In a 14-episode video series, the great Bobby Walden of Walden Speed Shop tested a shop full of shiny Baileigh machines against his arsenal of legacy tools. Walden was curious to try our equipment, since, as he said, “People ask me all the time… ‘What tools are better? The old tools, the Yoder? The new tools that are out there?’”
To create a real head-to-head comparison, Walden built each side of a 1932 Ford roadster pickup with a different set of machines: Baileigh equipment versus his beloved older tools. “We’re gonna do half the project with the old stuff, half the project with the new stuff,” explained Walden. “We’re gonna know where everything stands.”
Spoiler alert: Our equipment met Walden’s high standards and produced results to match his trusty standbys. As he summarized in episode 9, holding up identical pieces, “Which machines built which door skins? Equal results. They both look great. They both fit the buck. All the machines worked perfectly. We’re able to see the pros and cons of each machine.”
Read on for the specifics of what Walden said about some Baileigh machines.
Our magnetic brake attracted some of Walden’s highest praise in the series. “You can do things that you could never do with a standard finger break or box pan break,” raved Walden. “It’s just so versatile.”
The crisp quality of the bend impressed Walden: “It’s consistent all the way through, you know? It pulled it straight all the way across. It wasn’t weaker at one point. It didn’t slide.”
The robust shrinker stretcher was another standout among the machines Walden tested. “This thing is pretty freakin’ amazing,” he declared. The nob to adjust the jaw was one “bitchin’ feature” that stood out to Walden: “It has upper adjustment, so for your thickness of material you don’t have to use shims or anything, you just turn the little handle.”
Walden has not one but two vintage Erco kick shrinkers set up in his shop. Why two? So that he doesn’t have to spend too much time switching dies for shrinking and stretching—but the MSS-14F solves that problem. “It’s got these badass magnets…. you flip the dies around, put it back in with the magnets, now it’s a stretcher. So you don’t need to have two machines.”
He also praised the rugged construction of the MSS-14F: “This machine is insanely built. This thing will last you a lifetime.”
Small but mighty. That was Walden’s verdict on the MSS-16F: “it’s extremely versatile, and it will actually move a lot of material really fast. It’s extremely cost effective. If I was starting out in the sheet metal world, this would probably be one of the very, very, very first tools I bought.”
Walden appreciated how little force it takes to move the machine: “Look at that, I’m barely putting any weight on it. This thing is awesome.” He barely had to put any pressure on the kick bar to get his desired results.
The dual function of this power hammer made it especially interesting to Walden: “It’s a combination power hammer/Pullmax machine. So we can shape metal on this or make a solid hit like a Pullmax,” he explained.
Once he’d used the MH-19 on a panel, Walden compared the machine favorably to the classic Pullmax: “I really think it’s pretty cool. It’s doing everything that the Pullmax can do. I like the fact that we’re able to turn this into a power hammer to do that linear stretch, so we can get this thing tuned in.”
“It does exactly like what the Yoder does: it stretches metal, shrinks metal. But it just has a different personality. So I’m learning the personality of the machine,” said Walden.
After using the hammer to shape part of the roadster’s door panel, Walden liked what he saw: “everything’s looking really good here. I like this finish. It was easy to control. No low spots.”
The PH-28VS faced some tough competition from Walden’s Yoder, a model he’s had since 1988. The Yoder’s simple, hard-hitting design allowed it to move metal faster than Baileigh’s PH-28HD-VS.
However, the Baileigh has the edge when it comes to tooling convenience, as opposed to the “archaic” tooling mechanism on Walden’s Yoder. By contrast, “on the Baileigh it just has a pin, goes in and holds it and tool posts. Piece of cake to change it. Two seconds.”
Don’t miss Walden’s 12-part masterclass on automotive metal shaping, full of awesome demos, tips, and hacks. Explore the whole Walden Hammerworks playlist, or jump to an episode:
Our host unboxes a shop full of brand new Baileigh machines and sizes up his tools.
Walden unveils the focus project of the series and tries out the PH-28VS on a door skin panel.
The trusty Yoder that Walden has used since 1988 stars in this video as Walden creates a door skin.
Walden uses custom tooling to add upper detail on the door panel. He also shares thoughts on Baileigh’s magnetic brake and shrinker stretchers.
The MH-19 and our shrinker stretchers help Walden get a tricky curved piece just right.
Walden prepares two pieces of the door for welding, gets them just right with the power hammer and the shrinker stretchers, then planishes the weld.
“Hopefully I’m not gonna f**k it up.” Our intrepid hero welds pieces together and adds the bottom bead on the door skin.
The history of metalworking equipment is alive and well in Walden’s shop, as he showcases his Chicago finger brake, Erco kick shrinkers, Pullmax, and the mighty Yoder.
Walden refines the doors with belt lines, planishing, and Pullmax work. And check out his Chicago pneumatic planishing hammer dating from the 1950s.
The roadster pickup’s large, complex back panel takes shape on the Pullmax, the MH-19, and the BB-4816M magnetic brake.
Back and forth, back and forth… Walden does plenty of careful shrinking and bending, tipping and planishing, all to make the curved panel fit the buck.
The secret to a crisp bead? In this case, it’s pre-stretching. Walden shows you how on the PH-36A planishing hammer and the MH-19, then shares some old school tricks on the Pullmax and MSS-14F.