Convertible Top 2013
March 19, 2017
 

 

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This project started because I had to remove the top assembly to make the installation of the new aluminum fuel tank easier.

So one thing leads to another and I decide that I will order a new canvas top while TRF is having a sale.

Then I will need all of the installation kits, including new webbing and weatherstrips.

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A special thanks to Dave, John and Albert at The Roadster Factory for supplying a new version of the Velcro strips.

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Then after removing the top itself, I decide that the frame looks a little shabby, so now it's time for a powder coating job before the new top goes  on and the rest of the new pieces are installed.  So this is how to remove a top from the car and then strip the frame all the way down.

****
Viewers are warned that if they attempt any mechanical repairs or modifications,
or follow procedures referred to here, they do so at their own risk, and no liability will attach to me.****

The first thing is to remove the five (5) bolts that hold the top down across the rear panel.  You do this with the roof and window up.


This is one of two on the ends of the plate that are on each side of the webbing. 

 

The other side.  This along with removing the rear panel, will give easier access to the the tank. 
In fact, it's the only access, so it's needed.

The side mounts on either side have three (3) screws in them that have to come out. 
No matter what you do, only two can come out at a time, so do two and then fold a bit and remove the other.

I dropped my top down as though I was going to stow it and then got a helper ready to help lift it out.
The top is not heavy, but rather awkward and I, nor you, need any scratches on the paint, so use help for this one.

Covering the rear panel and trunk lid will protect the paint from the sharp edges on the mounting plate.

If you look carefully in the bottom right, you can see the webbing being held in by the pin.  More on that later.

These are the five (5) bolts that hold the plate and rear of the top down securely.  I purchased new SS bolts and lock washers.

I always like the look of the TR6 without bumpers and without a top.

I will also pull the passenger seat to allow more room when the tank swap starts and to also put sound deadener under the carpets.

These are the tools that you will need for the soft top removal from frame process.  5/16" & 3/8" sockets and 1/8" drill bits.

Back to the top removal.  This is the pin that slides through the webbing which is sewn together to hold it in place.

I found out from a fellow 6-Pack member that the new webbing will need to be sewn and then the pin can be put through it.

This is one of the reasons why I will have the top installed by a professional with everything they need at their fingertips.

Also, note the washers under the rivets. There are little pads made to glue on those to protect the paint below them.

You can see a rivet in the left side of the picture above.  That is from the snap male studs that the boot cover will attach to.

The picture below shows all of the snaps drilled out and the plate only held on by the webbing.

Being a little too anxious, I cut the webbing, but it is not necessary to do so, because once you drill out all
of the rivets holding it down to the top bows and front plate, you can pull it right out of the rear plate and keep it intact.

Mark each side clearly, left and right, as you remove them from the car.

I will tell you now, DO NOT throw the old webbing away or cut it into pieces  You or the top shop will want those
in order to have the exact distance that the bows need to be spaced in order for the top to fit properly.

Get some good, short 1/8" drill bits.  There are a lot of rivet to drill out to get the top removed.

I didn't have short bits, so I had to be careful not to damage the old top, as it was in great shape and had a home for the future.

Also, I had a vacuum there at all times to vacuum up the chips and pieces so as to not grind them into the windows accidentally.

I'm refinishing the frame, so the two top hold down clamps will come out and be polished for later installation.

There are three retaining plates that are riveted on under the front weatherstrip that goes above the windshield.

These are very close to the top underneath and you must be careful here if you are saving the existing top.

This is the opposite side.

Now those are all out, the retaining plates are off and the top can be peeled away from the front plate.

The two rivet heads in the bottom left hold the webbing in place on the front plate

The rear plate and front retaining plates for the weatherstrips removed. 

The three (3) retainers for the front weatherstrip come in the new kit.  The rear plate will be coated.

This is the frame with only the rivets in the bows remaining to be drilled out. 
If you buy a webbing kit from TRF, you will get the webbing, pins, small retaining plates and new rivets.

The vinyl top is now all folded up and ready to be boxed for a trip to sunny California.

