Copyright 2013, Leo Stearns
Online auction sites. Their business is auctioning salvage cars primarily owned by insurance companies. The sheer volume of these sites amazes me. Watching one of the online auctions is a window into the international economy built around scrapped North American cars.
Sources for Purchasing Salvage Vehicles
Below are some links to sources I have used during for this project. It's not intended to be a definitive list of all sources, just the non obvious ones I've used or found interesting.
Due to state regulations, a broker is required to purchase most vehicles from the online auction sites. I used these folks to purchase my GTO. I was really impressed about how quickly they were on top of everything and how well they communicated.
The Comp Nine VIN decoder will provide a mostly complete list of Regualr Production Options (RPO) codes for a vehicle when it's VIN is entered. It's not really a decoder as the RPO information is not stored in the VIN number, rather they pull the informaiton from their database. This is very useful for collecting more information on car you are thinking of purchasing. The aution sites I've listed above provide the VIN numbers in the auction listing. Comp Nine will allow you one search per day for free, but if you sign up to a subscription, I found the list to be more accurate and complete. Their subscription prices are reasonable - about $5 per month for 40 searches.
Tool and Equipment Sources
Alibre is 3D Solids modeling mechanical CAD software. Quite similar to Solidworks or Pro/E. The biggest difference is the price. Versions are available for a few hundred dollars eliminating the need, in my opinion, to steal software from the larger providers. Alibre can input and output CAD neutral formats which can interface with the other 3D solids programs as well as fabrication shops
Tormach distributes a line of what they call "Personal CNC" machines. These are small sized, 4 axis capable CNC End Mills. In my experience, these are not as accurate as a Bridgeport, but these are great for producing low volumes of fairly complex parts. Mine is sitting in my garage next to the project El Camino.
GRZ software offers easy to use and relatively low priced CAM software. CAM software is used to translate a design produced by a 3D solids modeling CAD software into the machine code used by a CNC to fabricate the part. MeshCAM is not the most powerful CAM package available, but I can produce consistent parts using it.
Local supplier of sheet steel and tubing here in Petaluma. These folks have great prices, good stock and are pleasant to deal with. They can also cut and bend sheetmetal to drawings.
McMaster is a national supplier of all things mechanical. They do not have the cheapest prices, but if you need an M5x25mm cap shoulder bolt fabricated from 18-8 stainless, they are your best bet. A great source of difficult nuts/bolts, trim fasteners, gasket material, etc.
Fastenal does not have the broad selection of McMaster, but they are much cheaper.
Caster City offers a very large selection of good quality casters. I past lives, I've designed a bunch of equipment that rolled on casters and the value of a good quality, properly sized caster is immense. These folks are about half the price of others for the quality the offer.
A much broader selection of coating Powder than Eastwood, all available in small quantities. Their pricing is reasonable in my estimate given their selection.
A Chevrolet dealer out of North Carolina with a good Web presence. Their pricing is better than I can get locally, but their pricing methods are unusual (they have a 25% shipping and handling fee on all parts, the net is that the parts are delivered for 27% under list price, which is a good deal here, but it's not the deal you think your getting when you are filling your cart.)
A GMC dealer out of Atlanta also with a good Web presence, but with much better access to GM's databases. It's pretty easy to look up the GM part number for a component if yo know the vehicle and a description of the part