Custom Header Builds Just Got FUN!

As most of you may know, building custom headers is a major trial and error process. Massive amounts of time and material are wasted due to micro adjustments and tack welding, only to find your header is in contact with a frame rail or another element in your cramped engine bay. The cost of your job is rising faster than your blood pressure and your scrap pile isn’t getting any smaller. After hours in the shop with little progress, you find yourself back at the drawing board looking for a solution. The guys at Icengineworks know this process all too well and have come up with a header building system that puts the FUN back in fabrication. Some fabricators call it cheating, however if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’, right?

Icengineworks provides 3 categories of products that simplify the header building process. Their most popular product is the Header Modeling Blocks. These time saving blocks allow you to simulate an exhaust runner using plastic blocks built to specific radii and OD. Adapt your runner to the header flange on your motor and precisely maneuver around obstacles in your engine bay until you have created a model of your custom headers. This eliminates cut and weld adjustments that waste both time and material. Once you have a block model of your custom headers, use the Icengineworks Tube Cutting Jigs to cut pre bent U and J bends to match the radii of your block model. When you have all your pieces, recruit Icengineworks’ Tack Weld Clamps to get the job done.  Clamp and position your pieces to create the final product by using these easy to use clamps.

The video below explains and demonstrates how the Icengineworks system can save you both time and money. This video was shot at the 2015 PRI Show and highlights the major advantages of the Icengineworks products.

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    Bend-Tech Dragon Tube Cutting and Marking System

    When first introduced to the Bend-Tech Dragon Plasma Notcher, it didn’t take us long to figure out how it got its name. Its unique beast-like figure looks intimidating and the sparks from the plasma cutter replicate the breathing of fire. These characteristics are vastly similar the the fictional beast, making the Dragon a perfect name for this hardcore Plasma Notcher.

    It’s accuracy and capabilities are unlike any animal we’ve seen, almost as if it’s unreal. The Dragon is capable of taking full length tubing, cutting it to length, notching the end profile, marking holes or slots as needed, and marking any bend locations with rotation and degrees; something you wont find in any other plasma notcher.

    Included with the Bend-Tech Dragon is two powerful software packages; Bend-Tech Industrial and Bend-Tech Dragon Software. Working side by side, these products will allow you to create 3D CAD designs from scratch or convert from SOLIDWORKS, AutoCAD, Inventor, PRO Engineer, etc. into a readable format for the machine. Dragon Software will automatically create your cutting, marking and etching paths directly from Bend-Tech Industrial and comes with a nesting ability to allow several parts on the same stock tube.

    Check out the video below and see this nonfictional machine in action. This video was shot at the Trick-Tools booth during the 2015 SEMA Show and highlights some of the major characteristics that make the Dragon a necessity in a production environment.

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      Don’t Get Bent Out of Shape with Square Tubing

      Bending Square Tubing can be a real pain, especially if it’s your first time. You find yourself climbing all over your bender trying to free the tube from the die, hitting it with your arsenal of mallets, and once you finally get the tube free, the inside and outside walls are deformed and the bend quality doesn’t meet your original expectation. But hold on.. How abnormal is deformation when bending square material?

      Before you get bent out of shape with square tubing, watch our “Intro to Square Tube Bending” video below. In this video, we walk you through and demonstrate what you can expect when working with square tubing. Wall deformation, bend angle, radius, and bending equipment are a few of the topics covered.


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        English Wheel Kit – What Would YOU Build?

        What would you build with an English Wheel Kit?

        Some people just love to build stuff, anything at all….it’s simply about going hard and getting something done. These Do-It-Yourselfers may reach for a torch, a rusty framing hammer or a tree stump – and that’s quite all right with them. They not only fix their own projects but things for the friends, the in-laws, the neighbor and garbage man. They can always make it work with the tools at their disposal.

