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Early Ford Top Kit How-to
by Bob Juliano

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HOW TO: INSTALL A TOP KIT INSERT

This How-to is for use with Juliano's SOFT TOP INSERT KIT

A Kit for the home builder

One of the few areas left in street rod building that the home builder doesn’t venture into is the upholstery portion of the car. Bob Juliano brought this to our attention several months ago, and agreed to do a series of articles on how this job can be done at home. Since Bob operates a trim shop, it was only natural that he offer a kit for the backyard builder. If your rod is ready for a top insert, follow along as Bob installs a new insert on a chopped deuce Vickey.

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1. First step is to remove all the old chicken wire and matting. Use care in removing the staples.

2.Check the wood for warpage or rotting and repair as needed

Now take the aluminum track that is supplied in the kit, and drill 1/8" holes, every two inches. A wood block should be used for back up, and care must be taken not to bend the track. After drilling, deburring all holes, to insure a tight fit to the roof.

Now that the track is drilled, it is ready to be formed. Start on a straight portion of the roof, 1/4 to 1/2 inch outsid the original to insert. Drill the first hole through the track, into the roof and pop-rivet the track to the roof. Aluminum pop-rivets are used for this. Continue this process, forming the track to the shape of your top insert. Once the track is formed and riveted every two inches, new holes must be drilled between the rivets creating holes through the track and into the roof every inch.

Using a 1/8" drill remove the rivets by drilling the heads out. Remove the track taking care to mark left, right, front, and back. The track is now ready for the final installation. Carefully set the tracks aside.

The next procedure is to prepare the vinyl covering for installation. We have discovered the best way to assure a smooth, tight fitting top is to fasten the vinyl to a stretcher frame, constructed of 2" by 3" boards. This frame should be approximately 2" smaller than the vinyl supplied in the kit.

The first step in installing a new top insert is to remove all the old material from the top. This includes the chicken wire and matting. After that is removed, check the wood to insure that it is in good condition. If the wood is dry rotted, or cracked, make sure that they are uniform in height. A long straight edge works well for this portion of the job. After the wood has been repaired or replaced, it is time to get on with the job of covering the insert.

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3.Check the top bows with a long straight edge to insure that the bows are uniform in height.

4. Drill a 1/8" hole every 2 inches in the aluminum track supplied in the kit. Be careful not to bend the soft track, and debur all holes.

5. Pop-rivet the track to the roof approximately 1/2 inch from the original tack strip.

Do not waste rivets in these holes, as the track must be removed, however it is necessary to have provisions for rivets every inch for the finished job.

6. Form the track as you go. A friend or wife to help will make the job easier.

7. After building a stretcher frame form 2 x 3 wood, stretch the vinyl over the frame. The wood frame should be placed on the finished side of the vinyl.

Staple the vinyl to the frame stretching tightly as you go. For best results the vinyl should be warm. This can be achieved by working in the sun or by using a heat lamp. When stapling the vinyl to the frame, in a manner so as to avoid the frame coming in contact with the body. After the vinyl is stretched, place it and the frame aside.

The next step is to prepare a base for the padding. We have found that a special canvas works better than the original chicken wire. This special canvas (supplied in the kit) stretches taut and will not let air through it, this eliminating the possibility of the top balooning up as you drive down the road.

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8. Staple the special canvas to the tack strip, stretching it tight as you go.

 The canvas staples to the same place the chicken wire was stapled in the original application. Stretch the canvas tightly as you go, and staple it to the outer tack strip. A few staples are used across the bows for extra protection. Trim the canvas with a razor blade or scissors. Trim very close to the staples.

Now that the base is installed it is time to install the foam padding. Spray contact cement is used to hold the foam in place. Use a couple of awls or punches to locate the holes. Then run a razor blade along the inside edge of the track. Special care must be taken to insure that no foam is under the track.

Now that the foam has been trimmed the vinyl material is ready to be installed. The vinyl supplied in the kit is a high quality vinyl that is completely waterproof. Place the wood frame with the vinyl attached to it on the roof. Carefully center the vinyl on the roof.

With the vinyl centered on the roof, re-install the aluminum track. It is very important to make sure the track is in the correct position before riviting. Use an awl to aid in this process. Once the first pop rivet is inserted, continue riviting every inch until finished. Do not skip any holes. After all the rivets have been installed, cut the

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9. Now trim the canvas close to the staples with scissors or razor blade.

10. Lightly spray contact cement on the canvas, and roll out the foam padding

11. Trim the foam to the inside edge of the track. Care must be taken not to allow any foam to protrude under the track.

material leaving approximately 6" of excess and remove the frame from the roof. Using a razor blade, trim the vinyl close to the outside edge of the aluminum track. It is important not to cut into the paint or primer during this process.

All that is left now is the final trim that snaps on the aluminum track. Install this finish moulding from the kit, starting at the center rear of the roof, carefully cut the moulding. A good clean, straight cut here will make the seam unnoticeable.

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12. Place the vinyl and frame on the roof of ot the car, and center it.

After checking the fit of the seam, lift up two inches on either side of the seam, and apply a light coat of contact cement to either side of the splice. Now re-snap the moulding, making sure that the seam is aligned properly. The glue will help to keep the seam tight during the expansion or contraction due to changes in temperature.

All that is left now is the final trim that snaps on the aluminum track. Install this finish moulding from the kit, starting at the center rear of the roof, carefully cut the moulding. A good clean, straight cut here will make the seam unnoticeable.

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13. Re-install the aluminum track with aluminum pop-rivets. Dont skip any goles and be sure that you have a rivet every inch apart throughout the complete track.

After checking the fit of the seam, lift up two inches on either side of the seam, and apply a light coat of contact cement to either side of the splice. Now re-snap the moulding, making sure that the seam is aligned properly. The glue will help to keep the seam tight during the expansion or contraction due to changes in temperature.

After checking the fit of the seam, lift up two inches on either side of the seam, and apply a light coat of contact cement to either side of the splice. Now re-snap the moulding, making sure that the seam is aligned properly. The glue will help to keep the seam tight during the expansion or contraction due to changes in temperature.

All that is left now is the final trim that snaps on the aluminum track. Install this finish moulding from the kit, starting at the center rear of the roof, carefully cut the moulding. A good clean, straight cut here will make the seam unnoticeable. After checking the fit of the seam, lift up two inches on either side of

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14. Now trim the canvas about 6 in. from the track. Be careful not to hit finished paint or body work with the scissors or razor blade.

15. Using a razor, carefully trim the vinyl very close to the track. Hold the excess material up and away from the track to aid in this process.

the seam, and apply a light coat of contact cement to either side of the splice. Now re-snap the moulding, making sure that the seam is aligned properly. The glue will help to keep the seam tight during the expansion or contraction due to changes in temperature.

So there you have it, a top quaility kit for the backyard builder.

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16. The vinyl molding is snapped in place. The final seam is carefully cut, and glued in place. The seam should be at the center rear of the roof.

For Technical Assistance or Questions Call 860-872-1932

Visit our website at www.julianos.com

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