put that dotted line and that’s telling me where I need a bunch of added material.

So I got to wheel that out a little bit and when I stretch this flange I don’t want to go beyond that line, because you don’t want to get that stretch in board here. You want that stretch only to go to here. It’s a tape or deal where you’re going to open that up like that and there’s a bunch of different ways to open that up, and I’m probably going to cut some more away here, because otherwise we’re going to have to remove a lot of flange material there Or move a lot of French flange material I’ll leave this uncut, but right here from here over I’ll, probably cut in a little bit. So let me get another color pen. I think I got a different one.

That black line is our true edge line.


Now we’re going to do another cut, we’ll give ourselves a quarter of an inch or so 3 8 extra here and we’re going to cut that out like that, and then this is where our dotted line is here. I’ll connect that so we have a stretch zone right here and then we have a shrink, a stretch zone here and also a stretched zone right there. That’s we got to stretch that flange. That’s a lot of stretching right there and there’s a bunch of different ways to do it, we’ll explore that a little bit.

So let me cut that off. First, all right! So now we’ve got this trim back um. We can put a little uh added area right in here.


We’ll fill this up a little bit.

Well, how much! Well, you fill this up until it starts to get tight and if you go too tight, the edges will get loose so say you uh over develop that right there and I’m representing that by putting the paper in here. What will happen is you’ll. Have a really tight spot right here and then you’ll see that it’ll get loose right here the edge will get loose wherever the edge is loose.



It’s going to be super tight. There’s your problem. It’s very simple! To solve that problem. Don’t let it happen!

You don’t let it happen by close observation. You work the panel, you check, you work, you check, you work your check. If you’re working on a buck, you’re working, a wood buck or a wire form or whatever you got to do the same thing. You’ve got to work the panel. You got to check it’s when you work, work, work, work, work, that’s when trouble hits all right, so we got to add a little area in here and we’re going to wheel this.



Now. It really doesn’t matter where we wheel this. We can wheel it this way, diagonally, whatever we’re just going to expand the metal in that area right there we’re expanding the metal in the center of the panel and the edge of the panel – we’re not touching um, except with the exception being this flange over here And that edge will bind up all the surrounding material. So when you stretch the material it has to come up, we’ve got the dust on the back of this. We want to make sure we dust this off really good, so that the dust gets on the surface and we and then, if we don’t dust it all off, when you put it in the wheel, you will be embedding that dust into the panel.

So we don’t want to do that, so we’re going to use this low crown panel. This is my workhorse panel. We painted the big yellow.


Now it’s big gray, I’m not so sure I like the new color, but it’s a change in order to make that metal move. You’ve got to have enough engagement, I call it the mid-range pressure and again, if I was an English trained English wheel guy, I would be all concerned about tracking patents and I’d be going crazy about making sure that I’ve got all my tracking patterns really good.

I don’t care about the tracking pads at this point. At some point, I probably will use a little bit of the tracking pa patent method, but this point all I want to do is raise that material up and you can see I’ve got an oil can going there already and that’s what I want. So we work for a minute and then we check we still got bounce right here, meaning we need more so work for another 30 seconds or a minute or whatever we got to clean all the dust off, give it a little more pressure.


It’ll move a little faster, remember all that area is focused in right in here. This part here is pretty flat, so we don’t have to play over in that field at all right, so, like 10 times through now, we have that much see it.

That much put into that now the power hammer guys they would just do that with the power hammer they’d hit that out with the power hammer um it’s very similar. I like the quiet of the English wheel and I still got a bunch right there. You can see it so wash this down, give it another run through the wheels.


Now it’s mostly over in this edge. So I got to go right up to the edge.

I won’t go over the edge up to the edge, keep adding some area over there. I’ll bring it over in here a little bit taper it in, all right so now over in here, it’s getting tighter we’re on our homes right here it’s still pretty loose. So that’s our main focus right here right now, so uh a danger is, if you’re, focusing on one little spot like this. You just keep going back and forth here like this. What will happen?

Is you I call it a mushroom, so you’ve got to do a bunch of strokes through here and then you’re going to drag it in here which will blend it in otherwise you’ll get a would be like a mushroom head there.


Now a lot of people are concerned about what the panel looks like when it’s finished. You don’t have to worry about what the panel looks like at all. It’s immaterial now there are some people that that’s the way they work the panel. They work the panel to look like the panel all the way I don’t do that this is called working out of arrangement is secondary, we’re recreating the area value.

