This is a test of creativity. Look around for things you can just grab up, or start drawing a picture or visualize in your head what you want to do with the scraps sitting in front of you. All of a sudden ideas just start coming out about what would look cool and the pieces of the puzzle just start falling into place.
I made a couple of phone calls to a buddy who works on motors and asked him if he had any parts lying around. He sent me some pistons and some rods. Then another buddy, Randy St. Claire, who builds bikes, provided a clutch plate autographed by John Force, the NHRA top-fuel funny car driver.
That gave me an idea. I was looking for a sprocket or something like that. I’m thinking of a round metal ball with a sprocket over it representing the rings of Saturn. I had a vision of a car sitting on top of it. I didn’t know how to make the stand so Randy and Jim Severino came over here with a box of parts.
A trophy has to sit on a base so I started with a half moon for a base. I took the half moon and positioned the gear on top, welding those two parts together. In this type of building you are really going for that raw-look industrial kind of feel, not shiny, and no paint graphics or pin striping, just raw-motor feel, motor-fabricating junk-yard style trophy.
I thought the pistons would make a good base. We had four pistons but three would look cooler, two in the front and one in the back, giving it a spaceship-tripod look and feel. I found two springs but needed three, so I put on a scavenger hunt in the shop. It took the most time in the whole project to find three look-alike springs.
From there I took the half moon circle and the gear. The guys had brought me some pieces of fence parts, twisted metal welded together. They looked pretty cool.
So we had one 3-inch piece that had these 4 pieces twisted together. I took that and welded it in the center so that I could build from the center piece. I welded the complete steel ball, made out of 18-gauge metal, around that twisted piece of fence iron. I wanted the sprocket going around the ball to look like Saturn and it fit perfectly. I wanted to weld it together so you couldn’t see where it was welded to give it a floating effect.
I welded the springs to the tops of the piston rods, using the pistons for the floor mount parts. So I got the three pistons attached to serve as legs. Then I positioned the clutch plate at an angle. I took some ¼ inch rod and cut two 3-inch pieces and one 5-inch piece for the rear. I welded those to the piston rods and welded the clutch plate from underneath to the two rods. This allowed the clutch plate to sit at an angle. I used the 5-inch piece in the back to tilt it forward.
At that point I’m getting a pretty good sense of what it’s going to look like, but we want a bit more mechanical feel, so we take three spark plugs and welded those in at the base to make a truss or gusset to hold the pistons on the springs. I liked that look.
We had some more pieces of twisted rod iron in the shape of a ball. I welded that over the 5-inch “Saturn” ball and then welded the 3-inch ball on top of that. Call that one “Jupiter.” These steel balls usually come in two halves and then you weld them together. One was already welded together so that was a time saver. I welded the two half moons of the 3-inch ball together with a TIG welder for a smoother look but a MIG welder was used on most of it to give it a rougher look. You don’t want clean beads unless you’re doing a clean weld. That step added to the overall look.
Jaded Toys gave me a bunch of rat-rod looking model cars. I had this ‘51 Merc’ that would set it off on top. I had a 1½ inch piping with a flange on it so I cut about a 1½-inch length leaving the flange of about 3 inches with a 1½ inch circle. I set that on top to use as a platform to mount the car. The car had two screws under it for mounting it to plastic. Luckily, I was able to drill two holes in that flange to create a mounting point. Now the car is positioned and I have a metal shield logo, a badge from my shop. It just came together. It fit right in between the two pistons. I used a Chicago Pneumatics engraver to engrave the title on the 5-inch ball which is ‘Best Custom.’ My wife has better handwriting than me, especially on something round, so she wrote ‘Best Custom’ and then came back and with an engraver and engraved in the center of the black marker and left it like that. It gave it a kind of highlight and with the engraver I was able to dig into the metal to give it dimension. This was the 6th annual car show so I put ‘6th annual’ on the smaller 3-inch ball and ‘2009 Best Custom’ with ‘Long Beach Car Show.’
From the fence shop we had two little leaf-style metal castings. They were different so we couldn’t use them symmetrically. We put one up thinking ‘this complements the front of the car’ and it fit perfectly. The car was kind of sitting in outer space, so I tacked the first piece on and used the other one to complement the rear of the car. As you can see from this process, with all the little bits and pieces, you need a basic idea of what you want to do before you start building, but then it takes on a life of its own.
You don’t know what it is going to look like until you try it. You reach out and gather up some pieces, throw it on the table, walk around the shop a couple of times looking for some other pieces that would go with a motor/industrial/rat rod kind of cool trophy.
When you put your mind to something and move forward with it, you’re going to have a cool experience no matter what you do. You have to have fun with it. If you have fun with it and people like it, it’s a bonus. That’s the best payoff of being a builder. Anybody can do it if they put their mind to it. If you have the right tools and the right frame of mind to have fun with it, that’s all a passion.
Like my signature series ‘Building for Life,’ it doesn’t matter what I am building, I’m always going to be building something. It’s kind of an off-the-wall project that I wanted to share with readers because it’s a little unusual and gets your mind thinking in different directions.
If you order up a traditional plastic trophy, you’re thinking how big should it be? marble?, glass?. It won’t make an impression like this trophy. The winner was so stoked when he won this trophy I don’t even have words for it. This trophy will sit around his house and he won’t outgrow it and throw it away like he might a normal trophy or plaque. If I was going to a car show and competing the way I do, I’d love to win this trophy. I was almost hesitant about giving it away. I thought it would look good in my own shop.
You can get creative by just thinking outside the box. That’s how I always try to build. That’s how I paint and that’s how I design. I want to be doing something different than everyone else out there.
I thought this was a cool project and I wanted to share it with you guys. If anybody wants to get creative and build a trophy themselves, email me some pictures at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d like to see some other builders try a trophy. Actually, it would be cool to have a contest who can build the coolest out-of-this-world trophy. After gathering those trophies we can give them away at other car shows or charity events, like the Long Beach Car Show. Go to www.longbeachcarshow.com for other coverage of the show.