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Reducing roof crown on the '39

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by sckracing, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. I'm looking at reducing the roof crown on my '39 Desoto (4 dr S-6), just above the drip rail, versus doing a 4" chop (seems a little less intimidating). From a side view there appears to be almost 4" of crown itself.
    There is a local chop guru whose shop does it, in fact he suggested it as an option to the more expensive full chop, but in my current economic climate (and wanting to own any mods on my car), that labor money can go towards getting the glass put in the car.

    I have no problem doing, and have sucessfully done my fair share of, mod metal work, and admittly do some extensive research before attempting (or deciding against) any metal massaging, especially if it's a one shot deal.

    Therefore I ask those in the know, who have successfully done this, are there any upfront suggestions on prep (hand tools, welder size/settings, extra metal to have on hand, interior supports, number of helpers req'd, etc.), tips on retaining some of the roof curviture, as well as an average timeline to follow, start to finish? Pics or previous threads?


    Attached Files:

  2. Send a PM to Metalshapes, he's taken material out above the drip rail before. If you search his old posts it might still be here somewher.
  3. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,660


    I've done some metal cutting and chopping in my time, and I think reducing the crown in that car's roof is going to be ten times more work than a regular chop. Think about it. Cutting all the curved section off the roof, flattening the edges, then welding it all back in. That's got to be over 30 feet of hammering and welding in the areas most susceptible to warping.

    Or, cut eight posts and rebuild the rear sail panels. Lot smaller areas to weld, in much more stable locations.

    No brainer to me.

    And think of the 99 percent of people who would walk past your de-crowned Desoto and never know the difference.
  4. bonez
    Joined: Jul 16, 2007
    Posts: 3,493

    from Slow lane

    Im w/ Alchemy w/out a doubt.
    choppin is a lot less work and much better result.....but slap the fenders back on dude :D
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  5. I have a buddy who "de-crowned" his 46 ford sedan delivery by using the top half of a 56 chevy wagon top skin. I think it looks terrible. I vote to shorten the posts.
    The roundness of the rest of the car [big round fenders, bulbous trunk] says the top should be round too...just my opinion.
  6. nutajunka
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 1,466


    I know a guy who does both on the chops he does and he does alot of tops. I asked him why one day and he just said it was easier for him. I think some cars look better without so much crown, some don't. I asked an old timer I knew why they put so much crown in some of the older cars around the 40's and he said back then alot of guys wore those taller hats, gave them more head room? Crowning also was a way to keep strength in a panel like in the shape of an egg.
  7. GothboY
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 214

    from SoCal

    Chop it. Sounds like you'll be MUCH happier with less work, AND it sounds like what you secretly want anyway. :D -GothY-
  8. oj
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 6,247


    Chopping is a lot less work, esp metal finishing. Just add up the inches! When you chop the roof kinda stays together because of the headers over the windows and windshield. You make a cut at the drip rail all the way around the car to shrink the crown and you will quickly realize what a major mistake that move was. You'll have a big chunk of sheetmetal floppin around with nothing to hold it together. Then you'll have to mate it perfect all the way around and a ton of welding and metal finishing. It would be about as hateful a project as i could imagine.
  9. Dynaflash_8
    Joined: Sep 24, 2008
    Posts: 3,016

    from Auburn WA

    chop it and put fenders on it.

    The fenderless look does not work on that car
  10. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,778

    from California

    not only will the "uncrowning" of your car be a bitch to do, it will not look good when it is done.
  11. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088


    +2 for front fenders.

    (oh yeah, and looks like the chop would be less work as well.)
  12. Alchemy is right on here. More work (and more difficult) less affect.

    Remember that beyond the functional aspect of chopping there is the asthetic. If the windows don't get smaller you loose 90% of the asthetic.

    Unless you have stock glass to put back in it you are not saving a dime on glass. It doesn't cost any more to get a shorter piece of glass cut than a taller piece.
  13. propwash
    Joined: Jul 25, 2005
    Posts: 3,858

    from Las Vegas

    If you want a lower roof - chop it. If you reduce the crown, the car is going to look silly...but then, with the front fenders off...that may be the look you're going for, who knows?

