wmsue

Anyone ever install their own Convertible Top?

Recommended Posts

Thanks for the Bow Height Chart. I've printed it out and will save it for the install.

So here's the update......

I've researched more of the procedure of installing your own top and have the upholstery book recommended to me on order. I've taken most of the rubber weatherstripping off to see how it all attaches and how the top is stretched to fit above the rear windows. I reinstalled all the weatherstripping and trim pieces securely so when I actually replace the top, there will be no question as the what goes where. The more familiar I become with the task the more I feel that this will be my August 2011 project. I've been an art/shop teacher for 30+ years and it doesn't look anymore difficult than stretching a canvas painting or the general shop project that we all take on. Just no drinking any of the home brew beer until the work is done.

While I was inspecting the top I discovered that there are NO cables installed. I found the pockets but apparently the previous installer didn't bother to replace them. The side panels are loose but I never really drove the car much after I had the top replaced in 1977. They never had a chance to flap in the wind.The engine blew on the highway in PA and the car has been sitting since. This weekend I'm going to empty the trunk of all the parts I've been buying and investigate how the rear bow is installed.

I'm going to follow Pete's suggestion and take lots of photos and try to write an article for others to follow if they feel up the the challenge. Thanks for the suggestion Pete. Your article in the latest Bugle on the 64 is a great story.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update on project 'Replace my own Conv. Top'

The body shop that i want to paint my car has been too busy fixing insurance claims cars (mostly deer accidents) so I'm waiting patiently....sort of.

I posted in the general forum the other day and decided to update this post too.

I ready to strip the frame of the top rail weatherstripping and get replacements but I've run into a problem. My side mouldings have a stiff metal channel that run through them and the replacements I can find DO NOT have this metal channel. I've talked to Steele, The Convertible Top Guys and Cars, and s far no luck. There is no real way to separate the metal core unless I burn it off. It was definitely molded around the metal core. Anybody have an idea how to make the new moulding work? Does anyone make weatherstripping WITH the metal core? I had a suggestion from the Conv. Top Guys to 'gently pry the moulding off the rubber'......that will never work.

I've noticed that the prices vary by more than $100 for the weatherstripping. I generally believed that Steele had the better product and their prices does reflect that. But if their product does not have the metal core.....Is it worth buying from them? I will post photos of the weatherstripping tomorrow.

I still plan on installing my own top after the paint job. Looks like it will be in the spring.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi- two things on GM tops of that time period.

One, the rear of the top is secured by three metal pieces, with tacking strip, you install back bottom of top to tacking strips, then bolt in place from inside the car. Use very few staples the first time, with your air setting so the staples are "loose". Install rear of top, then see where the wrinkles are, figure out where rear of top needs to move on tacking strip, disassemble, do again. If you get it the first time you are very, very, lucky. The factory used a buck, to which the top assembly was mounted, and they could install the rear of the top just as if it were already bolted to the car. No one has such a thing now, as far as I know...

Two, when you go to the front to wrap the front of the material around and glue it, first, stretch it as tight as you can, and make a mark where the material would hit the front of the header. Then, make a mark about 1/2 inch beyond that (toward the rear) and use that as the installation mark. No matter how much you can stretch it by hand, the material will be loose if you don't put more "pre stretch" on it.

I glanced through other posts, if this is duplicate information I apologize.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info David. All the info I'm getting is PRICELESS and will help out greatly. I was looking at how the back bow attached to the top yesterday and wondering if it was stapled to the top before attaching to the frame or the other way around. Thanks for clearing that up.

Attached are 2 photos of the center section of the conv. top showing the weatherstripping and the frame without the weatherstripping. I can't imagine NOT installing a metal core molding of some sort.

Thanks all.

post-59118-143138663637_thumb.jpg

post-59118-143138663638_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill

Contact Eddie Lail in Product Development at Steele Rubber to see if they would be interested producing your weatherstrips. They did a few items for me that is now available to all 55 owners...that is how new products are created.

Willie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I love this thread!! It is definitely one I am going to save as there is a ton of great info here!!

Keep it up guys.... any more tips?

Seconded. I'll be doing this over the winter sometime, so it's good to have the information.

Does anybody know how feasible it is to replace factory rivets in the lift arms? Mine has a missing rivet or two that have been replaced with bolts. It affects the operation and will need to be refurbished.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are replacing a top in the winter be sure the material and ambient temperature is not too cold. As soon as the temperature warms up you will experience a lot of sag. You can't properly stretch the material if it is too cold. Good luck with your project!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Bill, this is poci1957 who responded to your weatherstrip post. Maybe trimacar can chime in on the weatherstrip question, note his excellent advice on the top itself above.

