It was the first weekend in October, 2006, and I was spending the day with RobertY at the big Off-Road Expo held at the Pamona Fair Grounds. One of the first buildings we walked through had a booth with some aluminum gas tanks and hood louvers on display. We were at the booth of Gen-Right Off Road, a southern California based company. While the good looking gas tanks on display initially caught my eye, my wallet said I should be looking at the aluminum hood louvers that were on display.
I was impressed with the hood louvers. The workmanship was very good
and left no sharp edges on the pieces. The louvers were stamped from .080"
thick aluminum alloy. Measuring 15-1/2" long by 4" wide, they came with a
bag of pop rivets which could be used for mounting (I opted to later purchase
some screws for that task). I paid the nice lady my $39.99 and put the
hood louvers in my bag.
Before I started the installation, I spent some time trying to figure out if I wanted the aluminum look on my hood (matches the gas tank skid in the rear) or if it would be better to go with black. I opted to go with black. OK....rattle can or powder coating? I was out of flat black paint so powder coating it was. With all the big decisions out of the way, it was time to get on with the installation.
Before the holes for the hood louvers were cut, I had to figure out just what I was going to use for the cutting. Of course, various off-road oriented friends came up with a variety of possibilities.....the venerable saws-all was the first suggestion offered up for consideration. Along with the sawsall were some other sure fire certainties with the plasma cutter being the best example of overkill.
I gave some good thought to using my trusty old jig saw since it managed to
cut the holes for my LED tail
lights. I knew I would have to do a little under hood work if I
went that route since the blade would contact the
hood lift and it would have to be
temporarily removed to avoid damaging it. I finally decided on an air
powered nibbler. It's similar to the hand powered nibbling tool I used on
my aluminum radio chassis (that goes back a few years) except this one can about
1" per second and without getting hand cramps! A big thanks to Troy for
letting me "nibble" my hood louver holes.
I used some blue painters tape to lay out a work surface on the
hood. I also made a cardboard template that was about 5/8" smaller (per
side) than the hood louver itself. This gave me my inside dimensions that
would serve as the "cut on the line". Note that in the above pic, I didn't
think about the under hood brace that runs along rear section of the hood.
I added a little more tape and moved the louver about 5" further towards the
front of the vehicle. I didn't snap a photo as this point but you'll see
the "extra" lines in another photo or two.
Take plenty of measurements to ensure you get both sides laid
out equally. Each side is pretty much of mirror image of the other side.
This is certainly one of those project were "measure twice, cut once", is
not quite enough. Take lots of measurements, above and below the hood, and
make sure you have the templates exactly where they should be.
A pic of one louver hole after the nibbler finished it's job.
I used a blender disc and smoothed off the edges a bit, getting rid of the wavy
lines at the same time. Luckily, the louver covers a multitude of mistakes
as long as you don't get outside of that 5/8" buffer zone you allowed yourself.
A small drum sander was used in the corners to remove the rough edges that
occurred as the nibbler was pushed along the line. All in all, it turned
out pretty good and was much faster than using the jig saw.
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