Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hood Spacers : Truth or Fiction ?

Thought I would perform a low cost experiment on the ride. Hood spacers. For those that don't know what hood spacers are, essentially its a bushing that sits between your hood mount in the rear and the hood itself, causing a 'space'.

There have been multiple stated reasons why people do this to their car :
  • Make room for a modified engine which is a little too tall
  • Make room for a cowl induction setup so that the modified airbox fits
  • Make it look like you have been in a wreck so that non-drivers won't feel the need to smash into your ride
  • Allow heat to escape the engine bay to keep things cooler
  • Make room for ITBs (Independent Throttle Body)
  • Reduce the magnetic polarity of your ride so that it does not attract shopping carts
  • K20 has the header on the rear of the engine block, so this would facilitate evacuation of heat from the race header
  • More aerodynamic
  • Because Import Tuner proved it reduced ambient temperatures in the engine bay by 15-20 degrees
  • I can hear the vroom-vroom of the engine better (its true, the noise level goes up a notch though not ear splitting levels mind you)
  • ...
To name only a few and if you were to cruise the car forums, you would find your good share of bashing how stupid it looks. That said, most of those people who were bashing the idea probably also never gave it a thought to test the theory out. I figured..why not. So I wasn't about to spend 30-40 bucks at a car site for spacers. A bit much for an experiment I think.

I wandered over to my trusty and found a DIY guide on hood spacers. Essentially, some extended bolts and Nylon bushing/spacers is what it amounts to. I picked up some additional washers which were inch diameter. These were to be the top and bottom of the spacer.

I spray painted the metal washers with flat black paint designed for painting cooking grills. Then painted the spacers Red using a durable paint. After a few coats on the spacers and the washers, then used just a small amount of super glue to afix the washers to the spacers. This was more so just to hold the top washer, the spacer, and the bottom washer together as a single unit so that when mounting them they do not slip around and become misaligned.

Why the washers ? Though was that this would spread out the stress of the hood mount points equally across the spacer and not just where the hood and mount points come in contact with the nylon material.

With a little help of my (almost 10) youngest son, Shaun, I removed the bolts from the hood and installed the new spacers. The end result, just a small amount of gap but noticeable. I suspect that for a larger gap, one could get a 2cm wide spacer/bushing.

Using an aluminum spacer it would have looked like this :

Mine came out like this :

Not like this which is a bunch of stacked washers.. yuck !

Nor did I want to leave it just plain white like the DIY guide...

Long term I would not see the nylon setup working however. My fear is that it could become brittle from the temperature changes. Ideally, the material should be something aluminum. A few ideas I have seen and items I have thought of that would be good spacers : Bushing from a skateboard or other small bearing/bushing setup or small solid pulley wheel.

Another different idea might be that instead of using small round bushings and an idea that I would be more inclined to doing is :

1) Purchase a 1 inch think aluminum thick bar from the hardware store.
2) Draw out a elongated oval shape that would encompass adequately the bolt holes needed
3) Mark the bolt hole locations and drill
4) Brace bar and cut/drill.
5) Smooth out all edges and sand down for that brushed aluminum look
6) Purchase appropriately length bolt and washer set
7) Install and enjoy

In any case, right now I have take the cheap way out. I will post some pics a little bit later. I need to brace myself for the jokes and jabs now. What I have read thus far about whether it works or not ? Only considering information from those that have done it :

- Temperatures do appear to be running lower
- Visible effects of hot air wafting out of the engine can be seen
- Need to be cautious during cold months because it can fog the window sometimes

Nobody, I repeat, nobody has reported that this makes their car go faster. Period. What I do feel confident in saying so far is that if you are strictly a daily driver... its next to blue lights on your windshield washer nozzles. However if you do run the track on occassion, there could be some benefits to it. I will say again that the noise levels increased slightly, and if for any other reason but that alone, I might be inclined to keep the modification. I like the sound of my setup and don't mind hearing a bit more of it ;o)

In the end, to each his own and don't be dissuaded by the masses because you are being different. It is your ride and yours alone. It would be very boring if we were all clones of each other with the perfect car build. Its the variety that makes it all very interesting and hearing how each of us got to where we are.