Tag Archives: chop
By Jim Aust/Hollywood Hot Rods
Every since the first sleek new 1949 Mercury hit the street crafty restylers have lusted after examples with the roof a bit lower than the factory offerings. Sam Barris was among the first to chop his own personal Mercury, and the process would be repeated thousands of times over the next seven decades. Just as the word “custom” implies, personally designed customs each have a unique style and equally unique method of creation.
The guys at Hollywood Hot Rods have built a series of much loved custom vehicles so it’s only natural that they would have chopped a few Mercury’s along the way. Refining the process to a science, Hollywood Hot Rods get the job done lowering a lid on a Mercury (or any vehicle) with the help of various tools from The Eastwood Company. For this demonstration an Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher is used to get a few of the vital steps in the process completed. Follow along as Hollywood Hot Rods shows how they lowered a roof on this 1951 Mercury.
Chopping the top on a Mercury is so popular at Hollywood Hot Rods that they have to wait in line for their turn under the knife.
The easy part is removing the top, the tough part is putting it back on correctly.
After lowering the roof the desired amount, the corners of the windows now require reworking to close up the gaps created in the process.
This view shows the great deal of work that will be necessary to reshape the rear corners of the quarter windows.
The first step is to trim out the rear corners so that new corners can be fitted in place.
To fill the corners small strips of sheet metal are cut and folded 90-degees in a sheet metal brake.
Next up the Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher is used to shrink one edge of the custom new pieces to replicate the look of the factory corners in the newly required radiuses.
The newly fabricated pieces are carefully fit into in the trimmed out window corners.
The new window corners are tacked in place and checked again for proper placement before final welding is completed.
Once the final welding is finished the corners are shaped with a die grinder equipped with a barrel drum sanding head.
On this particular chop the decision was made to round-off the upper rear door corners rather than retain the square factory style corners.
Rather than cut the original door corners into multiple pieces, Hollywood Hot Rods prefers to create new sweeping corner from fresh sheet metal.
Repeating the earlier process, new inner door corners are made with the Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher. Once the new door corners are in place they are welded and smoothed the same way as the window corners.
Just a few steps transformed this Mercury from a stocker to show stopper! Hit the Hollywood Hot Rods Website to see more of their work, enlist their services, or buy some sweet HHR gear!
It's been a while since we talked about the roof chop on Pilehouse, but I've been doing a lot of boring work on the smashed up old roof getting it satisfactory. Since then I decided to finally finish building the doors to match the roof. I took some pictures as I did the drivers side to show one way to do it, and I did the passenger side an alternative way to show another way you can tackle this project. We shot the video on the passenger side, but in the photos here you can see the other way to go about it.
Just like chopping the roof down, we needed to take out some height from the top of the door, split it in half, and add some width to it. That's why it's extremely handy to keep original metal that you cut off of the truck. I started by splitting the top of the door in half so we could mock up the two pieces so that they sat where we wanted them to in the door jamb.
I started with the rear portion and held it in place in the door opening and closed the door until the post met the top of the door I was holding in place. From there I made a mark on the pillar where the 2 parts overlapped. From there I could cut the excess off of the door. In the front of the door I needed to take the extra material out of the top of the door since that was the straightest part of the upper front portion of the door. If at all possibly you always want to take material out of the pillars, doors, etc where the pieces are straight and the most uniform. Cutting them on a curve makes it VERY difficult to piece things back together smoothly and get your angles correct.
Once the pieces were cut I temporarily tack welded them to the edge of the roof to get them sitting about where I wanted. With the tack welds I could still adjust the parts without them being permanently mounted. This way I could shut the door and line everything up how I wanted.
Once the front and rear sections of the door were about where I wanted them I grabbed the piece of the door I cut out of the front. This portion of the door was very close in size to the center and only required minor tweaking to get the backside contours to match up.
From there I was able to tack weld and adjust everything how I wanted and I could weld the seams all together. On the drivers side I hadn't fully cut and ground the drip rail off so I went about mocking up the door pieces. Either one will work, just be sure to use paint stir sticks or similar as spacers to leave room for seals in the door jam. With the doors welded back together the full effect of chopping the roof is visible. I think this mild chop really made Pilehouse look better. My next plans are to customize the hood and build a custom tailgate, so stay tuned for more updates.