Heavy Metal - The Makeover

steampunk inspired

After completing the build of Heavy Metal I have to be honest to tell you I wasn't quite satisfied how that wrinkled aluminum foil look turn out. It kind of bugged me for a couple of years and then something happened...

I stumbled across this thing they call steam punk. So what is this steam punk you ask? Well, steampunk is a sub genre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Want to know more? Read all about it on Wikipedia.

So that got me thinking, What if I do a makeover on Heavy Metal by removing that aluminum foil and replace it with thin plates of copper, nickel and brass? Rivets along all joints would probably look nice and how about some cog wheels? So I started to ask around for old mechanical watches and found one that was broken. Pulled it apart and found some different sized cog wheels made out of brass.

As I was to add some metal sheets to the body I decided to drill out some holes in the body to try and make it a bit lighter. I didn't want to route out big cavities because that probably would have caused some integrity issues. I drilled some various sized holes with forstner drill bits and did not drill all the way through to the back side, because I needed the backside to be flat for the leather that I was to glue on later.

I originally planned on using only copper sheets but I thought that might look a little boring, so I ordered some 0,5mm thin metal sheets, nickel, copper and brass. Just to get some more diversity going on. Covering the whole body in metal sheets wouldn't be very practical, so I found some pieces of artificial black leather that I used around the edges of the body and the backside as well.

The metal sheets I ordered was precut to 200x50mm so it turned out to be fairly easy to place them out on the front side of the body. Then mark out the outer curvy edges and cut the sheets with a small curvy nail scissor. And of course all the edges had to be filed and sanded smooth.

The plates were glued to the body and now holes for the aluminum rivets had to be measured out, marked, tapped and drilled. Then a few drops of super glue into each hole and the rivets hammered in.

However, the back side was a different story. I had to cover the ugly lines where the side pieces and the back piece of leather meets. The only reasonable thing to do was to get some copper sheet, this time 0,3mm thin, cut out some templates out of some thicker and sturdy paper, keep track on which piece goes where, and lay all the paper templates on the copper sheet and trace them out.

Turned out to be fairly easy to cut 0,3mm copper sheet with a small scissor, even though the majority of the pieces had some sort of curve to them. Of course all the sharp edges had to be filed and sanded smooth, no sharp edges allowed here.

No steampunk object is complete without some cog wheels, so naturally the only obvious place to put them was by the control knobs.

All in all 461 rivets used for the whole project.

Naturally, I had to make some sort of inlay at the 12th fret. In this case a brass cog wheel embedded into the fretboard with a little help from epoxy glue.

All the hardware is the same as on the old "Heavy Metal", except the tuners. I bought these new ones, the Gotoh Res-O-Lite 350's. Very light weight tuners and they feel great. 

So there it is. It's not perfect, but I guarantee you it is absolutely a unicue hand-crafted piece of "machinery".

April 2019