Building Flatbed Felix Stage 2: Metalworking


The metalworking stage was the second step in restoring Flatbed Felix, our 1927 Chevrolet Flatbed project truck and replica of one of our delivery trucks from the 1930s. This part of the project was one of the most exciting stages for our Master Builder, Sean Hegarty from OG Customs.

Sean stated, “When Felix arrived at the workshop, he already had some existing sheet metal on him, so that provided a decent guide of what he should look like. Once we got into it, we actually found a lot of the sheet metal was pretty rusted and not really salvageable, so that gave us a chance to have some fun and create new pieces from scratch.”

Creating the Rear Guards and Salvaging the Front Guards
The existing rear guards were rusted through and needed to be recreated using 1.1mm sheet metal. Once the pieces were cut, we strengthened them and began tipping the edges to start curving the metal by using an electric bead roller. Next, we used a Shrinker Stretcher to further enhance the curve and get some more shape happening. Then we used Nylon Bossing Mallets with round leather sandbags along with hammers and dollies to further refine the shape. Lastly, we got each piece onto an English wheel to get the hammer marks out and create a smoother finish.

Sean commented, “An interesting fact about the rear guards on flatbed trucks back in the 1930s was that they were an option, and didn’t come standard. We tried searching for an original set but there just wasn’t any out there. We also tried to find images of any other similar trucks with rear guards and again couldn’t find any. So with no other photos to reference, other than the one we had of the original delivery truck in the 1930s, we had to draw upon our own expertise and do our best to figure out the measurements and a shape that best matched the front guards.”

Just above the rear guards on the timber tray, it was decided to build a steel frame to fit around the side boards. This helped to make the side boards more robust as well as frame the timber off, giving it a finished look.

The front guards were both pretty rusted, but we were able to save some sections of the original steel. We then made up the replacement panels, and fitted them where needed.

When it came to the wheels we found that Felix had two cast iron wheels in the rear and two wooden wheels in the front. All four were covered in layers of paint from over the years which required removal. We sandblasted the cast iron wheels and had to hand sand the wooden wheels back, which as you can imagine took quite a lot of time!

Replacing the Front Apron
The front apron was not salvageable at all, due to rust damage, so we replaced this piece with new 1.1mm steel. We made up three individual pieces, folding up their edges using a folder. Next we used a bead roller to put the desired shape into the pieces, and then used a shrinker stretcher to get the edges to curve around nicely.

In the process of replacing the front apron, we also found that Felix’s headlight bar was incorrect as it was suited for a car, not a truck. So we replaced this with a new round bar and two new light brackets added onto each end.

Straightening the Chassis
Unfortunately Felix had been involved in a car accident at some point in his past, and had sustained some damage to the left side of his chassis. We fixed this by removing the front suspension and then using a jig and press to straighten the front rail – we did this without having to use heat, which would have weakened the chassis. This then brought the front suspension back into alignment.

Bringing it all Together
Everything was tig welded together using a Unimig tig welder. We then applied a coating of Easy Phos, which protects the metal and stops it from rusting, over all the pieces before sending Felix off to our painter. Sean stated, “Back in the 1930s Chevrolet would release most of their trucks with the metal pieces painted in what was called ‘GM Black’. We decided to go with a gloss finish to give Felix that little something extra so he had more of a show car look.”

Finishing touches included a custom ‘Hare Bros’ steering wheel badge made from a stainless steel washer, as well as replacing the original exhaust system with a two inch exhaust and muffler. The metalworking stage of Flatbed Felix took just over three weeks to complete.

Next week we’ll take you through the automotive stage of Flatbed Felix’s restoration, so be sure to give us a follow on Instagram or Facebook to know when we publish our next article.

The Hare & Forbes MachineryHouse tools used in the metalworking stage of Flatbed Felix restoration project
SHST-1.6HD - Foot Operated Shrinker Stretcher - Heavy Duty
ABR-10M - Auto Panel Restoration Kit - Master
NBH-2 - Nylon Bossing Mallet Set - Radius Ends
RSBS-3 - Round Leather Bags - Sand
MBR-610 - Bead Roller - Motorised Variable Speed
PB-4 - Manual Panbrake
EWM-89 - English Wheel - Heavy Duty
RAZOR DIGITAL PULSE AC/DC 200 - AC/DC Inverter TIG/ARC Welder
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