Home » This Is What It Takes To Restore 50-Year Old Hood Hinges From A Datsun 240Z, Because Replacements Are Insanely Expensive

This Is What It Takes To Restore 50-Year Old Hood Hinges From A Datsun 240Z, Because Replacements Are Insanely Expensive

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Let’s say you’re a lucky owner of a classic Datsun 240Z. It’s a great car, a legend even, but it’s got a dodgy set of hood hinges. You can’t drive around without the hood rattling like crazy, and it no longer lines up properly with the fenders or scuttle panel. You could go out and buy a new set of hood hinges, but you’ll be stumping up hundreds of dollars for the parts, whether you go with new old stock or reproductions. Alternatively, if you’re a handy machinist, you can repair the parts you’ve already got.

The video comes to us from YouTube channel My Mechanics Insights. It’s an offshoot from the main My Mechanics channel, which is currently covering the restoration of a 1973 Datsun 240Z. When it came time to align the hood with the other panels of the car, it became obvious the hood hinges were a problem.

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They were junk, rattling around like crazy, with almost an inch of play visible when shaking the hood back and forth. The metal joints between the hinge links were sloppy and worn—not surprising for 50-year-old parts. The hood wasn’t sitting right, either, once the proper torsion bars were installed for holding the hood open. Something had to be done.

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The pinned metal joints were exhibiting a lot of play. 

The video starts with the removal of the hinges from the vehicle. The pinned joints were then ground down and punched out to separate the individual linkages. The parts were subsequently sandblasted to remove the brown paint applied when the car was first painted at the factory. Measuring the parts showed most were significantly worn, some by over 1/64th of an inch.

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With everything nice and clean, the hinges needed to be prepared for reassembly. The links all had their joints drilled out oversize using a reamer to get dimensionally accurate holes. Parts were also filed down for a better finish and to remove any sharp edges.

The real work came in machining fourteen new pins to act as joints for the various linkages. These had to be machined just so on a lathe to allow the hinges to rotate and open, but not shake around. Using the originals would be no good, as they were worn and too small for the now-oversized holes. Once complete, all the linkages and pins were sent out for a yellow zinc coating for better corrosion resistance.

With the parts looking factory fresh, the hinges were reassembled using a hydraulic press to flatten the pins to lock them in place in the joints. The final hinges operate smoothly with a minimum of play. When installed, the hood now shakes far less and can be properly aligned with the other panels. While they look great in the yellow zinc finish, the plan is to repaint the hinges in the car’s original paint color as they would have been when stock.

Hoodohhingozinco

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This video shows us just how much work goes into a full restoration for a classic car. Often, it requires replacing or refabricating parts you’d never think to replace on a modern vehicle. Where working on a more recent whip might involve changing radiator hoses, fluids, and transmission seals, working on an older vehicle often means replacing entire dashboards or rebuilding seats from scratch. It’s a testament to those that ply the trade and all the hard work they do.

Image credits: my mechanics insights via YouTube screenshot

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Duane Cannon
Duane Cannon
4 months ago

Simply replacing parts takes very little skill. Rebuilding and restoring old machinery takes passion, above all else. And skills of all kinds. The economics is irrelevant.

David Traver Adolphus
David Traver Adolphus
4 months ago

It’s always fascinating to see *actual* restoration as opposed to refurbishment. This is the level of obsessive detail you’d expect to see on a Duesenberg.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
4 months ago

This comes from one of my favorite YouTube channels.

“Could have done it cheaper” misses the point. This guy is an artist. Spend some time on his other videos and you’ll see what I mean.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
4 months ago

$400 for replacement parts. That’s cute.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
4 months ago

You are all going to fall down the rabbit hole of My Mechanics restoration videos now…

Rafael
Rafael
4 months ago

Hey, seeing this post here feels like two of my subscribed YouTube channels met at my TV, went out for a drink and now The Autopian gave birth to a brand new article!

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
4 months ago

You posting this the day after I discovered I’ll have to fabricate a 280Z indicator stalk is fitting.

My Z is kinda kicking my ass at the moment.

Loren
Loren
4 months ago

I get to wondering how anybody can work on old cars without having a machine shop in their garage, for how often a whole project would have to stop if you couldn’t cut-weld-mill-turn etc. on some odd part. Still, you do wind up with the capacity because you like doing the work, not because it’s the most sensible economically.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
4 months ago

To answer those pointing out that this refabrication is false economy:

You are correct.

