Author Topic: Metal Forming Tutorial: Making an E-Type battery tray from scratch --  (Read 2509 times)

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Offline goodfellow

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I documented this thread to show how to form a complex shape with simple tools and some basic knowledge. Making an E-Type battery tray is a lesson in frustration if you don't pay attention to detail. Lots of precise angles, a hammer formed inner stiffener lip, and a bead are all easy to visualize, but a little tricky to put into an actual metal shape.

So here is the subject at hand; a rotted and rusted battery tray from an E-Type. You can buy these things for less than $100, but they will usually be made of 22 or 20 ga metal and won't be very strong. The new one is hand made out of 18 ga cold rolled, and will last the life of the car.

Pretty nasty looking --





First thing to do is make a pattern. I've shown this process in several posts, so I won't repeat the "how-to's"; suffice it to say that you need to take good measurements and double check everything --







Carefully transfer the pattern to a sheet of 18ga.



Carefully trimmed and the edges are filed evenly and true --



I used a 1-1/2" hole saw to cut the sheet --. I also used a plywood support underneath. It' important to remember that since the stiffener cutout has a lip that must be formed at 90 degrees, the holes on the sheetmetal are actually smaller than the measured cutout on the original. More on that in a minute ---



The holes are expanded with tin snips to get the desired shape. Final finish is achieved with a good set of flat bastard files.



Now I used the original plywood support and mated it to another piece of plywood with drywall screws. It's basically a plywood sandwich --



I used a 2" holes saw to cut the plywood sandwich. The 2" represent the original measured opening of the stiffener cutout.



Then I used a sabre saw to cut the remaining material --- Since this is going to be a precision metal form, I used a variety of rasps and files to make the edges smooth and straight. The smoother and straighter the better -- because the sheet metal will flow into these patterns.



Now we're done with the wood form, it's time to roll the center beads that stiffen the upper part of the tray. I used my HF bead roller, and it worked pretty well on 18 ga.









Now it;s time to form the stiffening lip on cutout. Sandwich the metal in the form and align it accordingly --



I used an old axle shaft as a chisel and a forming dolly to shape the lip. Remember, the sheet metal cutout is cut 1/4" smaller than the measured cutout. This 1/4" will form the 90 degree stiffening lip.

The axle shaft is used as a chisel to start the 90 degree bends. Once the metal folds over at 45 degrees, I use the shaft as a flattening dolly by hitting it broadside. Since I can't get inside the form, the shaft is hit outside the form and transfers that energy to the sheet metal to form the lip.





The finished product after 30 minutes of work -- the lip looks perfect. Only a little metal finishing is required.







Now the overall bends are made on the brake --



A little finishing work with the file and some finishing disks, and a few mounting holes to drill -- but this guy is basically done.



Here's the old rusted piece next to the newly formed piece --



Hope this helps some of you to tackle some of your own metal forming projects.




« Last Edit: January 19, 2012, 11:01:38 PM by goodfellow »

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Offline Fins/413

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Re: Metal Forming Tutorial: Making an E-Type battery tray from scratch --
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2012, 06:04:15 AM »
Wow, well done, that bead roller worked great. What kind of finish will you use? I'm just wondering about something tougher than regular paint since its a battery box. I guess you could use a gel cell. Terrific job.
Eric Corse
Wake Forest, NC
1959 Chrysler New Yorker
1982 Ford Econoline

Offline goodfellow

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Re: Metal Forming Tutorial: Making an E-Type battery tray from scratch --
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2012, 07:24:55 AM »
......What kind of finish will you use? I'm just wondering about something tougher than regular paint since its a battery box. I guess you could use a gel cell. Terrific job.

Thanks Fins. I'll use the SEM Rust-Shield paint on this tray. It's a very tough coating and will stand up to battery acid.

Offline TxDoc

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Re: Metal Forming Tutorial: Making an E-Type battery tray from scratch --
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2012, 01:18:13 AM »
 That is very impressive to get such a great result with a minimal of power machine help!  Very nice! :worship:

Offline rusty

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Re: Metal Forming Tutorial: Making an E-Type battery tray from scratch --
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2012, 08:31:56 PM »
Ray you nay need to start up a side business. Those should sell well.
Tool do job=Good tool

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