Hi Riz, I started my subscription a few years ago and like what you are doing. I got started in the old truck/car stuff about 20 years ago and might be able to shed some light on aftermarket parts. I am a retired mechanical engineer from Chrysler. I started out doing die design and went into press room engineering where I was working with all sorts of press room equipment. I have done a lot of work with dies and related equipment. I have built seven cars/trucks over the years and have one in the works right now. I built a ’37 Plymouth pickup resto rod, which I still have, and the body in the works is a ’49 GMC panel truck. I have purchased aftermarket parts from a lot of different manufacturers and there is a big difference in quality. To explain the big problem with the aftermarket stuff (primarily stampings) I have to get into a little detail on the way the factory parts are made.
A factory fender is made with probably five dies that will be run in either a line of presses or in a transfer press. The line presses cost between $3 and $5 million (yes million) each. The transfer presses cost around $50 million each. The dies made to build these fenders are also big bucks. The tooling will be used to make between 200,000 and 400,000 parts a year and usually will run two to four years with very little revisions so the tooling costs per part are actually not that expensive. Each of the press lines can handle production on a lot of different parts so the presses don’t just make one part.
The aftermarket suppliers can’t spend that kind of money on either presses or tooling for the amount of parts they will be able to sell. They have to make their parts in low volume on dies that the major manufactures would call temporary tooling. What happens is the lesser-expensive dies combined with the smaller presses makes it very difficult for the aftermarket people to get the same detail in the stampings. Another issue is the sheetmetal. Sheetmetal is sheetmetal is sheetmetal – not the case. There is a huge selection of sheetmetal specs that change how the metal reacts to the dies. If the sheetmetal making the parts is not the same makeup as the sheetmetal used to try out the dies, the finished part will be different.
I have looked at a lot of aftermarket sheetmetal parts at swap meets. Most of the stuff I see looks like it will fit the car or truck OK, but the character lines and formations are not as crisp as the factory parts. For the stuff most of us are building they will work fine and look great on the car or truck, but the guy that is building a high-dollar correct restoration will go out of his way to find NOS or very nice used original parts for his project.
Hi Ted, first of all, I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you. Secondly, thanks a bunch for the look at what goes on in those far-away factories; it was interesting and informative to say the least. What you say about the quality of aftermarket parts being variable is very true. I’ve run across variations of the same parts that were drastically different in quality in the past, but have to say that over the last few years overall they seem to have improved greatly. If ya get a chance I’d love to see some pics of your panel project. Thanks again. RIZ
Riz, I have been reading your articles for about two years now and I am hooked. I am very pleased to see that you include both the average restoration and the most pristine builds. I am currently the owner of a 1962 Ford F-100, which I hate to say has been in storage since 2008. I am currently serving in Afghanistan as an Army aviator, and I am looking forward to getting home to work on my project. I have included a photo of me holding an issue of CLASSIC TRUCKS next to my other ride – an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. Keep up the great work!
CW2 Joe Metivier
Afghanistan via email
Hi Joe! Geez, it was great to hear from ya! I’m happy you’re enjoying CLASSIC TRUCKS, I hope it brings you a bit of “back home” with every issue. Also, thanks for putting your life on the line every day so we folks back home can live free. I hope you get home soon and get to work on that ’62! When ya do, send me some pics, I’d love to check it out. God bless and be safe. RIZ