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Sunday, March 24, 2013

On Top of Ol' Rusty (Part 4)

With the pads fitted the best I could muster, I stapled the rear quarter pads across bow 4 and trimmed the excess.  The rear quarter pads were made of a fairly stiff material and tended to bunch rather than conform to the complex curves.  The bottom section of the rear quarter pads actually do straighten out rearward toward the drainage channel where they mount and then bend down to the back of the tack strips.  All of that change in direction resulted in a difficult fit (for me anyway).  I don't think I'd recommend this type of pad.  If you can get more original weaved pads, I think you'll have an easier time in fitting them since these are just too stiff.

After fitting the pads, I taped over the pad screws on the bows as well as the bow 4 side and rear pad seams.

Rear quarter pad stapled up.

The other side.  Trimmed.

Taped over the screws.

Taped over the rear transition seam.

I layed out the top and stuck strips of masking tape next to each bow sleeve and the front and back edges and marked center on them.  If you do something similar, keep in mind that the listing sleeves are not necessarily centered on the top.  One of mine was off center by a half inch, so use the top seams to find the center of the fabric.  I then marked center on the windshield, the rear curtain zipper, and each of the bows.  I kind of went off the prescribed methodology here because I based my top installation on the centers of bow 2 and 3.  I threw the top over the frame and inserted the listing bars into the sleeves and tightened the outside screws which don't go through the sleeve fabric.  This allowed me to center the sleeves on the bows and ensure that the bars were at the bottom of the sleeves.  I then drove in the remaining screws into bows 2 and 3 and that's how it stayed for the remainder of the install.

Marked center all along the underside of the top.

Marked center along all of the bows, the windshield, and rear window.

Inserted listing bars, set center, and screwed them down.

Windshield/Top center check.

Rear window center check.
I then clamped the front side of the top to the front frame segment where there's a flap that overlaps.  I also clamped the rear quarter window flaps to the frame where the side welting of the top aligned with the frame and the clamps also remained for the duration of the install.

Clamps on front sides and rear quarter window frame.

I then took the stress off of the rear quarter panels of the top by supporting the top up about 5 inches using a coffee can and crawled into the car and laid the top side rear quarter fabric against the inside of the car.  I found that this side section lays out the easiest since its straight until it gets to the rear curve of the well so I was able to pull it down tight while laying out straight with no wrinkles and then marked the location of the front-most tack strip mounting hole in the back of the drain channel.  I then used that as a reference point for laying the top fabric over the tack strip such that the mounting hole was aligned with it's slot in the tack strip and I drove a screw into the edge of the fabric and into the tack strip.

I then drove that one tack strip bolt in through the tack strip and fabric and used it as a basis for pulling the fabric taut and even over the rest of the tack strip.  I marked the fabric at the tack strip edge and put some preliminary staples in.  I removed the coffee can put let the top lay under its own weight while I adjusted the staple locations a few times until it looked like it was going to lay straight at which time I smacked a few dozen staples in and bolted the tack strip to the car.  I repeated this process for both sides.

Holding the top up for initial rear quarter fitting.

Mounting hole in fabric used to find approximate starting point

marked the tack strip and pad locations on the top fabric for relocation.

Test staples

Getting there.

rear window installed after top rear quarters fitted.

After I got both rear quarter top panels in place, I contact cemented the rear quarter window flaps to the frame on both sides ensuring that they laid with as few wrinkles in the rear top panels as possible.  I opened the top about 2" and clamped the fabric to the front of the header bow ensuring that the sides of the top aligned with the frame edges on both sides equally and that the top was centered to the front windshield mark and drew a while line along the very front edge of the header bow on the fabric to mark it's position.

I opened the top all the way back and contact cemented the front edge of the top fabric to the underside of the header bow and trimmed the excess.  I then drove staples into the tack strip followed by a new welting and more staples to hold it in place. 

Contact cemented rear quarter window flaps.

Clamped and marked front edge.

Contact cemented top edge.

Top almost installed.

New front welting.

