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The hardtop Chronicles


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With the upper window jam removed it is very easy to slide in the window seal and track into place. The gap above the windows, to the track. Is not that important right now. So many things will change as the top goes through the build/finish process. Very easy to space/float things out to get even gaps. Track is left longer than needed, will be cut down when screwed into place.

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Upper window jam is reinstalled for final fit. While I am doing this, I start to cut down and reshape the piece that will connect the rear half of the roof. To the front half, on the bottom sides. This piece is cut from the parts car, from under the window. Right where I cut the roof off.

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Upper window jam is reinstalled and trimmed to be flush with the outside of the pinch weld. A mounting bracket will be made for this location. Tack weld upper window jam in place. Next I will mark the upper window jam with the layout for the body curve. I just bent a piece of metal. Clamped it on one end, pinching the string, and creating a nice hard edge for the string to hang over. You can move the other end of the metal strip in and out, to get lined up on the mark on the body. Make a mark/line next to the string as you move down the window jam. Draw a line through your marks. And you now have the body curve in the window jam, where your roof skin needs to match up.

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The devils in the details. I’m sure there are a number of forum members with the talent to do this type of work or as you say an engine rebuild. Ed is one that proves the point with the Great White thread. How many will take the time to explain the details is what is the difference. That’s why this thread and threads like Ed’s have so many enjoying your work and appreciating the write up. 
dave s 

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It is hard for me to do one of these DIY things. Most of the stuff I have done is on the custom side. This top falls in a grey area. Just showing what can be done with a parts car. And making something that a 47 Hudson never had. I have thousands of pictures of stuff being done. Just trying to stay in the focus of this forum/club. A lot of people do not like to show stuff like this. I do not think showing how to do this will make a person want to do it themselves. Or pay someone to do it for them. You ether do your own work, or you pay someone to do it. If someone has a convertible with out a convertible top. You can build a unique top from a parts car, and not alter the convertible body. Very little cost in this. Done over a month visiting my parents. Gave me something to do. If younger people wanting to modify a roof can see something like this. A person can see how much can be done just by making things fit better. How it is cut, and where. Would not be any different on the restoration side, dealing with damaged cars. Or rebuilding missing or rusted pieces. Fun to do more pictures tomorrow.

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Edited by Xander Wildeisen (see edit history)
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You can also see how the body curve cut into the upper window jam. Is farther inside than the metal wire on the bottom. Because the outside skin for the top is going to be farther out on the back half. I will have to get the outside skin to match up with the body curve on the window jam as soon as possible.

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You can see the blue tape down on the bottom. This is the gap between the body curve, and the outside skin. This gap could have been filled by leaving more material on the upper window jam. I will fill it with a separate piece of metal placed on the back side of the window jam. I want to use the body curve line as a guide. And let the metal skin float, and find a shape, as it transitions between these two points.

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Next I will drill the pinch weld to mount a bracket. This will be a spot for the top to bolt down. The two holes drilled in the pinch weld would be covered by the convertible top when folded up. Bracket will have to be unbolted when hardtop is removed. Because convertible top material drapes over the edge of the body all the way around. It is hard to find a mounting point that is not covered by top material when folded down. A bracket is made for the other side at the same time. Bracket can be cut down if clearance issues become a problem with convertible top material. Bolts mounting the bracket will be button heads. This will give more clearance on inner roof skin. A curved piece of metal is welded on the upper door/window jam base. It comes out at an angle, to clear the mounting bolts and snap for the convertible top. This piece is what the outside skin will weld to, when the back half is tied into the front half.

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With the mounting bracket installed. The window track and seal can be trimmed down and screwed to the upper door/window jam. Should be centered on the line made on the upper door jam. That line should match up to the window jam. And be the same distance from the inside edge of the upper jams. You can see where the upper window jam, meets the door jam. This is where the angles of the windows change. A cut is made on the inside and back of the seal track. To bend/kick the track to match the angle of the rear quarter window. With upper jams clamped down on mounting bracket. Last thing to do is drill and bolt in place, and plug weld the shaped piece that completes the J hook shape to the upper window jam. Everything is fitting nice. Gap between window frames and seal track will be finished when mounting seals for the top, to the body are done. 

