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Projects Tony Miller's Custom 40 Ford Convertible

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by DRD57, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. Looks good! I am usually not a huge fan or red interiors but they really seem to work well on blue cars.
     
  2. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,709

    50Fraud
    Member

    I've always kinda wanted a bucket 'o blood interior, and I'm pretty sure that this was my last chance at that.
     
    Stogy likes this.
  3. buzz4041
    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
    Posts: 171

    buzz4041
    Member
    from Texas

    That sure is a great color. I am kind of partial to that myself. The thread is a pleasure to read and you have done an outstanding job bringing this build together with some awesome craftsmanship. 1485514939237.jpg 1485514966998.jpg

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    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
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  4. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
    Member

    Development of the Top

    Having never done a top like this before, it took a bit longer and a few extra steps to get to where we have a top that is appropriate for this car. Hopefully, I can save some of you some steps if you dare to embark on a project like this and I certainly have learned a lot along the way that will make future projects like this go more smoothly. Also, don’t be afraid to start over if things don’t turn out perfect the first time. There isn’t a manufacturing company in the world that goes to market with the first draft of any product. There are several levels of R&D, prototyping, testing, etc.

    The first step on the top was a few years back. We just bent up a bunch of 3/8” steel rod, some plywood, and strips of sheet metal to form a framework and then skinned it with tape to visualize how the top should look. Our primary goal here was to establish overall proportions which would define a few body modifications to accommodate the top shape, namely the trunk lid had to shortened and the cat walk lengthened.

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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  5. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    After getting the body mods done it was time to build a real top for the car. Using the steel bows from the mockup top as a guide for shape, we built a framework using ½” steel tubing. We used bed sheets stretched over the framework to visualize what the completed top would look like as we refined the shape prior to skinning it with aluminum. The aluminum skin was riveted to aluminum tabs which were riveted to the tubing. At this point we were pretty happy with how it looked and we took the car to Sid Chavers for some preliminary work on the top and interior.

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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
  6. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  7. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    b13.JPG b14.JPG b15.JPG b16.JPG 4
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  8. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    At this point I have to give Sid HUGE props for being a consummate professional and gentleman. He did not like the top at all but, he was very conscientious in communicating that to us in a positive way and now comparing the shape of that top to the one we have now, he was 110% correct. He showed me specific areas that needed to be reshaped and gave me the guideline that the top should be “smooth enough that it could be painted”. My assumption with the first top was that there would be some padding under the material that would “forgive” some variances in the edges where the aluminum panels met. Wrong assumption on my part. It sucked that we put all this work in a top that will only be used as an example of what not to do but, It was good to get the feedback long before we were ready for the top to be covered and the interior done.

    Before starting on the next top, Tony suggested we rework the top of the windshield frame. Because we used the 51 Victoria windshield frame as the basis for this frame, it left us with an odd peak in the center of the windshield. This was much more obvious with a top on the car than before. Tony studied pictures of 46 – 48 Ford convertibles and realized that the windshield tops are not straight. Each side has a slight arc much like a Kaiser but, unlike the Kaiser appears to be one gentle arc from side to side when viewed from the front.

    I didn’t have a 46 – 48 convertible windshield frame to cut up and use but, I was able to borrow one to use to make patterns. Armed with those patterns, I cut the top off of the windshield frame on the car one side at a time and fabricated a new top frame.

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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  9. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  10. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  11. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    Once that was done Jimmy and I built the new top frame from 1/4” aluminum. I enlisted the help of Chris in our shop to skin the top. Chris can TIG weld aluminum and I can’t.
    c99.JPG

    My vision for this top was one completely made from aluminum skinned with .070 3003 aluminum sheet all TIG welded together. In hindsight the skin should have still been riveted to the framework as in aerospace construction. The heat from all the welding was a constant source of frustration in trying to maintain the shape of the top during construction.

    I used the shape of the original top’s bows and the templates that Sid gave me showing the requested changes to shape the new top’s bows. When the framework was welded together we covered it with tape to make sure we were on track. I cut the tape off in sections and made chip board templates for each skin section. Then Chris transferred those patterns to the aluminum and fine tuned the fit of each panel before welding it in place. The rear panel was done as a piece without the window cut out and then once the panel was welded on, the window was cut out. At first the “C” pillar area looked a little too boxy and this was due to the corner not fitting tightly to the frame. A little more cutting and welding in that area gave the “C” pillars a smoother curve. The front of the top above the windshield area was an area of difficulty due to heat warpage. Chris had to rework that area a couple of times to maintain a good fit to the header.

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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  12. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
  13. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  14. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    d15.JPG d16.JPG d17.JPG

    After all that welding and sanding the top was still not quite “smooth enough that it could be painted” so it got a skim coat of body filler aptly handled by Tom, and a coat of epoxy primer to finish it off prior to getting covered.

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    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  15. DRD57
    Joined: Mar 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,343

    DRD57
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    f1.JPG f2.JPG f3.JPG f4.JPG f5.JPG

    Sid Chavers worked his magic on the inside and outside of the top making us all look good. There is still a little bit of detail work to be done here but it is mostly complete.

    It has four locating pins, two in the header and one behind each quarter window. The back attaches with bolts through holes in the catwalk and the front latches with repop Porsche 356 top latches.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
  16. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,709

    50Fraud
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    Great writeup, Don!
     
    Special Ed likes this.
  17. woodbutcher
    Joined: Apr 25, 2012
    Posts: 2,361

    woodbutcher
    Member

    :D Looking good sir.Please keep the updates coming.
    Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
    Leo
     
  18. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,709

    50Fraud
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    Detail work complete:
    2017.1.31.top0200.jpg 2017.1.31.top0400.jpg
     
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  19. Outta the park you guys!
     
    Special Ed likes this.
  20. buzz4041
    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
    Posts: 171

    buzz4041
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    from Texas

    Wow that is stunning

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  21. 35chevymaster
    Joined: May 20, 2006
    Posts: 173

    35chevymaster
    Member
    from indiana

    What a great build ,and a great thread,,Thanks
     
  22. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 2,004

    The 39 guy
    Member

    Don, thanks for the great write up. Excellent execution of a difficult project! Tony, you sure picked the right people to see your vision through! I hope you bring that car up here to the Northwest so I can see it in person.
    Sam
     
  23. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,709

    50Fraud
    Member

    I'm hoping to do that in September.
     
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  24. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 2,004

    The 39 guy
    Member

    If you are coming for an event to show the car please let me know where and when as I would like to attend.
     
  25. dechrome
    Joined: Dec 23, 2004
    Posts: 303

    dechrome
    Member

    That top looks great. I thought about covering mine with canvas but compound curves wouldn't cover smoothly.
    deChrome xmas 07 corvair-ford 021.jpg xmas 07 corvair-ford 039.jpg xmas 07 corvair-ford 044.jpg
     
  26. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,709

    50Fraud
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  27. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,709

    50Fraud
    Member

    I don't know that there is any show planned on our cruise. We'll be in Walla Walla on 9/8, then Glacier National Park, Missoula MT, and Haily ID on 9/12.
     
  28. The 39 guy
    Joined: Nov 5, 2010
    Posts: 2,004

    The 39 guy
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  29. TERPU
    Joined: Jan 2, 2004
    Posts: 2,062

    TERPU
    Member

    Don that car is stunning, and your talents never cease to amaze me. Bravo! that looks Bitchin'

    all the best - Tim
     

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