Now, keeping with my bass-ackwards methodology, I marked the center line of bow 4 and drove staples in a line and stuck a 3/8" wide strip of black tape over them.   The rear wire-on was then stapled over those staples and folded over and finished off with new end caps.

Rear bow staples

Rear bow staples covered by tape.

Rear bow wire-on.

Wire-on finished.

The next step was the installation of the weatherstrip on the front bow and front frame segments (it's one long piece of rubber weatherstrip).  This turned out to be a huge pain in the arse!  I installed it and removed it several times before I was able to get it to lay fairly flat along the header bow AND fully contact the frame segment.  I found the secret to be the driving of a screw into the metallic "flap" that sits behind the latch and pin on the header.  Once that's screwed in, the center section is laid out and the seal mounting strip is inserted, centered, and secured with it's 12 stainless screws.  

Front seal to side seal transition screw.

Seal mounting screw hole.

Front seal installed.

The driver window needed major adjustment to contact the weatherstrip and even then, there's an annoying gap between the front-most edge of the weatherstrip, the header trim, and the side glass.  This is similar on both sides so I'm wondering if I maladjusted the header bow waaaay back at the start.  I'll have to work this out and correct it.  Also, the top had a few wrinkles before installing the weatherstrip but not terribly noticeable but after installing weatherstrip, the front of the bow sits up higher so now more wrinkles are noticeable.

All seals installed and side window fitment.

Finally, the new well liner could be installed.  I bought a kit of screws with the well liner so I basically just drove them in along the doubled-up edge of the liner starting at the center point (marked by a cut-out V in the fabric) and then drove the screws into the original well liner holes in the tack strips starting from the center and working to the outside on both sides.

The front flap was then contact cemented to the top of the back seat support followed by the mounting of the rear seat convertible boot trim.

Top well center screw.

Top well tack strip center screw hole.

Top well screwed in.

Front edge contact cemented to seat back.

Top boot trim screwed on.

So, that's about it.  There are some pretty stubborn wrinkles and the windshield, side window, top seal intersection problems so I failed at the professional quality.  I'm tempted to remove the header section, adjust the header bow again, and re-install but that'll probably be next fall.  For now, I'm going to just live with it since I don't intend to drive in the rain (on purpose).

The new top, folded into the well.

New top driver side.  A bit wrinkly.

Rear quarter.  You can see how those stiff pads "dent" and show through

Passenger side
Done!  (or am I?)

So In summary, this was a pretty big job but not insurmountable if you follow directions... which I didn't.  Also, get the woven pads and a top that places bow 4 at 20 1/2".  Don't forget the rear window with a brass zipper instead of plastic.  Lastly, I would not have even attempted this had Richard (Dalorzof) not written his excellent document (and then held my hand throughout the install).  Thanks Richard! 


  1. OK Alex. When will this hit the book stand on the Mustang "How To" hit parade? Excellent description once again. I would hazard a guess that when you park the car outside on the first warm sunny day those wrinkles might just disappear. Now what do you have left to do??? Looks pretty done to me. Congrats on the top job (pun intended) :- )

    1. Thanks Dennis! I hope that adjusting the 2nd bow up a bit will help as it's still in the fully down position. The difficult part is finding a warm, sunny day here in Oregon. :-)

  2. Alex, the rear quarter fits fine and the front end can be adjusted "next fall". I can share your opinion on the stiff pads and weatherstrip. Obviously you had no trouble stretching the quarter flaps in place ? Freezing weather and 79cm snow banks here, but a couple of weeks and I'll fold the top down and go cruising.

    1. Thanks Risto. The quarter flaps pretty much aligned right up with the frame but I had to clamp them there to keep their position. It's almost like the entire top install depended on the location of those side flaps. I'm in the process of rebuilding my carb and generally readying the car for Spring. I should be cruising again this week if the weather holds. Have a great Spring/Summer Risto!

  3. Happy to have helped!

    Agree 100% on the woven webbing, while a little bit more expensive it just fits and functions far better than most of the other repro pads. If you do cut costs and go for another style, avoid any with foam, I have an older set I used for comparison in working on the book, and few years in they are crumbling to pieces. Not what you want on your top...

    Good job!