Title:
Method of making a body shell for a model automobile
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of producing a scale automobile replica by deforming a sheet of metal into a metal body blank having a front, a back, sides and a roof, which collectively define an external profile of the replica automobile. Portions of the metal body blank are removed to define openings for a decklid, a hood, windows and wheelwells of the replica automobile. The metal body blank is then shaped and detailed by stamping with a collection of dies, and hinged closures are located within respective opening to form the decklid and hood.



Inventors:
Bailes, Walter Brown (Charlotte, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/489928
Publication Date:
02/21/2008
Filing Date:
07/20/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H17/00
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Primary Examiner:
DENNIS, MICHAEL DAVID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BOURQUE & ASSOCIATES (MANCHESTER, NH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of producing a body shell for a model automobile comprising: providing a sheet of metal having a thickness in a range from 0.015 inch to 0.025 inch, deforming the sheet of metal into a metal body blank having a front, a back, sides and a roof defining an external profile of the replica automobile, removing portions of the metal body blank to define openings for a decklid, a hood, windows and wheelwells of the replica automobile, shaping and detailing the metal body blank by stamping with a collection of dies, and locating within respective openings hinged closures for the decklid and hood.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the shaping and detailing comprises stamping the body blank a plurality of times with the dies.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the body blank is stamped between 35 and 45 times.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein deforming the sheet of metal into a body blank comprises using a metal stamping technique

5. The method of claim 1 wherein locating within respective openings hinged closures comprises providing weld-on tabs and hinges for engaging the closures onto the metal body blank.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein the metal body blank is hardened during stamping with the collection of dies.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein the sheet of metal comprises metal with high deformability selected from the group including Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Copper, Brass, or Co-netic metals

8. The method of claim 4 wherein each of the stampings uses a different one of the collection of dies.

9. A scale replica automobile having a stamped metal body shell made by a method comprising providing a sheet of metal having a thickness in a range from 0.015 inch to 0.025 inch, deforming the sheet of metal into a metal body blank having a front, a back, sides and a roof defining an external profile of the replica automobile, removing portions of the metal body blank to define openings for a decklid, a hood, windows and wheel arches of the replica automobile, shaping and detailing the metal body blank by stamping with a collection of dies, and locating within respective openings hinged closures for the decklid and hood.

10. The scale replica automobile of claim 9 wherein the shaping and detailing comprises stamping the body blank a plurality of times with the dies.

11. The scale replica automobile of claim 10 wherein the body blank is stamped between 35 and 45 times.

12. The scale replica automobile of claim 9 wherein deforming the sheet of metal into a body blank comprises using a metal stamping technique.

13. The scaled automobile replica of claim 9 wherein locating within respective openings hinged closures comprises providing weld-on tabs and hinges for engaging the closures onto the metal body blank.

14. The scaled automobile replica of claim 9 wherein the metal body blank is hardened during stamping with the collection of dies.

15. The scaled automobile replica of claim 9 wherein the sheet of metal comprises metal with high deformability selected from the group including Steel, Stainless, Aluminum, Copper, Brass, or Co-netic metals.

16. The scaled automobile replica of claim 14 wherein each of the stampings uses a different one of the collection of dies.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a method of making a body shell for a model automobile. More particularly, although not exclusively, the invention relates to a method of making a body shell for a collectable scaled automobile replica.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

Automobile replicas are widely available. The various methods of producing an automobile replica are also well known. For the toy market, car bodies for a replica are either molded from styrene, vinyl, ABS or diecast using metal. In general, the precision of the replica is undermined using molding technique. Firstly, plastic body tends to bend and flex making the application of quality paint and decoration difficult. Secondly, thickness of the diecast shell is out of proportion with the size of the replica. Reducing the thickness of the diecast shell may cause the body to chip after molding and may reduce the pressure durability of the body for assembling fitments and various decorative components. More importantly, the weight to size ratio of the real automobile is not preserved. Also, the contour and the texture of the finishing product are unsatisfactory, especially in the case of plastic replicas.

Collecting automobile replica is a common hobby. To satisfy ultra high-end market demand, handmade items made of carbon fiber or fiberglass, or from hand formed metal are available. However, the weight to size ratio is still not preserved. The concern being that thin metal body shell may not be able to withstand the pressure applied during production. Another problem with such a method of production is that it is very time consuming and therefore mass production is impossible.

