Not to detract from your story but I have a question: I need a new barrel for my Sears stove. The guy I got it from was using it as an ornament by his garage. The bottom of the barrel is all rusted away. Just point me in the right direction please!
I stopped by a local auto restoration shop today with the old barrel and showed him what I needed. He said "no problem" and to leave the barrel with him for a pattern. So, that would be my recommendation, an old school or old school trained car guy. Seems to be a dimminishing skill.