Back to the frame, there are four (4) pieces of vinyl that has Velcro attached to hold the top down on the side.

I began by peeling it away to see what was underneath and it is rusty, so that is why the frame is getting refinished.

The material folds up over the top and provide protection for the soft top as it begins to pitch forward due to the angle shown below.

This is the Velcro itself, shown above what holds it on the bottom, which happens to be the side weatherstrip retainers.

With the top frame folded over on itself, you can see the door glass weatherstip, it's retainer and the Velcro for the rear section.

There is a front and rear section of weatherstrips on each side that fold up as the top is lowered.

There are lots of rivets to be drilled out and sharp bits help keep you moving.

Also note the remnants of a cloth protector strip that was on each top bow to protect the inside of the top and to keep it quieter.

Some of the rivets were loose after all of these years and wanted to spin as I drilled them.  It is important to get the holes cleared.

This is one of the strips of cloth that was on the first bow of the top.  I will find something for these as they are NLA.

Back to the side weatherstrips and retainers, this is what you see when you slide the weatherstrips out of their respective retainers.

Finally, the drilling is over, but you now have five and four screws to remove on each side, that are held on by nuts under the
side rails.  You can see the Velcro strip starts under the retainer and folds over the side and back up into the side rail.

The socket size is 5/16" and all are easy to get to but two on each side, which will require an open end wrench due to the Frame bolt.

And there is the annoying little guy right there.  Now you may be wondering, why the screws, instead of rivets?  So did I.

There are four (4) screws on the front plate and five (5) on the rear..

The holes in each section of the frame are slotted to allow adjustment of the weatherstrips to provide a tight seal at the glass as needed.

The rail in the rear shows the flat washer that are stuck to it since 1974. 
The new screws, nuts, flat washer and lock washers allare furnished in the TRF side rail weatherstrip kits.

Eddie from the top shop who will be doing my new canvas to installation not only said to keep the webbing, but to mark each side.

So here it is, all stripped and ready for bead blasting, before having the powdercoating baked on.

Actually, there were two (2) rubber stops or insulators that needed to be removed and the rivets would not drill out.

So I brought along a little help and just cut them off.  The rivets are NLA, but through another 6-Pack tip, I have a better replacement.

The rubbers are also NLA, so be careful with them.

Safely off and ready for a new frame and fasteners.

Now we're back from powdercoating and Tom at HTC in Rockland, MA, did a great job in just three working days. 

This will make a much better looking interior and rear plate, even if it is under the roof.

Now you can clearly see the adjusting slots in the rails on either side.

This will be protected for the rest of it's life.

Somehow, they have a way of working these parts as they are coated so that there is no freezing up of the joints and the frame is flexible.

I finally got around to gluing the Velcro strips on the four side rails shown above.  This glue is great, but you MUST use
adequate ventilation, as in your garage with the door wide open.  This is not a "winter, in the basement project".

Before you start any gluing on smooth and shiny powdercoated part, you must rough it up so that the glue will stick.

I also masked off what I didn't want to get glue on, so as to not have to clean up where the strip does not cover.

What you see allows just enough for the Velcro to cover so that your fingers and clamps don't get glued to the frame.

Now would be a good time to tell you that unless you are skilled in working with drying glue, you should buy four throw away
paint brushes to use for doing one section at a time.  Plan to let it dry with the clamps on for at least a day, better for two days.

If you have a lot of clamps and wooden wedges, you can do it all in one day and let it sit for several more days.

DISCLAIMER ** WARNING

As always, the responsibility of the care and practical use of a product is on the user, not me or the manufacturer.  This is no exception.

There are strict warnings on the label about ventilation and flame issues.  Please be smart enough to follow them and use at your own risk.

After you understand that you need to breath, we can start by gluing the wedges on each front edge of the frame.  These were NOT
installed under the original strips and were brought to our attention by David Fidler, the editor of the 6-Pack magazine.

I used foam from a cold cup/can cooler to cut into a wedge that aligns with the side and tapers out to meet the front frame bar.

These shots show the taper and the strips are about two inches long.  This helps make the top seal better at the front edges.

