Professor Hammer’s Metalworking Tips

Q. l have a 1955 Ford F-100 and the hood latch and hinges have given me problems since day one. I have seen many trucks like mine with a hood that tilts forward, and since I’m probably looking at reworking the hinge and latch system anyway, I’d like to add this feature to my truck.

Can you tell me how this is done? I have a MIG welder and some basic fabrication tools, so I’m hopeful I can do the modifications myself, but I need a little help with calculating the necessary geometry for the hinges, and to make sure that everything has sufficient strength and provides some adjustability.
Frank Piedmont
Via email

A. The hoods on F-100s are quite heavy, and the latch and hinges have fairly high loads imposed on them. When these trucks were manufactured, most commercial users weren’t super fussy about the fit of the hood, so the hinges and latches were designed to be easy and inexpensive to manufacture. It doesn’t take much buildup of friction or wear in the hinges to compromise the fit. The older the hinges and latches get, the harder they are to align with precision.

It’s actually quite a complicated job to work out the geometry of the hinges and latches for a forward-tilting hood, and then to figure out how to attach it to some existing “hard points” on your truck. For these reasons, I strongly encourage you to consider buying an aftermarket kit—you will find several versions from the companies that advertise in this magazine.

Once you have chosen a system, very little fabrication or welding is required, and since thousands of these kits have been installed, the designs have been refined over time to make them work even better.

Most kits utilize existing mounting holes on your truck, although you will need to remove the original hood bracing and probably drill some additional holes. Typically there will be other small modifications needed to get the hinge and latch system properly installed and aligned, depending on the kit you select, but in most cases these tasks are fairly simple and can be done with common shop tools.

In addition to providing better access to the underhood area, there is a safety benefit you gain with a forward-tilting hood. You will never have to worry about the hood accidentally blowing open when you are driving at speed!


Q. I am building a show-level C10, and I want to have the front bumper re-chromed. I have shopped this job around, and I’m shocked by how much the pricing varies between different plating companies. How can I be sure to get a good job, while not breaking the bank?

A. Labor costs are the major part of what makes plating so expensive. Some people think that you can just drop parts into a “chrome” tank and they come out shiny, but it’s not nearly that simple. To get the best job, the metal has to be polished to perfection before it is plated. Any nicks, dings, scratches, or ripples in the surface will become alarmingly apparent after the part is plated.

The best shops will copper plate a part after polishing, then block sand the copper to work out any small imperfections. It may take many rounds of copper plating and hand sanding to reach a high standard, and of course this drives up the cost. Once the part is up to spec in copper, it is nickel plated and then chrome plated. Ask to see some samples from each of the shops you are considering and you will probably see a wide range of quality. With chrome plating, you generally get what you pay for.

You can email your questions to Professor Hammer ([email protected]) or mail a letter to Covell Creative Metalworking, 106 Airport Blvd., Suite 105, Freedom CA 95019. You will receive a personal reply. Ron Covell has made many videos on metalworking, and they can now be STREAMED or DOWNLOADED from his website! Check these out at, along with his ongoing series of workshops held across the nation, or call for a current schedule of workshops and a free catalog of DVDs. Phone (831) 768-0705. Also, check out Ron’s YouTube channel:

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