Who is Bill Carlton?

Although his name may ring a few bells to automobile lovers, there’s a lot that the general public doesn’t know about Bill Carlton, the dynamic protagonist of “Texas Metal”. Reportedly born in 1988, Bill has been perfecting his craft at Ekstensive Metal Works for years, and also became something of a reality TV star in 2017 after inking an attractive contract with producers at Velocity.

If internet sources are to be believed, Ekstensive Metal Works was set up by Bill himself in the mid-90s: a decidedly impressive feat given that the Texan would’ve been between six and seven years old at the time. Other more reliable sources suggest either that the custom automotive design and fabrication shop was founded by his father of the same name, or that Bill is actually much older than his industry age.

Details surrounding Bill’s personal life are also vague and at times confusing. Allegedly, the handsome TV personality has been married to his wife Jennifer for over two decades – again, this would only be accurate if Bill were actually in his forties. The couple are said to share three healthy and well-rounded children named Keegan, Presley and Corbin – only time will tell if they’ll follow in their father’s footsteps or not.

Despite not being huge on social media, Bill gives the occasional interview, and keeps fans in the know via the show’s official Instagram account. The team at Ekstensive is currently hiring new employees and looking forward to filming for a new season, so we can assume that the Texan is looking into expanding his thriving business.

“Metal Works”

Challenging builds, bad-tempered customers, and excruciatingly tight timelines are just three of the elements that make “Metal Works” such entertaining viewing. From monster trucks to muscle cars, no project is too daunting for the talented Houston-based team at Ekstensive, as has been demonstrated in several nerve-wracking episodes of the hit reality TV show. With dozens of prestigious accolades, hordes of fans, and a months-long waitlist, the success of Ekstensive is clearly reflected in each episode of “Metal Works” – although, of course, the cast often run into problems which they always manage to resolve at the end of each episode.

Averaging 25 to 30 builds a month, each long-time employee at Ekstensive has become a household name in parts of America thanks to the show. Tim Donelson and Bill are evidently the stars of the show, responsible for turning average cars into works of art with their creativity and expertise. Joining them are Valerie, Spot, Rudy, Eliud, Heath, John, John Vega and Jamie, who have also proven themselves valuable assets to the workshop despite their smaller roles.

What a weekend!!! @mecum_auctions Talking trucks with Bill Carlton and Tim Donelson of @motortrend's "Texas Metal."…Catch the full episode on THURSDAY wherever you listen to your podcasts….#OnTheMove #Podcast #AutomotivePodcast #Mecum #MecumAuctions #WhereTheCarsAre #TexasMetal #Pickups #Trucks #Car #Cars #Auction #Auto #CarLifestyle #Lifestyle #Drive #DriveTastefully #CarsWithoutLimits #CarsOfInstagram #CarPhotography #LinkInBio

Posted by Ekstensive Metal Works on Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Bill, a third-generation welder, grew up on the property where Ekstensive operates, and has previously described the show as a “dream come true”. His father purchased the property in 1976 before opening a modest shop offering steel and welding supplies. After high school, Carlton began modifying vehicles as a hobby, with his friends’ cars being some of his first projects until he decided to turn his passion into a career.

Quoted as saying: “For 99 percent of cars, there’s always something you can do to make it a little cooler”, it’s no surprise that Bill and his crew were more than willing to display their talents on a nationwide scale, when a friend revealed that Velocity was on the hunt for a Houston body shop to feature in a new series. Filming for the first season began in early 2017 and wrapped up shortly after Hurricane Harvey, premiering on November 9th of the same year.

Real customers are featured in the show, although the authenticity of some episodes has been questioned over the years. In episode two of the first season, the filming crew went above and beyond to keep viewers interested by doing the final reveal on a barge in the Houston Ship Channel, making the moment unforgettable for the happy customer and the audience. As for Bill’s family, they were “overwhelmed” and “super proud” of the show’s initial success, and even rented out a movie theater to watch the premiere, alongside friends and the team at Ekstensive.

Despite the somewhat saturated market of car shows on Velocity and its associated channels, “Metal Works” ranked as the third most-watched program on MotorTrend TV for the 2019-2020 season, just after “Bitchin’ Rides” and “Iron Resurrection”, which placed first and second respectively. MotorTrend Group announced in August 2020 that it had ordered new seasons of all three shows, with the global president and general manager, Alex Wellen, saying: “Fans gravitate and relate to the blood, sweat and gears that Joe Martin, Dave Kindig, Bill Carlton and their teams pour into every one-of-a-kind project.” Call that glowing praise!

As for salaries, the cast members of “Metal Works” have chosen to keep that information private, which makes it difficult to calculate Bill’s net worth, although some online sources claim that the humble Texan is already a millionaire, thanks partly to publicity from his show, handsomely paid endorsement deals, and more.

Associated Acts

Although Bill isn’t expected to be friends with everyone in the automotive industry, it’s little wonder that he’s been compared and linked to other talented guys such as Joe Martin and Dave Kindig, the protagonists of “Iron Resurrection” and “Bitchin’ Rides”. The three have a lot in common as popular reality TV stars and hardworking individuals who, over the years, have learned to juggle a demanding filming schedule with family obligations and their ever-busy auto shops.

