Hidden Hinge – Modifications needed

Hot Rod Hidden Hinge

In order to get the hidden hinge to work, the ‘A’ pillar will need some modification. – spoiler alert!

I started by creating a 15.5mm deep recess for the lower hinge to sit in. This would enable both of the hinge pins to align.

Flex in the A pillar

With this  recess, a lot of the flex in the pillar disappeared, but there was still a little when the hinge passed it’s first stop. I added some 3mm thick plate to the back on the recess  and top hinge but although a minor improvement, it wasn’t enough.  I therefore made 4 boxing plates hidden on the inside of the pillar.

The flex seems to be gone for now, but there isn’t the weight of a door on it yet. I’m not 100% convinced this issue is completely gone away.

Hot Rod Hidden HingeThere’s a curved purple line in the above shot. That is the front edge of the door and is what I had real trouble visualizing with the door open.

Starting the door

To cure my fears, I had to make the leading edge of the door. The door curves in two directions so I had to make two wooden guides. I drew the curve onto a piece of steel and ran it through the bead rollers with a 1/4″ step. This step would add strength to the edge of the door and allow room for the door skin to be wrapped around. I then folded the flat vertical hinge return.

At this stage I had a flat door, so there was a hour or so on the shrinker/stretcher to get the shape I needed. The wooden curves I’d cut were handy but with the unusual shape meant they were only good as ‘line of sight’ guides.

I’ve not finished this piece, but it was handy to see if all my work was of any use.

Hot Rod Hidden HingeThere needs to be some work done to the sill near the bottom radius, but it’s looking good so far.

The door also has some 3mm thick steel plate to strengthen the hinge area. This plate was handy as it gave me something solid to grab whilst opening the door. Without a door as a lever, those hinges are really stiff!

Will it clear?

First stop all is good…… Second stop…. The nerves are kicking in…..

Hot Rod Hidden HingeOh dear… Call it stop 1 ¾. The bottom curve just skims the inner wheel arch, which isn’t such a big deal but further up it’s a solid hit. On a normal car, the opening would probably be fine, but on this hot rod, you have to step over the running boards and swing your body down and in.

If I had made a longer recess for the bottom hinge I probably would have ‘just’ about made it. If I had gone with my first hinge position I wouldn’t have stood a chance.

So, to be confident that everything will definitely clear, I’ll cut a bigger recess and re-profile that corner at the same time. I’ll also have to re-make one of the hidden internal bracing plates.

I’m just hoping that the driver’s side will be loads easier. What worries me is, all this hidden bit is going to be a breeze compared with shaping the body panels.

At least by the time I get to the body panels, I will have had a little bit of practice at this bodywork game. – This is after all, my first attempt.


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