Looking at the photos I think you may be OK with the replacements, if not ideal. As I stated the earlier GM cars required metal backing just because of the way the top was made, but these appear to screw on in a way that should be OK. Still would like more feed back as it has been a while since I worked on one of this generation, good luck, Todd C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update

I took a chance and ordered at set of weatherstripping from Steele last night. I found that there are 2 different types of molding for 65's, an early and late type. One has the metal backing and the other does not. According to the description and the size of the center rail pc. I need the type that does not have the metal backing. However since I have the metal backings on my old ones, I ordered that one. Hopefully I can make it work. The difference lies in which piece has the molded ends attached to it and the size of the center rail molding. My molding measures exactly 18 5/8" tip to tip. The 65 early design is 18 3/4" and late design is 18 1/2". I guess I whole new thread could be started to discuss whether the rubber would shrink or expand after 46 years. But I'll leave it to updating whether the parts I ordered will fit or not.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update.....

Not a match.

I took a chance and odered the ones with the metal core and they are too big. I can tell without even opening the plastic wrap. Atleast that will make returning easier.

I'm going to contact Steele to see if I can send my old weatherstripping and have them try to match it up with something. I'll contact the referenced name above to possibly have them make them also.

Wish me luck.

Keeping my fingers crossed..........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fast forward to April 2012

I got the weather stripping problem sorted out last fall. I got a set from Steele and they are not 100% correct but I'll make them work. Some of the screw holes don't line up but it will work out.

Got tired of waiting for the body shop to fit me in. So I constructed a tunnel 14' x 24' and covered it with 2 mil plastic. The old Buick fit nicely in it with plenty of room to operate a spray gun. The paint job came out pretty darn good. I did manage to get one tiny mosquito and an eyelash buried in the paint. If I didn't point them out, they would be hard to find. No runs! No hits with the hose! The metallic looks even but I do have a bit of orange peel. I sprayed Acrylic Enamel with a hardener. I might try and buff it out in a few days.

I'm ordering the replacement convertible top and window on Monday. I'll start applying all the trim this week and hopefully get the seats in before too long.

thanks to all who helped solve the many problems I've encountered so far.

I've have all winter to read and prepare for the install of the new top. Heck with the money I might save, maybe I can afford the high test gas I need to run the old girl.

Please ignore the weeds and lack of mulch on the garden outside my shop. The mulch is in my green Ford Ranger on the right. I just had my priorities in order and painted my car first. I weeded and mulched while the paint was drying. It was a good day.

Thanks for listening

post-59118-143138919013_thumb.jpg

post-59118-143138919014_thumb.jpg

post-59118-143138919016_thumb.jpg

post-59118-143138919018_thumb.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill,

One suggestion I forgot to mention before. When you go to glue the front of the top to the bow, open the top about 6-9" and let the top bow rest on something, keeping it paritally open. I think I used an empty paint can.

The reason for this is because there is no way you can pull the top tight enough with your hands. When you staple it with about 6-9" open, then close it, the top will then pull very tight.

By the way, how much money did you save doing your own paint job? It looks great!

Joe

Edited by Reatta Man (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update on Replacing Top........

Been driving to old buick around the past few weeks to get a feel for driving a 'boat'. The engine still didn't run quite right till I followed the suggestion of my neighbor and replaced the intake manifold gasket....again.

It runs like brand new now. It seems that one of the rubber tabs from the valve cover was slightly under the intake and creating a leak. All fixed.

Today I read the manual over again and started removing the old top. I found that there are NO cables in the flaps, the stay pads are 2" off on one side, and there were only 9 bolts holding all of the rear trim pieces to the body. There are a lot more than 9 holes in the body for the bolts. There were signs of rust so I cleaned everything up and put the first coat of POR-15 on all the rusty hidden areas. Tomorrow I hope to start making alignment marks on the new top and start the install.

I ordered and received a Porter Cable upholstery staple gun the other day.

Wish me luck!

p.s. I'm taking lots of pictures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Joe.

I saved a bunch on painting it myself and it feels good to accomplish it.

Maybe I saved enough to afford the high test gasoline.

I have to drive to upstate New York (RedHook) to pick up my wife in early August and I keep telling her that I'm taking the Buick. I remember seeing a car show in Rhinebeck, New York advertised earlier. Maybe it's the same weekend.

35 Years ago I met my wife in Upstate NY driving the same car. It's only fitting that it makes a return visit....all fixed up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update .....some good.....some not so good.

I marked and removed the old top. Took out thousands of staples and painted to bow rails. installed the new stay pads on both sides and all is good. I kept checking the bow height and distance for between the 3rd and rear bow. I kept them all in alignment and within a fraction of an inch.

I took the old curtain and transferred all the marks to it. Started to install but is was too cold and had to wait till I had help.

Today my friend came over and we worked outside stretching and fastening it down. It was about 85 degrees and sunny today. I swear I installed the rear tack strips at least 6 times today. The window install came out nice but there appears to be a bit of sagging at the base of the window because of the weight of the window. If I pull any harder I will start to pull the curtain from the rear top bow. I called it OK.

The over all size of the new rear curtain is the same as the old, but the actual window size is different.

So we moved to the top. I marked the center (front and rear), compared it to my old top for trim stick height and found that the mark that was placed on the top by the manufacturer pretty much followed the bottom of the trip stick on my top. I did notice that the top had a bit wider spread in the rear but it made sense because the window itself was wider. So we placed the top on the car, centered it both front and back and installed the cables through the pockets (my car didn't have any cables).

