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1922 Touring Car Top Lowering


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Am going to attempt to lower the top on my '22 Studebaker for the first time and wanted to check something.  The owners manual direction (copy attached) states to roll the top up after it is lowered and basically tuck it between the first and last bow.  Does anyone have any experience that this way reduces the chance of damage to the top as opposed to, say, folding it in between each set of bows as they are lowered?  Rolling it would obviously put less stress on it than folds but just wanted to see what others experience might have been.  Very sure my top is original and will take it very slowly so as not to damage it.  Thanks 

OPERATION No. 3-Fold top down and pull 1.jpg

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1 hour ago, billorn said:

If thats what the manual says is the right way to do it, why argue? It probably also has a shorter stack height than leaving the fabric between the bows, which looks better.

Sure, no argument here...I always defer to original info or directions.  I guess it really seems to me that the top material, due to age, etc., doesn't lend itself to rolling or folding - almost like a plastic material; which is why I was wondering if anyone had any similar experience or concerns.

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Most 100 year old tops are in some ways like most 100 year old people. Certain things they shouldn't attempt to do. In the case of tops, most 100 year olds should stay out of the sun as much as possible, stay dry, and merely reminisce over the limber acrobatics of youth.

 

When I bought my '24 Cadillac, it was only 65 years old. Gentleman I bought it from was considerably older, and in far worse shape than the well preserved car. But : I'm here to tell you that he sure knew his ancient cars. (I should have bought his Packard phaeton too). Anyway, Ray advised me not to put the top down. He had only tried it once during his ownership. Difficult, and hazardous to the frail original top and headliner. I don't second guess well-founded expert advice. My intention was to drive the tough, properly sorted relic many tens of thousands of miles until I was no longer able to do so. I expected the top to significantly degrade while I did likewise. The top (and maybe also the superb original sidecurtains), would have provided protection from the sun while en-route. Also from cold days which inevitably would have got us in early Spring, or at altitude, or in Northern tier states as Autumn headed us back home or down South. No driving in the rain, though. I lay up, and/or cover up until rain passes. Intention was to fold the top permanently to preserve what was left of it as it would have started to come apart after a couple decades of road exposure. Shorter excursions with the top down as I became less capable of doing the longer ones. The old Cad would have seemed to be a different car  from the top up version.

 

Well, I never got to enjoy the life I had worked so hard to get to live. Therefore the top and headliner remain in pretty good shape. Now I am in far worse shape than the 1924 Cadillac, though 20 years younger. I can not achieve Ray's age at the time he parted ways with the car, to my benefit. That being the case, I am now considering putting the top down before I die, still owning my cars. The last sentence of the above long paragraph being the justification. The next owner will still have a presentable top to raise for HPOF if desired, or just leave down, it's condition being memorialized by numerous pictures. For not a whole lot more than the price of an expertly reproduced top and headliner, the next owner could also buy my other HPOF '27 Cad sedan for those times a top up cruise would be more comfortable.

 

I hope my perspective on the subject helps you. I am deeply grateful to the late Ray Pierce out of Akron-Canton, OH (did any of you know him ?), for his sage advice. 

 

You probably know my two Nickel Era Cadillacs, right ? But here is a close up of the brittle top which is the age of yours. How do they compare ?     -   Carl 

 

P.S. The "top dressing" is Surflex which I got from the late wonderful Bill Hirsch. Applied 30 years ago, it still looks very good. I don't think Hirsch carry Surflex now due to some marketing issues, and not because of quality. It can be obtained from other sources.

 

 

9142D756-F08E-4097-BCFD-3796116FAFEE.jpeg

6B52024E-2F7A-430B-81F7-19C2015C8033.jpeg

Edited by C Carl
Add P.S. (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, John_Mereness said:

I tend to pull all the fabric away from the bows and then fold fabric nicely on top prior to installing the boot - when the fabric is in between the bows it can get pinched and also worn via bow movement when driving 

 

Thank you.  Hadn't thought about bringing the fabric up to the top of the bows.  

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3 hours ago, A. Ballard 35R said:

Common practice was to always remove top from the bows as top was being lowered in order to prevent flat folds and possible damage to top. Perhaps trimacar can offer additional thoughts.

 

Ok, the top is only connected to the very front and rear bow, so it would pull away nicely from the the intermediate bows.  

