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oldmangrimes

Replacing original top on 95 convertible

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I'm starting my long-overdue project of replacing the top on my 95 vert.   It's the original top and has seen 215,000 miles, mostly not garaged.   There has been a lot of duct tape involved in the last year :).

Anyway, I'm just in the disassembly stage, and most things are going ok.  Most screws are rusted but only a few have snapped.   I'm using a kit from convertibletopguys.com (a Kee top with heated rear glass).  Plus I have an Oldmobile convertible service supplement book, and some posts on here that I've bookmarked.  

 

One thing that I found that I can't find documented is a plastic ring mounted in some crumbling foam underneath the header seal on the side, next to the latch mechanism.  One side was ok, but the other side the foam was mostly gone and the ring fell out.   Can anyone tell me what this plastic ring is for, and what I should use to fill in this space where the foam was when I reassemble the top?

 

The pic shows the drivers side, with the top open and the seal removed.

post-3276-0-05592600-1494266765_thumb.jpg  

Edited by oldmangrimes

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So I finally got the top completely removed last night.  More complicated than I thought, it's going to take me a long time to get it back together with the new top.  

 

Since it is a rare sunny day here in Oregon, I thought I'd drive the convertible today.  Technically, since it doesn't have a top right now, it can't really "convert", so it's just a roadster?    Anyway, I was cruising on a nice curvy rural road along the river, unfortunately I got it up to 56 mph on a straight section of the road . . . in a 40 mph zone . . . in front of a motorcycle cop running a speed trap.    The funny thing is that the cop saw how bad the car looked, with just a rusty metal frame in the back and the trim panels removed, took pity on me and probably figured I couldn't afford the ticket and gave me an option to take an online traffic school to get out of having to pay.

 

Yay for beat-up w-bodys??  

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Good luck man, I considered replacing the top myself but due to lack of time I`m just going to have a shop do it. Not sure what that ring is but I`ll look when I get a chance.

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Well, the top project isn't going that well.   I expected it to take many many hours because I'm slow, but this is worse than expected.    I can't afford to pay someone else to do this, I'm saving about $1500 by doing it myself.  But at this rate, I'll only be paying myself about $15 an hour to do the project by the time I'm done.  

 

Here is a partial list of my mistakes (so far), in case anybody else ever reads this before doing this project. 

 

1)   Don't try to reuse the tension cables.   The kit only came with new main cables, I tried to reuse the short rear cables but they keep pulling out of the top metal crimp that I had to remove to get the cable threaded through the top.   And of course I put them on backwards at first, so I had to redo them again for that reason.   

 

2)   Don't drop screws by the rear side window mechanism, they will fall down into the body (the car body, not mine, that would be a different sort of problem) and be lost forever.

 

3)   Be careful lowering the top frame with no canvas on it, the short rear curved metal rods that normally insert into the rear quarter headliner will fall down, get trapped in the well, and the top pump is strong enough to bend them while they rip through the well material.   I tried to bend them back, but I don't know the original shape.

 

4)   My new rear window curtain doesn't fit into the well when the top is lowered, it binds up on the top corners of the window and further rips up the well liner.   I don't know how to get it to fit, my old top rear curtain fit into the well somehow.  I have to manually push the window down into the well when I lower the top, otherwise the rear bow hits the glass and I'm worried it will shatter the window.   

 

5)   The new top attachment piece (plastic piece sewn to the top) that screws into the rear bow was not even close to fitting on my bow, I had to do a lot of trimming and drilling new holes and it barely fits after a couple hours of fighting.   

 

6)   Due to life happening, I wasn't able to finish the top before having to drive the car, so I folded up the half-attached top while lowering the top, I have no idea if I screwed up anything permanently by doing this.   I won't raise the half-assembled top until I have time to finish the project, a couple weeks from now.   I just hope it doesn't rain until then, otherwise I'll probably have to rent a car, further reducing the amount of money I'm paying myself to install the top.