    Chopping - substantially less work and achieves the best result
    Replacing fenders - makes it look like it belongs here at the HAMB

  14. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,458


    If you had a dead-on clean side shot of the car, it would be super easy to photoshop both a roof crown reduction and/or a top chop, then you could see the difference. Reducing the crown is not going to be an easy alternative, although it does look good on some cars.

    I have a '40 Chrysler and personally, I don't like the idea of a chopped 4 door sedan, too much roof length for a chop, it'll look 'squashed', but a photoshop would help.

    And yeah, you need those front fenders. That car can probably pull off the hoodless look, but it looks terrible fenderless. Not to mention, the '39 headlights in the fenders are super cool looking.
  15. Actually a mild section looks better on a more door to me. Say an inch or two no more. Leave the fenders alone which will involve moving the reveal on the rear fenders up to match the section, and the same sort of thing with the fronts. So the top of body along with horizontal reveal (below the glass) moves down in relation to the fenders.

    But in order to pull it off you will need the front fenders.

    Here is a crude photo shop. Mild section and mild chop (about the width of a hinge on both).

    There is no doubt someone here that can pull this off better and with the front fenders it would be mor obvious. The rear fenders have sstayed the same in relation to the bottom of the body but are raised in relation to the roof.

    The before and the after.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 3, 2010
  16. skidsteer
    Joined: Mar 19, 2007
    Posts: 1,251


    Okay, my two cents. I read an excellent article many moons ago, that suggested that the height of the windows and roof should be 1/3 the height of a rod's body, to make it look just right. I have a '37 Plymouth, and the absolute beauty of Mopars from '37-'39 is that they came that way from the factory. No need to do anything, except put the fenders back on, and drive it. If you feel that you have to do something different, chop the front posts 2", the center posts 1", and lean the roof slightly forward. Good luck.
  17. Bphotrod
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 271

    from da U.P.

    Heres my 2 cents. Chop the top, and raise the windshield opening up into the roof an inch or so. Will probly get you where you want to be.
  18. If you are ready to rework the roof skin in order to reduce the crown, then consider this option; why not make it a four door hardtop with a Carson Top?
    Take a two inch section out of the beltline like Porknbeaner suggested and you have a car that is lower, sleeker, and visually longer.
    Oh...and put the front fenders back on. Somebody here must have a set of 39 DeSoto fenders. Hit up Flat Top Bob. The Hamb Drags are coming, so you can work out a relay from Joplin to your house.
  19. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,778

    from California

    yuk. nothing worse than a 4 door with the roof cut off and a "Carson" top.
  20. A '39 DeSoto isn't the most popular old car, but whe ruin it by flatening the roof? There has to be other ways to modify the car so it doesn't loose it's late 30's styling.
  21. metalshapes
    Joined: Nov 18, 2002
    Posts: 10,740

    Tech Editor

    I've done it with a couple of cars I chopped.

    Chop top Chevy.jpg


    But that was to bring things back into proportion with the heavy chop.
    ( the roof can look too heavy and round on some cars with a heavy chop )

    I dont think I'd want to reduce the crown on this car, unless I'd take a good chunk out of the pillars as well.

    Besides that, reducing the crown is a lot of work by itself.
    ( if you dont want to trowel the bondo on later )

    If you have to choose between a chop or reducing the crown, I'd do just the chop.

    Or leave it alone...
  22. farmer12
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 7,718


    x2 !!!
  23. "Put the front fenders on/back on"

    Actually have the fenders... they need just a little work, but wasn't sure if I liked the car looking so "long and land-yachtie". They are on my list of things to finish.

    I appreciate all the input... liking the idea of slanting the front/center pillars. Just trying to get away from the mom and pop look, but I agree, with a 4 door Desoto the look is just the nature of the beast I guess.

    Got the car for a killer deal a few years back, (promised my daughters I'd build a "Whole family" car in-between building drag cars), so it'll probably be around for a while.

    Thanks again for all the input.

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