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Behind the scenes with the Ferrari fuser panel

"It takes about 10 years to really get this work done," says Roaf, "and I'm only two years so you have to carry with me." We could have made a wing for a GTO to really demonstrate my previous point, but there is no Ferrari here to use it on, while G & A Fabrications usually has a Cobra or two about. It also has a book for a Cobra, which will make the job a little easier because we will be able to marry the panel we convey to the money to see how we do it. Or it will be easier for Roaf to see how bad I do.

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The first task is to create a paper pattern so that we can cut out a rough shape from the actual metal plate. We use masking paper and tape, plus a pencil to trace the hard edges of the headboard, like brass rub in a church. With this overview transferred to the sheet, we use a combination of eyes and a plasma cutter, which in my hands gives a true root, but Grace burns a clean line through the sheet. We are now ready for the wheel.

The English wheel is the simplest of devices, but incredibly difficult to master. As you can see, it's a gigantic G & # 39; with a few rolls. There are three on G & A, each equipped with a pair of rolls that have different profiles. One pair is almost flat, another has a pronounced curve, and the one Grace and I use are midway between the others. It's a nerve breaker, that's this. Roaf makes us start, gently pull and push the metal back and forth between the rollers, gently apply pressure with your hands to encourage the shape. It's a very delicate balance between not enough power and so much that you put a crown into the one that makes it scratch. When it's my turn, I do not have enough pressure, and after dozens of passes between the rolls, the sheet has not changed shape at all.

"It would take me days to make a complete wing," says Roaf, "while Lawrence could finish this in the morning." "True," says Kett, "but I've done this all my work and I can not tell you how many Cobra bodies I've made."

Several hours later, the back becomes stiff, but thanks to Rof's patience and skill, the metal plate looks appropriate. The complete Cobra wing consists of several sections (our front is in front and contains the headlight bowl) which eventually gets gas-welded together, another skill in itself. "We can also use the gas lamp to anneal the metal," says Roaf, "to soften it so we can put a tighter bow in it without damaging the material."

There's a car in here It's under wraps and we can not talk about it because it's very special. The body was originally made in Italy, where another technique is used. Italian craftsmen use hammer, sandbagger and even logs to beat the metal in shape. Any pants and dimples that you end up must be hidden with filler. A Cobra inside has an eighth of an inch of filler on it due to poor welding and equally poor metal shaping. The goal is to hardly use any filler.

There is a lot of work to be done on our wing, but so far there are no ugly bays. Kett gives us a few minutes of their precious time, gains a little more excitement on the rolls and removes every blister within no more than 20 strokes. The surface is perfect. Even better, it starts to fit the money properly. Error is, it does not look so good when I'm back at work. You work in one area and another bit starts to go out of shape.

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"It's a bit like having three kids," says Roaf. "You must pay attention to all of them, or go away. If you concentrate on an area of ​​metal, you'll find things that go wrong in another. It's a constant compromise and challenge."

[19659002] More young blood needed:

There is no shortage of work at G & A Fabrications. "These days there are about 50:50 between vehicles and race cars," says Lawrence Kett. "We have had a few times when we have finished repairing a race car on Friday and got it back again on Monday after it's been pranged this weekend. No, having enough work is not worry. It's finding people like Grace for the future that hurts me. There are just not new people coming through. "

I suspect there are several factors that play here. There are simply not enough companies like Kett's; The aviation industry no longer trains and delivers the right kind of talent, especially as airplanes become composite materials; and having an apprentice in the store is hidden expensive.

Expensive but also time consuming. It takes a person of Kett's passion to set the time. Grace Roaf is not his only youth. There is a boy named Jack Renyard here, too, who is also skilled and becomes more adept at his craft a day. So if you control your 250 GTO in a parking garage in Walton-on-Thames, you're lucky. Help is around the corner.

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