Another view of the transition down the rail.  Foam is not that easy to cut and I wanted something that would last, so that
makes it a bit tougher to cut.  Sharp scissors help a lot and you may have to cut several to get the taper that you want.

Mix the glue well, per the directions and have your brush and clamps ready.  You can see the back of the coated Velcro looks wet.

The glue is already of the frame, but hard to see in this picture. 

Just an FYI.  These are the Velcro strips sold by The Roadster Factory.  I like the soft cloth backs of the vinyl and Velcro
and it makes for a very easy piece of trim to be worked into place.  The glue adheres well to it and the width of the Velcro is perfect.

I also could not apply and take pictures at the same time, so you now see the Velcro being held flat against the edges
that will NOT be held down by the weatherstrip channels.  Get the wedges all the way down to the bottom of the frame
so that they hold all of the back of the vinyl material tightly against the frame rails.  This will seal them tight for years to come.

Another view from the side.  I like using wood shims so as to not smash down the Velcro with the clamp jaws.

After 48 hours of drying (I was in no rush...it's 80 degrees and sunny outside).  Note the flare out of the Velcro
at the front edge of the side rail, meeting the front frame neatly for a good future seal with the new top.

Also, this top edge was pressed down many times by me in the set up process, so it adhered very well. 

It is also held down by the weatherstrip channel, so it is going no where.

A little better view from the front side.

This is the opposite side after gluing and drying with the clamps holding it down.

The same side from the bottom showing the front frame match up.

And the opposite side.  Thanks again to David and the 6-Pack Canadian soft top installers for the great tip!!

I used an Xacto knife to cut the holes for the screws that hold down the channels.

These slots allow you to move the channel in and out to meet the glass and provide a nice weather seal.

This the Roadster Factory front channel, mounted.  Note the slots that allow the channel to move back and forth.

Just another view of the opposite side.

These little cutters work great for the job.

Now it's time to glue down the first rear Velcro strip.  Notice the bow in the frame that was not in the front?

This shows the wedges on the back side to insure that area is glued down tightly.

While the glue is drying, I decided to mount the cushion with the aluminum screw posts, but hit a slight snag.

The rivet on the right shows the height of the compressed cushion, so I bought the second size in the line.

But when fastened down, it allowed the cushion to move around, so I bought the smaller version, next to the rivet.

Just another view showing the short guy with an open bottom and the longer versions are solid.

I got mine at a local True Value hardware store.

The opposite side clamped down and another view of the bow.  That makes you work the material well so that it levels out evenly.

That is how the rear Velcro strips should look when dried and ready for the holes to be opened up to fit the channels.

This is to again illustrate the bow in the rear and how the Velcro should look when attached properly.

There are five slots on each rear frame section and it is the longer section of each side.

The channels are NOT bent, but come straight, so you will have to start to draw it down with the screws from either end.

Both rails are in place and this side is ready for the weather strips.  The Roadster Factory rails are made well and fit nicely.

The flat and star washers go on the inside of the channel, behind the nut.

I used silicone lube to help with the installation of the weather strips, so as not to damage them.

The edge under my thumb fits against the glass side and the two legs at the bottom slide into the tracks in the channel.

A better look at the weather strip.

This is how it slides in place, but that should be obvious from taking the old ones off.

I have mine adjusted all the way out, as close as I can get to the edge, until I mount it on the car and check the glass fit.

This is the front rail and notice that it is too long for the channel.  DO NOT cut the excess off. 

If you look back at the beginning of the disassembly, you will see that these are supposed to be like this.

One side, all ready to go.

Now for the hold down levers, which are simple enough.  The screws are Metric, 5.8M and are Pozi Drive.

If yours are sloppy and loose, perhaps this wave washer is missing or worn out.  In any event, they are needed.

These are mounted so that the bottom side of the frame rail can be locked down onto the top of the windshield frame.

Just a shot of the other side.

All done and ready to be fit to the car for the new top.

Today there was time for mounting on the car. I will address the channel to glass adjustment,
as well as the webbing for each side of the top and why I said not to throw the old webbing away.

