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Casting About

Olds “Rocket Racing” valve covers were $200 a pair.

Olds “Rocket Racing” valve covers were $200 a pair.

We met the Shudy Brothers ( at the Spring Jefferson Swap Meet while they were “casting about” for new business. Well, actually, casting is their business; casting parts for old cars and motorcycles from aluminum that is.

When we attended Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., about 50 years ago, we had to take pattern making, foundry and machine shop classes to learn about the processes that Pine Cellar Manufacturing uses to make short runs of obsolete parts.

They start with a wooden pattern of the “unobtanium” part—such as a fined valley cover for a 392-cid Chrysler Firepower Hemi. Engineering formulations tell them the shrinkage rate for aluminum, so they can make the pattern just the right size for a mold. Then, the pattern is used in the mold to allow the aluminum to be shaped into a perfect replica of the original part.

The parts displayed at Jefferson included an intake, a cylinder head, an Oldsmobile “Rocket Racing” valve cover and an Indian motorcycle intake manifold. The latter had a fairly intricate shape that required extra work during the casting process. Pine Cellar Manufacturing can handle such specialty jobs and also makes tools, plaques and other parts.

Being a small operation helps Pine Cellar keep prices reasonable, although the cost of a casting tends to vary according to part. One Packard manifold they did cost about $4,000, but the rocker arm covers with any name cast into them are $200 a pair.

Pine Cellar Manufacturing is located in Big Bend, Wis. If you’re not Web savvy, you can call them at (282) 662-4802. Their motto is “Jobs large or small, we do them all.” From the parts we saw in their vendor’s booth, we believe it.

This is a wooden pattern for a vintage motorcycle cylinder head.

This is a wooden pattern for a vintage motorcycle cylinder head.

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