Making a Custom Spoon Gas Pedal for a Channeled Hot Rod

Posted: September 8, 2016 By: MattM

When you’re building a car that’s done to a certain era or to a specific style things like the pedals you use can make or break the look of the interior of the vehicle. For me nothing kills the vibe of a traditional hot rod more than a set of modern pedals, center console, or seat. Modern street rods get away with it with their billet parts and comfort-over period-correctness. For me I want the car to feel like something built back in the “hey-day” of hot rods but with a higher build quality than some of the cars back then.

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I’ve heavily modified a set of Ford F1 pedals to work in my channeled car that involved shortening, heating and bending, and reshaping the curves to fit into the car. Now I needed to fit the “GO” pedal in between the transmission tunnel, the pedals, and the steering column tube. I’ve seen some guys put a step in their tunnel and rest their heel on the tunnel but it just doesn’t “flow” like I’d like. Don’t get me wrong that method is very function-able, but I wanted a pedal that was correct looking and flowed into the provided space without having to cut up my nice tunnel I made a few months ago.

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The tried and true gas pedal to use in an old Ford Hot Rod is a “spoon” pedal. These pedals have a small foot print and have a sleeve that bolts to the firewall and allows them to be pretty self contained and simple. They also allow for easy-carb linkage setup. I happened to have an original 1932 Ford spoon pedal in my parts stash but the more I looked at it I realized I’d have to heavily modify this rare pedal and it wouldn’t be much more work to make one from scratch to fit in my car. The biggest problem was that the pedal arm needed to be extended and reshaped so that it went around the tunnel and came out to sit in line with the other pedals.

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After measuring the different parts of the pedal I decided to start with a piece of 5/16″ solid round bar stock that I would bend and shape to match the look of the original pedal. I also got a piece of 3/8″ round bar in the same material that I would bore out to become the slip-sleeve the pedal would rotate in. I mocked up the original pedal and measured the extra material needed to stretch the new pedal out with. I left a few extra inches on both ends to work with.

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I then measured out my first bend that would be the upright section that the throttle linkage would attach to. I put the 5/16″ bar in the vise and cold bent it 90 degrees. I then chucked up the 3/8″ bar stock in the lathe and used a 5/16″ drill bit to bore out the center of the bar stock. This gave me a piece of tubing that closely matched the original sleeve. I sanded the pedal arm with some 400 grit paper followed by a red scuff pad until the sleeve easily rotated on the area it would ride.

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The original pedal section is actually pinned to the adjacent throttle arm so I decided to do the same to make setting angle of the two ends easier. I bored out a piece of 1/2″ solid bar and sanded the pedal arm the same way I did with the main sleeve. I then cut off a small section so I would have a sleeve that would attach to the pedal in-car portion of the pedal arm. I used the TIG 200 with the mini-torch to carefully weld the sleeve to the end of the round bar. This gave me a straight arm that slid onto my L shaped pedal arm that went in the engine bay.

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I now needed to fix the pedal arm and sleeve to the car itself. Originally the pedal sleeve had an eyelet that had a stud on it. This stud goes through the firewall and bolts the right side of the arm to the car. The left side is held in place with a tin cap that covers where the pedal arm comes through the firewall. I decided it would be easier to make two eyelets with studs and just make the tin cover ornamental so It’s mountng holes didn’t have to be as precise. I bored out some more solid bar stock and welded some threaded rod to the ends with the TIG. This allowed me to slip them over the main pedal sleeve and mark out my mounting holes on the firewall. I drilled the holes and then cut out a slot in the firewall for the pedal arm to come through.

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I used magnets to hold the arms in place and used a piece of filler rod to bend into the shape needed to get the pedal around the tunnel and next to the brake and clutch pedal. I replicated the first bend of the original spoon pedal and then the rest I used the Oxy-Acetylene torch to put gentle curves into the pedal to get it to match the wire pattern I made.

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With the pedal arm bent to shape I could test fit in the car and make sure it was roughly where I wanted. I then cut the pedal arm to length and ground an angle into the end so I could set a curved piece of 1/8″ steel I curved to match the shape of the original spoon pad. I positioned everything in place and welded it with the TIG welder. I added extra filler material to all of the welds on this pedal so I had extra to sand and blend into each other. I then used a few different carbide bits and sanding discs on the die grinder to blend all of the weld seams into the round bar. Finally I sanded the round bar down at the ends to make it tapered like the original pedal arm. By blending the welds into the pedal arm and tapering the bar stock it makes the part look like it was cast as one part. It takes some extra time to do this, and it isn’t necessary but I wanted to keep the look of an original pedal inside the car. When I test fit the completed pedal arm I adjusted the pedal arm a little more just to get it sitting 100% how I wanted.

