Keith Daleen of Sedalia, MO had just had enough. As an avid hobbyist focused on rebuilding old cars, he was consistently disappointed with the ill-constructed, foreign-made replacement panels he was buying.
“I was paying $150 to buy the part and another $150 to make them fit,” he relates. That’s when he decided he was going to buy an English Wheel. “I knew Ron Covell’s reputation of working with metal, and when he told me about a wheel, I decided I was going to get one. I also knew that if the MetalAce® machine was good enough for him, I didn’t need to shop around.”
Daleen ordered a 44F U-weld kit from Covell in September 1997, but the shipper was on strike. So, Covell, who distributes the MetalAce, told Daleen to ship directly from MetalAce, which is located not so far away in Illinois.
The U-weld kit for the 44F call for a 3” support steel frame, but Daleen believes “bigger is better”, which he uses as his rationale for buying the 44F, and for justifying moving up to a 4”, 1/4”-thick steel frame. “It’s solid,” he says, particularly with the four legs under vs. most manufacturer’s three legs.
The feature he likes the best are the wide variety of wheels available and the flat wheels. “I learned the value of flat wheels about a year ago, when I used someone else’s machine one day. There were no flat wheels available and this owner was just under the impression you picked out the radius that you wanted the finished product to be. He didn’t know how to work your way there by “washing” the panel back and forth through the machine.”
Today, Daleen has rebuilt seven cars since his purchase of the MetalAce 44F English Wheel. But, his reputation is also getting around. He stays busy building parts for others, namely rust panels, door skins, fender patches, lower rear body panels and transmission humps for cars. In the motorcycle world, he has fabricated aluminum fenders for a 1955 Harley Davidson and aluminum air shields for racing bikes. He’s also used it to remove “dings” from fenders of cars. “It’s a lot quieter than beating them out with a hammer,” he laughs.
To Keith Daleen, serious hobbyist, the MetalAce is the perfect tool for this equally serious craftsman.