Joe of “Iron Resurrection” was born in Austin, Texas in 1986 and is a respected vehicle customizer and fabricator. From using old vehicles in his projects, to fabricating outlandish and original models, there’s seemingly nothing that Joe can’t do if he puts his mind to it, and of course he’s helped by his wife and best friend at every step of the way. Despite being known as a mechanical master, fans are often surprised to learn that the Gemini had no formal training before taking on his first job at an automotive accessory store when he was a teenager.

Joe, his bubbly wife Amanda, and his best friend Jayson are described by many as a “dream team” who successfully mesh their different areas of expertise to ensure the smooth running of Martin Bro Customs, where “Iron Resurrection” is filmed. The trio have also taken to selling merchandise including menswear, womenswear, and accessories which include but are not limited to headwear and custom license plates. Thanks to their stellar customer service and the high quality of their wares, the Martins have turned merchandise into another lucrative stream of income, and often boast sold-out products on their website.

Dave Kindig of “Bitchin’ Rides” is also hailed as one of the best in what he does. Running and operating Kindig-It Design in Salt Lake City, Utah, the TV star and his team specialize in rendering, designing, building, and restoring vehicles from the ground up. Dave successfully brings his detailed visions to life every time with help from his multifaceted workmates, with his builds described as “jaw-dropping automotive reality”.

Since 2014, car fanatics have thoroughly enjoyed watching Dave’s show which displays no signs of letting up anytime soon. Three of the most stunning vehicles that have passed by his shop include a rare ’39 GM Futurliner to which two episodes were dedicated, a ’58 Lincoln Continental which debuted at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas and has gone on to win many awards, and last but not least, a beautiful ’60 Cadillac Coupe Deville, which took two years of work. It’s evident that Dave and his team take great pride in their jobs, and are committed to giving their clients and viewers nothing but the best. It’s also rumored that TV producers previously wanted to spice the show up by adding scripted dramatic elements, but the Utah native refused.

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As for Tim Donelson, he’s the shop foreman at Ekstensive and appears in almost as many episodes of “Metal Works” as Bill. According to Tim’s website, his two passions in life are building custom cars and trucks, and helping animals have a better day. The animal lover – who, paradoxically, is friends in real life with many hunters and has been vilified for that – is a proud supporter of the Animal Humane Society and set up an Instagram page for his furry best friend Bleu, an adorable pitbull that wandered into Ekstensive one day, and quickly became part of the family.

Despite Bleu’s cameos on the show drawing some criticism due to pitbulls being classified as potentially dangerous dogs, the majority of fans and viewers are grateful to Tim for showing the stigmatized breed in a positive light. The shop foreman’s marital status remains unclear, but he appears not to have children, despite being a doting uncle and very family orientated. His Instagram feed is full of photos of his young nephew, who even donned an Ekstensive uniform for a school event in which pupils were asked to dress up as their dream profession.

The History of Welding

It goes without saying that welding plays a crucial role in “Metal Works”. The trade is credited as being one of the most critical advancements in the development of modern society and metal fabrication, but with its origins dating back thousands of years. Welding ushered in the production of weapons, jewelry, transportation, and utensils, so it’s difficult to imagine life without it.

Humans first started working with bronze as far back as 3000 B.C., with small golden boxes from the Bronze Age being the oldest known examples of welding. Archeologists also found dining utensils, weapons and jewelry from the time period. Iron smelting became more common in 1500 B.C., although Egyptians also used charcoal to weld swords over 1,500 years earlier.

Over thousands of years, welders have worked with copper, silver, gold, iron and bronze before focusing on welding steel. It’s reported that Chinese metalworkers of the Sui Dynasty learned how to turn iron into steel around 600 A.D.; at about the same time that Japanese metalworkers welded and forged steel to make Samurai swords.

The Middle Ages were also an important time period for advances in forge welding, and the development of new techniques which are still implemented by modern-day blacksmiths to forge swords and knives. The first printed book on metallurgy, “De la pirotechnia”, was published by the Italian Vannoccio Biringuccio in 1540, and included descriptions of smelting and forging iron. During the Renaissance, forge welding and blacksmithing gained even more traction.

Blacksmiths of the Middle Ages made horseshoes, locks, nails, furniture, and armor as well as weapons, and became essential thanks to the home goods, protection, and transportation tools they provided. Oftentimes, blacksmiths set up shop in the center of their village. Fast-forward a few hundred years to the Industrial Revolution, when more modern welding techniques were developed; in 1802, the Russian scientist Vasily Petrov enabled metalworkers to melt metals with the creation of the stable electric arc.

A plethora of creations and discoveries led to the invention of more stable arc welding, gas welding and cutting, and the electric generator in the mid-19th century. Welding saw a huge increase in World War I, as weapons and methods of transportation were developed across the globe; England and Germany used arc welding to build ships and airplanes. Automatic welding revolutionized the scene in 1920, and many new welding methods were invented during the middle of the century – from underwatering welding to stud welding and everything in-between.

As of today, there are over 90 welding processes in existence, all of which are constantly being improved and developed thanks to new research in the shipbuilding, nuclear, transportation, and space industries. These modern welding techniques focus on safety, sustainable products, and better performance, while contemporary inspection techniques seek to improve any defects or imperfections. As of 2022, there are almost 400,000 welders in the US, although a November 2020 article lamented the global welder shortage caused by an aging workforce and the introduction of robotic welding applications.

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