However, this project was actually an individual finding joy in their art. The expense is less the issue. If you are a machinist, with these tools laying around anyway, and free time to do fun things as they strike you, then it is a pleasurable pass time.

We all have a limited number of hours on the planet. Remember to value that time for its true worth. This person clearly understands that simple principle.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
4 months ago

That YouTuber is indeed truly outstanding though I stopped watching his videos when he posted a video about restoring some early 1940s German military (in other words, Nazi) headphones which seemed awfully squicky. However, upon checking his channel just now I see that it appears he has changed the description and it’s simply antique headphones so either he was doing PR damage control or he found updated information leading to the edited description. Still kinda giving him the side eye, even though his 240Z restoration series does look mighty interesting, as the mere fact that he was comfortable with the original premise in the first place is cause for concern. Gah.

Last edited 4 months ago by Collegiate Autodidact
Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
4 months ago

Not sure if there is context I’m missing but is that really something to cancel a guy for? It’s just a piece of equipment, not restoring SS medals.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
4 months ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

Otherwise we’d have to speak out against Torch for owning a Nazi designed beetle.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
4 months ago

Ah, not the old myth about the Nazis designing the Beetle. As good a time as any to go read Jason’s articles about the history of VW here on this website and over at the old website, he’s written quite a few!

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
4 months ago

The articles go into some depth about how the Beetle actually came into being before the Nazis ever got involved and how the Beetle was an idea whose time had come and would have happened no matter what and indeed flourished once the Nazis were out of the picture. There’s indeed a lot more to the origins of VW than those myths and misconceptions about the Nazis supposedly designing the Beetle.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
4 months ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

Eh, I didn’t say anything about cancelling, just that it feels squicky to be devoting so much time and energy on what might have been a Nazi relic and that I’m reluctant to give my attention to such a person’s efforts.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
4 months ago

Idk, I’d watch someone meticulously restore a Messerschmitt Bf109, despite it being a Nazi plane. I get the mechanical interest and historical significance, as long as the commentary with the video doesn’t cross any line.

Simon Staveley
Simon Staveley
4 months ago

It’s important to keep historical artifacts in good condition – regardless of which side of good vs evil someone thinks they’re on (not trying to exonerate the Nazis here but speaking in broader terms) – because if we lose that side of history then we lose the lessons learnt.

Plus you can hate the person / regime / whatever but still appreciate the detail that went in to something they did / made.

As long as he’s not saying “these headphones are excellent quality therefore the Nazis must have been good guys” I can’t see the issue really.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
4 months ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

Saw something on Twitter recently about a young guy never wanting to own a new BMW because something something Nazis. I mean, I consider myself a bleeding heart socialist leftie but JFC the world is losing its mind.

Scramblerken
Scramblerken
4 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
4 months ago
Reply to  Scramblerken

I’m fully aware of the history thanks. BMW has a whole section on it’s website about its history in the war and its remediations, which I read when I wrote the E30 piece, because you know, research.

The point I was making was a young person was stating loudly and viscerally he would never buy a BMW because of events that took place before he was born. This strikes me as online activism of the very worst kind.

Gubbin
Gubbin
4 months ago

What a cool thing to document and show. This person clearly enjoys this so it’s worth their time, and for once I can appreciate how YouTube monetization gives them a financial reward for it as well.

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
4 months ago

My dad had a 1971 240Z (in gold) which he then gave to one of my sisters, and even though I never drove it, it left a very lasting impression on me. That said, this seems like a lot of work to save a little money.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago

All those tools needed; a drill press, hydraulic press, lathe, sandblasting booth, that’s a lot even for folks with a garage. How much would someone without those things or the skills to use them have to pay someone to refurbish a pair of hinges instead of forking out $895 for NOS or $350 for repro?

What gets me is these are hood hinges, not door or hatch hinges. IMO they shouldn’t be wearing out like this. Hoods only get popped up maybe once a month so even after 50 years these hinges are that worn after what, 1000 uses? 1500 uses?

If the metal is so lousy they can’t handle even that limited use I’d expect a proper refurb should include hardened seats pressed in to the oversized holes and better steel used for the pivots for a truly permanent fix.

