Dale Adams Enterprises, Incorporated




"Josie's '56"

This Cadillac is actually a pedal car that we created for a charity auction benefiting the AACA (held on October 10th, 2008 at Hershey). Our shop was one of twelve selected to undertake this project by Steve Moskowitz, the current executive director of the AACA. Details on the project are available here.

We were all given a Champion Comet pedal car to use as a base, but were told to use as much or as little of the Comet that we wanted. We decided to make an entirely new body for it, as we are Alumni of the Fay Butler Metal Shaping Academy. Fay is a dear family friend of ours, and a master metal shaper. He trains our employees in the art. The body on this pedal car is completely hand made out of sheet metal using the techniques we learned from him, right down to the bumpers. We use no body fillers on any of our restorations!



When Steve gave us the project (and a huge Hershey's bar as a bribe), Josie Adams' 1956 pink Cadillac Coupe deVille was at the shop getting a tune up. Dale decided that making a scale model of her car for the project would be fun.

We like to call this project "Pedal Car Art", as the twelve pedal cars that were created are as much pieces of art as they are toys.

Creating a miniature Cadillac is a project that is easier said than done. In proper Dale Adams tradition, the car had to of course be extravagant, but also needed to look like something a pedal car manufacturer could have produced. Therefore he used the running gear from the Comet, as well as the steering wheel and headlights.

Josie's '56 features an all hand shaped steel body, with chrome bumpers and trim, as well as 24 kt gold plating on the grille and badges. It is painted in the same pink as Josie's real Cadillac, and features a hand-made polished aluminum hard top to complete the "Coupe deVille" look. The interior fabric is real old stock fabric from a 1956 Cadillac, just like the big car. The hard top is, of course, removable, turning the pedal car into a stylish convertible for the up and coming 3 year old.

More information on the auction can be found at the RM Auctions website.



Josie with the Caddys



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Below you will find a photographic narrative of the creation of Josie's '56! While this is on a small scale, the metal shaping processes you see here are the same that are used on our full scale restorations.

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1. Dale's son Jeremy started off the project by photographing the real Caddy from the front, side and rear, using tape across the hood and trunk to give lines of perspective for the upcoming station buck. He then used Adobe Photoshop to turn the photos into a digital line drawing.

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2. After the Photoshopping, Jeremy measured the wheels on the Comet (the orange car pictured), and used their size (8" diameter) as the scale against the actual Cadillac. Using this scale (it works out to be about 2/7ths scale), he used a projector to create life-sized drawings of the pedal car from the front, side and rear, as well as top views of the front and rear bumpers. The photo above shows the result. Every piece of the pedal car was created using these drawings, from the station buck to the Cadillac hood badge.
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3. When the drawings were completed, Dale got to work creating the station bucks he would use to shape the metal to. A station buck is a (usually) wooden form cut to the desired shape to assist in the metal forming. The side of the Cadillac has some rather sharp creases, and using the station buck ensured that Dale's hammering would be correct to the real car. The buck you see here is the rough cutout of the side view of the car.

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4. This photo better explains what the previous paragraph mentioned. You can see the body lines running from above the front wheel arch, then up right behind where the door would be. There is also a fine line above the rear arch.

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5. This is an interesting step. Once the station buck is completed, Dale wraps it in paper, which shows him where he needs to stretch or shrink the metal, in order to attain the desired form and curvature.

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6. Once the station buck is completed, a length of steel is cut to the rough shape of the side of the pedal car, and Dale gets to work coercing the metal to do his bidding, using his vast collection of both hand and power hammers.

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7. The power hammers are excellent for a lot of work, but naturally some hand hammering must be done as well. This is where the station buck comes in particularly useful.

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8. After a lot of hammering, the shape of the car comes to life. This shot shows the Comet in the background, giving you an idea of how much larger (and lower) Josie's '56 will be.

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9. After the sides of the car were completed, Jeremy used his drawings to create station bucks for the top of the car. You can see how the shape of the hood and trunk changes from the front to the back. Not shown here are thicker pieces of wood that joined each piece of plywood together. With these rough shapes cut out, Dale further refined them by carving and cutting.

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10. And this is the result. Dale will use this station buck to guide him in getting the correct lines for the top of the car.

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11. The top of the car had a number of really complex curves. Dale made seperate segments, then welded them together to make the final form. You can see one segment here, along with the sharp corner between the trunk and tail fin.

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12. Since Josie's '56 is so much larger than the Comet, the stock running gear from the Comet had to be significantly modified in order to meet the ballooned dimensions. Knowing the final pedal car would be quite heavy, we created a sort of chassis to fit underneath the body, which would carry the weight of the passenger, rather than the body itself.

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13. This is what will be the hammer form for the rear bumper. A hammer form is essentially a metal station buck. More durable than wood, they can take strong hammer blows, and extremely high heat - needed to create the complex sheet metal bumpers. In this picture we are slowly bending the hammer form into the correct shape. The process required the flames from two torches, and the muscle of two guys!

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14. The fruit's of Dale's labor. The hood and trunk come into shape, and are ready to be welded onto the side pieces.

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15. And this is the result! A fully hand-made metal body. Not a spec of "Bondo" to be seen!

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16. On the left is the hammer form for the driver's side front bumper. On the left is what used to be a flat piece of sheet metal. Like before, paper was laid over the hammer form to decide how much metal would be needed, and what places needed to shrink or stretch. After that, it was an exercise in extremely high heat (red and white hot metal) a lot of hammering, and Shawn Morgan's sharp eye. The form comes out rough, but once it has been ground and polished, it will be mirror smooth.

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17. In a close-up of the chassis, the rear axle is covered by a support that will hold the seat. We also enclosed the wheels into their own wells, in order to add more realism. Those are the original wheels from the Comet pedal car. A little paint and airbrushing makes them look similar to the hubcaps on the real car.

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18. What you see here is the lost art known as "leading". Naturally, when the various pieces of metal were welded together, then the welds ground smooth, some pits and holes will remain. This is where many shops will simply grab some body filler ("Bondo") and quickly smooth out the imperfections. Not us. Body fillers will eventually weaken, and cause flaws and cracking in the paint. This is much more evident in a real car, especially if it gets driven, as all the vibrations will reduce the strength of the body filler.

We feel that the only thing that should fix imperfections in metal should be.... metal! This is where leading comes into play. Here, Dale is heating up a bar of lead into liquid form, then he uses a wooden paddle to spread it onto the steel. Once he has the desired amount of lead in place, he files it to shape. This is a permanent, quality method of "filling" metal, and is one of a number of reasons our paint jobs still look brand new on 30 year old restorations!

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19. Here the body is fit to the chassis. The various trim pieces have been fitted to be fine tuned before they go off to the platers.

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Josie's '56 was a fun and interesting project for us. The metal shaping was a true test of Dale's skills, and he is extremely happy with the outcome.