You can email your questions to Professor Hammer at covell@cruzio.com, or mail to Professor Hammer, c/o Classic Trucks Magazine, 1733 Alton Pkwy., Irvine, CA 92606. You’ll receive a personal reply! We’ll print your name and city unless you request otherwise. Ron Covell has made many DVDs on metalworking processes, and he 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 on welding and metalworking. Phone 800-747-4631, or 831-768-0705. You can send a request by mail to: Covell Creative Metalworking, 106 Airport Blvd. #105, Freedom, CA 95019.

Ron, I’m a big fan of yours and I always read your column first. Cruising back issues, I came across a letter from a newbie wanting to know how to picture his proposed cab stretch on an F-1 before cutting it. I have used the following process to get a nearly exact photo of major body modifications like chopping, channeling, sectioning, extending, shortening, etc.

First you need to acquire a side view picture of the intended project vehicle, either with a digital camera or just download a picture from the Internet. Right-click on a picture found on the Net, left-click on “Save Picture As…” and place it in a folder where you can find it later by clicking on a folder and click “Save.” Next, go into “Paintbrush,” (start> All Programs> Accessories> Paint). Then click File> Open and navigate to the folder with your photo and double-click on it. You now have your vehicle with all the tools needed to customize it.

To preserve the original picture in case you mess up or want to start over, click File> Save As… and type in a new name for the file you will be working on, like “sectioned F-100.” This will protect the original picture, and every so often, I click File> Save, to save my most recent changes. Each variation will require a different name, or you will overwrite the previous version. The upper two icons on the left-hand side are cutting tools: Free-Form Select is in the upper left (star shaped icon) and Select is the icon to its right (square shaped icon) cuts out square shapes and rectangles. Once a section of the photo is selected, it can be moved, replicated, or deleted.

To section my project, I used the Free-Form tool and cut through the length of the cab near the belt line, or wherever you desire the cut to be made. Complete your cut around the top of the cab and then back to your starting position. This piece of photo you just “cut out” can now be moved (up, down, rearward, or forward; or moved completely off to the side for future use). You can also duplicate pieces of the body without disturbing the piece you have outlined by clicking Edit> Cut, then click Edit> Copy. The section you outlined now appears in the upper left-hand portion of the screen for you to place where you want it. This is handy for chopping tops where the roof must be lengthened, or making a standard cab into an extended cab. Also, at the bottom of the tool icons, there are two boxes, one above the other. Both show a cylinder, a ball, and a cube. The top one has a white background behind the cube and the lower one has a transparent background behind the cube. Select the lower box with the transparent background for body transformations.

As you become more familiar with the workings of Paint you will learn how to use the other tools. Using this program, you can alter photos and make a trillion dollar bill with Obama’s picture on it. Please don’t counterfeit, the government has the market cornered on that activity!

Ray Klingensmith
Via the Internet

Thanks so much for that! I use Photoshop to alter images, and it’s a fantastic tool, but it’s expensive. As you have pointed out, software that comes standard on many computers can do most of the essential tasks needed to preview extensive metalwork.

Q. Ron do you have any suggestions for TIG welding aluminum gas tanks to make sure they don’t leak? I made an aluminum tank for a guy last year, and I had a lot of trouble getting it to seal in some areas.

Jim Hull
Via the Internet

A. When welding aluminum tanks, you have to be especially careful with each step—the fit up, the cleaning, and especially, you have to be sure you’re getting full penetration. Aluminum is always more problematic to weld than steel. When you end a weld bead on aluminum, you need to taper off on the heat slowly, otherwise a “shrink crater” will occur, forming tiny cracks.

After welding, you should pressure test the tank with air, and brush a little soapy water solution over all the welds. The tiniest leak will show up as a stream of bubbles through the soapy water. If you find any leaks, you can go back and re-weld those areas. It only takes 2 or 3 psi of air pressure to find leaks, and too much pressure can distort the tank badly, especially if it has large flat areas! CT

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