 

7)   If it looks like a rusted screw will break off when you try to remove it, it will.

 

8)   When you to drill out the rivets, don't oversize the holes.  None of the new rivets in the Harbor Freight rivet assortment will fit.  

 

9)   Any step that I didn't carefully document while removing my old top because it seemed so straightforward, I screwed up when putting on the new top and was forced to redo it over and over again.

 

10)  Without the top canvas in place to slow it down, raising the top frame slams the header pins into the pin cups, shattering them.   Now I need new pin cups and have to figure out how to install them.

 

11)  Don't leave the key in the run position overnight, the battery will be dead when you need to leave in the morning for work.   

 

12)  If you gut is telling you "hey, you normally suck at car repairs, you shouldn't try something complicated like this", you should listen.

 

13)  If your wife says "wow, I could hear you yelling at the car in the garage while I was driving up the street", it's not going well.

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Oops, meant to reply, not quote.

Hey Oldmangrimes:

I'm a '92 vert owner with original top also. So sorry for your woes. If I keep this car, I definitely will not attempt top myself after reading your post. Kudos to you for plunging right in, though.

I'm sure you will work it out. I'll remember your advice on the tension cables. Best of luck to you

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Good call on the tension cables...and you'd be surprised how many people don't know these cars use 4 of them.

 

I considered at one point replacing the top on my '95 myself, but talked myself out of it fairly quickly.  I'd expect my experience would have been pretty much like yours.

 

Best of luck finishing the top...my fingers are crossed for you.

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Update:   I'm mostly finished installing the top.   It was very difficult to do as a daily driver, as I spent a lot of time getting out and putting away my tools and supplies.    Plus I had to do every step two or three times at least because I did it wrong the first time or it didn't line up.  Eventually I would just say "good enough", curse, and move on to the next step.

 

The good news is that it rained this morning and the new top didn't leak!   I was surprised to see the water beading up on the top surface because my old top, and my two fox-body Mustang tops didn't do that.   What products should I use on the vinyl top to protect it and to keep it waterproof?   

 

The bad news is that my installation does not look professional, there are lots of little problems with the edges.   I told myself I would be honest with you guys and show the blemishes so others trying this in the future don't feel bad (or they feel good for doing better than I did!).   I didn't have time to re-paint the three plastic trim pieces or my windshield frame or my mirrors.   Now they look really bad next to the new top.   But if I wait until the car is "done", then I'll never take or post pictures because it's a 215k mile daily driver that is NEVER "done".   I need to redo my cracked rear quarter rust repair.    My paint is scratched and dull.   The trunk doesn't line up right, etc etc.    

 

I'll post the pictures over the course of the next few days, in separate comments.    

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To follow up from my first picture in this thread, I never figured out what those plastic ring "thingies" were that were embedded in the foam behind the header seal next to the pins.    I ended up removing all the crumbled old foam and replacing it with gray adhesive-backed foam tape that was originally for sealing camper shells to truck beds.   There are better products I could have used, but hey, it's a $1500 car.  I just stuck the plastic rings back where they were originally, I could see the mark they made in the rubber header seal for positioning.

  This pic also shows that the flap built into the top that is supposed to cover the front mounting bracket for the side cables didn't line up with the bracket and only covers it halfway.   The pic is with the top open, but even when it's closed you can see the metal from the outside of the car, it looks bad.   Maybe I'll cover it with some leftover scraps I have from trimming the top, and just glue the scrap in place?

 

post-3276-0-99620700-1496952773_thumb.jpg

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Here's a pic of the top with the water beading up on it.    What products should I use on the top to keep it doing this?     Google searching gives a google number of answers.

 

You can also see the kink on the edge where the side cable is attached, and the little section of exposed cable.  I tried to copy the original top corner pattern of folding the welt seal and top material, etc. but I didn't get the corner quite right.   