David Smith
David Smith
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I don’t know. Some twenty years ago I was shopping for a swing set/playground thing for my then toddlers. I priced out the materials for a do it yourself plus the tools I’d need to get and it came out cheaper to DIY then to buy the kit. And for the last twenty-ish years I’ve had plenty of use for the table saw drill press and other assorted tools and leftover parts I bought for the original project.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  David Smith

I prefer DIY too. I’d love to be able to do something like this. Its just a question of whether DIY or throwing money at the problem is the better option. If you have the time, equipment and skills, sure, go for DIY. I think though if you’re going to go that route do it right (e.g. hardened bushings, etc) so you only have to do it once.

OTOH I wouldn’t fault someone for just going with a cheapass Chinese made aftermarket part since it’s not like the OEM part was all that great either.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

70s Japanese engineering had some occasional WTF moments. In 1973 a Honda CB750 used plastic bushings for the swing arm pivots which would last 10 years with care but eventually fail. A 1973 BMW R75 /5 used taper roller bearings in the swing arm and with periodic greasing and adjustment were lifetime parts.
Since hood hinges are often creaky from lack of lubrication it’s believable that 50 odd years of regular oil checks and other servicing wore out the pivots.

Lardo
Lardo
4 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

I wonder if the front placement of the hinges puts more stress on the parts. maybe not. but the firewall area is more rigid than the front of the car, attached to the frame horns? or some kind of cross member?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

I can see that hinges that were supposed to be greased and weren’t would wear out pretty fast.

Nauthiz
Nauthiz
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

This article is a bit disingenuous, as this is not how the average person does any sort of normal restoration. This guy’s whole gimmick is demonstrating the art of fabrication to restore normal objects. His work is excellent but nobody is turning a new screw or bolt on a lathe to restore a kid’s push scooter in lieu of grabbing something from the hardware store, or maybe a specialty supplier if it’s an odd type/size.

Unless you’re Jay Leno having parts made for something from early last century that just don’t exist anymore, or doing some sort of museum grade restoration on an actual museum piece, ain’t nobody doing this, or needs to be able to do it/have it done for your average classic car rebuild.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Lots of repop stuff sucks ass. I wouldn’t be surprised if the $350 repops are worse than the “before” in this scenario. Nearly all the repop shit I buy for my ’65 Chevy requires some grinding, bending, fitting, replacing of specific parts, or what not to get it to fit. And even then, it’s often not that great.

There’s a reason why a repop part is often 1/2 to 1/4 the price of NOS, and that NOS part is often the same price as an actual engineered/improved fabricated part from a small-time machine shop/supplier.

Repop hood hinges for my ’65 are ~$50 per side. They suck ass. NOS ones go for ~$400 per side and will require some work to actually find; actually, I’m not even sure I stand behind that $400 number since the price is so variable. Improved aftermarket options (things like billet or gas struts…) are typically $750-$1,200 for a pair.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  BolognaBurrito

It certainly can suck but again you’re benchmarking to 1970s Japanese pot metal parts. Who knows how long these hinges were loose. Buy them, try them, send them back if they suck and leave a shitty review or a good one if they do the job for less.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Most of these places don’t offer free return shipping.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  BolognaBurrito

I think it depends on the vendor and the reason. Its one thing to change your mind, its another to find you’ve been sold a POS.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Not really. Come back when you know what you’re talking about.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  BolognaBurrito

I’ve gotten refunds on cheap aftermarket car parts that have failed so I do know what I’m talking about. Some companies actually do have excellent customer service.

BolognaBurrito
BolognaBurrito
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

I’ve bought parts for ’59 Eldorado, ’60 Eldorado, ’65 Chevy Suburban, ’49 Chevy Truck, ’73 C10, ’55 F100, ’76 Blazer Chalet, and more. Try telling any of the vendors that you’d have to oblong a hole to get it to fit, or that it seems a bit rickety and they’d be completely unphased. They might let you return it, but none would pay for shipping to return it.

Go on any of the forums and they’ll all just agree, buy NOS if you want quality and what the heck are you surprised for.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  BolognaBurrito

I’m sorry your experience was that. Maybe next time read the terms and conditions as well as reviews very carefully before you buy.

You might also consider changing your attitude. Rudeness usually gets you nowhere. In one case I worked with the manufacturer a bit to figure out what had gone wrong. When I contacted the company to complain the aftermarket struts I had bought from them a couple of months before had failed they said no problem, do you want a full refund or replacements? In that case I chose replacements. They even let me keep the *failed* struts which to my regret I chucked.

