DIY Hood Spring Removal Tool
In this article, I’m going to cover how I removed the hood from my 54 Chevy Bel Air. The hood hinges on these cars are a different configuration than the newer Chevy’s. The hood is attached with four collared bolts, two per side and the hood spring is constantly under tension between the body and the hinge. So, removal of the four bolts without relieving the spring tension would be very dangerous. A quick internet search revealed several options as far as tools to make or buy for hood spring removal. Rather than spending $50 for a pair of what looked like something I could easily make, I hit the scrap metal pile in my garage. I don’t mind taking the time to make a tool if I can save a buck. After all, it has taken me 15 plus years on my 54 project, what’s another day?
You’ve got to love the ingenuity of hot rodders, gear heads, and shade tree mechanics. Here are a few options I found people either used or made. On one site I discovered people putting the spring under tension by lowering the hood enough to reach under then stacking pennies, yes, the copper things that are in every couch of America, in between the spring coils all the way up the spring on both sides. Or, using a thick washer in the same fashion as pictured. Thus, not letting the spring collapse when you raise the hood, then simply lift the spring off the hinge. This option costs pennies on the dollar, pun intended, but when you reattach the spring and lower the hood what do you end up with? A mess of pennies everywhere! Not to mention what happens if the pennies fall out, or for that matter shoot out of the spring. It doesn’t seem like the safest or cleanest way to get the job done.
The second option I found was my first attempt at building an actual tool. For this, I used a piece of 2 ½-inch exhaust pipe cut down the middle, with a piece of flat iron welded as a cap on both ends. This version can be bought online, however, I had the pieces available so why not try to make it? I measured the spring under tension and came up with a 14-inches overall length needed. With the pipe cut and ends welded on, I simply put the spring under tension by lowering the hood. Then, I reached under and slid the tool over the spring covering half of the spring with each end at the top and bottom in between the coils. My first attempt at this didn’t go as planned. The material I used was a little too flimsy for the hood spring. My first prototype began to bend as I lowered the hood and shot out of the spring. Instead of trying to strengthen this to make it work, I went back to the drawing board.
Option three for me was the simplest yet. I hit my local hardware store and purchased some ½-inch rebar. You know, the stuff concrete workers use to strengthen and tie concrete joints together. I got two 18-inch pre-cut pieces for $4. Pretty cheap if you ask me. First, I used my torch to heat up one end of the rebar until it was glowing orange. Then, using a large hammer I flattened one end, and then of course stuck the rebar into a bucket of water to cool it. Not to mention the cool instant boiling and sizzling sounds that it makes. Doing this gave me room on the end to cut a “V” shape into it with a metal cutting disc on my 4-inch grinder.
I then cut the rebar with the same grinder to 14 ½-inches long. The opposite end would need a ¼-inch hole drilled into it. So, using a center punch to locate the drill bit, I drilled the ¼-inch hole about ¾ of an inch deep. The tool was then ready to try.
This version slides down the middle of the spring with the “V” resting on the bottom curl of the spring that hooks around the body. This can be a little tricky to do with the fenders on, but you can feel when it catches after moving the rebar around inside the spring.
Next, I lowered the hood until the spring stretched far enough to insert the top loop into the ¼-inch hole on the other end of the rebar. With that inserted, I raised the hood until the tension was off the hood hinge, and lifted the spring off the hook. What you end up with is the spring extended with the rebar safely inside the middle of the spring. With the success of this one, I made an exact copy for the other side. With both springs off I could now safely unbolt my hood and remove it.
Using a couple of zip ties I secured the springs to the hinges to keep them from flopping around since I would be driving my old 54 with no hood for a while. The reason for that will be another article to come, a little cliff hanger there for you. Speedway offers a variety of hand tools that are essential for DIY projects such as this. You may need drill bits like the Titan Tools 29 piece Titanium Coated Drill Bit Set or a Titan Tools 24oz Ball Pein Hammer. It’s always going to take tools to accomplish something when working on a vehicle, or for even for making your own tools.
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