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Convertible top headaches

69MyWay

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 3, 2001
Messages
4,364
Location
Auburndale, Florida
Corvette
1969 Killer Shark
Okay guys, I have compiled all of you advice and imput to my strategy of finishing the car. I am starting to run out of steam mentally and physically, but the end is in site (then I have to pay off the credit cards for the next 20 years).

I ordered the new seat covers for the 94 seats last night in black, so those will be here in about two weeks.

I am installing the capret now as that will make up the bulk of finishing the interior, and get some large boxes off my shelf.

I called around to top shops. Man, that is expensive stuff. I have been exploring the option of having the top shop do everything...sandblast the frame, weld/grind, repair it, then install the fresh material and weatherstrips.

Long story short, everyone I talked to has to have the whole car for final assembly and fit. That sounds kind of silly to me, but that is what I am being told. Well, I am not yet in a position to take the car and leave it anywhere. Oh, and I was told the new top needs to be left in the upright position for about three weeks preferably alternated in the sunshine to make sure it fully stretches.

Okay, I want the car running by the end of June. That means I have to give immediate attention. One excellent member here at CAC has offered me a great deal on another convertible top frame in the event mine can't be saved. So, I have to hammer on this right away.


My question is, does that sound true? I thought I could just order a new canvas top from the magazines, follow the instructions, install it on the floor, then bolt the top into the car. I don't see where having the frame on the car makes any difference.

You can imagine why I don' t want this car just sitting in a trim shop for several days unsupervised by yours truly.
 
7

78SilvAnniv

Guest
I don't know anything

about convertables....

...but for 'construction' purposes, perhaps they need the vehicle and the frame because to stretch the new top onto its supports, without it attached to the frame, and without the frame attached to the vehicle...it would pull and disfigure the top so that fitment could not be achieved?

Sis-in-law's family makes boat top covers, and they make those tops 'custom' and for a specific boat. Perhaps the same thing happens with new tops for older cars, they have to be made to fit THAT car, not just any car of that year/type.
Silver
 

69MyWay

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 3, 2001
Messages
4,364
Location
Auburndale, Florida
Corvette
1969 Killer Shark
Thanks Silver,

I have been thinking about this all the way to work this morning. Darnit! You know, I have done virtually everything else on this car myself with the exception of the contruction of the roll bars, and the aluminum welding and engine block machine work.


I am checking the Corvette mags, and Paragon with my 15% discount has the best overall deal on a complete top with tack strips, bumpers, etc. etc.

Since I have to rebuild the metal part of the top anyway, why not just go for it, and do this myself? If the top gets here in a week or so, and I have the frame ready, I can maybe have it together and being stretched in place long before the rims and tires even arrive.

Am I crazy for doing this myself?
 
Joined
Jun 5, 2001
Messages
2,231
Location
Northern Virginia
Corvette
71 Conv. (Sold) / 98 Pewter Coupe (Sold)
Having the car there puzzles me a little too. Afterall, you can order a complete top out of a catalog so aside from trimming, there can't be a whole lot else to do specific to the car. I realize that there are slight variations in the cars and the materials but I thought that's why the stretching has to occur. I'll be interested to hear what others have to say about this as a new top will be one of my next large investments probably next year or two.

One thing Chris, since you're car is about as custom as they come, is there a reason you're going with canvas. Reason I ask is that there is a yellow 69 around here that has an incredible looking sta-fast fabric top made of the same material as the C5 tops. It is the best looking top I've ever seen. It's 100% custom and built to fit the car and the installer made all of the cuts and seams match up to factory lines. The top looks awesome! This will probably be the route I take as I've heard that the st-fast fabric is much less prone to shrinking like the canvas and vynil ones.
 

69MyWay

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 3, 2001
Messages
4,364
Location
Auburndale, Florida
Corvette
1969 Killer Shark
Good point. When I say canvas, what I mean is that new C5 type top.

Although the buget was blown a year ago on this project, we have debated the top in the last months. It will spend 99% of its life down, and only up for "security" (yea right!), and bad weather (which will happen because I intend on driving the wheels of this joker).

So, we are contimplating the extra cost. The cutom material requires the whole car to be at the shop for an extended period of time while it is being built.
 
D

DkBG

Guest
How close to perfect will it have to be to suit you ? Sometimes it's best to pay a professional .
 
