Metalworking and Burnouts With Custom Car Legend

Hand Forming Metal at Gene Winfields Metalworking Class custom car metal bodywork technique

I can’t let another day go by without sharing about my amazing past weekend! Yes, I was at Gene Winfield’s. Yes, I learned a gazillion metalworking tips from a legend. Yes, I even did my very first burnout.

Grease Girl and 1955 Studebaker champion leaving Roadhouse Mikes in Mojave for Gene Winfield'sLet me start at the beginning though… Early Saturday morning I stumble out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, and jump in Stude for the hour and a half drive up to Mojave, CA. My Dad makes the trek there from Vegas and we meet at Roadhouse Mikes – just the sort of greasy spoon you’d expect in a small desert town. With full bellies we head eight miles down the road to Gene Winfield’s. We’re signed up for Gene’s bi-yearly metalworking workshop.

Participants at Gene Winfields Metal-working Workshop custom car metal bodywork technique metal shop toolsBy 9 o’clock Gene is busy acquainting all 10 participants with the various tools around his shop. Among the tools are a slip roll,  english wheel, beverly shears, pipe anvil, bead roller, and dozens of hammers, dollys, and dies. Soon Gene is fully absorbed into teaching us about various metals, chopping customs, gas welding, breaking an edge, and hammer forming metal. (You’ll have to come back for how-to articles!)

Learning Metalworking Techniques at Gene Winfields custom car metal bodywork techniqueAfter nearly 10 hours of class, we all call it a day! My Dad and I head off to eat at Domingo’s – one our favorite restaurant stops over in Boron, a nearby town. On Sunday class was no different, by the time I rolled in a few minutes after 9 it was already underway. Sunday we covered topics like hole repair, hammer welding, sectioning a car, and making louvers. You’re gonna have to keep your eye out at for articles on everything I learned!

GreaseGirl Learns Leading With Gene Winfield metalworking technique custom car bodyworkI even got to try my hand at leading and aluminum welding! I felt right at home leading, it seemed much funner then applying Bondo. And during my first try at wire welding, my welding line looked pretty hot before I burned that hole!

Gene Winfield Fixing GreaseGirl's Hubcap how-to fix a hubcap custom car metal bodywork techniqueAs class wound down, most everybody said goodbye and drove off into the desert sunset. But I still had one thing I wanted to accomplish. Back in October when my tire blew, my hubcap was crumbled. My attempts to get it even enough to fit back on my rim were unsuccessful. I was sure some of Gene’s special hammers and dies could even out my hubcap (I’ve been unable to identify what make/year it was to look for a replacement.) Always the perfectionist, Gene wouldn’t let me bang on it, but rather took to the job himself. And did it get fixed? We’re talking about Gene Winfield here people! That hubcap looks nearly brand new and is fit securely back onto my tire – never to roll off and hit a Mercedes door again!

Hot Rod 1955 Studebaker parked at Gene Winfields Rods and Customs in mojave, caThis weekend wasn’t over yet! One of the guys who works for Gene offered to tune my Holley carb. After making some adjustments we took it out for a test drive. I was given the directions to “give it as much throttle as I would” and it didn’t take Bart long to realize that I’m a pretty conservative driver! So we switch places and he takes off atfull throttle, a velocity I have never felt in my Studebaker! We then decided that Studey should experience her first burnout. With a stroked Chevy 383, 700R4 trans, and Ford 9″ rear she’s made for this stuff. Bart started her with a nice couple of burnouts and then we switched places again. After a short explanation of power-braking it was time for me to put the lesson into practice. I’m not sure if it was my first or second try…but I got some nice rubber tracks on that desert road!

Gene Winfield and The Reactor custom movie car star trek green space car, catwoman carBy this time the sun had long-ago set and it was time for my weekend at Gene’s to end. Pulling out from his place though I realized Studey just wasn’t right. In fact, she wasn’t even shifting out of first! I go back, we check a few things, I try again. I go back, we check a few more things, and I try again. No good. So, yes… I was stranded. But at least I was stranded at Gene Winfield’s! Monday was spent exploring the transmission and checking into things (as well as checking out more of the cool things around Gene’s place…like the Winfield original – The Reactor!) After digging my fingernails into my transmission, I have two things to say about it… Why don’t transmission oil pans have empty valves??? and Yikes… transmissions are scary!!! All of the copper bits in Stude’s oil gave a very solemn clue as to what’s wrong…it seems my 700R4 needs a rebuild.

GreaseGirl Looks At Stude's First Burnout Tracks how to burnout girl burnout desert roadThe next morning I waved goodbye to Studey as I took the train back to LA. I’m hoping this next adventure of getting a trans rebuild goes well… because I fear burnouts may be addictive!

Keep your eye out at for more articles from Gene’s workshop as well as plenty more learning adventures from yours truly, GreaseGirl ;)

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