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Installing a '30/31' Coupe Vinyl Top Insert With Pictures - Dialup Will Be Slow

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Vergil, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. Vergil
    Joined: Dec 10, 2005
    Posts: 839


    I wanted to put a top in my '31 Coupe and wanted to use the short grain material instead of the long grain. I checked around and could only find kits with the long grain and I also was going to install it by myself so I gathered information from HAMB, Juliano's, Fordbarn and any where else I could. I purchased the aluminum moulding from Mac's and the top material from Bratton's. As you can see from the pictures I haven't a lot of head room over the coupe so some of the pictures may not be the greatest.

    I started by making a 2"X2" frame to attach the top material to. For the coupe the outside dimensions was 55"X61". I stapled the top material to the frame with a few staples to square it. I then started streaching it front to back and side to side and corner to corner. I left the staples sticking up a little so when I went back and streached it again they were easy to remove. Do this in the sun to soften the material and it streaches easier.



    I masked off around the top opening and made sure the bows and side wood were even.


    I used material for the pickup tops to put down first, it gives it a little more support and no the tacks aren't lined up. I attached it to the wood with tacks and stopped it at the body metal edge. I used surgical clamps to hold the tacks and you can streach the material and hold the tack in postion with no problem.


    I made a pattern with butcher paper of the top where the finish outer welting channel is before I started taking pictures. I transfered the pattern to a piece of 4'X4' plywood and routered a 5/16" groove in it. It takes two pieces of the aluminum moulding to do the back and sides. I overlapped the ends where they meet in the back and trimmed them when I installed them. It takes patience and time to bend the trim, have wood blocks and clamps handy to hold the trim in the groove as you work around the corners. If you are going to use the hidem welting you don't have to worry about this step.


    The moulding on the left I used across the front, the center moulding is what I used on the back and sides, the right hand one shows the rubber strip that covers the nails in the center moulding piece.


    I rolled out the chicken wire and cut to length. I also used tape across the ends to keep from scratching the car.


    I taped off more of the car and the cloth insert has been trimmed to size.


    I used a few nails to hold the wire in place as I streached and secured it in place, Again I trimmed this at the edge of the body metal. I don't know if this is the correct way but this is how I done it.



    Across the front header was a slot for something so I cut the wire just past the groove and pushed the wire ends into it to help secure the wire and besides something needs to go in the slot and this was the last chance I had to put something in it.


    I turned the top over and marked out the center front and back and also marked the front and back of car center line. The top is actually black and not blue as the picture shows.


    I have the top up above the car and put the cotton batting down. I laid things on the cotton to hold it in place as I cut it. I cut the batting to lay on the body metal up against the first ridge from the inside edge. Be sure the chicken wire is tight and flat with no high or low spots.


    Here I have centered the top and started tacking it into position in the outer welting channel. The back and side holes are spaced 5/8" apart so I made a gauge to get the correct distance between tacks. I used every other hole for the top tacks and the aluminum moulding will used the other empty holes. I used finish nails in a block of wood and then bent the nails to 1 1/4" and across the front they are set at 1 1/2". I seen where this was done I think on the Fordbarn and boy it sure works nice. I used tacks to hold the material in and used nails to hold the moulding.



    Vinyl material tacked in and trimmed just to the outside of the tacks and down in the channel.



    I primed and then painted the aluminum trim pieces SEM Body Trim Black. Before painting and installing the moulding I cut the two pieces to meet in the center of the back. I used a putty type material under the moulding to seal the material edge and tack heads ( Home Depot has it as duct seal and it is in the electrical dept). I cut off small pieces of the sealer and rolled it out to just smaller than a std. lead pencil and flatten it out over the tacks and made sure the material edges was covered with it. Any excess will squash out when you install the moulding. I also covered the nail heads in the moulding across the front before bending the fold over down. The fold over bends down easy so don't kink it. Here the mouldings have been installed.


    After the moulding was installed I masked off the top center and the body metal and give the mouldings another shot of paint. After the paint dried I installed the rubber insert to cover the moulding nails. I used a very small bead of 3M trim cement in the bottom of the moulding recess to help hold it in place. Do not streach the rubber when installing it or when winter hits the ends may shrink.


    This is the finished top. The front moulding piece was cut to length and the ends contoured before painting and installation. Forgive the grammer and any mistakes I made on the top and I'm sure there are easier ways to do it. Hopefully this may help at least on builder.