        In the other corner stands the tool junkie. Although they share the same love of building stuff, in some ways its really about the tools (whether he admits it or not). To the fabrication tool junkie a shop full of “Status” tools is similar to a car guy having a garage full of award winners. They experience smug satisfaction when walking in the shop and find things as they should be: Quality tools that are clean, a little bling, and proudly perched in their place. For them, that’s when life is good.

        MetalAce has offered an English Wheel U-weld kit for many years. But as you look at some of these pictures maybe you’ll agree with me that it could be called the U-dream kit, or U-customize kit, or U-do-it-your-way-the-right-way kit. It’s perfect for either personality because we start with quality USA made components that are rugged, tested and true to ensure a machine that gets shaping work done right. Plus, it has just enough shiny polished steel and attention to detail to satisfy the fabricating tool junkie who is ready to get creative and churn out his own unique showpiece!

        So what would you build with an English wheel kit: Welded tube frame or plate design? 3 legs or 4? 20, 30 or 50″ throat? Painted, powdercoated, or bare steel? Click here to see the kit if you are ready to give it a go. (New video showing the components – see here!)  Once you tool junkies have “nailed it”, show us your answer to the question by emailing us a picture of the finished machine – we’ll hook you up with a Free MetalAce Radius Check Gauge just for sharing.


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          Rob Ida Fulfills the Tucker Torpedo Dream

          Not very many hot rod builder achieve the status of “coachbuilder”, but one shop in New Jersey has by pursuing a dream passed down through three generations.  Rob Ida of Rob Ida Concepts, along with his father Bob, is creating the first ever Tucker Torpedo concept car. With only fifty original Tucker automobiles produced in 1948, they have become some of the most highly sought after and collectible American made cars.  The Tucker Torpedo concept car was never built and currently exists only as a scale model in the Peterson Automotive Museum.

          The task that Rob has undertaken is fueled by a passion starting with his grandfather, Joe Ida.  In 1948 Joe started a Tucker dealership in Yonkers, New York which was only open for three days when the Tucker brand folded.  Joe sold one hundred and thirty cars in this short time but never took delivery of the goods and was forced to refund each customer’s money.  Joe was even unable to obtain a model for himself and spent the rest of his life Continue reading
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            Copy Cat!

            Quite often in forums and various online communities we see ongoing discussions about tool recommendations and usage. Many times a potential customer has a project, need, or maybe just a burning desire to add to their arsenal of metal fabrication tools and is asking for opinions. Of course, when opinions are involved there is always variety of advice, some good and some not so good. As purveyors of fine metalworking tools, we at Trick Tools are always disappointed to read a thread where the advice to purchase a good piece of equipment that someone has experience with, is sidetracked by someone who comments that you can find the exact same thing at a much lower price elsewhere – and it turns out to be a copy cat tool. In this short article, I would like to point out the major differences we have found over the years between these counterfeit tools and the real deal.

            1. Copy cat tools are built to look the same but do not perform the same. As a tool manufacturer we see the constant improvement and revisions that go into making a tool truly great. This comes from customer feedback, resolving issues and ongoing product use plus testing. Often times copy cat tools are impressive in their appearance (especially the photos) but lack the close tolerances and final details in manufacturing that makes or breaks the finished product and ultimately the quality of work accomplished.

            2. Copy cat tools do not usually have parts or accessories. No available replacement parts is a serious issue for the Continue reading

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              Atlantic Concept Car Inspired

              Bold, creative, daring, inspiring, cutting edge, futuristic…..these are a few words often used to describe concept cars built by the big automakers. In 1994 Bob Lutz of Chrysler first sketched the idea for a car know as the Atlantic that would be a show stopper at the famous Concours D’Elegance in 1995. But the original car is not the focus of this blog, but rather served as the creative spark for customer Garry Smith……

              The first photo shows the original car, but believe it or not the additional photos are Garry’s own re-creation of the Atlantic in process! Using a MetalAce English Wheel the aluminum front fenders are well underway showing off that swoopy 30’s French styling. Notice the wood bucks that have been built to serve as a pattern for the complex shape. I asked Garry a few questions and here is what I found out →

              Q: What’s underneath all the body work?
              A: I started with a 1990 XJR Jaguar, cut off the Continue reading

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                Review: HEM Saw Benchtop Semi-Auto Portable Bandsaw

                No, that’s not a typo → Benchtop AND Semi-Auto. Pretty unique huh? We think it deserves a tool review! So out of the box it came and we let the metal chips fly.

