The heaviest duty roll bar I’ve made yet!

The customer decided to take a 1990’s Chevy Tahoe and imitate an old 1970’s K5 Blazer. He cut the roof off the back, then brought it in for a roll cage. We used 2.5″ OD x .120 wall DOM, which is pretty hefty tube – but the bender didn’t even notice it! The real task here was handling and accurately positioning the 16′ long tube in the bender!


Set of headers custom made to fit a Ford Coyote engine in a Panoz chassis. I’d show some pics of the headers installed in the car, but there is so little room that they cannot be seen when installed. The front runner on the passenger side had to pass through the engine mount structure in the chassis, so it was made with a double slip joint to allow installation.

Huge Bend Die Machined on Tiny Mill

I needed to “repurpose” a bend die that I have never used, and had to work out a way to do the machine work. The die was made for 2.5″ tube on a 10″ centerline radius, so it is a chromoly disk 20″ diameter and 4.5″ thick. The best plan I could come up with for machining it was to mount it on a rotary table on a horizontal mill and machine the groove with a fly cutter set to 3″ diameter. My biggest rotary table is only 8″ diameter, so it was dwarfed under the die. I then drove the rotary table with an old wire feeder from a MIG welder. Worked great!

BMW E34 Roll Cage for ChumpCar

This is my first BMW E34 roll cage, and I doubt I’ll see many more.  Why?  Because very few people would build an E34 for racing…  This is the bigger BMW, the 5 series.  Anyway, it is being built to run in the ChumpCar series.  It’s a typical 6 point cage plus foot protection, and I decided to try a different approach on the door bars from how I usually do them.

Large Tube Mandrel Bent Truck Light Bar

I was contacted by a guy in Pennsylvania to make a light bar for a full size pickup based on one he saw on a SEMA truck a few years back. It is made entirely from 4″ tubing mandrel bent on a super tight 4″ centerline radius. I left the rack in two halves so it could be shipped to PA.

Bending some Sway Bars

I have a job to bend some sway bars out of 1.25″ OD steel bar using as tight of a bend radius as possible.  I made a temporary die to try it out, but the forces involved quickly destroyed the non-hardened steel.  So, looking at the die rack I had a 1.125″ dia x 1.43″ CLR die that I’ve never used in 7 years – too bad it wasn’t 1.25″!  Since it’s made of hardened tool steel normal machining was not going to touch it – had to devise a different plan.  Off to local pawn shop to buy sacrificial $20 belt sander, then machine a new front roller that was 1.25″ dia minus the thickness of the belt.  The smaller wheel made the belt too long, so I clamped an “idler” block in to take up the slack.  4 belts later I had the 1.125″ groove opened up to 1.25″ with a nice finish.  Below are some pics of the sander, modified die, sway bar bending in progress, and finished bar.

Stainless Steel Light Mounts

These 1.25″ stainless tubes are prototype parts to hold a light on a food slicer if I understood the customer correctly.  I first madrel bent the tubes, then used the cnc plasma cutter to cut caps out of 1/8″ stainless sheet.  Tig welded the caps in the ends, ground flush on the belt sander, and finally bead blasted before shipping.

Miscellaneous Fabricated Parts

This post is going to contain a gallery of miscellaneous fabricated parts that just aren’t interesting enough to get their own mention.

Elan DP02 Headers

Elan made an aero change to the DP02’s that required a total redesign of the header they had been using. I was given some crude jigs and ended up making about 30 headers for them to ship out with the aero retrofit kits. I made a cool stand with bidirectional rotating clamp that made the welding much easier – there’s a few shots that show it in these pics.


Panoz Esperante GTLM Race Car Cages

After having some quality issues from another supplier Panoz contracted me to build the cages for the last few Esperante GTLM race cars.  This is another “from CAD model” project – I was contracted to build a fixture and then build the cages on it based on a single 3D CAD file.  The real daunting part of the task was knowing Panoz has a Faro Arm CMM that can measure positions on parts to 4 decimal places for QC inspection and I only had tape measures and straight edges available to build it!  Nonetheless my cages were accurate, and the welding was a big improvement over those of the previous supplier.  (it’s usually a good idea to weld the entire way around a tube joint in a roll cage!)

Lots of pics on this one – some at my old shop and some at Panoz.  In the full chassis shots pretty much any round tube you can see was made and welded by me…