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Technical Roof Insert

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Mike Colemire, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,390

    Mike Colemire
    Member

    I got a big hole to fill in the roof of my 32 Plymouth sedan and looking for ideas. Other than cutting a roof out of something else, what other options? I'm going to have a friend that does wood work to make the bows or cross pieces. It has a recess of close to an inch and then it has the groove around it where I guess you nailed the original on. That groove all the way around and the fact that it has a contour both ways presents a problem. I was thinking of a piece of plywood, padding and marine vinyl but I don't think it would contour right with the roof and end up with flat spots.
     
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  2. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 2,526

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy

    I know you said you don’t want to graft in a steel top . Before you , say no way , check out an early 60s Mopar Wagon , you will be surprised how well it will look .
     
  3. Chappy444
    Joined: Jan 27, 2012
    Posts: 1,234

    Chappy444
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    1. Maryland HAMBers

    I have seen the roof filled with a recessed piece of metal then a tuck and roll upholstered insert made and attached in the recessed area
    Chappy
     
  4. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 3,272

    Flathead Dave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from So. Cal.

    If you're going to do the plywood you could used a thick piece and sand into shape.
     
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  5. cornfieldcustoms
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 892

    cornfieldcustoms
    Member

    I can make you a steel insert that can either be welded in, or one that has an inner structure and can be wrapped in material and installed
     
  6. If you don’t want the trouble of making it out of steel or finding a roof with the right contours.

    what if you made the perimeter and bows out of wood shaped correctly then wrap in thin aluminum then do vynal or some other material on top?


    Still quite a bit of work, but definitely easier then dealing with a big sheet of steel with multiple contours that needs welding and fitting etc
     
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  7. sloppy jalopies
    Joined: Jun 29, 2015
    Posts: 4,650

    sloppy jalopies
    Member

    Don't know much about mopars but … A Ford Fairmont wagon had a full length smooth roof…
    filled an A sedan with extra steel all around... pre-computer no pix...
    .
    If you use the roof from an existing car it will have the compound curve stamped in, and has proven to be able to flex a little more or less and not buckle...
     
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  8. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 4,308

    dana barlow
    Member
    from Miami Fla.
    1. Y-blocks

    Only did one on a 30A sedan the factory way,back in 1963 with a buddy,it wasn't a big deal. We made new wood all around,rim bows and slats. made the wood so it was 1/4in. below the steel top edge,tack in chicken wire as straight as we could. Added padding of cut to fit tarp in 3 layers with 1/4in. thick cotten between 2 of the trap. Over top of that a finish top of white vinyl/used for rag top cars,with tack strip trim. It would been better to use steel roof of a van or wagon. But the top we did the factory way lasted over 10 years in Florida sun.
     
  9. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,390

    Mike Colemire
    Member

    Here is 2 bad pics, I can take better ones tomorrow. If you look at the corner of the top one you can see where the nails and strip I guess goes. The opening itself might not be to bad but I don't know what to do with that outer groove. I thought about a sheet of plywood covered and fastened from underneath. This was before I got the car and looking at this pic I didn't know how much contour it had. IMG_0430.jpg IMG_0429.jpg
     
  10. WC Durant
    Joined: Apr 10, 2017
    Posts: 126

    WC Durant
    Member

    My avatar is a 34 Plymouth coupe and I used the roof skin off a 63 Buick Riviera to fill the top. I know it is a smaller opening but it worked great. I have a 33 Dodge that is the next project and plan to use a wagon roof to fill it.
     
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  11. 33-Plymouth-PC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 20

    33-Plymouth-PC

  12. ol'55
    Joined: Jan 28, 2009
    Posts: 143

    ol'55
    Member

    I used a dodge caravan roof to fill the opening on my 1936 dodge humpback panel truck
     
  13. Mitchell Rish
    Joined: Jun 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,211

    Mitchell Rish
    Member
    from Houston MS

    Mike - go back and look at my Prefect /roof insert. I am going to cover it after paint with the factory ford insert /black vinyl. I am going to put the factory Ford rubber seal around edges / back in the grooves. I used the factory wood bows to get the curvature/contour right. I actually used a sheet of aluminum-.040 I think ( I had it left over from another job). used door skin adhesive to set it to the bows - Lets just say it aint moving
    Your top contour and opening looks similar to mine- I know of a similar situation where a late model dodge mini van top/skin was cut and used for the insert -blocked and hammered the toe steps and inserted into the grooves - then used 1/2 X 1/2 steel bows- turned out neat and clean.
     
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  14. 33-Plymouth-PC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2019
    Posts: 20

    33-Plymouth-PC

    BDFD3CF0-143A-4621-A648-C58A35A39071.jpeg This is what the original insert would’ve looked like. It would’ve been covered in cotton padding, then had a rubber like material wrapped around it and secured to the wood frame. The frame was then dropped into the hole and nailed and bolted to the roof opening.
     
  15. -Brent-
    Joined: Nov 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,017

    -Brent-
    Member

    imagejpeg_0(75).jpg

    I'd 2nd comments like @cornfieldcustoms comment about fabbing an insert and then finishing it how you want (roof vinyl, upholstered, etc.).

    Might cost you a bit of $ or labor but it will pay off.
     
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  16. Lloyd's paint & glass
    Joined: Nov 16, 2019
    Posts: 4,233

    Lloyd's paint & glass
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Go to Lowe's and get a 4X8 sheet of utility board, it's 1/8" thick. Forms good to the bows and you can cut it with a utility knife. Usually about $7 a sheet. It's like luann only thinner. Run a small bead of liquid nails across your bows and shoot it down with 3/8" staples. Then order you a universal top kit from Mac's. Comes with the foam, vinyl and hide-em welt. Last one i bought this year was like $125? Get a couple of quarts of weldwood contact glue and a pack of cheap brushes. Glue the foam down, then glue the vinyl to the foam. Then run the welting around the edge with black tacks :D:cool:
     
  17. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,390

    Mike Colemire
    Member

    Using the wood bows, 20 gauge metal should work good I would think. I can get it whole sale, around $55, on the outer groove where the nails would go, I guess I could glue a strip around it. Hidem strip or whatever it's called.
     
