MrLiken

Early DB Top help

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I have finally gotten to the point where I am getting a top made.  Can someone tell me what these attachment points are for?  I am guessing the straps.  Any photos will really help me with getting an authentic looking top done.  As many know, 26 years in the making on this restoration.  Early car, so I am demanding authenticity.

Thanks,

John

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Yes, there's a very specific type of strap that bolds to those fittings, and goes up to hold the rear bow in place.  One end of the strap is riveted together, and the eyelet that attaches where you show the hole has a few holes in it for mounting, so that you can tighten the rear bow if needed.  I did one of these tops last year, I'll find some pictures and post....

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Here are some pictures.  These were cotton straps at the bottom, tan, available but if you need some I have some, and I also have extra rivets.  The top part of the strap is top material, turned inside out and 3 layers, sewn, which your trimmer can do.  You'd need to make the eyelet with bracket, rivet the straps together, then they get tacked at top to the rear bow.  This is copied from a factory original, and is correct for your car.

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Thanks so much David.  Just what the doctor ordered!  Any thoughts on using StaSoft?  I am not familiar.

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StaSoft vinyl?  I googled it and it's a semi grain vinyl, not suitable for top material.  Don't even consider it, if you want to do an authentic restoration.  You won't find the nice material that I show in the pictures, with the black outer and light colored inner, unless you're lucky enough to find some old stock.  This was material made by Hirsch 40+ years ago and stashed away.  A light color inside the top material makes a huge difference, you're not in a cave any more.

 

You need to figure out the best match to original, a short or long grain topping material.  There are numerous available, from Cobra to Colonial grain and so on.

 

You state you want an authentic restoration.  Don't let an upholstery guy talk you into something that's not correct, just because that's what he likes working with....

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I'm doing some research to try and learn what I need to know to attempt my own top.  I did obtain a real walking foot sewing machine (SInger 111W155) and am practicing.  As much as I'd like to jump right in and get some Haartz Stayfast top material, the price per yard is just too steep to learn on (and I read that around 10 yards is needed).  Would 'pinpoint' material really look out of place?  Are there other alternatives that would serve the purpose at less cost? If I'm satisfied with the result I can then go with the higher quality stuff. 

 

Out of curiosity Dave, what year was the Dodge in your photos above?  Where does the bottom of the rear curtain anchor? (is there wood under the rear seat upholstery?)  The attached photo shows how the curtain was anchored on a 1925 Dodge I saw at Hershey a few years ago. 

 

Also, any ideas on where to source the rear window?

 

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Edited by MikeC5 (see edit history)
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1921 Dodge in the photos.  I don't believe the rectangular window is correct for a 1915, it probably had the "cathedral" windows as I'll show in my pictures.  The clear plastic has a sewn binding attached, it's then sewn to the back curtain.The sides on the top that I show in these pictures are too low, interfere with side curtains, so I'm removing top now and fixing them.

 

Wait, I have you confused with original poster.  Yes, that's the correct window for a 1925.  I don't know where you'd source one, it's probably a wood "sandwich" that holds the glass.  I would think with all the DB cars out there that someone might have an extra.

 

There are a lot of little things that you need to know on how to install a top.  I make my pads out of top material, both for strength and so the inside matches the inside of the top.  The upper side of the pad is matching bowdrill, sewn together with a hidden running stitch. There must be straps inside the pads, which provide the linear strength and placement of the bows, and I've found that 40 ounce jute, wrapped in a thin cotton batting, provides just the right padding. I install pads, then place a piece of cording along the top of each pad where the top seams will be.  I randomly mark this cord with a black magic marker, then as I fit main panel and side panels, use this to mark both seam lines and sewing alignment marks.  The side panels for top must be fit to car, as they won't be straight lines, either at seam nor on sides, although when attached to car they will appear straight.

 

The placement and tension on the bows is critical to make the top rigid, and to correctly position the side irons/rails.  Many times you'll see a car with the iron sticking down below the side of the top, and this is caused by insufficient tension between, usually, the rear bow and the second to rear bow.

 

Bows are usually covered in bowdrill, although some cars have natural wood showing on bows.  To cover in bowdrill, material must be cut at a 45 degree angle (on the bias) in order to make the inner curve smooth.

 

Upholstery work is easy to show and hard to describe.  Two hours face to face and I could show you most of the procedures, but trying to explain it in words is difficult.

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Be careful when choosing the shape of your cathedral lights (windows in rear and on side curtains). The vast majority of dodges you see restored are not right. When my father did his 1920 (last year for cathedral lights) years ago some great lengths were gone to in chasing a correct pattern. He is on vacation at the moment but may still have a good pattern even though the car went away a long time ago.