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I will just show/talk about a few things on the passenger side. Everything is done the same as the drivers side. As the upper door jam is tacked into place, and checked to match the body curve. Braces will be placed in between the upper jams. Holding the passenger side in place as it is built. You can see that this side of the roof has more of a curve in the return edge/outside edge of the roof. It goes full length of the piece. Anybody that has messed with restoring/building older cars. Can tell you that one side of the car, can be different from the other. A few simple relief cuts along the return edge, and you can float most of this out. To try and get a straighter edge to the front half of the roof. Also the wing window and door window need to be raised up about 3/16. You can see the quarter window is higher. Quarter window is the same size as the one on the other side. Measuring off the door top, to the bottom of the upper jams. I am 1/8th higher on this side, compared to the other side. A lot of things can be the cause of that. But a few beers, is the solution. A difference of an 1/8th side to side will not be there in the end. I will just post some pictures of this side, and comment if something is different.

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With both sides at the same point. It is time to deal with the back half of the roof. Front half is tacked in place, but needs to have some cut off of the roof skin. Back half is still just clamped to the body. At this point no length has been taken out of the roof. Just an 1 1/4 out of the height in the front half. Back half is to high in relation to the front half. Has been that way from the start. Just working through the build of the top. Back half has been reshaped just by cutting more out of the sides. So cutting some out of the roof above the back window, will drop it down. A person could lean the back half forward, and flex the roof skin up. But this would cause more problems in the fit of the sides and how it sits on the body.

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The shape of the front half is going the wrong way. So the bulk of the length to be cut out, will come from the front. Both of these cuts will be done at the same time. Cutting down the back half, will pull back the roof skin. You do not want to cut away to much material.

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Here you can see a couple of things. Knowing that I am going to cut off the front half. I cut out the sides first. This was just done to see what kind of flex I could get in the roof skin. Not much. If you know how much you are going to cut off. It is a good idea to just cut off a little bit first, and see what you can get from it. You will also see a string that is taped down to the roof. I have seen a lot of ways that people make a mark/line across a roof. This is the best way that I have found to do it. Measure out a point on both sides, tape down a string on one side. Pull it tight across the roof and tape it down on the other side. The string will form to the shape of the roof, and lay flat. Take your favorite  paint. I like krylon Barbecue black, it dries fast. Spray over the string, let it dry. And you have a nice straight line. Measure out a point on the back half, and do the same.

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That is a really nice top profile, the quarter window and top curvatures are complimentary with just a bit of visual tension which is aesthetically pleasing.  Great work!

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What is funny about this whole thing. Is how the roof has turned out. The shape is not really what I thought it would be. I knew what shape quarter windows I wanted. The Ford windows had that shape. And it is the same shape as the stock quarter windows. Door glass is stock height, windshield on the convertibles is 2 1/4 inches lower than the other 47 Hudson cars/trucks. So this whole window opening, is the same as the convertible. Minus the fence post in between the windows. New quarter window fits the same opening, and picking up length because of the pillar not being there. So it makes it look longer. The way the windows seal, is the same. My upper jams, are like the bottom of the convertible frame. I have made the same shape as the convertible, in the top. The outside shape to the top Looks nothing like a coupe roof. Has the same back window. But has taken on the shape of the convertible top as well. Why would it not, i guess. The skin on the top is not part of the body. It starts on top of, and outside of the body. Just like the convertible top does. A rear three quarter view of a convertible with the top up. Is what this looks like. Window openings are the same. Starting point for metal skin, and convertible top material are the same as well. It does not have the turret top look that you think it would have. Looks very fitting to the year and style of the car.

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With both the front and back half marked and ready to be cut. I will first cut off the front half. And then place the roof skin from the back half, on top of the front half. This way I can watch how much length I have in the back half of the roof, as I cut out some height in the back. The more height that is cut out, the more length you lose.

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Once the cut is made. The roof skin can be moved back. Ether under the back half, or over the back half. Going under, you can only drop it back until you hit the window frame/opening. In order to see what drop you can get. The roof skin needs to go over the back half. You can see the loss of length in the roof, just by moving the piece down. It has to go backwards as it goes down.

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Placing the roof skin over the back half, a person can see what change you can make with any amount of drop. More drop, less length. This is all of it, and would be a bad choice for a few reasons.

