When Rick Smith went shopping for an English Wheel, this discriminating hobbyist knew what he was shopping for. For nearly 20 years, Smith had been intrigued by the English Wheel. For years, his metalcrafting and shaping emanated from the hammer and dolly method.
It was at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) annual Oshkosh,WI fly-in that Smith first found the English Wheel in use. The EAA traditionally features not only precision flying demonstrations, and other aircraft exhibits, but also aircraft construction and maintenance workshops. When Smith saw the English Wheel being used, he knew he had to have one.
Over the years, he talked with a number of individuals and manufacturers about what he wanted. But, as he talked to them, many of them readily admitted to him, “If I had to do this over again, I’d change this or improve that,” etc. He knew even the owners and manufacturers weren’t totally satisfied with their products.
Then, he learned Jim Rettick, manager of Right Angle Tool, manufactured the MetalAce® line of English Wheels, so he investigated. He knew the dimensions involved in fine metalcrafting equipment are critical, particularly the pressure between the wheels. As he soon discovered, “Jim had conducted all kinds of experiments on tension and pressure between the wheels, etc. He knew he was on the right track. Jim knows what he’s doing. He has the design and manufacture perfected down to a science. Total quality.”
Prior to seeing what Jim Rettick was manufacturing, Smith thought he would have to build one in order to get a quality machine. But after seeing the care, quality and extreme precision of construction and manufacture of the entire machine and studying its features, he decided to purchase a 44F floor model. He is very pleased that he did, because it has exceeded his expectations.
To date, Smith has completed two pieces of sculpture and helped coach the Bradley University Engineering Department on using the MetalAce 44F to build the aluminum body of its experimental race car. He is currently busy restoring two antique airplanes. The planes are 1930’s Great Lakes biplanes, and feature a bump cowling over a 7-cylinder engine. In order to blend the cowl to the fuselage, it requires compound curved fairings and the 44F is perfect for shaping them, as well as other aircraft parts.
If you’re a craftsman like Smith is, you know that if you want to shape the finest parts with an English Wheel, you have to have the finest tools and there are no better machines made than the MetalAce® line.