R

RalleyRed

Guest
Chris,

I wouldn't want that car out of my site either.

Have you considered offering one of the guy's at the top shop a little extra to come to you house and do the job some night or Saturday

I'd think they'd have a jig to mount the top to while installing the canvas, I really doubt that it matter's if it were on your car or any other. I'm pretty sure it just needs to be rigid.
I'd ask'em, and if need be make a jig and bring it over to them.

Good luck

Rick
 
B

BBB454

Guest
I'm sure you've already thought of this but...

if you do decide to leave it at the top shop for any period of time without being supervised by you, I would make sure that you ask them to let you put it exactly where they want it to stay until you return. That way, you can make it undriveable (take the keys with you and also put some other security measure in place to make it unable to start).

That's one of my biggest worries about leaving my car with anyone - that they'll take it out for a joy ride and something bad will happen...

I'm also looking forward to hearing what you decide because that will be one of my next investments too... Right now she has the white vinyl replacement top (which is about 14 yrs old). It has turned off-white and is starting to crack around the rear window.

Good luck!
Barb :w
 

2KSonoma

Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Messages
24
Location
Jax, FL
Corvette
Umm...justa truck...
Hey Chris,

Call Bry-tech distribuors here in Jacksonville. They are the automotive textiles place I used to be the shipping manager for a couple years ago. Ask to speak with Bob Manely, he is the owner and a good guy. Tell him Mitchell Askelson that used to work for him referred you, and was seeing if he would help you out!
 

69MyWay

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 3, 2001
Messages
4,364
Location
Auburndale, Florida
Corvette
1969 Killer Shark
2KSonoma said:
Hey Chris,

Call Bry-tech distribuors here in Jacksonville. They are the automotive textiles place I used to be the shipping manager for a couple years ago. Ask to speak with Bob Manely, he is the owner and a good guy. Tell him Mitchell Askelson that used to work for him referred you, and was seeing if he would help you out!


Is he an installer?
 

2KSonoma

Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2002
Messages
24
Location
Jax, FL
Corvette
Umm...justa truck...
No, he is a distributor...just sells the stuff to business...He should sell it to you for real good price if you mention me. If not he knows all the best interior places in town and who could do the best work for the cheapest!
 
B

Bullitt

Guest
Leaving the car at the shop doesn't make sense to me, either. I saw a replacement top go on a Olds many moons ago. It was done in the driveway of a friend of mine, who has since passed on. Wish he was still here so I could pick his brain for you. From what I remember though, he did everything himself. The old frame was good, as it only needed to be repainted. It took a very long day to reassemble it together. The top stayed up for two weeks, as he left it in the sun for maximum stretch. I was there to just help him move the frame around and align the top. If you're using a custom fabric, I'm sure that you can get relative measurements from a brand new repo piece.

Don't be caught off-gaurd by having everyone tell you that it has to be done by them. I'm sure that has never deterred you before, though. It can be done, as witnessed by my our successful attempt. However, you'll experience some sore fingertips, as we always got nicked by those staples. :(

--Bullitt
 

topless82vette

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 1, 2001
Messages
910
Location
southern california
Corvette
1982 convertible (not factory) stock 350cfi auto
my69

do you want to sell the convertible top frame if it cant be saved Im looking for a far from show quality one just to use if it rains while the hard top is at home let me know
 

Black Thunder

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 14, 2001
Messages
143
Location
Port St Lucie,FL
Corvette
1968 Black Custom Vert 454 BB
Just my 2 cents Chris but Vert tops, & seat covers are harder than they look to install.
The 68 Vert my cousin did last fall got a new top ordered from Ecklers. It just would not fit. Took it to a trim shop & they made it look super. Charge was minimal since it just needed there expertise to fit it.
He also installed new seat covers himself & I never liked the fit. What kind of seat covers did you order, just curious!
I would say give the top a shot & if you are unhappy let the pros bail you!
 

69MyWay

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 3, 2001
Messages
4,364
Location
Auburndale, Florida
Corvette
1969 Killer Shark
topless82vette said:
my69

do you want to sell the convertible top frame if it cant be saved Im looking for a far from show quality one just to use if it rains while the hard top is at home let me know


Well, I hope I can make it work, but I will keep you in mind if it is a no go. I know for sure there is rust in the header bar as the driver latch pulled right through.


