This is an explanation on how to align the front sheet metal for a 53-56 Ford F100, written by an FTE member AXracer (Chuck).
Thanks for letting me borrowing it Chuck.
I've posted this a couple times as replies to different topics about aligning the front sheet metal, but it's hard to find by searching and you have to read thru many posts to find it. I keep getting requests for the procedure, therefore I've decided to post it to it's own topic to make future searches more sucessful.
My suggestion: Most try to align the rest, then do the hood. As stated above the hood is aligned first then the rest of the front clip is aligned to it. First I will assume the frame to cab mounts are in good condition with good rubber and cab mounted straight. You'll never get the front right if the cab is crooked.
- Start with the radiator support horseshoe with all the front sheetmetal off the truck.
- Make sure the rubber isolator under it is in good shape, not hard/cracked/missing, the bolts are free.
- Put the truck front end on jackstands under front of frame, level front to back on frame and side to side on cowl seam.
- CAREFULLY adjust the horseshoe until the top is level, the distance from the front support rod mounts on the firewall to the top corner of the horseshoe is equal side to side.
- Add the wind deflectors to the sides of the radiator support, only snugging the bolts.
- Remove the hood latch plate from the latchplate strip and mount the strip to horseshoe and deflectors.
- Adjust the deflectors as needed until the strip is also level and square to cowl, tightening the bolts in several steps like tightening a head on an engine.
- Set the hood in place without hinges, verify that you can get the hood to match up to the cowl with an even gap (hood gap will be larger than the 1/4" we usually try for when aligning sheetmetal, just the nature of the beast, you did replace the cowl windlacing didn't you?)
- Try placing temporary 1/4" spacers between the hood edges and the front hood latch strip to simulate the front rubber hood bumpers.
- If the hood won't align, you need to find out why before proceeding, likely the cab mounts need adjusting. If the front of the hood is decidedly off center the cab isn't square to the frame.
- Once you have the hood sitting properly and evenly gapped around the cowl, remove it and add the rest of the front sheet metal, tightening all the bolts just finger tight.
- Add the front end support rods with the adjusters just touching the front brackets. Make sure you have all the hood to fender bumpers in place and they are not hard or damaged.
- Now set the hood back in place as before. This will likely take two people, but align the rear of each fender with the edge of the hood and the front even with the front of the hood. Don't worry if they droop a bit in the front.
- Snug all the bolts between the fender and cowl, inner fender, and lower valance pan, leaving the fender to wind deflectors and lower brace just finger tight.
- Repeat on other side.
- Now adjust the support rods to bring the front of the fenders up to align with hood.
- Additional tightening will bring the center of the fender to hood alignment up and the front edge of the fender back, tighten until you are satisfied with the fender to hood fit,
- then tighten the deflector to fender bolts and the fender support strut. Hopefully all of this has put the frame horns centered in the cutouts in the lower pan.
- If not you can adjust some by bending the support struts to move the bottom of the fenders side to side.
- Finally you are ready to hinge the hood!
- First look in my "extras gallery" for the hinge pictures, remove the springs and be sure the hidden hinge pivot shown is not frozen and working freely. Even new hinges can have this pivot tight or paint frozen, and if tight the hood will never close properly!
- Bolt the hinges to the cowl just snug enough to support the hood,
- bolt the hinges to the hood with the proper shoulder bolts and wavy washers,
- tighten the shoulder bolts just slightly more than finger tight, NO TIGHTER!
- Now carefully close the hood.
- Adjust the hood hinge to cowl location until the hood closes without excessive drag on windlace or contact with cowl or fenders. The hood should set down in the same alignment as before hinges were attached.
- Once the hood is opening and closing smoothly tighten hinge mount bolts, and add a safety wire thru the heads of the shoulder bolts so they cannot loosen.
- Finally add the lower latch mechanism to the latch plate panel.
- Adjust the latch plate until the hood latches smoothly and sits properly. If the rear of the hood doesn't pull down by itself (and that pesky pivot is free), adjust the latch plate further forwards to pull the hood forwards as it latches, that should get the rear of the hood to come down.
Hope it helps!