The arrangement value will come after we get the correct area value. The flexible shape pattern creates the correct area value. If you had a wood buck, the wood buck would not tell you this information at all with a wood buck. You have to have it in arrangement in order to be able to read the buck, and you can see the advantage of working it out of arrangement. Is it allowing you to use a wheel that is a low crown wheel and yields a really nice smooth surface?

So we still got a little bit right there, but it’s getting better and better every time and we’ve only got about three cycles or four cycles in here and each one is about a minute or so all right now you can see that that was almost a Quarter of an inch of bounce in there, actually it’s more than that, we put it on the flat table.


You can see all the bounce that was there now. What we have is it’s getting nice and tight, put it on our homes, it’s nice and tight. Let’s look for always look for your worst spot, a little bit right in here, so that’s where it blends into over here, so we got ta, give it a little bit of a tension in this zone here where it blends in a little bit of dirt there. I got to get that dirt out all right.



So now we hold this tight and we look for any looseness at all. It looks looking pretty good right there, maybe a little bit over here. I got to come in here just a little bit we’ll fill over here a little that’s the blend, I’m gonna back off the pressure and I’m just gonna give it a nice blend. So all right! So that’s fitting!

Really nice now maybe we’ll come back and check it a little bit so that was stage one. The first major problem stage: two is we’re going to deal with this. Let’s see how we stretch this out, there’s a bunch of different ways. We can do that. One!

You can take a shrinker stretcher, you’d put the stretch dies on and if you have a Lancaster style, stretcher, it’ll tend to break the metal right there. So it’s very tricky to do that.


Now. We’ve got to move it quite a bit. We could anneal that and I might still anneal it that’ll, make it easier to work, but this 0.

0 bends pretty easy. You can see you can bend that pretty nicely so, but we have to stretch that edge. Now we can stretch it with a planish and hammer. We can stretch it with a power hammer, we can stretch it with a body hammer and dolly. We can stretch it with the English wheel.

I’ve got a high crown wheel on here and I’m going to stretch that a little bit with that high crown wheel. Now I want that actually going down. So if we wheel it this way, I think it’ll go down. Let’s check we pull up on it. Why do you want to go down?

No well, the flange has to go down now it has to go.


The other way has to go this way: [ Applause ], I’m gonna pull it down now. Most of the action has to take place right on the edge of the flange, too [ Applause ]. So all right. So let’s see what we got.

We’re stretching that edge and I got to make sure that I did come in board. That’s a no-no, so I got to be careful of that. We want to really stretch the crazy out of that edge. We probably could trim it back some more. We got a lot of extra there still, so let me trim that back a little bit more.

It’s going to grow too, as we stretch it so there’s the extra material that has to lay down perfectly and that’s our goal right now.


So, let’s try uh using the plantation here, I’m going to set the planish and hammer up first, all right, so I set up the planishing hammer with a rubber bottom die and uh. You could actually do this with a piece of rubber on the bench. I think, let me see, let me go get a piece of rubber, so I made a little die for the planish and hammer using this rubber, which is about a 50 durometer. Now everybody doesn’t have a planishing hammer say so you can do it manually too.



So you’d need a hammer like this, with a face similar to that that will give you a good linear stretch and that’s the way that wants to do that. Flange wants to go down there, so you can actually hang it out over the rubber a little bit and stretch it in the air. Now, it’d be a good idea to make sure you don’t have any bad cuts here, because you have a bad cut. A bad cut would be a fish hook where you went in and then pulled back out and went again. It would leave a potential for cracking right there, so it looks like I’m okay so, but if I see anything, that’s potentially going to crack there, I’m going to have to cut that back now, we’ll get the flexible shape out.



Maybe we’ll do it right here, because this is working really sweet. Now another method would be to use clay. We could put the clay here like that and work on the clay too. The plate would do that very similar, give it a nice support. So maybe we won’t even use the planishing hammer.

This is working really good. Now, maybe we’ll clean it up with the planish and hammer after, but we need the flexible shape patterns to monitor our progress. On that stretch of that flange, you see where all the stretching is going to take place. It’s this triangle. So it’s very little here, but it’s got to open up like that, a triangle all right, so we still have a long way to go here.

That’s a lot of stretching so we’ll try that clay. I like the way that felt now we’re wheeling this to stretch it. I call that compression stretching what we’re doing here now is with plastic or elastic stretching it will we’re pulling the metal apart.


Now we’re also setting the arrangement, because when we hit this with the hammer it bends it over and that’s really what we want too, so we’re getting a two for here we’re getting the stretch and the arrangement. At the same time, and let’s see we want to leave this unmolested up here, this clay is such a good medium to work with all right now, let’s take another reading.