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I then took a couple pieces of 20 gauge cold rolled steel and cut and bent it so that when they were assembled they became a replica of the stock pedal linkage end cover. I used the TIG 200 on low amperage to fusion weld the pieces together and blended it all together so it would look like a pressed piece. Finally I drilled holes in the tabs and fixed it to the firewall covering the pedal slot.

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The pedal arm now needed to be pinned so I could fix it in position inside the car without a magnet. I added reference marks to the pedal and the center pedal linkage shaft with the linkage all mocked up in the correct position. I put the pedal arm sleeve in a v-block and drilled two small holes one either side of the sleeve. I then used an automatic center punch to transfer the location of the pedal hole to the shaft. I drilled a hole through the center of the shaft and tapped the sleeve and shaft for a set screw. Once I tightened the set screw down it went through the sleeve and protruded into the shaft. This fixed the pedal in the correct position.

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For the throttle linkage/pull I didn’t want a brand new part that would stick out like a sore thumb. I ended up getting an old Z’ed throttle link from a friend’s part stash (Thanks Pete!) and measured out the height needed for the pedal upright in the engine bay. I then drilled the end of the pedal, dropped a ball for the linkage into the hole and welded it to the pedal. Doing this allowed me to use the original style spring loaded socket linkage. I then hooked all of the linkage up and again made a wire form that matched the bends that needed to be made in the pedal upright. I used the torch and heated and bent the upright to match my pattern. I also sanded the upright so it tapered like stock and blended my welds into the ball on the end so it looks cast like original.

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With the linkage all hooked up to my new dual Stromberg Barn Find 97’s with progressive linkage and the pedal mounted I checked the movement of the linkage to make sure I got the full throttle throw. The result is a factory or period correct-looking piece that functions like new! I’ll be blowing all of these parts apart and powder coat the pedal parts. I’ll also add some graphite lubricant to the moving parts so they move nice and smooth! Once I get the car running I also may add an additional throttle return spring like stock just to give some extra help to the carb throttle return springs.

In the end this cost me only a few bucks, but did take some time to get it all working and looking right. I also saved a stock deuce pedal from getting cut up so I can use it for a future project where it can be more easily used. Hopefully this gives you guys and gals some ideas for building your own retro pedal like the popular original Ford Spoon Pedal.

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12 thoughts on Making a Custom Spoon Gas Pedal for a Channeled Hot Rod

  • I know you want it to look period correct, but do you think adding some bronze bushings to the sleeve would make it operate smoother and quieter?

  • Young rodders today seem to fabricate by grinding parts to size and shape. I still use a variety of files to shape and finish parts. Filing takes awhile, but you get to see the part taking shape, and it’s a lot saner than grinding sparks all over the place. Emery cloth and filing were all part of fabrication when I was in high school. I’m 74 now and those skills have served me well over the years. I do my share of grinding, but it’s mostly on the bench grinder, not some hand-held job. Take some time to learn filing and sanding. See the part that’s in there, and file the rest away. Leave enough metal to get below the grinding marks, and go finer and finer near the end.

  • Good input and idea Michael,

    The original pedal was done this same way and was plenty quiet and smooth to operate, I think because it is only moving a small amount and not spinning like a steering column bushing it won’t be an issue. My original 1932 Ford Spoon pedal had very little play after 80+ years of use. I will keep an eye on the pedal and if I see excessive play a brass bushing would be the perfect fix. Thanks again for the comment Michael!

  • The linkage could only possibly move the width of the slot in the firewall where the pedal goes through, This is maybe an 1/16″ and the cap on the one end keeps it in place. Again this method worked for 80+ years on these old Fords they should be fine for my car.

  • Man I really enjoy the build articles photos on the projects that you have built starting with Project Pile House and now the Model A old school. In one photo I noticed a Corvair that you have started, replacing the floor boards. I’m really curious if you are going to have a complete build of that project just like the others?

    Keep up the great work. And by the way you’re a pretty damn good craftsman!
    Love those Eastwood Tools.
    Thanks Roger

  • Matt, I have really enjoyed your blog from Project Pile House to the Old School Modal A.
    Just wondering if you are going to show a complete build of the Corvair, where you started replacing the rusted out floor boards?
    Thanks for the Blog and keep up the good work.

    Roger

  • Hi Roger, Our R&D guy Mark is building that one and he plans to do the majority of the build in videos. He’s just getting back on it again now, so you should see some updates shortly!

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