John, I actually went with the vinyl seat covers in black. I had to do some research because I did not know if the seats were the "sport", or standard. Turns out they are the standard style, so the covers were cheaper and easier to get.

I installed a set of leather covers from G.M. on my 85 vette with minimal trouble. They tell me the 94-96 are easier. We will know in about two weeks.

I am going to follow up on what 2Ksonoma suggested. He is a good friend of mine and has some good connections. Other than that, I am thinking like you. give it my best shot, and if it does not work, an expert can bail me. I see Mid America ranks a convertible top install as a 5, where 5 is as difficult as it gets.
 

Black Thunder

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 14, 2001
Messages
143
Location
Port St Lucie,FL
Corvette
1968 Black Custom Vert 454 BB
Chris all I can relate is what happened & let you decide. Your thinking is on solid ground, just give it a whirl.

Can't wait to see the old tush holders in Black, best of luck on doing it yourself.

The next few weeks should see some major cosmetic changes that will look sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!!!
 

69MyWay

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 3, 2001
Messages
4,364
Location
Auburndale, Florida
Corvette
1969 Killer Shark
If the Devil is in the details, then......

I have found him.


Here you go, 33 years of moisture, sun, wind, and neglect. However, I think I can save her. The rust is not as bad as I once thought, and the removal of the top material was not that bad. I think I can get this to a sand blaster, or just wire wheel, OSPHO, and POR 15 and might come out okay.

Then again, my perception now of what is "rebuildable" is so warped and off center.

Top side

Rusty%20Convertible%20top%20side.JPG


Under Side

Rusty%20Convertible%20underside.JPG
 
R

resto75

Guest
Chris I believe there is a video that can be bought that gives step by step install info on tops. I can't remember where I saw it but I also heard that there is one top manufacturer that makes most of the good tops as well as the ones for GM. I don't remember its name either but I think it had a odd name.

Well now that I cant remember anything I probably wasn't much help.

Roy ( I think)
 
C

caccobra

Guest
I have done two tops myself and I had no prior experience before doing it. I did it on my 56 and on my 66 and both were best of show winners and the 56 was a Meadowbrook car when I was done (when I found it, dogs were living in the shell and everything was in pieces - a real "project car" if ever there was one), so don't think that it is something that you necessarily need an expert for. I just followed instructions from various shop manuals and paid close attention as I removed the old top material. It takes some patience and sometimes another pair of hands to help stretch it, but you might surprise yourself like I did that it really isn't all that tough. After you do one, you'll be an expert.

The frame does have to be on the car for best results. That is because you need to be able to latch the top to make sure that it is properly fitted as you attach the liner pieces first and then the top material itself. Hopefully you scribed the frame mount bolts before you removed it, so you will be working on it while the frame is mounted in the proper location. Once the liner pieces are installed and you latch it, you will see that those pieces are basically what determine the rest of the job. I used an electric power stapler on the header bar and rear tacking strip and that worked fine too. The rest is just trimming and fitting under the weather strips in the rear and around the side windows. The final thing you do is attach the rear section and the front section to the rear tack strip and then fold over the outer section of the tack strip to hide the staples. You'll understand what I mean if you paid attention to how it came apart.

Try it yourself first and if you don't like the results, then you can spend money to have a trim shop do it. Get all the GM shop manuals and study them too. NCRS may have some publications on restoring those years now too. Personally I don't like having my car in anyone's shop either unless I can be there to watch them work on it and it can be in and out the same day. So I always try it myself rather than have someone I don't know working on any of them. The other option of getting a trimmer to come to your house is a good one too. Find out what kind of beer they like and put on some steaks.

The frame doesn't look that bad in the pictures. You'll know more after you blast it. Media blast rather than sand? Sand may make the hinge areas a problem if it isn't all cleaned out afterwards.

Attached is a picture of my 56, so you can see the top.

Good luck on your project
Craig
 
J

jsimpson

Guest
yes, if you want the top to fit right, you have to leave it with the installer. I attended a top replacement seminar at Eckerds a couple of years ago and came away with a profound respect for the complexity of top resoration! When i get around to it, mine WILL be done by a pro experienced in Vette tops!
 

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