|Special tools needed: You'll need regular pliers,
needle nose pliers, punch, single edged razor blade, screw drivers, small
wrenches, and strong hands.
Begin by first removing the wire-on molding just above the rear window. This molding covers a seam which is present on most convertible tops. The wire-on molding is folded front to back. First remove the stainless ends usually fastened by phillips screws (ill. 1). Unfold the wire-on molding and remove the staples securing it to the top bow. This is done using a sharp punch to pry up. Usually 1/2 of the staple separates from the bow. Use pliers, either regular or needle nose to finish the staple removal. Remove all the staples securing the top seam overlap after the molding has been removed.
Remove the rear weatherstrip by first finding and removing the weatherstrip retainer wire embedded within the weatherstrip (ill. 2). The weatherstrip will easily pull off once the retainer wire is removed (ill. 3). The top fabric is fastened to the rear bow by a small welt or beading stiched into the fabric edge and tucked into a groove in the bow. Use a screw driver to untuck the top fabric from the rear bow (ill. 2).
Remove all front weatherstrip which include front center, left and right corners. The center weatherstrip is secured by plastic push in studs embedded into the weatherstrip and spaced approximately six inches apart. Much care should be taken when desecuring the plastic studs from the bow (ill.5). The studs are t-shaped therefore pry them loose with a screw driver placed next to the stud. The corner weatherstrips are secured by two metal push in clips, one plastic push in clip, one phillips screw, and one threaded embedded steel stud. Pry the clips loose in the same manner used when removing the center weather plastic studs (ill. 4). Unscrew the screw and remove the one nut on the back side of the side rail.
Remove the front fabric molding staples, then the top fabric wrap around staples(ill.5). The top is then fastened only by the side verticle weatherstrip studs. The quick way to remove the side vertical weatherstrip is done using a single edge razor blade to slice the top material facilitating easy access to the weatherstrip stud nuts (ill.6). There are three nuts and washers that need to be removed. The old top is then removed exposing the top pads (ill.7). The top pads and adjacent straps are replaced one at a time so as not to disturb existing top bow alignment. Before changing pads and straps we must repair the existing front bow rot. We were very surprised to find the extent of rust on the front bow as we did on this particular Corvette. In fact the entire frame of the car was in much better condition. The only explanation we could surmize was that the top had been replaced once before many years ago and the fabric wrapped around the front bow had been trimmed short, exposing a surface that we find typically covered by fabric. Since the rust was isolated we weighed the cost factors involved in replacing the front bow as compared with its repair. A new bow cost approximately $300.00 and requires three or four hours for installation since their fit is not as good as one might expect. We estimated six to eight hours to repair the existing bow not unlike the many we had repaired over the years prior to this replacement part's availability. The repair would result in a substantial savings for the customer when considering our shop rate and no delay in progress .
Repair rusted front front bow by first grinding the rusted surface (ill. 7). The pitted areas are then ground using a die grinder (ill. 8). This process is similar to a dentist preparing a tooth for a filling. Sheet metal plates approximately .020 to .030 inch thick are then fabricated and fitted over the rotted areas (ill. 8). The repair plates are then mig welded in place (ill. 9). The welds are then ground flat and the entire repair area is also lightly ground in preparation for body filler application. Apply a light coat of body filler. Trim or cheese grade when half hard. Sand and shape the body filler as needed when completely cured (ill. 9).
Install front tack strip: The original tack strip, (what the top fabric staples are secured to), usually survive. This is one of those rare times that require its replacement. Oddly enough the original tack strip from this car was in excellent shape but we opted to replace it with a wooden replacement. The factory tack strip and the aftermarket reproduction are made from a fiber board, paper-like material. We have found that a soft wood replacement holds the staples better and will probably out live its original counter part. We discovered this process many years ago when no replacement part was available. The wood we use is from a yard stick which used to be given away free from most hardware store and lumber yards (ill. 10). The yard stick is cut approximately 5/8 inch wide and a number of pieces are cut to eight to ten inch lengths. The pieces are fitted and trimmed as necessary. When satisfied with the overall fit they are bonded into place using body filler. The factory tabs are then rebent over the new tack strip (ill. 10). The entire header bar is then primed and painted gloss black lacquer.
the dimensions and fit and orientation of the old pads and straps
before commiting to their replacement.We have found that old pads and straps
shrink a bit with age. It is not necessary to use a tape measure
extensively for this procedure, rather a prefit of the new top will best
determine if any change in pad length is necessary. The critical item is
the location of the rear tack strip bow, (where the wire-on molding was
previously secured). There is a chance that this bow crept forward slightly
with the aging pads. Install the new top with the rear edge wrapped around
the rear bow, which clamps to the car. Pull the material to the front bow
and around the side vertical rails. The open seam of the new top should
be locating exactly over the rear tack strip bow. A close inspection of
the ends, left and right, will show that this seam is comprised of two
1/2 inch wide flaps that overlap each other. The point where they overlap
will be stapled to the rear tack strip so the staple point should locate
precisely over the middle of the tack strip (ill. 18). You
will need to pull back on the rear tack strip bow while pulling forward
on the new top material to accurately check this fit.
Begin installing one new pad first. Check the distance between the tack strip bow and the rear bow on the other side for reference (ill. 12). Remove all staples. You will find that the generally practiced rule with pad fastening does not render staples on a surface adjacent to the top material. The new pad is placed with the rear tack bow properly placed and properly aligned over the side rail with no pad material appearing below the side rail bottom surface. Remove the inside padding material before stapling into place. The pad is then stapled first at the front bow, then rear tack bow and then the middle (ill. 13). Install the padding and properly place the outer pad covers as illustrated (ill. 13). Apply adhesive to the two surfaces that will meet each other. Allow adhesive to dry before joining. The overlapped seams are then taped. Apply adhesive to the area that will be taped then apply the tape.
Install the top straps using a punch to locate holes in the rear bow (ill. 14). Check the distance measurement reference taken from the opposite side. The strap is stapled to the rear tack strip bow under the pad (ill. 14). With the front clamped and the rear latched two notches the straps and pads should appear taught leaving approximately 1/2 inch clearance under the rear bow between it and the body.
This Article is Continued . . . .