Remote hood latch release

Being a BCW, Bridget has some quirks (or features) that other TD kits don’t share. One of these is the hood latch mechanism, about which BCW ad copy effuses, “Secure luggage space. Open and lock hood from inside the car.” Brand X is then disparaged as “suitcase type latches” and “inauthentic.”

This is all well and good. I do enjoy the cleaner and more TD-ish look of Bridgets bonnet, which includes a quartet of dummy hood latches along the bottom of the fake louvers. But it’s also something of an Achilles heel.

The system was adapted straight from the VW donor, right down to the thumb lever that VW included inside the glovebox of its Beetles. Since Bridget had no glove box, the mechanism was relocated to a convenient spot under the dash, right next to the steering column.

All this has worked flawlessly since I have owned the car, But in redoing the dash and adding a glove box, I ran into some slight interferance from the cable.  It was easy enough to free from the bracket holding it on the passenger side of the car, and I thought nothing of it until yesterday, as I began the final dash reassembly process.

Looking at the latch and the wire, I noticed that were it to break, there would be no way to open the hood without drilling a hand-sized hole through the side of the hood.

With no way to get under the hood, there would also be no way to fill the fuel tank. Of course, a break could be expected to occur just as the car was pulling in for gas. . . .

On top of that, I noticed that my old cable sheathing was broken right about at the spot where the offending bracket was located. To make matters more complex, the glove compartment made it impossible to reuse that bracket, and interfered with the cable’s previously smooth curve.

hood release cables

Luckily, I had propped Bridget’s hood open.

I had previously bought a replacement hood cable, but when I retrieved it from the parts bin I discovered that I only had the wire, not the sheath (it’s the gold/copper wire draped over the seat back in the above photo).

The fix turned out to be easy: For $8 or so I picked up a universal lawn mower throttle cable (It’s the black cable visible in the above photo, curled under the old white cable).

At four feet long it was about 10 inches shorter than the cable I was replacing, but the sheath was obviously better: steel clad windings under a nylon outer coating instead of the  soda straw that had just served for at least three decades.

A minor re-routing through an existing hole in the firewall allowed the lever to stay just where it’s always been. This was good: I had considered a glovebox mount to shorten and straighten the route even more, but it would have required a bunch of fabrication on the box and, frankly, I really didn’t want to put the lever in there.

I used the lawnmower sheath with my new Brazilian-made inner wire. Drove the pin from the old one and pressed it in the new, then fed it through the sheath and through the latch mechanism, where a finely-threaded phillips head set screw holds it in place.

It worked the first try–far as I could tell, using a bolt balanced on the latch to simulate the hood latch itself–since I was afraid of closing it before I was sure I had it right.

With the main latch mechanism working I set about creating an emergency release. I used half the old tubing and some mechanic’s wire, twisting the end to fit over a little L-shaped lever that moves with the main cable device. In this way, no part of the main cable system is used in the backup system.

new hood release system

Got the backup system working, tested with the hood closed. It worked.

The main lever worked.

Taped stuff up to make it tight, put some zip ties on and, voila!

The main latch no longer worked.

Heart pounding, I pulled the emergency release and the hood popped open. phew!

Looked at what I’d done and discovered that by taping the two cables together right near the latch I’d made the main system jam. In the above photo you can see both cable ends are even with each other; when I pulled the main cable it apparently bumped into the old sheath and couldn’t finish the job. I adjusted it, tested, retaped it so the white sheath is a half inch to the right and now both systems work smoothly.

Looking forward to final dash assembly now.

Hope the wires all go back right and aren’t pulled loose after the past two months.


About stuntmidget

I'm a poor mechanic and general wisenheimer. I love old cars and the stories behind them, true or not.
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One Response to Remote hood latch release

  1. Pingback: In Pittsburgh | bridgetmgtd

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