Our 2013 AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour '51 Ford is moving closer and closer to the vision Eric Black provided for the car. With the car chopped and channeled it has taken on a whole new profile, sleek and lowered, but still avoiding the radical custom look.
The shoebox Ford used a strong, peaked hood as part of its original styling, but with the top chopped and the custom stance the stock hood now looked more like a parrot beak than a hood. It was obvious the front of the hood should be re-contoured to flow better with the new lines of car. This is not a particularly new modification, as customizers have been "pancaking" hoods for years, most often in combination with sectioning a car. For this '51 Ford the team at Honest Charley Garage opted for more of a "nose job" than a full pancake treatment, as the reshaping of the hood would be limited to the very front contours. Since the '51 Ford hood does not rise much above the fenders, there really was no need to cut the hood all the way to the cowl, rather they opted to cut out the front center of the hood and reshape that profile.
After some careful measuring and marking, the nose of the hood was removed with a cut-off wheel and set aside. With the leading sheetmetal removed, the hood was flipped over and the spot welds holding the inner hood brace were drilled out so the hood brace could be removed.
For the average home builder it would probably be easier to trim off some of the original hood "nose" and lay it back before welding it back into the hood on a laid back, lower profile. Careful trimming and fitting would deliver the desired profile.
However, when you have the tools and talent you can also opt to build a whole new panel to weld into the hood and that is exactly what team at Honest Charley Garage chose to do. Actually the new nosepiece was fabricated from three separate pieces. Having an English Wheel, planishing hammer, and other such niceties in the shop help to make that decision an easy one. Once again Delton Scott and Richard Marter would be performing the surgery, with Honest Charley Garage headman Greg Cunningham handling some of the finish lead work.
To fabricate a whole new profile you must first establish what the new profile is. To that end a large block of foam was formed and fitted to the gaping hole in the hood. A temporary network of braces was installed to maintain the hood in shape. These same braces would hold our block of foam. This green foam can be purchased at your local hobby store.
With the block of foam protruding through the opening it was a simple matter of forming the foam to the desired shape using an orbital sander. Work slowly and carefully to shape things as you sand away at the green stuff.
After an hour or so the hood was sporting a brand-new green nose that was noticeably lower and cleaner, the "parrot beak" was gone, replaced by a clean line that flowed perfectly with the fenders, while the leading edge was now laid back a bit.
Using the foam as a template, a guide was formed to work as a profile board. Then Richard Marter, an accomplished woodworker, took over and built a wooden buck that perfectly replicated the shape of the foam.
With the buck formed it was time to turn their attention to forming sheetmetal to fit the buck, and then trimming that piece to fit the opening in the hood. As the metal forming process proceeded the buck was used to check the shape and then for some of the final hammer-forming. The new hood panel was actually formed from three pieces. The center piece with the peak was formed as one piece, then the two respective side panels were formed to mate to the center strip.
The two sidepieces are quite tricky to make as they incorporate compound curves in two directions, in the end you have a piece of sheetmetal shaped much like a vintage shoe horn. Use of an Eastwood shrinker and stretcher helped shape the new panel and the team also used Eastwood hammers and dollies to hammer weld the seams as the three pieces became one.
After the new panel was welded in place Cunningham used his vintage Eastwood "Stinger Plus" stud welder. Commonly used to spot weld studs to a panel for pulling dents, Cunningham instead used it as a heat source for shrinking the panel. The stud welder was used to heat a circle the size of a dime to a dull red, then it was hammered and quenched to shrink the metal. It worked like a charm.
After the sheetmetal portion of the hood was completely welded in place a new inside hood brace was formed to repair the rusted-out brace. After matching the holes perfectly you would never suspect the brace had been reconstructed.
Once the hood was braced the welds were worked, more Eastwood hammer and dolly work ensued before Greg Cunningham stepped in to lead the hood seam along with the recess that once held the center hood strip. Honest Charley Garage uses Eastwood products exclusively when doing lead work and this old-school method is perfect for filling seams and recesses after welding. Paddling lead takes a special touch, but you'd be surprised how quickly you can learn this skill, particularly on flat panels.
In the end we had a hood with a very pleasing profile that fit the custom perfectly. Much like the rest of the car, the hood profile was not a radical change, but by combining it with a conservative top chop and moderate channeling the old '51 is taking a whole new personality. Chopping, channeling, pancaking, and leading ... it doesn't get more traditional than that! Follow along with the photos for a detailed step-by-step process of pancaking the shoebox hood.