I checked that all the parts that are held in with contact cement lined up and then stapled the top to the rear tack strip following the marked line.

Then the problems start.

I can get about 3 bolts in the tack strip on each side before the top gets too tight and I can't get the curved sections of the trim stick to line up. That means that the top is too tight.......right?

So maybe I should have not followed the line exactly, but it was a good match. We called it a day and came in for dinner around 8:00 tonight.

Over all a good day but a bit discouraged by the tightness of the top. Hopefully after I loosen the curved parts and give it a bot more room, the old staple marks won't be visible. Hopefully......

I have the top clamped to the top bow but I have not glued it yet. I also have not placed any staples into the rear top bow. But it lines up good. The pockets that are to be in the corners of the rear bow are in the right spot. The glue areas on the sides (2) are in the right spot. Should I glue them first and then proceed with giving a bit more slack on the curved areas? Any suggestions? Any thing else I should look for?

But that is for another day. We leave for vacation on Tuesday and I'm not sure if there is another work day before we leave.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Update - On Installing your own convertible top.

After taking 3 weeks off for vacation and house repairs, I started on the old girl this week. The time off provided me with many hours of time to think my way through the rest of the install. One word will tell the story of the final install......FANTASTIC. I am very pleased with fit and look of the top. The new cables keep the top fastened down and the over all smooth look and feel of the new top is great. There are no wrinkles on the sides and the new weatherstripping install went well. The rear window fit is great and there is no sagging. The original trim sticks were held in place with only 8 bolts. I think I used about 15 bolts to fasten the three trim sticks in place. I've been working installing the carpeting and seats today. I have to order new beltline moulding clips tomorrow to install the rear chrome pieces. Lots more to do but if I knock off something everyday, it doesn't take long to see the progress. I promise to post some photos asap.

Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. The rear bow height chart was a great asset. The words of wisdom about taking my time and using the sun as my friend helped out greatly. We don't get too many sunny days in NE Ohio but we did this week. If anyone else wants to try to install there own top, and if I can assist, please let me know.

Pete, I took lots of photos and hope to have time to work on the article before school starts up in the fall.

Thanks everyone,

Edited by wmsue
typos (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great, Bill! Judy and I bought our '65 on our honeymoon. That was 29 years ago; still have the car!post-30838-143139100712_thumb.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally snapped a few photos. My school starts up again next Tuesday so I knew I better post something before all the kids come.

I still have some adjustments to do and I'm waiting for some beltline clips and riviets to come in to finish the rear chrome. But.....It's up and running and on the road.

Just replaced the rear transmission seal, pinion seal and pan gasket. Got tired of seeing them leaking.

Time to put the top down and drive it a bit.

Thanks for looking.

post-59118-143139138578_thumb.jpg

post-59118-143139138594_thumb.jpg

post-59118-143139138608_thumb.jpg

post-59118-143139138622_thumb.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill, what brand top did you finally decide to use? Is that a Convertible Guys (out of RI) top? Was it marked for the tack strips, center and headliner? Is the wire-on pinpoint vinyl or smooth vinyl? Did it come with the rolled bead piece at the front? I want to put a top on my 1970 GS in the Spring. Like you...I'm studying now! Thanks for your help......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The specs for the bow are in the Buick Skylark manual.

I only have the manual for the Electra (48000 series)

I'll look in the shop today to see if I have any specs that might pertain to your car.

 

Bill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

On 7/15/2012 at 6:30 PM, wmsue said:

Update - On Installing your own convertible top.

After taking 3 weeks off for vacation and house repairs, I started on the old girl this week. The time off provided me with many hours of time to think my way through the rest of the install. One word will tell the story of the final install......FANTASTIC. I am very pleased with fit and look of the top. The new cables keep the top fastened down and the over all smooth look and feel of the new top is great. There are no wrinkles on the sides and the new weatherstripping install went well. The rear window fit is great and there is no sagging. The original trim sticks were held in place with only 8 bolts. I think I used about 15 bolts to fasten the three trim sticks in place. I've been working installing the carpeting and seats today. I have to order new beltline moulding clips tomorrow to install the rear chrome pieces. Lots more to do but if I knock off something everyday, it doesn't take long to see the progress. I promise to post some photos asap.

Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. The rear bow height chart was a great asset. The words of wisdom about taking my time and using the sun as my friend helped out greatly. We don't get too many sunny days in NE Ohio but we did this week. If anyone else wants to try to install there own top, and if I can assist, please let me know.

Pete, I took lots of photos and hope to have time to work on the article before school starts up in the fall.

Thanks everyone,

 

My first post on this forum.  Not an old Buick owner but I do have a 67 Impala convertible I'm putting a top on.

 

I loved this old post and since you are still active on the forum I thought I'd inquire if you had ever posted that article or any install pics anywhere?  I imagine my install will be very similar.  All the youtube install videos are of mustangs, not many large GM cars at all.  

 

Thanks!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am surprised I didn't post this when the topic was current. I just enjoy the hell out of this video. It's long, but I have watched it 3 or 4 times. I guess I will watch it later today, too.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now