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6 minutes ago, Kfigel said:

 

Ok, the top is only connected to the very front and rear bow, so it would pull away nicely from the the intermediate bows.  

Correct - as you put it down pull all the fabric out of and away from all the center bows.

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3 hours ago, Kfigel said:

 

OPERATION No. 3-Fold top down and pull 1.jpg

Do step 3 and forget about the other steps.  When you are at 3 then fold upward into car and then back and forth up on the top of the pile of bows (the install boot). In some cars the fabric can be folder upward and into car - up into the car behind the bows (ie space between the seat back/body tub and bows for it).  

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18 minutes ago, John_Mereness said:

Do step 3 and forget about the other steps.  When you are at 3 then fold upward into car and then back and forth up on the top of the pile of bows (the install boot). In some cars the fabric can be folder upward and into car - up into the car behind the bows (ie space between the seat back/body tub and bows for it).  

Yes, I'll definitely look at this.  Even though it's a Big Six I don't believe the top would reach back "into" the car, but may wrap upwards nicely on top of the lowered bows.  

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Posting how to fold the top on a 1925 Buick.  This would be the same process.  A couple of thoughts about laying my top down as I have done this a couple of times.

- one person can fold it.  You have to straddle the front seat.  Good to have another person or 2 around.

- Fold the gypsy curtains in first.  Maybe that is in your procedure as yours starts with #3. 

- The top sockets come close to the painted tops of the rear toneau and the rear doors while folding.  See Fig 66.  I put towels over them before I start, just to make sure that I do not scratch them.  

- Use the boot cover.  On my car the boot cover has 2 inside straps to support the rear glass window.  Failure to do so will allow the back window to bounce on the spare tire and could cause breakage.

Enjoy top down motoring

Hugh

50440113_1a11926touringtoplowering(1).thumb.jpg.d6e8972d3c63532d852e95af3ac8732c.jpg1474509292_1a11926touringtoplowering(2).thumb.jpg.268f4d0e8bd4653b999f6ab447ab15da.jpg479738937_1a11926touringtoplowering(3).thumb.jpg.608f195d9f53610ddb6fa4d1d9bd7937.jpg624295047_1a11926touringtoplowering(4).thumb.jpg.e2d9b5f980c7a5cd4b2a2cc00907efb1.jpg

Edited by Hubert_25-25 (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Hubert_25-25 said:

Posting how to fold the top on a 1925 Buick.  This would be the same process.  A couple of thoughts about laying my top down as I have done this a couple of times.

- one person can fold it.  You have to straddle the front seat.  Good to have another person or 2 around.

- Fold the gypsy curtains in first.  Maybe that is in your procedure as yours starts with #3. 

- The top sockets come close to the painted tops of the rear toneau and the rear doors while folding.  See Fig 66.  I put towels over them before I start, just to make sure that I do not scratch them.  

- Use the boot cover.  On my car the boot cover has 2 inside straps to support the rear glass window.  Failure to do so will allow the back window to bounce on the spare tire and could cause breakage.

Enjoy top down motoring

Hugh

50440113_1a11926touringtoplowering(1).thumb.jpg.d6e8972d3c63532d852e95af3ac8732c.jpg1474509292_1a11926touringtoplowering(2).thumb.jpg.268f4d0e8bd4653b999f6ab447ab15da.jpg479738937_1a11926touringtoplowering(3).thumb.jpg.608f195d9f53610ddb6fa4d1d9bd7937.jpg624295047_1a11926touringtoplowering(4).thumb.jpg.e2d9b5f980c7a5cd4b2a2cc00907efb1.jpg

Thanks, Hugh.  This certainly has more detail than my Studebaker owners manual.  As you say, it looks very similar.   I'll definitely use it as a guide as I attempt my first lowering.  

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On 9/13/2020 at 12:31 PM, C Carl said:

Most 100 year old tops are in some ways like most 100 year old people. Certain things they shouldn't attempt to do. In the case of tops, most 100 year olds should stay out of the sun as much as possible, stay dry, and merely reminisce over the limber acrobatics of youth.

