Hardtop Restoration
March 19, 2017

 

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In early 2009, I found a factory hardtop that hade been stored in a dry attic for over 25 years.

It's sat in my garage on a stand in the corner for nearly a year, waiting for it's renovation to begin.

Naturally, I called Eddie at J.T. Leddy Upholstery and Allan and the AE Auto Body crew in Pawtucket, RI to once again, make it look new.

**** 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 either myself, J.T. Leddy or A&E Auto Body, Inc.****

This is what I purchased from an ad on eBay.  I got very lucky, as it was very dusty, but absolutely no rust anywhere.

The rear glass is no longer available and the side glasses must be custom cut, so try to get these intact.

I can see a few dings, but it doesn't look too bad.

First step, get it washed and check it out for missing parts.

This was big.  Every part was there.  From glass, to chrome to weatherstrips and mounts.

Now the little dings start to show.  Well, it has to be painted anyhow, so those will be fixed later.

It's first step out into the sun in over a year.  It's been sitting in the corner of my garage all covered up
on the stand designed for it by a good 6-Pack friend.  The headliner was damaged when I got it, but no big deal.

I wanted these pictures for reference as well as all of the weatherstrips will be removed for painting.

That post on the top left is what mounts the roof to the "B" pillar behind the passenger seat. 
There is one on each side and someone makes a nice polished stainless kit for that which protects the upholstery.

I don't know if these are the original bolts, but more on the damage they caused later.

The ever important back glass.  This one is in perfect condition, but has been sitting through a
major house renovation project where the garage was used as a sawmill, so it's a bit dusty.

Try to make sure that any top you look at has these intact.  I don't know if they're replaceable any longer.

There are three rods that go across the top and are hidden under the headliner.  They keep it shaped.

Shawn Loeske, who designed this carrier gave me permission to post his design for the hardtop rack that you've seen in the preceding pictures. 
I have added a link to a pdf file for those who want to download it for future reference to use building one for yourself.

Instructions to Build Carrier

Now we're at A&E and the weatherstrips and headliner have been removed and everything is being checked for needed work.

This top was only ever used for three seasons according to the original owner and it shows.

These are two areas that can be major rust spots and you can see that the paint was never applied over every bit of primer.

It looks OK from here, but if you rub you hand over the surfaces as Allan and Jorge did, there are small dents.

Another crucial area is the back window sealing surface.  I have seen a few that needed major work in there.

These glass channels are in great shape as well.

These guys did cause some damage by being screwed down against the top sheet metal and then used as legs to support it.

Jorge has begun to find all of the dings and dents and those are being corrected with a dolly first.

The two front dents were from the bolts shown before.  These were hard to see, but once painted
and cleared, it would be too late to do anything about them and then they would really stand out proudly.

This is Jorge from A&E Auto Body.  Superb craftsman and painter extraordinaire. 
This paint will be removed and epoxy primer will sit on it for a week before any color is applied.

Epoxy primer and some body glaze to smooth out the repaired areas.

The guys at A&E got all of those little dings that sheet metal inherits after sitting in a storage area for 25 years.

The good thing is that it was a dry storage area, so no problems here.

These all cleaned up nicely and simply needed scuffed for primer preparation.

All of the glue is gone and it's ready for primer.

The weatherstrip that goes on here was a sticky pain to remove, but it's all gone now.

A few more hours of prep and it will be ready for paint.

The sealer was applied on top last Friday and had a good cure in the booth over the weekend.

The deck lid will be getting drilled for the well nuts after the sanding is completed.

Today this will be flipped over and the rear section will be done just like this.

The inner area around the deck will be prepped and painted and ready for the headliner, but not until later this week.

The sealer has sat for a week and now the final sanding before the painting begins.

Jorge, the ever fussy perfectionist, will make sure all is well before color goes on.

Today the bottom side got two coats of color.  Tomorrow afternoon the top gets it's color, then the sanding begins again.

I wanted to make sure that the hidden areas were done better than at the factory and they were.

The new weatherstrips should fit perfectly back in these grooves.

All of those areas that could have a problem in the future never will now.

Jorge didn't miss anything and this will all be sanded smooth as silk before the clear coat goes on.

Before long the insulation will go in and then the headliner.

Once again, these guys never cease to amaze me with their painting skills.

These pictures are several coats of color and two of clear.  The top coat is not sanded or buffed yet.

After the sanding and buffing, Allan will install the insulation and this will got to J.T. Leddy for a new headliner.

This are just what I wanted done with what I brought in.

I just got the new carpet to line the wooden rack on the left and a new set of bigger casters for the base.

