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maintenance of fabric covered top, 1930's


yirgaman
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I need to know how to repair some tears in a fabric covered top.  The car is all original, I just want to keep it from getting worse and to waterproof it too.  Do I use like a Thompsons waterseal?   How do I clean the top? 

 

Larry

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A few years ago I was looking for how to maintain and protect the vinyl top on my MX5. Most of the rubbish in the shops is silicon based and the best advice was to avoid it. My reading found a small number of posters who spoke knowledgeably about the subject and recommended only one top conditioner, that branded "Raggtop". Whether all this applies to glued-on tops of your type is hard to say. We can't get Raggtop here so I kept hunting. I can't recall what I finished up with but it didn't have silicon in it.

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I use a foaming cleaner to try to lift out the dirt without too much abrasive scrubbing.  The one I use is called Tuff Stuff, but there are many out there.  Once clean and dry, I apply a couple of coats of Raggtopp waterproofing sealer.  They make two versions; one for natural fibers and one for synthetics.  Raggtopps makes their own cleaner, too, and they also sell it with a horsehair brush, which is best for minimizing abrasion on the fabric and seams.  

 

As as far as the tears, I don't have an answer.  Perhaps a local trim shop would have some ideas.  If it were my car, I might try applying a reinforcing patch underneath the tear, and cement it with an epoxy.  You could probably finesse a patch through the hole and flatten it with a dental pick, and apply cement with a hypodermic needle.  I would, though, only do this on the car after a number of trials/simulations to demonstrate that it would work satisfactorily.

 

Good luck!

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A small tear on a vinyl/rubber type top is pretty straight forward, a patch underneath, the correct goo that hardens when heated to fill the crack.

 

If I were working with fabric, such as that, I'd put a thin piece of waterproof fabric under the tear, a touch of clear sealant, and then sew it back together using a hidden stitch.  This assumes that the material is not rotten and will hold thread.

 

Keeping a car original is, of course, the new thing, we lost a lot of wonderful original cars in the 70's and 80's when the thing was "restored from a perfect original".

 

At some point, though, you have to bite the bullet and realize that conservation isn't possible beyond a certain point of degradation.  In the case of the Auburn shown, it's not original anyway, with the hood in primer and the main body and rear fenders possibly repainted.  I could be wrong of course on the body, but the fenders are definitely quite the contrast to the front fender paint condition.

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  • 1 month later...

I've been told the original material like mine, is sailcloth, and it is beige.    I don't know what might have been used to clean it in the past, but I suppose  a foaming cleaner might make the most sense.  I'd like to make it as clean as possible before adding any sealer and don't want any left over soapy or sticky residue from cleaning.

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