You can e-mail your questions to Professor Hammer at email@example.com, or mail to: Professor Hammer, c/o CLASSIC TRUCKS Magazine, 774 S. Placentia Ave., Placentia, CA 92870. We'll print your name and city unless you request otherwise. Ron Covell has made many DVDs on metalworking processes, and offers an ongoing series of workshops across the nation covering all aspects of metalworking. Check them out online at www.covell.biz, or call for a current schedule of workshops and their free catalog of DVDs and fine-quality metalworking tools. Phone 800-747-4631, or 831-768-0705. You can send a request by mail to Covell Creative Metalworking, 106 Airport Boulevard #105, Freedom, CA 95019.
Q: I'd like your thoughts on constructing a dual snorkel air intake for my TPI-equipped '55 Chevy pickup. I am considering this approach since I don't like the thought of the hot air that comes through the radiator being fed directly into the throttle body's mouth. I've kept the alternator and air conditioner compressor high and toward the rear to keep a clear path between the throttle body and the radiator. I've already mounted a 16-inch electric fan behind the radiator, so this shouldn't cause any interference problems.
One idea is to run 3- or 4-inch-diameter mild steel tubing from openings on the left and right side of the radiator support, then make sharp 90-degree turns toward the motor's centerline and connect them to a box that will hold the air filter, then make a transition to the throttle body's opening.
There is another possible approach that is simpler, but loses any ram air effect. From the throttle body, a "Y" would break left and right at 90 degrees, running straight to the inner fender panels, and exit to the front of the wheelwells, where the air filters would be mounted.
Is there a better way to build a snorkel intake? If so, how and where should I mount the snorkel, isolate it from engine movement, and prevent it from rubbing against the sheetmetal? And finally, where can I purchase 3- or 4-inch mild steel tubing and steel donuts?
Thanks for your help on this project, past and present.
San Leandro, CA
A: As always, there are many ways to accomplish your goal. To begin with, I'm not sure how much "ram air effect" you would actually achieve by placing the inlets next to the radiator. Even if there is some slight benefit from that placement, it would take some testing to see if it is significantly better than what you would get by drawing air from the wheelwells. My advice is to go with whatever system has the look you like, or the ease of fabrication you prefer, unless you are building a racing vehicle.
You are wise to think about accommodating the engine's movement, especially if you are using stock motor mounts. I'd suggest making your snorkel as one solid piece and supporting it at its mountings, either at the core support or at the wheelwells, and use a rubber bellows to connect it to the throttle body. There are many manufacturers for rubber bellows. One source is Gortite, 2300 S. Calhoun Road, New Berlin, WI 53151; 800-298-2006, www.gortite.com. Any local muffler shop should have the exhaust tubing. You can get the donuts from The Chassis Shop, 1931 N. 24th Ave., Mears, MI 49436; 231-873-3640, www.chassisshop.com.
Contact me again if you have more questions, and send us a photo when you finish the snorkel intake system-it sounds like an interesting project!
Q: I am working on a '66 Chevy Fleetside longbed pickup. I watched your Basic Techniques for Steel DVD, and although it helped, I still have some questions.
I'm patching the hole in the quarter-panel where they had caps for dual gas tanks. When I welded my patch in, the panel warped. Now, when I try your hammering technique, as I hammer on one spot, it distorts in another spot.
Is there a way to weld without warping? I use a MIG welder since my TIG machine is broken. I could use an oxyacetylene torch, but I feel that would put more heat into the panel and cause more warping.
A: To begin with, the bad news is that pretty much ANY welding process will cause warping-there is virtually no way to completely avoid it, and the thinner the metal, the more it warps. What makes your problem most difficult is that the Fleetside trucks have bed sides that are very large and very low-crown. It's much easier to learn a hammer and dolly technique on medium- or high-crown panels. When working on a low-crown panel, just a few hammer blows in the wrong spot will cause the sort of problem you are facing.
It sounds like your bed side is overstretched in areas, and some careful shrinking will probably be required to fix it. Unfortunately, shrinking is even more difficult to master than hammering. If you are just learning these techniques, it might actually be better to take the truck to someone who's more experienced, and (if you can) watch them as they fix the problem.
Alternately, you could do a LOT of practice work on a junk panel until you feel you have developed some degree of proficiency with stretching the metal by hammering and shrinking the metal with the use of heat, and then going back to your truck bed when your skill level is a little more advanced.