Posts Tagged ‘DIY hinges’

Easy DIY Aluminum Trunk Hinges – 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

Sunday, October 28th, 2012


Easy DIY Aluminum Trunk Hinges for the 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

When I purchased the 1928 -29 Brookville roadster body several years ago from a fellow that had it storage around the corner from my place, the doors, trunk lid, dash parts were all missing. At a swap meet, I did manage to find the outside skin for the trunk lid. Later on in the same summer, I came across the inner metal panel for the trunk lid. Assembling these two parts will be another post later on but for now I will focus on how I arrived at my final set of hot rod trunk hinges.

The roadster body was originally built as a rumble seat roadster something I did not care to use. These cars are small enough, and a trunk would be much more useful to me. When the car is completed, I intend to travel from Southwestern Ontario to the California coast attending car shows / cruises and visiting hot rod shops along the way. Maybe my own version of “Wild Hogs” only I will name it “Wild Rodders”!!!

For my first attempt at fabricating a set of trunk hinges, I re-cycled a set that I salvage from a 1991 Ford Mustang hood. Some minor modifications were made to theses hinges and installed on the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod. Not being satisfied with the look and operating dynamics of these newly modified trunk hinges, I removed them and sold them on eBay to another hot rod builder. The eBay sale provided me with a small financial reward for a minor amount of time and effort for the modifications I made to them.

Easy DIY Aluminum Trunk Hinges for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

The second attempt involved a set of hinges from the back window of a Ford Explorer SUV. I mounted these on the outside of the trunk lid and they worked well for a short period of time in the shop. The 1929 Ford roadster hot rod is currently sitting on a set of wheel dollies. In order to make room for another project, the hot rod was repositioned in the shop. Unfortunately, the trunk lid was propped up with a dowel and as I moved the hot rod, the dowel moved and the trunk lid slammed down hard. This broke one of the hinges. In hind sight, these hinges were a disaster waiting to happen. IT DID!!

Easy DIY Aluminum Trunk Hinges for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

Now I was a bit disappointed from the accident and decided to fabricate a new set of trunk hinges for the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod. Using some 2 inch by 0.5 inch aluminum bar that was laying around in the shop, I traced the outline of the Ford Explorer rear window hinge onto the aluminum bar. To make the hinge more robust, I thought it would be a good idea to use the long sided shape from the Ford Explorer hinge for both halves of my new hot rod trunk hinge. Aluminum marks very easily, so to mark the outline, a machinist scribe was used. In order to prevent a mistake while cutting the hinges out, I provided myself with visual markings on the hinge outline for the material that would become waste.

At the time I was fabricating these hinges, I did not have a milling machine so I needed to keep the design simple. Now that I have a milling machine and decent metal lathe, the design and fabrication of the trunk hinges would have been slightly different.

Easy DIY Aluminum Trunk Hinges for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

The entire hinge was cut out using a small metal cutting band saw. Cutting aluminum on a metal cutting band saw requires a small amount of lubricating oil. The oil prevents the teeth on the saw blade from plugging up and slowing down the cutting process.

The outside shape and the hinge slots were cut for both trunk hinges. With the hinge slots cut out, both halves of each hinge were clamped in a drill press vise in preparation to drill the hole for the hinge pin. This will allow for an easy alignment of the hinge pin in both halves of the hinge. The hinge pin is made from 3/16” (0.1875 inch) zinc coated steel rod. A 1/8” (0.125 inch) pilot hole was drilled first only half way into the second outer hinge slot. This will allow the hinge pin to be visible only from one side of the hinge once the hinge is completed. Now both halves of the hinge are removed from the drill press vise. The half of the hinge with the middle slot is now clamped back into the drill press vise. The hole is re-drilled slightly larger than the diameter on the hinge pin. The other half of the hinge having the outer two slots are now clamped in the drill press vise and re-drilled slightly smaller than the diameter of the hinge pin remembering not to drill through the second slot. If this happens, than the hinge pin will be visible from both sides of the hinge. Drilling the two different sizes of holes allows for the pin to be pressed into the hinge and for an easy pivoting action on the hinge.

Easy DIY Aluminum Trunk Hinges for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

Easy DIY Aluminum Trunk Hinges for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

Using a variety of hand files, and a one inch bench mounted belt sander, the slot edges were smoothed to an even finish. Now the face edges of the slots needed to be rounded to facilitate the pivoting action of the hinge. Again, the combination of files and the one inch bench mounted belt sander was use for this task. The hinge pins were cut slightly longer than required and pressed into the hinge just far enough to test the pivoting action of the hinge. A few adjustments were made and only when I was satisfied with the pivoting movement of the hinge, the pin was pressed in completely into the hinge and trimmed.

Using a six inch vertical belt sander, the final shape of the hinges was formed. On the bottom of the hinges, holes were drilled and tapped for the mounting bolts. In order to prevent scratching and marking of the painted surface underneath the hinges a simple washer needs to be fabricated. Using a bit of gasket material, the outline was traced from each hinge. To keep everything perfect, I labeled each side of the hinges and gaskets using metal number punches. These were then bolted to hinges for a final shaping of the hinge washer / gasket using the one inch bench belt sander.

A very quick polish job was completed on the finished hinges using the technique described in my aluminum polishing posts found at .

To strengthen the attachment of the hinges to the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod, small 1/8” backing plates were made to mount in the trunk lid and for the underside of the rear deck.

Easy DIY Aluminum Trunk Hinges for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

Easy DIY Aluminum Trunk Hinges for 1929 Ford Model A Roadster

These hinges took the better part of an afternoon to fabricate and seem to look fine on the hot rod. As always, once I have made something, I look back and say to myself “next time I could do better”. If I am going to get the 1929 Ford roadster hot rod completed, I better keep moving forward, and not make anything more than once if I do not need to.