Allan sanded and buffed this after it sat and hardened for a few days.  It is flawless as usual.

All ready for the stand until the upholsterer is ready and the roof insulation comes in.

Home for a while.  Nice and stable and easy to steer around.

More to come in a week or so..........nice job Allan!

Today was insulation day.  It's all ready for the headliner now.

The location of the three rods is dependant on the depth of each rod.

The shortest in height goes to the front and the higher two each progressively move to the rear.

The front locks in on these tabs.

This holds everything nice and tight and keeps the headliner from ever sagging.

It's been no rush over the summer, so the headliner has now been installed by Eddie of J.T. Leddy Upholstery in Pawtucket.

Eddie does great work as evidenced by the Miata seat covers that he made for me on another page.

The Roadster factory kit does a nice job for this, including the inside hard board sections below the rear glass.

These vent covers are impossible to find and just needed a cleaning and painting to get them back into shape.

The weather stripping will fit over all of the headliner, but Eddie has it all glued in very snugly.

The next step will be the repair of two scratches that my original carrier created after the top settled in place and then the
new wear strips and glass will be installed, as well as all of the new moldings.  The fitting to the car will be in the fall when it gets cold.

OK, back to A&E this sunny Friday before the Fourth of July and Allan is working away on the two marks that I created with the side panel brace.

The two marks on either side are now repainted and awaiting the clear coat that will go on next week.

While the paint is curing on those two spots, Allan is getting the rear glass ready to go in.  The old rope trick again....

I was lucky to find a top with perfect glass in it.  These even have the original "Triplex" etching in them.

This is a "flipped" or "mirror" image of the above.  The glass part numbers are all the same, so
when you install the glasses, one will have the etching on the inside and one will be reversed and on the outside.

That looks great on this side, so the other side will follow.  And yes, the reverse effect will be on the drivers side.

This is the rear glass, that is no longer available.  At least not that I, or anyone on the forums knows about.

I located all of the new weatherstrips and moldings with attaching hardware at The Roadster Factory.

There is a very slight, outward bow that can be seen in this picture, which is what makes this so hard to get.

Back in the shop before closing and the glass is all in.

Now it's starting to look like something.

These are the rivets that hold the rear and side moldings in place.  They clamp over the round ring to stay in place.

One more to go in there to complete the rear riveting.

One of the rivets and the two "dog leg" moldings that go around the corners.  These are, or were available at TRF.

Both door window weatherstrips are waiting to be installed.

These are the two inner trim panels that go along each rear side window.

The TRF Headliner Kit includes these as well as extra trim to cover them.

Time to break for the 4th of July.

Back at A&E and Allan is working on the moldings.  To say that they are a snap on fit is a bit of a stretch.

Allan had to grind the inside corner of the dog leg that fits under the long center molding  in order to make these fit.

As you can see from this view, the guy cutting these things doesn't know what a 90 degree angle is.

The front of the moldings have a nice bull nose, which the originals don't, but the rear ends are cut very poorly.

This side won't be a whole lot better, but it's not the end of world.

From a distance, all is well and actually, it's not as bad as I make it out to be.

Today Allan finished the top and it came better than I expected.

The seal or weatherstrip that goes here will not be installed until it's time to mount the top.

Eddie from J.T. Leddy did a great job on the headliner and Allan did a great job on the rest of it.

Allan fit all of the new weatherstrips and seals so that everything matches and fits perfectly.

These will each get the final trim after the hardtop is installed in the fall, after the glasses are fit and the top is bolted down.

What can't be seen is the insulation shown in earlier pictures that should make this a nice warm and quiet ride in the fall.

These seams are held up by the three rods that go across the top shown earlier.  If you buy a top, make sure they are included as they are NLA.

The trimmed down stand is now all set to go with the larger wheels and relocated side support panels.

The rear seal is glued in place and waiting bolt down.

These are a little tricky to get in the track without butchering them up.  Then you have to work it all along the back.

This is the other end of the seal.  It will also be trimmed at final installation.

Allan did a nice job fitting the door glass seals to the top.

These ends will also get a final trim at install and they may not need it after sitting for a few months.

I'm glad I went with the off white, rather than the black.  I think that it will brighten the interior with the top on.

The guys on 6-Pack say these vents are the same a s the GT6, in case you're trying to find them somewhere.

I got my final warning from Allan after he delivered it to my house today.  DO NOT attempt to install this alone.

He's going to do it and fit the windshield and door glasses to match it.  That's just fine with me.

Another fine job completed by Allan and his guys at:

A&E Auto Body

50 Alden Street

Pawtucket, RI  02861

401-722-2204

 

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This site was last updated 03/19/17