                HEM Saw is the largest bandsaw manufacturer in the USA. They have partnered with an innovative Italian maker by the name of FEMI to supply quality portable solutions to compliment their line of large floor model saws. This brand new NG120ABS model weighs less than 50 lbs and will cut steel while you prep for the next operation. But be careful, it may work faster than you do! Check out the video – (that’s 1-1/2″ solid steel!)

                So how does it work? The down-feed mechanism allows the user to choose one of 4 presets for the thickness of material being cut. Pull the trigger, lift up on the handle and pull the head gently down to the material. Now the saw takes over using a simple gravity feed and auto-off switch.  Just that easy.

                “But how straight does it cut?” Surely that is Continue reading

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                  The Gift of Mobility

                  Millions of people in this world are in desperate need of mobility because of landmines, polio and other diseases, birth defects, and amputations.  It is a life-changing event to go from dragging oneself in the dirt and mud to having three wheels to go wherever one wants to go!   An amazing group of volunteers called PET, short for Personal Energy Transportation, can turn a $250 donation into a no-cost Gift of Mobility to the recipient. Watch this news story, filmed just a few miles down the road from us.

                  At the local PET IA-Leighton affiliate, the sturdy steel frame construction is partially constructed using a Dake Coldsaw, Femi Bandsaw and Multitool Grinder. The PET is a wheelchair that goes where wheelchairs can’t go! To date more than 30,000 PETs have been distributed in over 90 countries and production from PET affiliates all over the country continues to grow.

                  We applaud the excellent work and generosity of our local PET! For additional info see these links:

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                    Belt Sander…..or Belt Grinder?

                    What’s the difference between a Belt Sander and a Belt Grinder?

                    Are they synonyms or just similar? How about this one:  truck…or pickup? Many would use these terms interchangeably, but growing up in the transportation world I recognize “truck” as an 18 wheeler capable of some serious work – 400 HP, 13 speeds towing 50,000 lbs! A pickup was great for grabbing lunch or loading up coolers and pulling a boat to the lake. Same goes for Belt Sander vs Belt Grinder →


                    Typical Sander

                    BurrKing960 - Quality Grinder

                    Quality Grinder

                    A belt sander is useful when working with wood. The slower belt speed keeps heat from burning or glazing over the grain. Sanding is done by pressing the material against the belt which rides along a rigid backing platen. You feel the seam of the belt thump its way around and the drag of the belt robbing power.  Typically much less pressure is presented to the belt with wood and therefore the belt tracking system is not as robust….a “pickup” if you will. You will find these from household name brands at at big box stores. But, if you want to get some serious “truck-like” work done on metal [mantra-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”][/mantra-pullquote] a high speed belt grinder is the tool for you. Belt speeds are typically 4,000-8,000 feet per minute resulting in rapid material removal. Plus, they are designed to use either the rigid backing platen or a rubberized contact wheel grinding surface. The rubberized backing behind the belt gives you butter-smooth feel and even quicker material removal. Hardcore fabricators will recognize names like Burr King, Multitool, or Grit. This high speed belt action allows much of the heat to leave with the grinding chips and dust, plus keeps the belt cool as it spins through the air. As you can imagine a Belt Grinder needs some serious HP and robust tracking system to handle the high pressure often placed against it. And typically the belt construction will consist partially of a Zirconia or Ceramic material on a heavy backing that can handle the rigors of steel removal.

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                    Even some manufacturers will blur their product descriptions by using the terms sander or grinder too loosely. Just make sure you select the right machine with adequate power, speed, and of course long-lasting quality to get your job done right. There are a lot of options, feel free to contact us to discuss any of them!

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