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Technical Roof Insert

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

  1. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 6,170

    anthony myrick

    A bolt in insert covered in either vinyl top or convertible top material looks great. Plus the next guy that owns it doesn’t have to cut out an old roof. I hate doing that.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2020
  2. Rich B.
    Joined: Jan 23, 2008
    Posts: 761

    Rich B.
    Member Emeritus
    from Portage,IN

  3. uncleandy 65
    Joined: Jan 14, 2013
    Posts: 3,163

    uncleandy 65

    I used a 1962 Chevy station wagon roof for the insert in my 34 Chevy 007.JPG
  4. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,236

    Mike Colemire

    I followed that build Rich, that was one nice car. I'm going to do something like that, I don't really want to do a weld in insert, to much welding and I would rather have vinyl. A lot of good ideas, thanks.
    Tman, loudbang, Rich B. and 1 other person like this.
  5. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 6,170

    anthony myrick

    We flush riveted an aluminum mounting strip under a roof insert. This aluminum strip was studded.
    We did weld in a step for the roof insert to mount flush in.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2020
  6. 19Eddy30
    Joined: Mar 27, 2011
    Posts: 1,007

    from VA

    30 mints is Not start to Finish of entire installation of roof insert ...
    Just the time to get the Crown shape,
    ( if the Crown close to a 32 Ford)
    I look @ time spent going trying to find a donor roof .
    Waldens , I believe sell roof inserts for sedans starting Around $1200
    I prefer the look of vinyl top insert & Filled underneath
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2020
  7. Was talking with a rodder who filled his insert with a 1958 Ford roof. He said curvature was perfect for coupe which is why you never see a 58 Ford with a roof in a wrecking yard. Lol

    1 more car I promise, Rex Winter
    Dry n windy Lubbock TX
    Onemansjunk and loudbang like this.
  8. brady1929
    Joined: Sep 30, 2006
    Posts: 8,370


    Good info here.
    loudbang likes this.
  9. cornfieldcustoms
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 863


    I would still have more time in actual shaping of the roof than 30 mins. I would be very curious to see a 30 min wheeled 32 sedan roof insert.
  10. chev34ute
    Joined: Nov 13, 2011
    Posts: 892


    Your best bet is definitely to use a roof of a sixties, seventies Station Wagon, or Sedan Delivery.

    Before you do that:

    1. Get some strips of one inch wide timber or aluminium.

    2. Measure out the spacing on all four corners.

    3. Lay out the strips in a grid formation.

    4. Screw the strips in using the existing upholstery holes.

    5. Drill holes into all the points where the strips intersect and screw them together.

    6. Get some 1x1 inch square tubing.

    7. Place each length over each strip and bend until the tubing matches the radius of the strips.

    8. Then cut the side length to fit between longitudinal lengths and weld them altogether.

    9. Once the framing is welded together, square up the body and weld the frame into the body.

    10. Grab an old bed sheet or drop sheet and tape it to the top put some relief cuts into it and trim the edges off.

    11. Remove the sheet.

    12. Grab some small magnets

    12. Take the sheet and magnets with you to your local auto salvage yard.

    13. Place over every potential donor vehicle until you find the one that the sheet sits most comfortably on and then remove the donor section.

    14. Once you have placed it over your body, trim the excess and glue onto the frame.

    15. Make sure the edges are overlapping the inner flange of the roof as this will avoid distortion when welding the edges.

    Here are some important tips.

    1. Grab some lengths of rebar and bend to the shape of your cross bows.

    2. Number each length.

    3. Mark out the corresponding lengths onto the sheet and trace out the same grid pattern.

    That way when you go to the salvage yard you can place the lengths of rebar over the top to compare the radius on each potential roof.

    Having the correct pattern is absolutely essential for getting it right. I have shaped up a lot of panels over the last couple of years, everything from floor pans to quarter panels and all started with a pattern.

    Last edited: Jan 6, 2020
  11. nochop
    Joined: Nov 13, 2005
    Posts: 1,730

    from norcal

    59 Chevy Hard top on my 5 Window 32480E46-D798-475B-9113-CE043FF5759A.jpeg 6E38A16C-C892-4213-8902-37FBA431CEB0.jpeg
  12. lostone
    Joined: Oct 13, 2013
    Posts: 1,358

    from kansas

    I had considered a panel made out of aluminum 3/4 square tube and aluminum sheet covered in padded vinyl with a rubber edge/sealer so that it was removable.

    I thought 3 small locking levers down each side would be enough to hold it in at 80mph with the windows down.

    If my body was in a little better shape I might have perused it a little more.
    loudbang likes this.
  13. rusty rocket
    Joined: Oct 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,975

    rusty rocket

    When I did my 32 ford sedan I used the wood bows covered by a sheet on 1/4" Baltic birch plywood. My upholster then glued vinyl top foam to the plywood, sanded to the contour and then added stock ford vinyl over the foam.
    If you want a metal top I heard that a Toyota mini van( I believe they are called a sienna) works on a 32 ford sedan maybe it would work on your project.
  14. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 6,170

    anthony myrick

    Here is an idea.
    Just some food for thought.
  15. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 27,533


    Under 70 pretty easy miles from your place to Cornfield customs. No one lives that close to a shop that can do the work in Most cases. It's not like the rest of us who have to tow a car a thousand miles to a shop.
    The cost may not be as cheap as some options but they do come with a bit of bragging rights.
    As the guys showed though. the options are pretty well endless all you have to do is choose.
    loudbang likes this.
  16. 48 Indian Rag
    Joined: Apr 20, 2011
    Posts: 78

