LOGANSPORT, Ind. — The family business Tony Allen helps run on Logansport’s west side has collected its share of car parts after restoring Chevrolet Corvettes for over 30 years.
A lot of those parts have been piling up for a decade or two, but not anymore.
Now they’re being used to become lamps, tables and sculptures.
“Everything I’m working with has set around the shop for at least 15, 20 years,” Allen said. “All the stuff I’m working with, the motors, they’ve all been sitting down here. So it’s seeing something that’s just laying there and doing nothing and turning it into something that’s needed.”
Allen, 37, said he executed his first Corvette interior restoration at age 11. Now, he co-owns Allen’s Stainless Exhaust at 1001 W. Market St., which his father, Mike Allen, started.
Just like the trade of Corvette restoration got passed down from father to son, so too did the hobby of using old car parts to craft something new. Allen recalled how his dad built trophies for Pioneer Jr.-Sr. High School students out of old car parts.
“I was just kind of looking at them and thought, well, you can make a trophy out of a piston, why not a lamp?” he said.
He made that first lamp about a year ago, then a coffee table using an engine block as its base that he posted a picture of online. It caught the eye of one of his friends, who commissioned Allen to make him a table, which he made using a crankshaft and pistons.
When Allen begins a project, he said he sorts through the variety of the shop’s parts that were either pulled from cars or bought from customers over the years.
“It’s basically start from scratch,” he said.
The parts he ends up using often require cleaning — the most difficult part of the process, Allen said.
“Getting grease off of a 20-year-old engine can be quite time consuming,” he added.
Parts in need of a thorough degreasing go into a hot tank, where they get blasted with water around 200 degrees.
“You can put a greasy part in there, then after about 30 minutes of getting blasted with hot water and soap, it comes out clean,” he said.
Some of the greasier parts require multiple runs in the hot tank and a lot of scraping, providing plenty of time for Allen to think about how he intends to tackle a project.
“I get a lot of ideas when I’m messing around with all the parts,” he said. “It’s fun.”
When the parts are clean, Allen welds them together and paints the resulting piece. If he’s doing a table, he finishes by securing a glass or wooden surface over the top.
He estimated it takes him about two and a half to three weeks to create a table and that he enjoys working on a project from idea to finished product.
“It consumes me sometimes,” he said.
Allen estimated he’s completed 20 to 25 pieces.
A flywheel puts a car in motion, but in one of Allen’s creations, it’s used to rotate a table supported by an engine with cylinder walls that can store wine bottles.
In the future, he wants to use two engines to make a conference table and craft benches out of bumpers.
One of his favorite parts about the pastime are people’s reactions to a finished project.
“They’re kind of shocked that something that was so rusty and nasty looking could be something they could put in their house to use as furniture or art,” he said.
Source: The (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune, http://bit.ly/2d06kEz
Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com
This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by The (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune.