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A Saskatchewan shop builds an innovative truck to raise funds for a children’s hospital

by Mary Scianna

It began as a team building exercise at Industrial Machine & Manufacturing Ltd. (IMM), Saskatoon, SK and ended up becoming a fundraiser to build a long awaited children’s hospital in Saskatoon. 

The idea was to build a truck and commemorate IMM’s 55th anniversary, but Tom Foster, president and general manager, decided instead to use the idea as a means to raise funds for the Saskatchewan Children’s Hospital Foundation to help build a hospital in the province.

Today, “The Wheels of Dreams” has raised more than $120,000 in cash donated from local individuals and businesses, and attracted big sponsors, including Ford, Mastercam, Russel Metals, Sandvik Coromant, and Wilkinson Steel and Metals.

At the heart of the fundraiser, is the street rod style truck, a 1956 F100 Ford named “Snakebit.” Purchased in the US by IMM, the people behind the idea decided to merge the design of the 1956 truck with a new Ford Shelby Mustang (donated by Ford), “blending the old with the new,” notes the project’s web site. The rendering of the new vehicle was created by Bruce Williams, a local artist who creates vehicle-inspired art.

IMM hired Byron Theissen, owner of a Saskatoon automotive rebuild shop called Creative Concepts and Restoration, the one paid person in the project, to build the hybrid vehicle.

David Pihach, director of business development at IMM, who has been actively involved in the project, says the construction stage of the “Snakebit F-100” has been a “blur.”

“We are finally doing our part here at IMM machining the parts. By Monday [July 15] one of the grill inserts will be completely machined and one of the wheels will get its start.”

lower insert ready to be turned so small holes can be cutClick image to enlarge

Pihach says support from industry, the local business community and the public has been “phenomenal,” saying within a week of starting the fundraising, “we pulled in over $120,000 in cash and now we’ve set a new target of $560,000. We now have in excess of what we’ll need to build the truck and whatever is left over will go to the foundation.”

The next step of the fundraiser, once the truck is completed, is to showcase and then sell the completed vehicle on the big stage, says Pihach.

“The truck is destined for the big stage in Las Vegas, NV, in November. It will be featured in Ford’s booth at the SEMA show, the largest automotive aftermarket parts show in the world.”

Building parts for the "Snakebit F-100

IMM was formed in 1956 by the Rettle family and purchased by Tom Foster in the early 1980s. The machine shop specializes in custom manufacturing for the mining, agricultural, general, and oil and gas markets and also operates a special division that designs, manufactures and rebuild industrial decanter centrifuges.

corners fully welded and the trimming beginsClick image to enlarge

IMM's 50,000 sq ft facility and 80 employees have worked in conjunction with Creative Concepts and Restoration, an automotive design and rebuilder to build the "Snakebite F-100" truck.

"IMM and Ford are the main sponsors, but we have had a lot of support," says David Pihach, director of business development at IMM. "We've booked 300 hours of machining time in our shop, valued at about $30,000 and we purchased the 1956 Ford struck. Ford supplied the Shelby Mustang."

The metal fabrication portion (cutting, bending and forming of sheet metal supplied by Russel and Wilkinson) of the truck was built in Creative Concept's shop, while IMM has done the majority of the machining and welding work, which includes machining of a customized grill insert, and wheels, designed by artistic director and local Saskatoon artist Bruce Williams and created by IMM's Tim Fehr using Mastercam CAD/CAM software. IMM is also machining customized inlays for the truck box. The machine work was supported with tooling by Sandvik Coromant.

IMM uses a variety of machine tools in its shops, but the primary equipment for chip work is the more than 30 Haas machines (vertical and horizontal multi-axis machining centres, multi-tasking and CNC lathes), and two TOS CNC horizontal boring mills. Its fabrication and welding operations are capable of processing and welding steel, aluminum and high temperature allows. Specific welding capabilities include SAW (Submerged ARC), GMAW (MIG), TMAW (TIG), and SMAW (Arc).

SMT

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