OBJECT(S) OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to overcome or substantially ameliorate at least one of the above disadvantages and/or more generally to provide a method of producing a body shell for a high-end collectible scale automobile replica with high perceived value.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the invention there is provided a method of producing a body shell for a model automobile comprising providing a sheet of metal having a thickness in a range from 0.015 inch to 0.025 inch, deforming the sheet of metal into a metal body blank having a front, a back, sides and a roof defining an external profile of the replica automobile, removing portions of the metal body blank to define openings for a decklid, a hood, windows and wheelwells of the replica automobile, shaping and detailing the metal body blank by stamping with a collection of dies, and locating within respective openings hinged closures for the decklid and hood.

Preferably, the shaping and detailing comprises stamping the body blank a plurality of times with the dies.

Preferably, the body blank is stamped between 35 and 45 times.

Preferably, deforming the sheet of metal into a body blank comprises using a metal stamping technique

Preferably, locating within respective openings hinged closures comprises providing weld-on tabs and binges for engaging the closures onto the metal body blank.

Preferably, the metal body blank is hardened during stamping with the collection of dies.

Preferably, the sheet of metal comprises metal with high deformability selected from the group including Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Copper, Brass, or Co-netic metals

Preferably, each of the stampings uses a different one of the collection of dies.

According to a second aspect of the invention there is provided a scale replica automobile having a stamped metal body shell made by a method comprising providing a sheet of metal having a thickness in a range from 0.015 inch to 0.025 inch, deforming the sheet of metal into a metal body blank having a front, a back, sides and a roof defining an external profile of the replica automobile, removing portions of the metal body blank to define openings for a decklid, a hood, windows and wheelwells of the replica automobile, shaping and detailing the metal body blank by stamping with a collection of dies, and locating within respective openings hinged closures for the decklid and hood.

Preferably, the shaping and detailing comprises stamping the body blank a plurality of times with the dies.

Preferably, the body blank is stamped between 35 and 45 times.

Preferably, deforming the sheet of metal into a body blank comprises using a metal stamping technique.

Preferably, locating within respective openings hinged closures comprises weld-on tabs and hinges for engaging the closures onto the metal body blank.

Preferably, the metal body blank is hardened during stamping with the collection of dies.

Preferably, the sheet of metal comprises metal with high deformability including Steel, Stainless, Aluminum, Copper, Brass, or Co-netic metals.

Preferably, the metal body blank is stamped with a different one of the collection of dies each time.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

An embodiment of the present invention will now be described by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a top view of a sheet of metal to be deformed into an automobile body shape,

FIG. 2 is a top view of a metal body blank formed from the sheet of metal,

FIG. 3 is a side view of the metal body blank,

FIG. 4 is a top view of the metal body blank having portions of the metal body blank removed,

FIG. 5 is a side view of the metal body blank with portions of the metal body blank removed,

FIG. 6 is a top view of the metal body blank having window openings with window mounting flanges,

FIG. 7 a side view of the metal body blank with window openings with window mounting flanges,

FIG. 8 is a top view of the metal body blank having its rocker panel trimmed away,

FIG. 9 is a side view of the metal body blank having wheelwells and its rocker panel trimmed away,

FIG. 10 is a top view of the metal body blank having radiator inlets, headlight panel detail features, tail panel detail features and roof flaps, and

FIG. 11 is a side view of the metal body blank having roof flaps.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The invention will be described as practiced for making a 1:16 scale collectable automobile replica. This is not however intended to limit the scope of use or functionality of the invention. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that aspects of the invention may be practiced with other types of model or toy automobile.

Referring to FIG. 1, there is depicted a blank piece of metal sheet 1 having a thickness in a range from 0.015 inch to 0.025 inch. The sheet of metal comprises metal with high deformability selected from the group including, but not limited to steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass or Co-netic metals. According to the invention, the metal sheet is deformed into a predetermined automobile body shape with dies or a press tool using a metal stamping technique. The metal sheet is sized to form a body blank covering the surface area of the die cavity or the press tool cavity for minimizing metal wastage during production. In a preferred embodiment, one end of the body blank is wider than the other to accommodate a comparatively wide front and narrow back of the predetermined body shape. The trimmed metal sheet is then placed in the die or the press tool with specially designed cavity and stamped to deform the sheet of metal into a body shape resembling that of a real automobile.