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That you for the tips Dave.  The detail on the pads is great since there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of information out there on how to make them.  Relative to the rear glass, should it not be made of safety glass?  I should then concentrate of finding the frame, although unlike many where you can see the frame and screws, this one is hidden (see attached).  There must be a frame hidden under there.  From the same car I had pictured above, I noticed what looks like a double layer for the rear curtain which appears to loop under the wood rail in the back.  Have you seen this type of thing before? 

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On 3/1/2017 at 7:43 PM, MikeC5 said:

I'm doing some research to try and learn what I need to know to attempt my own top.  I did obtain a real walking foot sewing machine (SInger 111W155) and am practicing.  As much as I'd like to jump right in and get some Haartz Stayfast top material, the price per yard is just too steep to learn on (and I read that around 10 yards is needed).  Would 'pinpoint' material really look out of place?  Are there other alternatives that would serve the purpose at less cost? If I'm satisfied with the result I can then go with the higher quality stuff. 

 

Out of curiosity Dave, what year was the Dodge in your photos above?  Where does the bottom of the rear curtain anchor? (is there wood under the rear seat upholstery?)  The attached photo shows how the curtain was anchored on a 1925 Dodge I saw at Hershey a few years ago. 

 

Also, any ideas on where to source the rear window?

 

 

 

Mike I  think  I  have  a  rear   window

bob  jacobs

 

On 3/1/2017 at 7:43 PM, MikeC5 said:

 

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Yes, on many cars there were two layers of top material for the rear curtain.  Installing such a rear window, where each layer is curled under the rear window (should be a wood frame) is a little tricky.

 

The problem with putting safety glass in such a rear window is the weight and thickness.  The window may not be made in such a way that you can add anything but plate glass, I think (but not sure) that the thinnest safety glass is about 1/4 inch thick, it might fit.  A rear window being plate glass is not really a big hazard, of course for the windshield you want safety.

 

There will also probably be a couple of straps of some kind, between the two layers of rear curtain, that go up to the rear bow and help support the weight.  See picture, this one even had straps down to the body to better stabilize (not a Dodge picture).

 

On the cathedral windows on earlier Dodges, I too have a good, original, pattern, and if someone needs that I can draw the correct dimensions.34.thumb.JPG.f4761238231271c42845f5d37be4ea0f.JPG

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Thank you again Dave.  That does look a bit tricky to say the least.  I guess I'll have to wait and see which type of window frame I can dig up. 

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In this video, a '25 coupe is getting a new top and I see he uses 2 layers of material, the tan color inner lining and outer vinyl (I assume it's vinyl since he uses a heat gun to help remove wrinkles).  What type of material is the tan stuff?  Is it more difficult to do it this vs. the 2 layer (black/tan bonded together) Haartz-type material? 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tpehWxfh8U

Edited by MikeC5 (see edit history)

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To answer your question, no, this is not typical.  My guess is that the owner wanted a light color inside and a dark color inside, in a particular grain, so he did the two layers.  Just about every top out there is done with a single "layer" of top material, although the outer surface and the inner surface are different.  A dark inside surface can make a "cave" out of a car, thus the desire for a lighter shade inside, and a lot of top material is not available with a light interior and dark exterior.

 

I've seen the video before.  It's interesting, although from a trimmer who has done a lot of early tops, there are nits that I could pick.....but, every trimmer can, and will, criticize any other trimmer's work!

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Thanks Dave.  LeBaron-Bonney does have the black/tan canvas-like top material but it's almost $70 per yard.  Too expensive to learn on for me.  I was going to just go with the 'cave' look using a less expensive vinyl but then saw what he was doing in the video.  Although it does seem as though 2 separate layers is more difficult and more work, I'll need 2 layers anyway for the rear window (I did source one).  Any tips on getting the bows where you want them?  I just got my new bows installed and put the top on with temporary straps to get a feel for things.  The 2nd bow from front is uneven in height left/right and my attempts to adjust strap tension seem to have little effect.IMG_0228s.thumb.jpg.a57be5f1e975a54c6c0e3d4c1378068e.jpg

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Well, hard to tell from the picture but I'll make some guesses.

 

Make sure all the bows are down into the sockets the same amount on each side, so that one side isn't longer than the other.

 

You have one strap in the middle from body to rear bow.  This allows that bow to twist.  Put two straps on the back bow to the body, and make sure the measurement from body to bow is equal on both sides.

 

Position the second bow from the back, again making sure it is equal distance from the back bow.  This position will be somewhat determined by the irons attached to the front bow.

