Fabricating a Deck Lid Prop Rod.
By Jim Clark (The Hot Rod MD)
Raising the deck lid and holding it open is one of the less important functions to address when building a hot rod. It’s one of those convenience items that don’t really have much bearing on how the vehicle performs but can be a source of aggravation when you need to access something in the trunk.
Ways to accomplish this task range from some very expensive high-tech power lift systems to simple prop rods. The high-tech power lifts may be necessary on some elaborate show car or vehicle with a big heavy deck lid but for an early hot rod like my roadster I felt that a simple prop rod would be the best choice.
Spring-loaded hinges solved the problem of raising the deck lid on some early high-dollar cars and most ‘50s and later models but on the early model cars like my ’32 roadster the hinges are little more than pivot bolts. So I went to my favorite local wrecking yard, Dixie Auto Salvage in St. George, and looked at a variety of vehicles with a hood prop rod. None of the newer vehicles have prop rods for the deck lid anymore.
I was looking for one similar to the one on my ‘80s Ford van, but they didn’t have anything that old at this time. A Dodge Dakota pickup had a metal hinged prop rod that I thought would be good but the hinged part limited the side movement too much so I finally selected one from a ‘90s Ford van. With a little straightening and reshaping of the tip I was able to install it in the roadster by simply drilling a few holes. This is truly a low buck, low-tech solution that I was able to do for less than $20 bucks. Details and the procedure for installation are shown in the accompanying photos.
My ‘80s Ford van uses this heavy-duty prop rod to hold up its abbreviated hood. It installs with a simple nylon mounting-clip needing just a small hole in the sheet metal. Rod stores in a small nylon clip in the tray behind the grille.
Prop rod that I chose was this one from a 1990s thru 2000s Ford van. They remained the same through a lot of model years. Diameter is thick enough to support a relatively heavy deck lid with only one rod. Some lighter import model prop rods may be too small unless two are installed
Rubber grommet, front and back shown, installs into a sheetmetal surface or bracket and the rod end rests in a nylon clip when not in use.
Rear of grommet installs into hole and secures via the recess behind the tapered flange.
Front of grommet has a wide flange that holds it in place. Rod goes through the grommet and hinges freely because of the flexibility of the rubber grommet.
A 5/8th inch hole was drilled into the inside flange of the deck lid opening to accept the rubber mounting grommet
Grommet is inserted into the hole and snaps into place via the tapered flange on the rear.
This shows the grommet installed in the flange of the deck lid opening.
Installing the rod is simple. First insert it into the grommet hole pushing it up against the opening.
Rotate the rod in a circular motion continuing to push it into the opening. The S-shape of the end of the rod and the pliability of the rubber grommet allow the rod to be fully inserted and held in place.
Select a point to drill an access hole to receive the end of the rod. I chose this recess for a bracket that will not be used anymore as the site for the hole
I used a 3/8th drill bit to drill out the threaded insert in the inner skin of the deck lid. Then reshaped the end of the rod so that it could be inserted through the hole and had a shoulder to rest upon.
I used an acetylene torch to heat the end of the rod for reshaping because it was too thick to bend cold without weakening the metal when making such tight bends.
The deck lid in the raised position is supported well and out of the way at the right side of the deck lid opening. Either side would have worked equally as well in this case.
Resting clip for stowing the prop rod requires a mounting hole be drilled for its installation.
Mounting pin and locking tab for the resting clip require a square hole so the opening was reshaped using a square shaped file. File and test fit as the size needs to be only large enough for the insertion and locking tab to snap into place.
Insert the resting clip into the hole and seat it against the panel surface, making sure that it is held by the locking tab.
Rod stows in the clip when not in use holding the deck lid open.
I took the original resting clip from the donor vehicle but had to damage the locking tab in the process. A replacement can be purchase from the dealer or full-service parts store. Clip on the right with one of the locking tabs broken off is from my ‘80s Ford van and would work if you were going to store the rod in a flat panel instead of against its face.
The rod stores out of sight inside the trunk when not in use. This low-tech solution works well and will be very kind to your wallet.
For those of you who would like a more high tech solution there are many options. Hotronics products offers some great products including actuator kits which are often on sale. There are also some pre-made trunk and hood props available from our friends at Speedway Motors, and from Rocky Hinge
These High Power Actuators have anti-back gear capacities of three (3) times their power rating; meaning they will stop and hold a load up to three (3) times what they extend and retract. The 12 volt DC motor is extremely useful when utilizing custom automotive applications. The actuators come in three models; each model has three stroke lengths. Popular uses of the actuators include: power trunk lifts, convertible tops, rumble seats, tilt hoods, beds and covers, one piece front ends, gullwing doors, power windows, suspension ride height control, and parking brake tension control. However you choose to incorporate the high power actuators into your creation, rest assured that there is No Fluid, No Plumbing, No maintenance, No Pumps, No Leaks, No Problems! All electric, smooth screw drive, Built to last 20 thousand cycles at rated load. When it comes to power, nobody beats HOTRONICS. www.Hotronicsproducts.com
Universal Trunk Prop from www.RockyHinge.com
Made from quality aircraft aluminum our trunk prop features end over
center lock measures 22" when opened and will support 60 lbs
Just what you need to hold open your hood or trunk in any position!
The simple design measures 12" center-to-center
fully collapsed and has six positions with the last at 19-3/4".
Mounting hardware is included
Find this at www.SpeedwayMotors.com