How To Adjust Hood Alignment On A 1955 Chevy Truck

Getting The Perfect Hood-To-Cowl Fitment

By “Rotten” Rodney Bauman   –   Photography by the Author

During the course of most any classic truck build, sooner or later we’re going to do something twice. Double-checking ourselves can certainly lower the risk, but wouldn’t that also be doing something twice? If it is, it should be OK here since double-checking a hood-to-cowl gap goes a bit quicker than repainting a hood and cowl.

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01 The cover stayed secured to the cart with 16 inch magnets These are from Harbor Freight
The cab has been covered for quite some time. The cover stayed secured to the cart with 16-inch magnets. These are from Harbor Freight. Be careful. They’re strong.

Read More: How To Repair a Cowl On a ‘55 Chevy

For an earlier issue, we did a little tech story that dealt with hidden damage. The inspiration came with the discovery of depressions in our project ’55 Chevy second-series cowl. Being optically challenged, I didn’t see it—and I must not have felt it before installing brand-new Brothers Trucks hood hinges right over the damage.

02 Last time the 55 Chevys hood and cowl were together this edge didnt visually clash with that of the cowl
Last time the 55 Chevy’s hood and cowl were together this edge didn’t visually clash with that of the cowl. Off the old truck, however, we’re not sure about this.

With the covered-up problem, mock-up alignment for the hood and surrounding panels was a struggle. We just couldn’t get our hood-to-cowl gap right without a box of shims. Our shop manual says: “If necessary, add shims between hood and hinge.” It says nothing about adding shims in other places. In order to achieve a factory-suggested 3/16 gap that still might later eat paint, we had to add shims at the lower hinge-to-cowl bolts, too.

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Read More: Fixing Ford’s Mistake; Reshaping ‘56 F100 Fenders

03 Old spring leaves can be handy for fine tuning our hoods rearward edge
Thinking perhaps too far ahead, we’re thinking of a specific-purpose tool. Old spring leaves can be handy. For fine-tuning our hood’s rearward edge, why not?

Once we’d finally convinced ourselves that our shimmed-up hood-to-cowl relationship was as good as it would get, the mocked-up truck was disassembled for finish bodywork and paint. When the bare cab reassumed its position upon its rolling cab cart, one of us (the one with better vision) noticed two small dents in the cowl. Being right where the old truck’s hood hinges go, the dents caused snugged hinges to point slightly downward. So, that’s why there are so many shims!

04 We picked out an old truck leave spring for fine tuning the 55 Chevy s hood
From the old spring leaf drawer, this one’s a pretty close fit. Since we’ll have only one chance to do this right the first time, our new tool could also use a little fine-tuning.

As it sits today, the truck’s cab, doors, and frontend panels are all in first-round primer. The straightened-up cowl looks about right now, and we know the difference will affect hood hinge operation as well as our hard-earned hood-to-cowl gap.

When it’s time for final assembly, we’ll expect less trouble from the hood, hinges, and cowl. The trouble is now one of us (the one with the wilder imagination) is focused on the repaired-original hood’s rearward edge. Toward the center stretch of its lazy arch that edge looks a little flat to me.

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05 From the early 90s this pneumatic buffer grinder is perhaps the oldest Harbor Freight tool we own
From the early ’90s, this pneumatic buffer/grinder is perhaps the oldest Harbor Freight tool we own. Here today, it’s still earning its keep as we relieve a couple kinks.

Read More: Is It Better To Repair Or Replace A Fender?

Thinking back, we’ve been dealing with collision damage throughout our ongoing build. Years ago when the wrecked truck came to us, the original hood hinges were pretty wadded up. We don’t rightly recall if the hood’s rearward edge was catching on the cowl, but since the collision was a front-ender, it’s quite likely that it was.

06 During the projects last mock up we did lubricate our new Brothers Trucks hood hinges
During the project’s last mock-up we did lubricate our new Brothers Trucks hood hinges. Now that the hood and cowl are primed, we’d best degrease the hinges before reinstallation.

At the time of this typewriting we haven’t actually seen the results of our earlier cowl repair. Instinct says we’ll see improvement and maybe we can toss some shims. So, what about the hood’s questionable rearward edge? When we see the hood adjusted, we’ll know what to do. If fine-tuning is necessary, we’ll be ready.

