Posts Tagged ‘Brookville Roadster’

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.


A different idea for 1928 – 31 Model A Ford floors

Monday, December 12th, 2011


A different idea for 1928 – 31 Model A Ford floors

The original floors for many vintage automobiles were made of wood.  This was okay 80 years ago.  The 1928-31 Model A Ford used a combination of steel floor pans and some wood up front.  The Brookville Roadster 1928-29 Ford roadster body is equipped with very nice steel floor pans and was set up for a rumble seat.  Having designed a custom frame / chassis for my 1929 Ford roadster hot rod forced me to remove the entire metal floor.  Using a C4 Corvette suspension for the chassis / frame on the 1929 Ford hot rod required a narrower frame / chassis width in the rear.  My chassis / frame sits inside of the roadsters body rails at the rear of the hot rod.  The original Henry Ford design has the entire body sitting on top of the 1928-31 Model A chassis / frame.  This was a good design for the time, as the body also provided strength to the lightly made ladder style chassis / frame.  Part of my body modifications necessitated the rear floor cross member to be removed and moved a few inches towards the front of the car.  Because of this modification the rear floor pan could not be re-used easily.  I did consider making new metal floor pans but did not like the 0.5 inch difference between the height of the floor and the roadsters body frame rails and floor cross members.  Wanting a nice flat floor even with the top of the roadsters body frame and floor cross members I thought plywood would work but would seal them with fiber glass.  Below are a few pictures of this messy process.

1928-31 Model A Ford floor: moving the rear floor crossmember - view 1 1928-31 Model A Ford floor: moving the rear floor crossmember - view 2

Step 1: After giving this a bit of thought, and having done a fair bit of drywall work in all of the houses I have owned, it made sense to trim the edges of the new 0.5 inch plywood floor cut outs with metal drywall j-mold.  It fits perfectly over the plywood edges to seal and provide a nicely finished edge.  Small nails were used to tack each piece in place.

1928-31 Model A Ford floor: a different idea -- step 1

Step 2:  I decided to use a gray colour pigment made for polyester resin to match the grey primer I have been using on the car.  Now it is very important to mix the correct amount of catalyst with the amount of resin to be used.  Another consideration is the ambient air temperature in the shop.  This means if your shop is very warm you can use less catalyst and if it is on the cool side of things, more catalyst is required.   Not enough catalyst will be a disaster as the resin will not ever harden.  Too much catalyst will cause the resin to set too fast and get very hot.  Only mix enough resin for a time period you can handle.  The resin is expensive and you do not want a waste any product. I used plastic bowls from the dollar store to mix up the resin.  Using a permanent marker, I marked out a 4 ounce and 8 ounce points.  From the local farm supplier or even the drug store, purchase several small syringes.  These are great for getting the exact measure of catalyst.  I used 2 teaspoons or about 6 cc of catalyst for 8 ounces of resin or gel coat.  When I did this, my shop temperature was about 65 degrees f.  From the dollar store I also purchased heavy duty rubber gloves, several paint brushes, and small paint rollers.  For clean-up I used lacquer thinner.   Do this in a well-ventilated area and wear safety glasses.  I do not clean my rubber gloves or mixing bowls.  Once the resin hardens, the hardened resin just peels off the gloves and breaks away from the plastic bowls.  When applying the resin to the fibre glass matt, make sure you work out all of the air bubbles to maximize adhesion to the plywood.  This is a very messy and smelly process that cannot be rushed.

1928-31 Model A Ford floor: a different idea -- step 2 1928-31 Model A Ford floor: a different idea -- step 2-2

Step 3:  Once all of the floor boards had the fiber glass matt applied with a good coat of resin, I started to paint on the gel coat.  Again, I used a colour pigment in the gel coat and used the same amount of catalyst as I did for the resin. Several coats of gel coat were applied.  Eventually, I will sand the bottom side of the floor panels smooth for an even finish. All edges were sanded smooth on my stationary 6 inch belt sander.  The entire process to seal the wooden floor panels took several nights out in the shop. 

1928-31 Model A Ford floor: a different idea -- step 3 1928-31 Model A Ford floor: a different idea -- step 3-3

All of the panels fit into my 1929 Ford roadster without any problems.  These will all get screwed down with a heat shield and rubber padding applied to the interior to reduce noise and heat.  These floor panels will be extremely strong and well-sealed from the elements.  A similar technique is use to make light weight but very sturdy cedar strip canoes.

1928-31 Model A Ford floor: a different idea -- front view 1928-31 Model A Ford floor: a different idea -- back view