VIP Sponsors


Metal By Any Name

Metal By Any Name


A bump in the production of words roadway. Actually, it was just a slight bump to the rear as I decided to shortcut across the lawn from the front porch. Something or other didn't work right, and it was just a slight bump on the skinny rump. But, ended up with two cracked vertebrae and a too long stay in hospital trying not to hurt. Moral: avoid shortcuts.

Anyway, before the detour, I had been considering the condition of steel production here in Australia. You readers in America probably aren't aware that Australia has the world's supply of iron ore, or that most of that goes directly to China. You probably also don't know that through the years OZ has produced at least one internally built car and several more of mixed heritage. But of late, the steamroller economy has begun to flatten, so much so that there is no longer an Aussie built car of any ilk. With the roll-on being a bunch of business going the way of extinction. And that may not seem like much to such a huge automotive related industry as we have in the U.S., but down here in the antipodes the ripple effect is horrendous.

Consider that with the Ozzie version of a single General Motors make (the Holden, which was introduced Down Under over sixty years ago), it is getting almost impossible to get good steel. Yes, you can buy steel, but much of the Asian variety is nowhere near the quality we demand in North America. Which means what is increasingly available is dramatically inferior, especially when it comes to welding. Which has a direct effect on a major Aussie supplier of reporduction early Ford design frames, and sheet metal for bodies and panels, and…you see how it starts with such a seemingly innocuous statement from a major producer that they are ceasing production. A shortage leads inevitably to an increase in product cost, and so the downward spiral begins.Too soon, it bites the hot rod enthusiast in the butt.

LiLow chassis here in Australia is a really neat company, making some of the better designed frames I have come across. Now they are in the search for steel suppliers in a market where quality is a direct victim of GM absence. Kelvin Waddington makes reproduction automobile bodies and custom panels, but he relies entirely on getting prime quality sheet steel. What you probably don't know is that Kelvin's products sell through a number of different American suppliers. He hurts, the hobby is going to hurt. And we have suffered more than enough hurts of late.

In itself, the demise of Holden (GM) Australia may not be much of a blow. But if the quality steel supply takes a hit, we are all going to feel the blow.

And all that got to me thinking that maybe I need to whittle up a new set of back verterbrae. Something in a quality stainless, perhaps. Something that would require a lot of hand file work. You do remember hand files? They were invented before dirt, and I love to work metal with files. If you have never done much in the way of shaping metal or wood with files, change your ways today! Talk about something that will make your day, shape a piece of metal (or wood, or stone) entirely with a hand file, then take the time to feel it up (as in sensually) for something akin to outstanding sex. I have mentioned in the past how fabricating a steel body panel can be so fullfilling, spend a lot of time with a Vixen file on that body part and you increase the pleasure ten-fold.

So, in a way the loss of Holden is taking away the Aussie orgasm and that's wrong! Let's march on Washington!!! Or Canberra. Or Bejing, or somewhere.