07 We cleaned up the 55 Chevy s threaded holes
Here a bit of forethought would’ve gone a long way. As an afterthought we’ll clean out some primer buildup from threaded holes.
08 In this instance a 3 8 16 hex bolt slotted with a cutoff disc on a Harbor Freight cutoff tool fits the bill
In this instance a 3/8-16 hex bolt, slotted with a cutoff disc on a Harbor Freight cutoff tool, fits the bill. This’ll make a mighty-fine thread cleaner.
09 Because were in vulnerable primer now a clean slotted bolt makes better paint shop sense than an oily tap
Because we’re in vulnerable primer now, a clean, slotted bolt makes better paint shop sense than an oily tap. We believe this is easier on threads as well.
10 This new ‘55 Chevy hood hinge wants to do the twist
This new ‘55 Chevy hood hinge wants to do the twist. As we tighten we’ll apply a little leverage just for fine-tune clocking. The hinge’s slotted holes are slotted wide enough to allow this.
11 Our earlier cowl repair on the 55 Chevy work is beginning to pay off
Our earlier cowl repair on the 55 Chevy work is beginning to pay off. Now there’s only one shim per side at the forward hinge-to-hood bolts—as illustrated in our shop manual.
12 Reprinted repair manuals are available through Brothers Trucks
This far into our build we’ve come to depend on this old book. These are hard to come by. Quite fortunately, reprint versions are available through Brothers Trucks.
13 Having reviewed the adjustment procedure were dialing in rubber covered adjustment screws
Having reviewed the adjustment procedure, we’re dialing-in rubber-covered adjustment screws. This takes patience. By closing the hood we’ll double-check this many times.
14 A while or two later weve achieved our desired hood to cowl gap
A while or two later we’ve achieved our desired hood-to-cowl gap. Averaging 3/16 the entire way across, this is what our shop manual calls for.
15 At this point hood and cowl shapes dont seem to differ very much but lets double check that too
The new difference is the cowl. Now that it’s repaired, the hinges sit properly. At this point hood and cowl shapes don’t seem to differ very much, but let’s double-check that, too.
16 Brothers Trucks offers these hood to cowl seals
Some time back we purchased a new hood-to-cowl seal. It’s from Brothers Trucks. It’s quite soft, so we don’t expect it to have a dramatic effect on hood height or gap width.
17 the new seal bumps the gap up a bit on our 55 chevy but nothing time won t fix
Surprise! Soft as it is, the seal is holding the hood up a little higher, which opens the gap some, too. Let’s not hastily readjust. The new seal will eventually conform.
18 So weve made this specific purpose tool but the hood fits better than last time it was installed
So, we’ve made this specific-purpose tool, but the hood fits better than last time it was installed. If we’re lucky here, we may not need to fine-tune the rearward edge after all.
19 If the hood actually does need fine tuning well gingerly close it on the tool relocate and repeat as necessary
If the hood actually does need fine-tuning, we’ll gingerly close it on the tool, relocate, and repeat as necessary.
20 Here the hood is propped slightly open where the gap is at its tightest
First, let’s double-check existing clearance with paper feeler gauges. Here the hood is propped slightly open where the gap is at its tightest. This is encouraging. We’re good!

Bull’s-Eye Insurance

Next time hood meets cowl, they’ll both be in living color. When the fresh-paint pressure is on, wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to start the panel-alignment process all over from scratch? There’s a clever little trick for that. It’s not our own original notion. It’s something we learned years back from friends in Riverside, California—at the original Ed Martin Garage.

21 Before we disassemble lets drill 1 8 inch holes for relocation later on
Finally, we really like our hood-to-cowl gap, so let’s not let it get away. Before we disassemble, let’s drill 1/8-inch holes for relocation later on.
22 For the hinge to hood holes surplus fuel hose makes an OK drill stop
For the hinge-to-hood holes, surplus fuel hose makes an OK drill stop. When it’s final assembly time, we’ll use old 1/8-inch drill bits as relocation pins.
23 This bit of double check backtracking has cost us some time but weve gained invaluable peace of mind
This bit of double-check backtracking has cost us some time, but we’ve gained invaluable peace of mind. On that note, let’s move onto the next phase!

Brothers Truck Parts
(800) 977-2767

Harbor Freight Tools
(800) 423-2567

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