When the replacement struts also failed in the same way a few months later I dug around a bit and found the struts were common to a couple of models. My vehicle was on the compatible list but the torque setting on the strut shaft plate nut was wrong for my car. There was no way to tell out of the box, even installed on the car. Over time the nuts loosened just enough such that on compression the plate unloaded from the spring and caused loud banging and rattling on rebound. Once those nuts were torqued properly with a bit of locktite the struts worked fine. I let the manufacturer know their mistake and they were happy too. I’m sure I was not the only one who had complained.

What sucks is the reason I had replaced the struts in the first place was that same noise. Of course they were the last thing I checked so new bushings, new sway bar links, etc till I finally replaced the struts. Two sets of what might have been perfectly fine struts into the trash along with perfectly fine bushings and links just for lack of properly torqued nuts.

Live and learn.

Xpumpx
Xpumpx
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

vibration and movement over all those miles is what leads to those failings

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Xpumpx

Makes sense. Still sucks though.

Sklooner
Sklooner
4 months ago

I see hinges from around $260-550 so that’s a lot of work to save a little money

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
4 months ago
Reply to  Sklooner

I was just thinking the exact same thing.

I do this all time time with house and car projects, but that’s because I like the projects (I also don’t have a machine shop, sadly). If I was trying to build to time or money constraints rather than for the pleasure of doing it, there’s no way buying the replacement doesn’t come out well ahead.

Sklooner
Sklooner
4 months ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Yeah somethings make sense but this seems way too involved I usually value my labour at $10 per hour on projects to see if I make it or buy it

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
4 months ago
Reply to  Sklooner

At $10/HR you’re probably coming out ahead fabricating this even at 40 hours of labor, as long as you stick with paint and have free access to a machine shop. That’s assuming you know what you’re doing and the billets are not expensive.

Hmmm…. if you’re willing to do that kind of quality work for $10/HR… boy do I have a stack of projects for you!!

Phuzz
Phuzz
4 months ago
Reply to  Sklooner

I guess it depends how enjoyable you find this kind of work. If you spend a a weekend doing this, but have fun, then it works out cheaper than playing golf (or whatever).

Chronometric
Chronometric
4 months ago

I appreciate the skills on display here but that amount of work with expensive tools demonstrates why the replacements are expensive (and worth it). If you were paying this guy $100 an hour plus expenses like sandblasting and plating, those shiny new hinges just cost you $1000.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
4 months ago

So, turning 14 pins, drilling then reaming the bars, installation, then sending them off for coating?
Just how expensive are these new hinges, cause with time and how few companies want to do small-batch coating these days, that feels like its still a lot

Angular Banjoes
Angular Banjoes
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

As someone who has been in manufacturing in some form or another for about 30 years, I can tell you that there is no chance that this was actually less expensive than new parts if you take time & materials into consideration. BUT… If you’ve already got the equipment, and you don’t account for your time, then hey… go for it. Plus, this method makes for better YouTube videos.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
4 months ago

Yeah, I’ve only been in it for about 4-5 years and I already knew there was a discrepancy there. Unless you don’t factor in time.
Like you said, though. Its a better youtube vid than typing in your credit card details.

Jdoubledub
Jdoubledub
4 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Never had issues with finding companies that do small batches. Just gotta pay the minimum lot charge which is usually $150-$225.

There are certainly finishing companies that won’t even return your email unless your email address is from a major aerospace company, but if you look in surrounding cities you can find plenty that’ll do it.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
4 months ago

And this is how a restoration can easily cost 6 figures—or take you 3-4 or more years. I don’t have the machinist’s skills, but can certainly appreciate the level of craftsmanship that went into these

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
4 months ago

Yes that brown Z car has been all over the internet for months, and now also here..

But nice inspiring work and no bullshit videos 🙂

I usually don’t have the patience to go over to the hydraulic press with my old hinges, I just give them a good whack at the anvil with my biggest hammer, and then a wirebrush and some black spray paint and they are nice and tight and good looking again 😉

Last edited 4 months ago by Jakob K's Garage
SiK GambleR
SiK GambleR
4 months ago

I have been following this youtube channel for years and am so happy to see his recent endeavor get some spotlight time. Everyone should check out his stuff, including the 240z & his restorations!!

Outofstep
Outofstep
4 months ago
Reply to  SiK GambleR

Same here. He doesn’t make videos often but they’re well worth the wait when he does.

SiK GambleR
SiK GambleR
4 months ago
Reply to  Outofstep

Agreed. A man who is good at what he does and shows love for the art

JerryLH3
JerryLH3
4 months ago
Reply to  SiK GambleR

The bodywork he did on the Z was truly astounding.

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