Hiding the heart of our old car is the hood.  It has evolved over the years from the butterflyon early cars, to the side-opening, the alligator(hinged at the cowl), and reverse-opening front-hinged hoods; each type compatible with the cars overall design theme and unique unto itself.

        The side-openers used in the '40s by Buick and Packard had inside knob-controlled releases.  You could release one side and leave the other side locked, then lift the open side and set the hood support in place to work on that side of the engine.  If you wanted the whole hood off of the car, just release both sides and lift it off, giving full access to the engine compartment.

        In this article, I will describe the construction and function of 1948 & 1949 Buick (all series) hoods.  The hood is one-piece construction, strengthened and held to shape by two transverse reinforcements on its underside.  On series 40 (Specials), the reinforcements are tubular and are bolted to the hood panel.  The bolts provide a limited amount of adjustment in changing the hood panel width.  On series 50-70 (Super and Roadmaster), the reinforcements are channel shaped and welded to the hood panel, and do not provide any means to alter hood width.

        The hood is supported by rubber bumpers and lacing at the cowl, as well as being locked in place by two gooseneck hinges on each side, mounted on the front fender rails.  On the 1948s, a pilot pin on the hinge engages a pilot hole in a pilot plate on the hood, which insures that the hood sits in the correct position on the hinge.  On 1949 Series 50-70s, the pilot pins are on the hood and the pilot plates are on the hinge assembly.  The hood fastener on either side locks the hood to front and rear hinges at the same time.  Once one side is locked, the other side can be raised and kept in place by a support hinged in the center of the cowl.  With both sides unlocked, the entire hood can be lifted from the car.

        HOW IT WORKS:  On 1948 models, each side of the hood is locked to the hinges by a hood-mounted fastener which includes a rod with two loops.  These engage hooks on the hinges as well as an outside recessed handle that activates the fastener rod.  When the front end of the handle is pressed inward, the hood becomes unlocked from the hinges and can be raised using the rear, projecting end of the handle.

        HOOD HINGES AND FASTENERS:  On 1949 series 50-70s, a self-locking hood fastener mechanism is built into the hood assembly.  Unlocking is controlled by release knobs below the instrument panel, which activate the unlocking cables.  Separate release knobs unlock each side of the hood.  Pulling the knob rearward makes the hood unlock and raise high enough to allow further lifting of the hood by hand.  Releasing the knob lets it move forward into its seat by a spring, without affecting the hoods position.  To close and lock the hood, simply lower it onto its unlocked fasteners with its pilot pins on their holes in the pilot plates, then push down on the side of the hood, causing the hood fastener latches to engage and lock the hood.  A hood fastener is mounted on each hinge, and front and rear fasteners unlock simultaneously with a releasing rod attached to both fasteners.  This rod has a cable connected at one end to the release knob, and is anchored to the rear hinge at the other end.  The cable goes over a pulley that is mounted on a housing, which slides on the fastener rod.  When the release knob is pulled to the rear, the pulley housing hits a shoulder on the rod, making it move rearward, unlocking the front and rear fasteners.  Once released, a spring pulls the pulley housing and cable back into position.

        HOOD NOISES:  If the hood squeaks, take a 1/16" feeler and move it all along the hood edge, checking for clearance.  If you find an edge making contact where there should be clearance, there will usually be a bright spot in the metal.  Press any such spots out with a spring hammer.  On 1948 models, check to see if the rubber coating is worn off the bumpers on the cowl and underside of the hood hinge plates.  This can cause a metal-on-metal squeak, and can be remedied by replacing the worn bumpers and adjusting to correct height.  

        A gruntingnoise is usually caused by rubber bumpers and cowl ledge lacing that has become dry.  These should be lubricated to stop the noise.  If the noise persists after lubricating, a 1/16" strip of felt can be glued to the panel where the lacing is making contact.

        SHEET METAL ALIGNMENT:  If the hood is misaligned, before making any adjustments to the hood or front end sheet metal, first check all the screws and bolts to make sure they are tight.  Check: a. Radiator mounting strap to mounting bracket on the frame; b. Radiator mounting strap side braces at the strap and frame side rails Use 10-15 ft lbs torque on these bolts.  Excessive torque will distort the right hand side mounting strap on the 1948 model); c. fender skirts to mounting strap and grill frame; d. fender skirts to frame; e. fender to fender skirts and grill frame; f. fenders to support brackets at the body; g. hood hinges to fenders.  Once all front end sheet metal is securely fastened down, take the following steps to inspect everything.  Remember that an adjustment at one point will affect the alignment at another point, so a preliminary inspection will reveal the overall effect of any adjustment you might think of making.


        Pilot plates on the hood top panel reinforcements must sit flat and tight against the hinge plates when the hood is locked.  When either side of the hood is closed, the hinge pilot pins have to line up with the holes in the pilot plates so that they can go in smoothly.  Any looseness in the hood hinges, or any misalignment of the pilot pins will cause the hood to sit incorrectly when closed, and opening to be awkward.  The hood and hinges should be adjusted to allow a uniform clearance of approximately 3/32" between the hood and the fenders on each side, and the contours should match.  Check this clearance with a feeler gauge.

        Check the contact between the hood plates and hinge plates by raising one side of the hood with the opposite side locked, and inspect the hinges on the locked side.  Both hinge plates should be in firm contact with the hood reinforcement plates, as in Figure 2-A.  In view 2-B, adjusting is needed as described below.  Check the opposite side hinges the same way.

        With one hood side locked, raise and lower the opposite side several times to check the alignment of the pilot pins with the pilot plate holes.  If the alignment is not correct, the hinge will bind and appear to raise and lower with the hood.  To determine the direction of misalignment, clean the grease from the pilot pins and holes, then coat the pins with chalk.  The chalked pin will be heavily marked on one side if it is not properly aligned with the pilot hole.  If the marking is on the inner side, thats usually acceptable, providing that the hinge doesnt bind and raise with the hood.  Check the opposite side the same way.

        If you find that the hinge and pilot plates are not making proper contact, first check the hood fastener rod clips, making sure they are tight.  The clip bolts are large enough to allow the fastener rod locking tension to be increased by loosening the bolts and moving the clips up as far as possible, then tightening the bolts securely.  You might have to bend a hook on the hinge up or down to ensure equal contact of the hooks on the fastener rod loop.

        For best locking condition, make sure the pilot plate contacts the hinge plate along its inner edge first, checking to ensure that the hinge plates are flat.  Also, check the pilot plates on the hood panel reinforcements and if they are distorted, straighten them with a hammer or a pry bar.  It may be necessary to bend the pilot plate down along the inner edge of the opening to make contact along the inner edge.  Be sure that the bent-down edge is straight front-to-back, insuring full contact with the hinge plate.

        Next month, we will continue with our hood adjustment methods for these 1948 and 1949 Buicks.  In the meantime, keep em driving!