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The two front edges, are not matching cuts. And the back half of the roof is just still clamped on the body, not tacked in place. Also the curve/crown in the back, does not match up well. This is to much drop. Placement of the back half on the body only matters when you are going to tie the back to the front. As long as the you leave yourself enough material to cut off.

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An amount of 1 3/4 is taken out. This is not an 1 3/4 drop in height. Because of the angle of the roof line/back half, it is about 1 inch in vertical drop, plus or minus. With an 1 1/4 taken out of the front. This is about the same amount in height removed in the back.

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Scribe a line on the bottom of the roof piece. Trim off up to the line, finish grinding to the edge of the line. I was able to run the roof skin through the english wheel. To deal with a past roof cave in.

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With the back half cut down. Front half cut down. It is time to start positioning the rear half on the body. As I have been working my way through the construction/modification of the top. I have started making what would be the next pieces needed. And fine tuning them as the top moves along. Like the window track and seals. I have found this to be a good way to work through a project. Keeps you always thinking of the next step. And you can see problems coming before you get to them. So once the back half is ready to be tied into the front half, I all ready have pieces ready to go, just need some final fitting.

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The back half has always been the place with the most issues. The tack strips for the convertible top must have clearance for the convertible top material and related finish items. The removable top must clear the convertible top material when the top is folded down. Rubbing/contact of the hardtop on the finished convertible top material will result in damage. It is easy to give the clearance needed. The tough part is dealing with a rear mount/latch to hold down the hard top. I am trying to avoid drilling the outside of the body for a mounting point. Something like an early Corvette, has mounting points on the surface of the body, to bolt down the hardtop. The tack strips do not go all the way around the body. The middle, above the trunk hinges, convertible material is held in place by flat strip of metal. If snap buttons could be used on this part of the convertible top. They could be unsnapped when top is folded down. And open up a space for a bolt in bracket for a mount on the rear of the hardtop. This will be figured out down the road. 

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Back half is removed, and body and hardtop are sanded/clean to be able to tack weld in place. Please do not laugh at the lumber yard I have holding up the roof skin. I was scrounging for anything in my dads shop. All of my stuff that I use to do this, is buried in storage. Seeing the front half, with no back half. Reminds me of a convertible that folds down like this. I know I have seen a picture of a car that has the back half of a convertible. Anybody have a picture of a car that is a half fixed roof, and half convertible top?

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Back half is placed on the body, and tacked welded on. First pieces to tie the back half to the front, will be the small lower pieces that carry around the body line/bead. This is where a person has to guess on how much the top will come up with seals under it. If I want to carry the upper trim on the body around the top. This area must line up. I am holding down this line a little. This area will not be welded up, until a seal is fitted. In case I need to change/lower this body line on the top.

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Edited by Xander Wildeisen (see edit history)
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It could be done. But that is now modifying the convertible into a full custom. A person would really have to change the whole upper body/roof shape to do that. Roof can not be wider than the well it needs to fold down/retract in. For every problem, beer is a solution. The Peugeot Eclipse is a good example of the space needed. And it has a turret top shape. https://youtu.be/sf962ijqBn4

 

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With the bottom side pieces tacked in. The back half is now tied to the front half. And the outside skin can be shaped. Any braces/structure needed inside. Can be done at a later date. Headliner bows, or a formed hat channel going form side to side will all be done later. Rear mount for the top, and if need I can tie the structure for the mount into the base of the upper jams where they mount. The back lip that sits on the body will have to be reinforced. This will have to be done on the top of the lip. Anything done underneath the lip will raise the top. Only seals/gaskets can go under what has been built.

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As the pieces are shaped and tacked together. A person has to eyeball the overall shape of the roof. I am dealing with floating roof skins that need to be supported by the side pieces. Back and forth tacks, and cutting tacks to draw down areas. Easy to go down with pieces, hard to go up. Relief cuts are only your friend when the gap gets smaller. Cutting away material under the new pieces as you go. By tacking the whole thing together. A person can fine tune the roof as you weld it up.

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Hello xander

if you put a cloth covering on that hardtop from 20 feet it would look like a convert which it is,with the top up,just a suggestion,something else to ponder,    Dave

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