Obviously, we’ve stretched that quite a bit and obviously we got still a bunch to go because all these have to lay down so that they’re perfectly fitting on there.


We got a ways to go yet clayed up on our hammer head here all right. Let’s take another reading, we’re gonna probably have to wash that clay off with the uh with lacquer thinner, and it’s coming around still got a bunch to go a lot more right there and that has to come. I think at 90 degrees we go. Look at the panel uh, the original or the dash we’re copying, we’re going to take some lack of thinner and clean this clay off and take an assessment of where we’re at so that’s what we got to do.

We got to come around. It’s actually more than 90 degrees right here, so that’s got to stretch like crazy, so I figured we tried the planish and hammer and that should smooth it out, but I think I’m going to kneel this to make it a little easy to move. We still got a good amount of ways to go, but it’s come a long way. We started we had that much is quite a bit there.


This is definitely an improvement, but it still has a bunch to go so we’re going to kneel that little section right there and we should be able to stretch that a little bit more all right.

We’re going to kneel this flange now and put some magic marker on it. We found the magic marker as the best indicator for when it gets to 750 750. Is the annealing temperature? That’s Fahrenheit. I want to put some soot too: we’ll burn the soot and the marker off got to keep the torch lit.

First there we go. We probably could skip this step, but it just makes it easier. I think so. The metal is getting tortured, uh having to stretch out that much right there. Now, the closer you put the weld up.

If you put the weld up closer uh, you wouldn’t have to stretch so much, but I think this will go. We should be able to do it. We still have a few other tricks in our bag of tricks here. So we’re probably at about 50 percent of where we need to be let the heat buildup slow.


So you don’t scorch it and you don’t melt it all right.

We got the marker burnt off, we got the foot burnt off, we’ll throw it in the sink and let it cool down and away. We go. I put a hot dye in here now all right. Now we want to get this rolling because that’s causing a problem. We got bunch up right here, so let’s this should be ready to roll over.

Let’s see what we have here now you can see that’s starting to fit pretty decent in there see that look at that just a little bit, but we got to bring this over.


So there’s a peak: let’s put this back on, so you can see that’s the peak of the radius right there. So that’s where my fulcrum has got to be right there. So I’m going to put that on a fulcrum block and we’re going to push this over. So now this is what I call a fulcrum post, ollie, filch and block, and we’re gonna just slowly work this over.

Here I might have to use a slap or a leather face slap or let me get one of those so we’ll probably end up making this a two-parter to make this part. Here. I don’t know if we’re gonna get it finished tonight, yeah it’s starting to look like the dash. Let’s compare it over here all right, so that you can see has a lot more. We got to bring over there, so it might be we’ll just muscle it right here.



Let’s see if we can muscle that over we’re going to clean this radius up with the wheel after and then mark made all these gauges, all the gauges will be indexed on. That’s what these holes are for, we number each one and each gauge will correspond and we’ll get that fitting. Really perfect. So right now see that we’re almost fitting on now. This needs to be stretched some more so, let’s put it in the planish and hammer again and we’ll stretch that edge a little more all right.

So we’re going to stretch this out a little more so now it’s almost fitting as you can see, but I think this is a good place to stop.


We’ve got to clean up this edge. We’ll have to do some uh arrangement of this top surface. We’ll have to smooth this radius out and then we’ll have to tip this edge here to where it goes into the gutter. So we have a little bit more stretching to do on this edge.

We’ll have to clean this radius up a little bit we’ll have to set the arrangement value over here. There might be a little bit of area we might have to add in a few little spots we’ll see. But overall I think we made a pretty good start on the part.


It’s starting to look like the dash and uh with the operations that we had to do here. You could see that it would be very difficult to make this uh work with a wood station buck or even a wire farm buck.

You have to have both your area value and your arrangement value before you can even put it on those bucks. Now, where it would work is, if you had a hammer form, and you could clamp it down to the hammer form, you could hammer form this whole thing that might have been the way that they originally made them at Wendler coach, building back in their mid 50s. So I hope you learned a ton from this video. It’s Wray from Proshaper. A workshop.

Remember to please subscribe, give us the comments, the likes and hit that little notification bell, and tonight we definitely learned that metal is clay and uh. Remember we have a website Proshaper, we have uh the classes on there and a whole bunch of tools and the tape for the flexible shape pattern so visit our website.


We really appreciate any support you give us and thanks for watching, it’s Wray from Pro Shaper workshop.



Read More: Air Tool Holder Drawing