A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend a Metal Shaping Workshop put on by one of Kustom Kultures legends Gene Winfield that he holds a few times a a year around the country. Alex Gambino of Gambino Kustoms hosted it at his shop in San Jose California with a full class of eager students of all ages from all over the US.
The topics covered everything from basic metallurgy, fabrication, tool use, metal finishing and leading just to name a few. 50 plus years of his experiences, stories and talent are shared throughout the 2 days and nights. As Alex says….”Gene covers a hell of alot of material in the 2 days!”. That’s an understatement.
This last December 2014 I again had the honor to attended the workshop, this time not as a student (yes I was listening and learning just like the 1st time!) but to shoot some photos of the event. At Gambino Kustoms the weekend starts out on Friday night with chopping somebody’s car. Its open to the public on Friday night for anybody to come see and or participate as well as after Saturdays class. Past cars have been Dave Hitchinsons 1958 Lincoln, a 60’s Thunderbird, Shoebox Ford, Jeff Spence‘s 61 Plymouth, and most recently Pastimes Car Clubs Luis Padilla’s 60 Plymouth brought in by Kustoms by Spence for the event.
Of the heavy hitters helping Gene and Alex are a couple of Beatniks Car Club members Dave Hitchinson of VonHitch Kustoms and Scott Mugford of Blue Collar Customs both from Northern California’s Sacramento area. The experience is a great learning opportunity with some of the best in the business!
The 2 days is a constant hands on environment with Gene and Alex as well as some of the shop help. The science of the tools (English wheel, shrinkers, stretchers, bead rollers, sheet-metal brakes etc.) is explained and demonstrated including showing you some of his specialty and shaping tools he has made using what was available. Traditional techniques such as hammer & dolly theory & technique, wood hammer forming and station bucks along with sandbag use are also gone over. Gas welding steel, aluminum and hole filling are other topics that are covered. Also explained was how chopping, channeling and sectioning are done. If participants had questions about any of the techniques, topics or activities Gene was more than willing to provide answers.
Gene encourages students to participate in using the various tools throughout the 2 day workshop.
All that learning creates a big appetite and that’s usually filled with burgers & dogs chips & chili at lunch followed sometimes after class by a few bags of locally marinated carne asada laid on the grill for some savory tacos. Talented grill-masters Ronnie Ogas, Boo-boo and Saul Cuevas took great care of us all!
Good times, good eats, great company, and an undeniable educational experience with a legend and one of the pillars of the Kustom World…Gene Winfield.