What Have You Welded Lately?

ESAB Heliarc® used to fabricate high-quality prototype trike

Joe Totenbier has been fascinated with racing since he was a young boy. The mechanic/fabricator from Allentown, PA channeled that interest into a career working for Indy Car teams such as Porsche Motor Sports, Walker Racing, Granatelli Racing, Patrick Racing and Penske Racing. In fact, Joe was part of the winning pit crew of the Indy 500 in 1993, featuring driver, Emerson Fittipaldi.

From there, he headed to the west coast to pursue other opportunities. Eventually, Joe chose to leave the west to spend more time with his family and so returned to the east coast to begin a more traditional career in sales with a large industrial gas supplier. But the love of racing and fabrication remained in his blood and Joe continued to weld and fabricate on the side. When his after-hours projects grew in number and his client base expanded, Joe left his day job to start his own business, Bear Productions, LTD. 

With the success of Bear Productions and using his talent and expertise from his Indy Car days, Joe started a second company focused solely on high-quality custom vehicles. Lehigh Valley Choppers serves the professional racing and custom vehicle community with custom designed vehicles. As a calling card to generate interest for the new business, Joe built a custom vehicle he named the Stealth Tryke.

The Stealth Tryke is a prototype of a street-legal racer Joe will build to suit. Its all Chromoly chassis and suspension components were TIG welded using ESAB's Heliarc® inverter-based welding machine. The lightweight construction weighs less than 1,000 pounds and the trike travels at speeds up to 160 mph. It features an Indy Car steering rack, a Quaife reverse box with a custom mount, and 98% of the hardware is aviation grade. The trike's shifter location, reverse lever location, steering wheel and pedal location can be mounted in any location to suit the needs of almost all customers.

The Stealth Tryke represents three years of engineering and fabrication work. Joe built the trike from raw stock and did all of the fabrication work himself with assistance from colleagues on the engineering design. It showcases Joe's skill as a certified TIG welder and his attention to quality and detail. It has no paint, powder coating, filler or fiberglass so it's easy to see the quality of the welds, which have stood up to the inspection of some high-profile racing industry professionals, including Mario Andretti.

ESAB welding equipment helps Joe produce top-quality custom vehicles. Joe purchased two Heliarc machines as well as ESAB manual plasma cutting and MIG welding equipment as new and reconditioned units when he started his business in the late 1990s. His rationale for choosing ESAB was simple:

"My job in gas sales gave me the opportunity to test different welding machines side by side and to buy any welding machine at a reduced price," said Joe. "We had a repair facility and I noticed that we didn't see many ESAB machines in for repair."

The reliability of the product and a close relationship with the ESAB representative steered Joe to ESAB. More than 15 years later, Joe's ESAB equipment continues to work flawlessly, helping him produce the high-quality fabrication work that is the hallmark of Lehigh Valley Choppers.

To learn more about Lehigh Valley Choppers and to see a photo album of the building of the Stealth Tryke, visit www.lehighvalleychoppers.com.

Stealth Tryke