As shown in FIG. 2, the sheet of metal is deformed to take the shape of the press tool or the die to form an automobile metal body blank 2. Solid lines are stamped onto the body blank to provide a front 3, a back 4, a side 5 and a roof 6 with clearly shown edges. The front 3, the back 4, the side 5 and the roof 6 collectively define an external profile of the replica automobile body. Rim 7 at the base of the body blank allows the casing to stand on its own. The rim 7 includes rocker panels 34, 35, lower front spoiler 36 and lower bumper area 37. The cavity underneath the body blank is sufficient to accommodate replica vehicle components such as seats, engine, steering wheels etc.

The metal body blank 2 is further stamped with a collection of dies to provide details on the front 3, the back 4, the side 5 and the roof 6. Each of the stampings uses a different one of a collection of dies. Shallow dents are stamped onto the front 3 and the back 4 of the body blank 2 to define portions of the metal body blank for removal. As shown in FIG. 3, parts of the shallow dents are removed using a stamping technique to define respective openings for windshields 8, tail lights 9, a decklid 10 and a hood 11. The stamping of the shallow dents also brings about the formation of narrow dented rims 12 integrally formed with the body blank 2 for supporting covers of the openings provided in a later stage. Some of the removed parts are preserved for later re-engagement.

In a preferred embodiment, small holes on the roof 26 are formed from dies having protrusions piercing the metal body blank 2. These holes 26 are provided for engaging fitments and accessories to the metal body blank.

In a preferred embodiment, there are four side windows and a front and a back window 13, 14. The windows 13, 14, 17, 18 are stamped out of the metal body blank forming window openings 15, 16, 19, 20 with window mounting flanges 21 on the sides of the windows openings as shown in FIG. 4. The window mounting flanges 21 are integrally formed with the metal body blank 2 to provide supporting frames for window glasses. The stamping of the windows causes the formation of B-pillars 22 in between the window openings. The sharp mounting flanges 21 of the openings and the B-pillars 22 are smoothened and shaped to accommodate the window glass.

The metal body blank 2 comprises wheelwells 23, 24 as shown in FIG. 5. In a preferred embodiment, there are four wheelwells including one front wheelwell 23 and one rear wheelwell 24 on each side of the metal body blank 2. These wheelwells 23, 24 are sized to accommodate specific tiers dimensionally scaled to resemble those of a real automobile. Wheelwells 23, 24 are stamped out of the metal body blank with dies or press tools. Rocker panel 34, 35, and the metal body blank 2 between the front and rear wheelwells 23, 24 are stamped away leaving the lower front spoiler 36 and the lower bumper area 37 covering only the front 3 and the back 4 to support the body blank on a horizontal surface. The metal body blank 2 behind the rear wheel is further stamped to provide a slightly outwardly protruding finishing. In a preferred embodiment, a fuel filler inlet 25 is stamped onto the rear end of the metal body blank 2.

Referring to FIG. 6 the automobile replica metal body blank 2 has radiator inlets 31, headlight panel detail features 32, 32′, tail panel detail features 33, 33′ and holes 26 on the roof shaped and cut out using metal stamping technique with specific dies or press tools. Locating within respective openings are hinged closures having weld-on tabs and hinges for engagement to the body blank. In the preferred embodiment there are two roof flap recesses 27, 28 stamped out of the roof 6. Locating within the roof flap recesses 27, 28 are hinged roof flaps 29, 30 resembling air brakes of a real automobile. The body blank 2 and the lower front spoiler 36 and the lower bumper area 37 are trimmed to complete the body shell.

It will be appreciated by the skilled addressee that the current invention lends itself to a scale replica automobile having a stamped metal body shell made by the method as hereinbefore discussed. The metal body is refined using metal stamping technique to avoid hand finish gouges and thick part edges with potentially crude finishing that are inherent in traditional die cast bodies.

The thickness of the metal sheets limits the structural strength of the body blank which is required for consistent mounting and decoration. The continuous stamping of the body blank effectively hardened the body blank by stress. The body blank actually gets stronger in the production process. Much finer shapes with high accuracy can be achieved.

It should be appreciated that modifications and alterations obvious to those skilled in the art are not to be considered as beyond the scope of the present invention. For example, in the preferred embodiment portions of the body blank is stamped away using metal stamping technique. In an alternative embodiment, the portions of the body blank can be trimmed away with a cutting tool.

In the preferred embodiment, the body blank is effectively hardened by stress through continuous stamping. In an alternative embodiment, the sheet of metal provided for stamping can be of a material strong enough to endure consistent mounting and decoration without the need of continuous stamping.