 

When I bought my '24 Cadillac, it was only 65 years old. Gentleman I bought it from was considerably older, and in far worse shape than the well preserved car. But : I'm here to tell you that he sure knew his ancient cars. (I should have bought his Packard phaeton too). Anyway, Ray advised me not to put the top down. He had only tried it once during his ownership. Difficult, and hazardous to the frail original top and headliner. I don't second guess well-founded expert advice. My intention was to drive the tough, properly sorted relic many tens of thousands of miles until I was no longer able to do so. I expected the top to significantly degrade while I did likewise. The top (and maybe also the superb original sidecurtains), would have provided protection from the sun while en-route. Also from cold days which inevitably would have got us in early Spring, or at altitude, or in Northern tier states as Autumn headed us back home or down South. No driving in the rain, though. I lay up, and/or cover up until rain passes. Intention was to fold the top permanently to preserve what was left of it as it would have started to come apart after a couple decades of road exposure. Shorter excursions with the top down as I became less capable of doing the longer ones. The old Cad would have seemed to be a different car  from the top up version.

 

Well, I never got to enjoy the life I had worked so hard to get to live. Therefore the top and headliner remain in pretty good shape. Now I am in far worse shape than the 1924 Cadillac, though 20 years younger. I can not achieve Ray's age at the time he parted ways with the car, to my benefit. That being the case, I am now considering putting the top down before I die, still owning my cars. The last sentence of the above long paragraph being the justification. The next owner will still have a presentable top to raise for HPOF if desired, or just leave down, it's condition being memorialized by numerous pictures. For not a whole lot more than the price of an expertly reproduced top and headliner, the next owner could also buy my other HPOF '27 Cad sedan for those times a top up cruise would be more comfortable.

 

I hope my perspective on the subject helps you. I am deeply grateful to the late Ray Pierce out of Akron-Canton, OH (did any of you know him ?), for his sage advice. 

 

You probably know my two Nickel Era Cadillacs, right ? But here is a close up of the brittle top which is the age of yours. How do they compare ?     -   Carl 

 

P.S. The "top dressing" is Surflex which I got from the late wonderful Bill Hirsch. Applied 30 years ago, it still looks very good. I don't think Hirsch carry Surflex now due to some marketing issues, and not because of quality. It can be obtained from other sources.

 

 

9142D756-F08E-4097-BCFD-3796116FAFEE.jpeg

6B52024E-2F7A-430B-81F7-19C2015C8033.jpeg

Thanks for the info and story, Carl.  I appreciate it.  It sounds like we're a bit of kindred spirits!  From your photos your top appears to be in similar, and probably a little better, shape than mine.  I purchased my Studebaker Big Six one year ago from a fellow in a small town in Illinois who was at the point of passing on his vehicles to others.  He was the third owner since new and all three gentlemen had been neighbors, so the car had never "left" that town.  As such I know the complete history, with documentation, of the car from the day it was originally bought.  This was definitely one of the reasons I purchased it-how many owners of nickel era cars can present their car that way?  Anyway during that time it had been in storage for 72 years!  The owners never knew that the top had been ever been lowered so I am faced with leaving it alone, or lowering it as I would really like to and risk some damage; which is what led me to this post to begin with and I have received a lot of very good information.  

Once lowered, I plan to leave it in that position as I know my grandkids will enjoy touring in a completely open car as opposed to even a partially enclosed one.  I won't be restoring the car and have been surprised how well the car is responding to some cleaning and polishing.  I'll seek out some Surflex as you used to try to "soften" the top's material - it almost seems like a plastic type of material.  It certainly isn't the replacement fabric material tops I've seen on other touring cars that have been restored.  Your car exhibits the care you've put into over the years, Carl.  Thanks again.    

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I was going to post the Buick top folding info but Hugh beat me to it. The 40 year old Haartz material top folded very nicely on my 1925 Buick Master. Using the same procedure as outlined in Hugh's post. It returned to shape with out damage or wrinkles.DSCF5685.thumb.JPG.77f65c2c0bd6bba3bcc40b43ced995a4.JPG

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18 minutes ago, dibarlaw said:

I was going to post the Buick top folding info but Hugh beat me to it. The 40 year old Haartz material top folded very nicely on my 1925 Buick Master. Using the same procedure as outlined in Hugh's post. It returned to shape with out damage or wrinkles.DSCF5685.thumb.JPG.77f65c2c0bd6bba3bcc40b43ced995a4.JPG

Thanks, Larry.  Good to have a photo to go with the printed directions.

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