 

Then, adjust the third bow from the back, putting tension on each side to RAISE the side irons.  This bow is the most important one in terms of getting the side irons to be in the correct position.  This is a modified four bar mechanism that depends on tension from top straps and pads to hold the irons in the correct position.  Many, many touring cars, you can see the irons hanging down below the side of the top, and incorrect tension is the reason.    It may be the camera angle, but that bow on your car almost looks warped. 

 

Using the straps is OK, but again, you need at least six straps, two body to back bow, two back bow to the second from back, two second from back to third from back.

 

Yes, correct material is expensive, and to do that top correctly you need about 12 yards of top material. You also need 5 yard of matching bowdrill, to wrap the bows (cutting bowdrill on the bias to make the inner curve smooth) and make the top flaps of the pads.

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Thanks Dave.  I wasn't certain if the straps should be firmly affixed to the 3rd bow (from back) but it sounds like yes.  I have added two equal length rear body to rear bow straps since photo was taken.  I'm taking my time to get this right before I start stapling/tacking. Also, I noticed on the photo above in this post there are diagonal straps between last and 2nd bow.  These are to give more stability and keeping this panel rectangular?

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Yes, there are diagonal straps between rear bow and the next one going forward.  This gives some sideways stability, as you mention, to this area, since all other forces (from top, pads, other straps) are in line front/back of car top.

 

I've also seen cars with diagonal straps from that second from rear bow to the front bow, for additional bracing.

 

You are right in spending time getting the irons and bows in the correct location, that's the foundation of the top, and if not done correctly the top will never look right.

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Thanks again Dave.  Here's a question for all of you with '24 - '26 touring cars (maybe others too); When the front bow is unfolded (opened) and the top secured to windshield, what does the hinge and linkage bar look like?  On the left side, it opens and and the hinge point sort of locks in place so it's above the link bar (and is rigid).  The right side doesn't quite get there (the hinge point is slightly below the link bar.  On this same side I had repair the socket which had broken at the rivet/pin location.  I plug welded a doubler in place and had to re-drill the hole.  I'm thinking maybe the hole placement is slightly off and this may be the reason it doesn't behave like the left side.  So I'm curious how yours look.

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Dave, I'm hoping you can clarify the construction of the windshield visor/weather flap.  I'm trying to reconcile the brief mention that Stitts makes, in his article of re-topping, with what I'm seeing on the pictured Dodge.  Stitts: "A piece of top material long enough to stretch from end to end of the front bow can be folded double, outside face out, and sewed along the inside edge.  This can then be stretched across the front of the windshield to deflect rain or wind."  He goes on to say, "This strip can be brought through and over the top of the windshield frame.  When this is done, a 1 & 1/2 - 2 inch flap must first be made for the visor so that it will press against the front of the windshield to keep out the weather."  

I'm really not following this and am not sure if the photos from the show Dodge were done in this manner.  I've tried to sketch up what I think I see in the photos.  The forward bow does sit forward of the top of windshield frame by roughly 2 inches and I'm not sure how to make the flap sit against front of windshield frame.  It looks like the show Dodge has a double flap for this purpose.  Any guidance would be much appreciated.

 

 

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I don't think my scanner is working, I'll try to explain.

 

On a car that has the windshield top set back from the front of the bow, there'll be a separate top piece UNDER the front of the bow.  In you case, with the windshield 2 inches behind, then this piece should be at least 3 inches wide.

 

On the bottom of this piece, there'll be sewn a flap.  The sew lines will be right in front of where the piece will hit the windshield, and should be on top of the flap so that tension of the material presses it against the top of the windshield.  Of course, make an arc to clear windshield wiper arm.  This piece is then installed before the main top panel is installed.

 

The flap you show in the picture, sewn to the bottom front edge of the top, is incorrect, as it cannot get back to the windshield.

 

Stitts knew what he was doing, but trying to explain upholstery technique with mere words is very difficult, it's such a hands on learning thing.

 

I'll see if I can scan a sketch.

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See if this helps.  Both flap and underside piece are usually two layers of top material.  On some very wide tops, people have been known to put waterproof cardboard or other stiffener in the underside piece to keep it rigid when going down the road.  Some cars have snaps along the front side of the windshield, to which sockets on the flap snap to keep in place.

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Thanks very much Dave.  That makes a lot more sense.  Would the underside piece wrap up onto the front of the bow and get stapled?  Or would it just be stapled to the bottom of the bow?   Something to stiffen it up also makes sense.

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The bottom piece wraps from the underside up on the bow, the front of the top panel goes over it and is fastened, thus making it waterproof.....you do the same at the rear, the back curtain always goes on first, the top panel overlaps it on the rear bow...

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