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  18. linechaser32
    Joined: Apr 8, 2006
    Posts: 1,079

    linechaser32
    Member
    from Iowa

    I have a 61 Plymouth wagon roof with 10 or 11 ribs that go down the center. I’ve used these on a few cars. I would sell the skin for $750.
     
  19. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,668

    belair
    Member

    Two words... VISTA CRUISER.
     
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  20. goldmountain
    Joined: Jun 12, 2016
    Posts: 2,777

    goldmountain

    I've seen cars that use old hockey sticks for the wood bows. Must be a Canadian thing.

    Sent from my SM-T350 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
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  21. 19Eddy30
    Joined: Mar 27, 2011
    Posts: 1,152

    19Eddy30
    Member
    from VA

    If the 32 Ply about same size opening of 32 Ford , 4x8 16 ga $80 English wheel harbor freight $350 , & about 30 mints to crown . English wheel is not as complicated as it looks.
     
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  22. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 2,526

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy

    That’s what I’m talkin about ! That is about the best sedan top filler I have ever seen . Damn they look nice when finished .
     
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  23. cornfieldcustoms
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 892

    cornfieldcustoms
    Member

    sounds like you should whip one up for him. I know it would me take longer than 30 mins to properly shape an insert for a sedan
     
  24. deathrowdave
    Joined: May 27, 2014
    Posts: 2,526

    deathrowdave
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from NKy

    It would take me 30 minutes , to cut and plan an attack on filling the top. I know nothing about shaping a piece of steel to fit an opening . I cut a buck from plywood , and took it to a scrap yard to find the correct donor top . 65 Mustang , and 53 Stude was the answer for my 3W . Once it was trimmed to correct size , the real work started , when attaching it to the car . Slow Slow steady process is best as I can describe the process. Small welds hammer and dolly and again slow . It took me about a week to slowly attach the insert , I’m sure it could have been finished faster by a pro , but the babies needed shoes , so it was up to me to do it good or bad .
     
  25. Mitchell Rish
    Joined: Jun 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,211

    Mitchell Rish
    Member
    from Houston MS

    Took me about a week working on and off.- and truth be told mine looks nice but it aint perfect. Everything you do on one side will attempt to grow or move on the other - no matter how well its shaped when final attachment comes down. Be patient - I used aluminum because it was easier and this was a race car so weight was important to me - but it was also more forgiving with my limited skills. The foam and vinyl covering hid a few of my mistakes. That was not my original plan ,but I couldnt figue out how to hide the factory seems and not make a mess So I did a dummy /clone kinda thing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2020
    loudbang likes this.
  26. Here are a couple pictures of how we built the roof structure on my friend's "A" and how his buddy layed out the fabric support.

    I rolled out some 1x1 & 3/4x3/4 16 ga tube for the roof structure and welded it in place. We made 2x2 wood frame and stretched the support membrane (think billboard fabric) over it. That was then layed over the roof, the taut material was then riveted down, after that the frame was trimmed off (you can see it leaning against the door in one of the pics), he then glued down foam, followed by the roof topping, and finished it off with hide-em.
    roller (2).JPG IMG_2517 (Medium).jpg Screenshot (14) (Medium).png Screenshot (18) (Medium).png

    I have always felt a fabric roof was part of what made old cars neat; so I'm not much for filled roofs and the ribbed panels are even worse.
     
  27. sloppy jalopies
    Joined: Jun 29, 2015
    Posts: 4,650

    sloppy jalopies
    Member

    A trick for picking a roof at a crushing yard...
    take a strip of wooden strapping...
    lay it across the to be filled roof left to right and mark for width...
    then lay it lengthwise and mark for length...
    hold the strip so that the gap between the strap and roof is even on both sides...
    measure that gap... write the width's gap measurement on the strap...
    measure front to back, write it next to the length mark on the strap...
    take the strapping with you to the yard...
    by laying it on in both directions of a donar's roof you can see at a glance if the gaps are close and if that roof should fit...
    .
    helped a buddy pick an insert at the crushing yard, he used a Volvo wagon without a sunroof or ribs to fill a '30 tudor and it just barely fit...
    take your measurements and compare them to the '30 tudor's and see if a Volvo roof will work...
    if so, have the yardman cut it to be as big as possible...
    has a few cross braces "super glued" to the roof skin... be very careful as running a scraper between the roof skin and braces can easily crease the skin.
    IMO...maybe just cut the braces at the insert size, install it and then tack the leftover braces back on and then tack them to the mopar roof's insert edges...
    DSCN0817.JPG .
    DSCN0816.JPG
    .
    used a club cab dodge pick up roof [no ribs] to fill my '30 coupe... DSCN0774.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2020
  28. buick bill
    Joined: Dec 18, 2008
    Posts: 509

    buick bill
    Member
    from yreka;ca

    anyone ever try fiberglass ??
     
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  29. I think the key here is that nothing "flat" works well to fill a roof due to the convex shape and if you don't retain the flow of the roof; either in metal or fabric, you will not be happy with the result.
     
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  30. scrap metal 48
    Joined: Sep 6, 2009
    Posts: 6,075

    scrap metal 48
    Member

    You could do something like this...**clic pic** sedan top 013.JPG sedan top 014.JPG sedan top 015.JPG
     

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