Venus Update #4: Diversions

16 07 2008

You know, it’s one thing to remove a part; clean it up, repaint or plate it, and then put it back on…but still another to have to design, fabricate, and fit whole new parts. This was a diversion that I knew was coming, and it finally reared its ugly head. 

The issue I had to resolve while the body was upside down was that of the hood hinge. This took a lot of time away from body work since I had to start at ground zero. The hinges that were on this car originally were hardware-store grade “gate hinges” which I was not about to re-use.

I designed and fabricated a new hinge assembly, shown below. Probably a bit over-engineered for all practical purposes, but that’s the way I do things. This assembly is welded to a 1/8th” plate. There is an exact duplicate plate under it with studs that have been brazed on. The lower plate will get epoxied and glassed to the body using 3M DP 190 epoxy cement, and then glassed in. However, it will not be quite as simple as just cementing it in place…I have to make sure that the hinge arms land in the exact symmetrical position(s) on the hood, otherwise they will look skewed when the hood was open. And if you’re thinking that 1/8th inch is a bit slim, keep in mind that the hood weight is only 30 pounds. The welding of the hinge bearings on each side did an awful lot to stiffen this piece….and once it’s mated to the other plate, that’s 1/4 inch…far more than needed. 

Then I had to design the brackets that were to go onto the underside of the hood. I tried many different shapes and had a difficult time deciding which to use. Ultimately, after deciding on the right shape and size (with thanks from HAMBers), I bought some 3/16ths flat stock, and cut 4 pieces in the cut-off grinder. I then located the centers on one piece, using one of the flat sides of the stock for one of the triangle sides. I then drilled all 1/4″ at the 3 corners. Since I did not want the mess that a cutting torch makes, I fashioned a jig that would allow be to hold the pieces square in the cut-off grinder to cut off the other side of the triangle. All four pieces proved to be too much for the grinder, so I backed off to one at a time. Well, even that was too much to ask of my DeWalt cut-off grinder…I guess I must have glazed the edge or something…jeez! Can’t cut through a piece of 3/16ths steel? WORTHLESS!!

I ended up using my trusty Rigid angle-grinder with a cut-off blade in it….it was like a hot knife thru butta’…and a lot straighter I might add. The cut-outs were ready for individual shaping, again using the angle-grinder and a 36 grit flap disk. Two pieces were bases and received studs; the other two were for eventual welding to the hinge arm. (Not finished here).

The next issue to resolve is shown below. The hinge arms “land” on the hood way too short. Ideally, the triangle brackets need to be about midway between the lip of the hood and the hood scoop opening. By my measurements, I need an additional 3.5″ for these arms to work. By the way, these arms were purchased at Speedway or Summit; trying to save some time and bucks, don’t you know. I’m still trying to resolve this problem, and I have these over at my auto mechanic’s shop right now. He’s going to try to heat and bend these to get the 3 inches, but we don’t know if it’s going to work. These arms are actually tubes, and there’s a chance that bending will collapse the tubing. But nothing ventured; nothing gained. I may have to get some custom tubes (or solids) bent, but we can’t find anyone with a 3/4″ bending die…and these dies are about $250! So hopefully we can come up with a solution to this problem. (The shapes under the arms are just cut-outs of black paper).

The fabrication of all these parts had to be done before I could even begin to fit them to the Venus. It’s very difficult to do this without a proper workshop/garage, and without specific power tools that you’ll probably only use once. Yes, I could take everything to a shop for a custom fit, but that involves taking the upside down Venus body, hood, and parts to a shop…which mean loading up the trailer and probably spending a thousand bucks to have it done. No, this shouldn’t be that difficult a hurdle. If I could just find a 3/4″ bending die….I may end up buying one anyway, but it’s about half of what an entire bending machine costs!

I have decided there is no way to use the existing hinge arms. I am currently shopping around for someone to make a custom set. Here’s the rough drawing of what I need:

Moving on, I finally have my 4 grill spokes, each of which are from the back bumper of a 1951 Merc. Finding decent pieces has been difficult, expensive, and a long, drawn-out process. Although some sellers will tell you thier piece has a slight bend or a small dent, you really don’t know what you’re getting until its in your hands. Below is a photo of the four “good” pieces on the left, and the three “rejects” on the right. (The best two came from Jim Pullen from the H.A.M.B; thanks Jim!). Below that is a photo showing the underside of the “good” pieces. One is pitted quite heavily with rust, but as long as there are no holes, I should be okay. The bottom part won’t show anyway; and I still have to grind off the license plate light bracket on these.

I need to prefit and pre-drill the holes for these four pieces before I can get the body painted, and before I have the spokes chrome plated. I may do this when the body has been flipped right-side up.

Last but not least, here’s a pic of my friend and fellow HAMB’er Jim Pullen with his ’51 Merc project…very nice engine work, Jim!!

Not much of a post, but I wanted to get away from the Venus toys post….this in not a “model” blog.

Thanks for your time!




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