    48 Indian Rag
    from conn

    loudbang likes this.
  17. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,236

    Mike Colemire

    I know Cornfield Customs does some really nice work but you're talking $1200 and up, I can't afford that. I have a friend that does wood work, he is going to stop out and see if he can cut me a frame out to go around the outer part and some bows to go across it. If I could get a piece of oak paneling to conform to the contour of the top, I would do like Rich, think it was him, and stain the underneath and use marine vinyl for the top with padding. As I've said, I'm not really wanting to go with a metal insert.
    loudbang likes this.
  18. Never2old
    Joined: Oct 14, 2010
    Posts: 648

    from so cal

    I suggest doing what I did on my ‘33 two door. It came factory with wood bows that were maybe 3/16” below the top surface.
    I cut strips of .090” aluminum approximately 1 1/2” wide and fitted them lengthwise on the bows and trimmed them to fit close to the edges. I put flat head screws through the strips into the bows with a slight gap between for expansion.
    This gave me a very solid base to glue thin firm foam to and vinyl on top of that.
    I have seen tops installed with chicken wire and cotton and watched them flap in the wind at modern speeds.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
    loudbang likes this.
  19. Mitchell Rish
    Joined: Jun 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,073

    Mitchell Rish
    from Houston MS

    That's some good looking stuff right there. Care if I use that pattern on my prefect. I already got the material and rubber molding, but I do like the pleats.
    loudbang likes this.
  20. I would think you will have a hard time getting the paneling to curve both directions, will it need to buckle at the corners due to the curve side to side and curve front to back? Now maybe if you make it flat side to side and just keep the curve front to back then fill with padding to get some side to side curve, that may work. just don't know how it will look.
    I made a "soft top" insert for my Model A sedan that snaps in so that I can take it out in the summer, works real good and it follows the compound curve of the roof. That may not be what you want but I tell you it is nice to get that top off in the summer.
    Driver50x and loudbang like this.
  21. wuga
    Joined: Sep 21, 2008
    Posts: 362


    If you want it clean functional and inexpensive, here is what I did. I originally ordered an insert from Howell's. Turned out to be a sheet of 18 gauge for $250.00, so buy a sheet of 18 gauge at your local metal mart and proceed. Cut you bows to be flat on top, now you have gotten rid of the compound curve. Trim your sheet to match the small recess, apply bonding agent to bows ( PL premium works great) to get rid of roof whomp, align sheet in roof and weld. Easy peezy. When bonding sets up and welding is done, you have a nice stable pallet on which to build a head liner. Gluing an insulating material to the underside of the metal sheet also helps. If you do your own labor, it should run a couple of hundred bucks

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  22. continentaljohn
    Joined: Jul 24, 2002
    Posts: 4,629


    Thanks for the link didn’t know about them. I have used the Julianos top kit and its nice because you have the soft top insert plus they have the rail to install the top. It’s a aluminum rail and will have to bend the corners for the radius but universal and great for your application..
    loudbang likes this.
  23. S10_Man
    Joined: Oct 29, 2018
    Posts: 18


    A friend of mine used a top off a 99 blazer on his Model A sedan. Already has the about the right curvature in both directions, and right now they are dirt cheap in the junkyards, even around farms and such. They do have the ribs in them, just depends on your tastes. Good luck!
    loudbang likes this.
  24. hotrod_tommy
    Joined: Jan 2, 2008
    Posts: 469


    On my '32 PA sedan I used a Dodge Caravan roof, backwards... The curve just matched to the Plymouth. don't think I have pic.
    loudbang likes this.
  25. Mike Colemire
    Joined: May 18, 2013
    Posts: 1,236

    Mike Colemire

    I said I didn't want to do metal on the insert but after all these ideas and after looking at my top again I think that might be the best way. I'm going to use 1x1, 1/16 thick box tubing for the bows. My friend that does wood working is fighting cancer so I'm not bothering him. Got some ideas thanks to all of you but I do have 1 question, on the one they used panel bond on, what did they use to finish around the edges? Have to go back and read his post again.
    loudbang likes this.
  26. desotot
    Joined: Jan 29, 2008
    Posts: 1,809


    Bump,,,, Are there any more ideas out there?
    loudbang likes this.
  27. HotRod33
    Joined: Oct 5, 2008
    Posts: 2,347

    from MO

    Roof off of a 1990 to 2000 jeep Cherokee... The inside support bows even have the same contour as the model a sedan roof.... Should be close to yours
    loudbang likes this.
  28. I don't have any photo's but a good friend had a 1932 Plymouth PB coupe back in the early 70's and he just used a piece of stainless steel cut to the size of the opening and pop riveted it in place, the last time I saw that car was in 2005 and it was still on place. HRP
    loudbang likes this.
  29. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,253


    Helped a friend install a Julianos soft top on his 33 Ford. Came out great and didn't leak.
    loudbang likes this.
  30. wood remover
    Joined: Dec 23, 2012
    Posts: 890

    wood remover

    Just cut the top off a 55 crown victoria 4 door for the roof insert on my 33 chev 3 window that sure seems like it will be a good fit . 20200218_191216.jpg 20200218_191304.jpg 20200218_191326.jpg 20200218_191232.jpg 20200218_191352.jpg
    loudbang likes this.

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