 

I also forgot to follow the advice given to me to get the wider top instead of the standard top width.   I should have taken that advice, although I did see pictures a few years ago of a Cutlass where the top was TOO wide and it hit the door windows when you opened and closed them.  

Since the top is slightly too narrow (but much better than my old shrunken top) the edges of my pads show (maybe up to 1/4 inch), as do the rubber seals with the dried duct tape adhesive still on them.   The new pads given to me in the kit were slightly wider than the old pads, and I didn't trim them.   I figured a little extra material over the rubber side seals would help prevent leaks when the rubber seals have seams.

 

How should I remove dried duct tape adhesive from rubber without damaging my difficult to replace non-cracked rubber seals?

post-3276-0-17111100-1496952999_thumb.jpg

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Here's a picture from a couple weeks ago, mid-project.   Note the missing trim pieces and just the frame in back.   That's Mt. Hood in the background, the picture was taken on my daily commute home, somewhere south of Boring, Oregon (yes that's the real town name).   This picture captures part of why I go through the hassle of owning a convertible in Oregon, because when it's sunny it's an amazing place to drive.

(Pic taken on my crappy iPhone 5c)

Someday I'll get a better picture with a real camera at a better angle with the car "finished", but today is not that day.  

 

post-3276-0-80533200-1496958097_thumb.jpg

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Here's a picture of the wrinkle on the C-pillar area.   I need to cut a larger hole in the "tail" that tucks inside the body next to the rear cable mounting point, so the part that covers the edge of the little triangle window can fit better.   I tried a couple different times to get everything lined up and couldn't quite do it, and reaching down into that part of the body is a pain.   But hey, it was just a ripped-up section of duct tape a couple months ago, so it's a big improvement for me.   The other side looks better.  Also, I have the paint and clear coat to redo the plastic trim pieces, but haven't had time and won't for a while.     

post-3276-0-31281700-1497483872_thumb.jpg

Edited by oldmangrimes

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Here's a picture of the wrinkle on the C-pillar area. I need to cut a larger hole in the "tail" that tucks inside the body next to the rear cable mounting point, so the part that covers the edge of the little triangle window can fit better. I tried a couple different times to get everything lined up and couldn't quite do it, and reaching down into that part of the body is a pain. But hey, it was just a ripped-up section of duct tape a couple months ago, so it's a big improvement for me. The other side looks better. Also, I have the paint and clear coat to redo the plastic trim pieces, but haven't had time and won't for a while.

had my top replaced by a so called interior/top shop well I told him I regretted using his shop

Ended bringing it back 3 times before he finally made it right

Actually still not completely happy considering I waited almost 9 years to replace original

Live and learn

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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1 year update:    

After putting the top up and down a number of times earlier this summer, most of the staples in the rear corners pulled out.   I think I had too much tension originally, and/or not enough staples.   I also had NOT replaced the rear tack strip, which is probably the root cause of the problem.   (I did replace the front tack strips, though).  

To quickly fix it, I pulled the back trim off, realigned the top canvas, pulled the original staples out, and restapled the top about 1/4 inch lower on the canvas than before.   This gives a little more slack in the canvas, it's not as tight and straight when the top is up but not really noticably different.   The old staple holes are still covered by the butyl and the painted trim.  There isn't as much tension on the rear staples and hopefully they stay in place now.   It's been a month and they are still holding ok.

I would recommend to others that they replace all tack strips when replacing the top.  And don't skimp on staples.       

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I shipped my car to Botswana after i replaced the top, so i can't take pictures to show you. But what i did last year when i went, i installed three strips of stainless steel on top of the vinyl at the tack strip. One in the center by the third brake light, one across each seam where the quater meets the rear window. I secured these with long bolts (countersink heads) that go through the body. All this reinforcement then gets covered by the trim pieces. 

See if this is something you can try. The strips were scrap from a pile of metal i found at a metal shop. 

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