  2. skipstitch
    Joined: Oct 7, 2001
    Posts: 1,133


    Fantastic How-to... this has to go in the Tech archive!
  3. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 17,712

    from Austin, TX
    Staff Member

    Excellent post.... Thanks so much.
  4. Dirty2
    Joined: Jun 13, 2004
    Posts: 8,904


    Sweet !!! I am about to do this on my 32 ! Thanks..
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  5. Great post!

    I can remember my dad and Marshal doing our sedan... neat process, thanks for sharing!

  6. Sloppyseconds
    Joined: Jan 29, 2006
    Posts: 1,295

    from Pasadena

    Great etch...just downloaded it to my desktop....too bad im leaving the top out of my coupe this time...but always handy if I gotta do it. Im a fan of the short grain too. Great job.
  7. nice job. Looks like someone could open his own trim shop!
  8. Thanks for sharing the knowledge. Cool tech!
  9. Terry
    Joined: Jul 3, 2002
    Posts: 1,825


    Very very nice!!! I have always liked the cloth insert rather than filling the roof with metal. Thanks for taking the time to show us how it's done right.
  10. Crankhole
    Joined: Apr 7, 2005
    Posts: 2,404


    Very nice. Just curious, but how long did the whole job take?
  11. Fantastic ! looks perfect, now, pat yourself on the back not only for a nice job, but a great "how to" write up.
  12. Vergil
    Joined: Dec 10, 2005
    Posts: 839


    Probably two and a half days total. Bending the aluminum moulding was the slowest part, I forgot to mention how I cleaned the excess putty from around the moulding after it was installed so I guess I need to take another picture and add to post. Thanks for the positive responses.

  13. Flat Ernie
    Joined: Jun 5, 2002
    Posts: 8,398

    Flat Ernie
    Tech Editor

    Awesome - wish I had this a year ago - I might have tried to fix the top in my '34! Watching this for inclusion in the Tech Archives...
  14. Rusty
    Joined: Mar 4, 2004
    Posts: 9,408


  15. 41 Dave
    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 2,596

    41 Dave

    Vergil, Way to go ! Hope the flattie is back up and running !

    41 Dave
  16. Reelsnrods
    Joined: Jul 10, 2007
    Posts: 23

    from Ack, MA

    Great information and interesting read...Makes me want to buy a car with a hole in the top!
  17. AHotRod
    Joined: Jul 27, 2001
    Posts: 9,651


    That is amazing, thanks for taking the time to take photos and right the post too.
  18. Lucky77
    Joined: Mar 27, 2006
    Posts: 2,419


    Fantastic! thanks for sharing all that great info.
  19. The workmanship displayed here is amazing. Very well done.

    I've always wondered this, and never come across an answer...why did Ford leave giant holes in the roof of these models? Was it purely a cost savings to leave off the vast expanse of sheetmetal and fill it in with wood/cloth? Or was he limited in some other way- i.e. side of the stamping dies?
  20. evilone0528
    Joined: Jul 26, 2006
    Posts: 539


    Killer post!Thanks alot!

  21. Vergil
    Joined: Dec 10, 2005
    Posts: 839


    I didn't have any top material to take a picture with the putty but used masking tape instead. I used a piece of hard teflon with an edge to it to run next to the trim to remove the putty. It comes off the top and paint easier than the masking tape. I then cleaned it with oil and tar remover and then wiped it dry.



  22. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,258

    from DFW USA

    Tolerances in the front, back, and side panels of the body would not allow for a consistent fitment of a roof panel. To keep from having to do all the "bodywork" involved in welding and leading a roof panel, most factories chose to use a fabric insert in the roof instead. That would take up all the imperfections and alignment issues. By the mid-late '30s, most body manufacturers had it figured out, and Ford was one of the last to adopt a steel roof for closed cars.

    Vergil - that looks phenomenal; cleaner and tighter than most professional jobs I've seen! More pictures of the whole hot rod, please.
  23. SinisterCustom
    Joined: Feb 18, 2004
    Posts: 8,252


    I did a similar deal for the canvas top on my PU.......but yours is more "finished" with the edging.....
    Good job!

    This needs to go to the TECH archives..........
  24. Excellent. Makes perfect sense and I hadn't even thought of that angle. Thanks!
  25. Flathead Youngin'
    Joined: Jan 10, 2005
    Posts: 3,530

    Flathead Youngin'

    very impressive! thanks

    the results are great
  26. 40ford
    Joined: Mar 2, 2006
    Posts: 32

    from Duluth, GA

  27. Carb-Otto
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 332

    from FINkLAND

    Great workmanship here, and results look really great!
  28. I second the motion. Excellent procedures, pics, and explaination!
  29. Damn, That is great tech! Definitly going to use some of your pointers.

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