Miller, Cotati Speed Shop Making Headway on Service Truck for Upcoming 2011 Hot Rod Power Tour
April 20, 2011
Miller product managers Jon Ertmer (Integrated MIG), John Swartz (TIG) and Steve Hidden (Plasma) recently returned from a second trip to Cotati Speed Shop where they continued to work with shop owner Zane Cullen and the Cotati team to transform the ’69 GMC pickup truck that will operate as a service truck on the upcoming 2011 Hot Rod Power Tour and other future events.
Summary: First Shop Visit
During the first visit to Cotati Speed Shop, the team agreed to equip the truck with a Diversion™ 180 TIG welder, Millermatic® 211 Auto-Set™ MIG welder and Spectrum® 375 X-TREME™ plasma cutter. The design configuration includes a swiveling platform allowing for easy access to each welder and the tool chest, an area to house the Wildcat® 200 engine-driven welder (power source), a retractable plate that will serve as a welding table and a slot for clamps and jigs. The final design will successfully accommodate all of the welding equipment and support components within the pickup bed, eliminating the need to tow a trailer on the tour’s 1,605-mile trek.
Cullen and Cotati fabricator Dan Aguirre, along with Steve Hidden, collaborated to devise a removable cartridge to house the cylinders of various gases for operating the welders and plasma cutter. A plate configuration that somewhat resembles a cage using 3/16-inch material was used for the base and bent tubing. Hidden used the Spectrum® 375 X-TREME™ plasma cutter to fabricate a cradle for securing each bottle within the removable cage. The design allows for easy removal and installation of the welding gases for security and safety.
Miss the first article? You may want to catch up before reading on and check out the entire Cotati Speed Shop playlist via the Miller YouTube Channel (and three brand new videos from trip one via the media gallery)!
Second Visit: Divide and Conquer!
With plans for accommodating all of the welding equipment and support components completed, the team split up to streamline their next significant undertaking, chassis fabrication.
The one half continued work on the specifics of the pickup bed while the second group got busy with installation of the rear suspension and air ride components provided by Ride Tech as well as fuel delivery from Aeromotive. In addition to the suspension, another major component of this phase was to install a new fuel tank in the center of the frame section, along with new fuel lines up to the front of the pickup and connect these to the engine.
To streamline the process, the bed was removed from the frame, allowing the chassis team unobstructed access to the pickup frame and the second team could stay the course for completing the bed fabrication.
On the shark cage, Jon Ertmer and other team members MIG welded the floor to the frame itself. Using two different thickness materials (welding an 18 gauge floor to a 1/8-inch frame). Because of the difference in material thicknesses, Ertmer made an adjustment to the welder and set it to weld at a 16 gauge setting. To control the heat and avoid burning through the floor, he spent more time welding on the thicker tube frame and did 1-inch stitch welds every 6-8 inches as opposed to welding all around the floor and frame.
Meanwhile, John Swartz and Steve Hidden worked on creating the bottom truck bed support for the shark cage as the bolted swivel/cage would eventually work its way through the rusty part of the bed if not supported properly. The team used a 1/4-inch plate as a backing support to help disperse the weight over the bed.
Things are really coming together. Even the talented Jerry "Wolfe" Alward stopped by the shop during Miller's visit to begin laying out the patina lettering for the truck.
Stay tuned for more DIY e-newsletter features on the truck fabrication including welding and cutting tips, demonstrating techniques used in the various stages of the project.
The Cotati Speed Shop/Miller Service Truck will receive additional support from a number of companies who will provide products and services used in the truck fabrication and build process. Among these are: Ride Tech (air ride and suspension components); Aeromotive (fuel delivery components and fuel tank); Vintage Air (heat and air conditioning system); Summit Racing (engine components and accessories); LMC (miscellaneous); Flowmaster (performance mufflers and exhaust systems) and Coker Tire (wheels and tires).
Watch the above video to see how the team has employed various welding techniques during the second visit to fabricate and install a variety of bolted applications and bracket modifications used to secure the bed back onto the frame. And don’t miss the Cotati Speed Shop playlist via the Miller YouTube Channel for a series of videos tracking the truck’s progression (start to end) and tips from experts Zane Cullen and Miller product managers.
Stay tuned for more progression videos and articles tracking the progress. Sign up for the DIY e-newsletter and don't forget to watch the entire Cotati Speed Shop playlist via the Miller YouTube Channel.