Transforming metal into a car
News | Published on March 14, 2023 at 2:50pm EDT | Author: henningmaster0
Car club, shop class offer unique valve cover project
By Chad Koenen
At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much a person can do with an old valve cover from a vehicle.
After all, there isn’t a shortage of dirt and years of grime building up on a simple piece of metal. However, students in Eli Hill’s Engineering Problem Solving class at Henning School are attempting to transform an old valve cover into everything from a functioning hot rod to a semi.
The project is part of a new partnership between the Tri-County Cruisers and the school shop class as the car club looks to offer a unique project to promote some outside-the-box thinking, with an opportunity to create a new piece of functioning art for students to bring home.
“(Darren Wiese) said this is something the car club can do,” said Hill. “It was kind of a fun process. It is kind of a functioning sculpture.”
While creating a custom vehicle out of a valve cover was new to Henning School students, it is not a new thing for members of the Tri-County Cruisers. The car club has held contests for creating unique vehicles out of valve covers in the past, but waning interest had left organizers contemplating giving up the program. That’s when the group pivoted the program to see if there would be interest at the school to take a simple valve cover and make it into a vehicle.
“One of the guys in the car club was giving it up because there was no interest,” said Wiese. “It was actually my wife who suggested it and said why don’t we do this at the school.”
The process involves everything from cleaning the valve cover to welding it together with other pieces of metal. Some of the students are creating vehicles like a Jeep, muscle cars and even a semi. The students will eventually add wheels and a paint job, if they want to give it a fresh look, before it is completed. Though they are not going to compete in races, there are competitions for valve cover vehicles throughout the region.
Wiese said there aren’t any rules in terms of what a student can and can’t use when making their valve cover vehicle, other than utilizing their imagination and the tools at their disposal.
“There really are no rules other than you start with a valve cover,” said Wiese.
In fact, some students have created custom pieces for their vehicle with the school’s 3-D printer. Others bang out metal with tools and weld them together one piece at a time. The hope was to not only give the students a unique project they can bring home, but help them use their imagination to take a piece of metal and transform it into a functioning vehicle.
“Just give them something to go after in the hopes of getting an interest in metal work, body work and just cars in general,” said Wiese.