Tricks Of The Trade


Glad you're still with us. As you can see its a little involved. Years ago we used to do a simple top replacement in one day. The pads and straps back then were only five or six years old and didn't warrant replacement. Today its a top restoration and usually takes us three to four days to complete. Todays cost is about four times that of those done during the 70's while the value of the cars has increased about ten fold. Hope we can make the same statement 25 years from now.

Begin installing the new top by first centering the material side to side to the verticle rails (ill. 15). Once properly aligned, (equal fit on both sides), the side flaps are fitted and glued to the side rails as illustrated (ill. 16). Notice the appearance of the top everywhere else at this time (ill. 16). Most of the time we are able to wrap the top fabric properly around the rear bow as we align it to the side rails, but not this time. The next step is to wrap the material around the rear bow. This should be done with the fabric distributed evenly along the bow. Wrinkles in one area indicate the material should be pulled along the bow more. Fasten the top material to the rear bow by tucking the beading into the groove in the bow as illustrated (ill. 17). Push the rear bow down catching one latch notch. In preparation to fitting the rest of the top and giving rear tack bow seam alignment one last look, pull back on the tack bow while you pull the top forward. Grabbing the top material approximately 1/4 the distance back from the front works best for us. With the material pulled tight from the rear lower bow to nearly the front bow one has simulated a finished fitting top and the alignment of the overlapping seam over the rear tack bow is likewise accurately simulated (ill. 18). It's still not too late to alter the tack bow location if necessary. It's a lot of work to undo a lot of what has just been done but better late than never. The tolerance or error beyond center is + or - 3/16 inch. - We understand Arthur, it's important.

Fit and staple the rear window panel to the rear tack bow with the fabric edge ending at the front side of the bow as illustrated (ill. 18). Next pull from the the forward-most edge of the fabric and over the front bow. The pull force should be about as much as one can physically endure. While holding the fabric firmly in place put a mark on the fabric on the leading edge, somewhat of  a sharp shape. While pulling and shaping achieve fit for a straight edge of material over the door glass. Do not try to achieve a tight top. Achieving a nearly straight line in the fabric edge over the door glass will result in a tight top. In fact we strive for a medium tight fit and usually settle for one a little tighter than our goal. It seems that as the frame pivot points wear and rails bend with age that wrinkle free tops of medium tightness are much more difficult to achieve than when these units were new. 

Apply adhesive to the front bow (ill. 18) and the mating surface of the top material (ill. 17). Allow to dry. Release the rear bow latches. Carefully pull and locate the top material over the front bow using the reference marks made earlier. Pull the top fabric 1/8 inch beyond the mark or tighter than the mark would otherwise allow. Lift the rear bow and deck lid and fold the top down. Apply adhesive to the front bow tack strip and mating top material. Allow to dry. Firmly put the material into place over the tack strip and around the leading edge of the front bow. 

Prefit the leading edge fabric molding by centering it from side to side. The round foam filled molding protrudes beyond the front bow but leaves no gap between it and the front bow or header (ill. 19). Staple into place. Locate staples into the front tack strip which firmly secures both the fabric molding and the top material to the header (ill. 21)

Raise the top and loosly secure clamps at the front and catch one notch at the rear latches. Pull remaining loose center top material back and staple to the rear tack strip (ill. 20) using a few staples spaced approximately 12 inches apart. Test the final fit by firmly securing front and rear latches. When satisfied with the overal fit loosen front and rear latches and staple rear window panel with staples spaced approximately 3 inches apart. Trim excess material so that material edge occurs within the tack strip bow 1/4 to 3/8 inch (ill. 20).

Install the wire-on molding upside down with the larger part of the shape facing forward. This molding's final shape occurs after it is folded back and its front edge meets its rear edge. Test this before committing it to the car with staples. Locate the molding first centering it side to side then and most importantly so as to cover the material overlap seam. The rear edge of the molding locates over and just forward of the rear edge of the rear tack strip bow. Secure one side with three or four staples placed on the corner. Pull the molding toward the other side creating a tight and straight line (ill. 22).. Apply staples and the end and procede toward the first side with staples spaced approximately six inches apart. Randomly secure completely with staples placed one inch apart. The molding is supplied approximately one foot over-size in length. Look inside the car for very small holes indicating the location of the stainless cap molding. If no holes exist there should be a an outward shaped dent where the screw was. If the hole exists stick a small wire up through the top fabric indicating where a hole is to be drilled through the wire-on molding. If you only have the slight outward dent for evidence press your finger upward against the top fabric and make a mark on the wire-on molding to indicate the location of the hole to be drilled. The excess wire-on molding is then cut 3/8 inch outward from the hole drilled. The stainless cap molding is then installed (ill. 22).

Locate the rear weatherstrip with the end fitting over a round segment extending from the short molded rear bow filler weatherstrip. Since the rear weatherstrip fits into a groove in the rear bow and is retained by a wire-like plastic tube, we spray the entire weatherstrip and retainer wire with Armorall during its installation (ill. 23). The retainer tubing is crammed into the groove securing the weatherstrip. This is somewhat tedious and timely, but it is the last thing to do. 

15. Locate, fit, and secure top fabric to side rails

16. Appearance of top installation at this stage

17. Fasten top to rear bow & apply adhesive to front

18. Apply adhesive & fit rear window panel

19. Staple rear window panel & front header

20. Trim excess & view of seam at rear tack strip bow

21. Staple front molding & its finished appearance

22. Staple wire-on molding & its finished appearance

23. Fasten rear weatherstrip

The completed job

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