This is the webbing, hanging loose and as seen from the rear.  The main reason not to throw the original webbing away,
is so that you can set the floating rear rail in the proper position and the new top will have the proper stretch and form.

This position is very important for alignment purposes and even a professional shop wants the old ones.

The drivers door glass is level across the top and aligns well, but I cannot move the weather strips any closer to the glass on either side.

I was asked the other day on the 6-Pack Forum if there was a tilt adjustment for the glass to bring them in closer.
I will be driving over to A&E Auto tomorrow to see what he has in has bag of tricks, because I can't see how to do it.

I really do like the width of the Velcro and how the strips fit the rails.

You can see the slight gaps at the top of the glass.  I'm thinking that I may have to wait and see how the new top affects the
frame alignment, as it is drawn tight to the frame, so these may get adjusted after the top is installed on Thursday.

Inside view of the rails and the adjustment slots as the frame is clamped down on the body.

Passenger side view of the same.

Passenger side door glass travels up too far and when lowered, has a less than ideal fit.  That will be taken care of tomorrow.

The curvature alignment looks good, but I don't like the gap between the glass and weather strip at the rear of the glass.

The cushion on the folding rail that I used the aluminum screw post to hold in place instead of a rivet.

These really don't do much to help protect the upholstery covering each wheel well when the top is down. 

They tend to leave permanent dents in the vinyl.

 Lastly,  the two top hold down levers in locked position, at the front top rail.

And while it's at the upholstery shop getting the new top installed, I have a new BobbyD rear trim panel kit going in.

That will finish the interior trim for the time that I own the car.


 

I was not happy with the frame on the car and how the weather strips failed to seat tightly against each door glass, as shown below.
The drivers door touches evenly, but barely and the passenger door is way off.
There was no further way to move the channels out to meet the glasses, or to tilt the glass to meet the channels.

Drivers door, not too bad, but will still leak air and water.
 



Passenger door is not acceptable at all.

 



Sooooooo...off comes the frame and back into the basement.

All of the slots in the frame need to be elongated another 1/8" to 3/16" ,
in order to get the channels out far enough to insure a very good seal to the glass.

Out comes the Dremel and away we go.
 


In order to get the channel out to the edge, you can see the area marked by white chalk that has to be ground out.
 


This is the first two holes, roughed in and before trimming. You can see the difference in the original slot length and these two.
 


A little closer shot to show the difference. Now I clearly understand why guys complain about window water and air leaks.

I decided to do this because this will be the last time that I ever plan to have the top off of the car
and it is much easier to do it now, than with the top on the frame.
 

 

I got the right Dremel carbide tungsten cutter and finished all of the slots. This makes the cutting go very quickly.


 


After trial fitting the channel after each cut, I ended up taking more out than I thought I would to get to the edge of the frame.


 

These are all of the elongated slots on one side.



But before leaving all of those bare edges to rust, I coated all of the cut slots with POR15.
I let it dry for a few hours and then I assembled the channels to the frame.
Still ended up with the black stuff on my fingers.........will not come off for a week of washing.

Using a Q-Tip saves making a big mess with a brush and you will need several, as the POR reacts to the cotton and makes it swell.


This is a better fit on the drivers side.


And a MUCH better fit on the passenger side.


And that's about the last of this view.

Russ Glynn of Glynn Upholstery in Seekonk, MA installed the top and the new BobbyD interior panels.
Just an FYI, this is a guy who has 35 years in the business and he said that Bobby's work was second to none. The fit was perfect
for all of the sections and the quality of the backing and padding was great. So remember that when you need new panels.

The top fits beautifully and I only saw one thing that concerned me when I picked it up and that was that there were
no felt strips added to the bows. Russ explained that the Robbins tops have a section of heavy material at each of the seams
that go over the bows in order to eliminate the strips on the bars. Sure enough, when I looked it was there and they fit is great.

I'll take a shot of those tomorrow in natural day light, as the night and florescent bulbs in the
garage make the interior and the top look weird color wise.





 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

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