Top install question

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Oldav8tor
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Top install question

Post by Oldav8tor » Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:04 pm

For those who have installed a vinyl top I have a question. Are there any tricks to smoothing out the corner puckers in the vinyl used to cover the front bow? I'm going to leave it in the sun tomorrow to heat it then try stretching it into shape but other than that I'm out of ideas.
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Re: Top install question

Post by Jeepbone1 » Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:27 pm

What year? I’m pretty sure the vinyl is only supposed to cover the middle wood sections and cut off right at the top iron. Here’s the only decent picture I have on hand. Looking at the rear bow on a 23 roadster. The vinyl stops at the bow.

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Re: Top install question

Post by Erik Johnson » Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:41 am

On a 1917 Ford, the leatherette covering on the front bow goes all the way to and slightly covers the metal socket.

The leatherette is supposed to be cut on the bias (so the weave and warp are at a 45 degree angle) so it can be wrapped around the bow without puckering when it rounds the corners.

Same goes for the cotton drill that is used to wrap the other three bows. "Drill" is fabric that is woven on the bias. The cotton drill should either be woven on the bias or cut on the bias so it doesn't pucker when wrapped around the corners.


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Re: Top install question

Post by JRSpada4 » Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:43 am

There will be some cutting involved. remove your windshield clamps if you’re workin on a one-man top. Start by centering your vinyl, left to right, just above the centerline of the bow. You’re going to be wrapping over the top of the bow. Staple or tack into place keeping your staples in the upper part of the bow. When you get to the curve, you’ll need to cut short slits in the vinyl to about 3/8” from the top edge of the bow. These reliefs will let the vinyl stretch more under the inside curve. Staple across the top of the curve enough to keep everything from shifting. Repeat on the other side. Now, go back to the center and bring the vinyl over and around the top of the bow to completely cover the center section. Place your staples in the top third of the bow. You want to save the bottom section for staples/tacks for the pads and top material. When you get to the curves again, trim the width so that the vinyl barely overlaps what you’ve already put in place and cut more relief slits, making sure to not get near the bottom edge. Pull and stretch the vinyl together and down the bow until it’s tight and flat on the inside curve. Staple or tack into place, turning about a 1/2” of the ends under to create a finished edge.

If you’re a visual learner, Classtique has installation videos. Their example is of a 23-25 touring, but the process is the same for a roadster.


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Re: Top install question

Post by Original Smith » Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:48 am

Bow drill is the term for the covering for the rear bows. As mentioned above the top material you used for the top is also used for the front bow, and is indeed wrapped on the bias. I have found using a heat gun helps, and contact cement. I fold each end in about 3/8". On later cars, don't forget to keep track of where the common sense fasteners will go!

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Re: Top install question

Post by Oldav8tor » Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:59 am

It's a 17 Touring, two man top. Instructions say to wrap the front bow in vinyl. The vinyl is cut on the bias. It's cooking in the sun as I type and I'll be going out shortly to work on it.
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Re: Top install question

Post by NealW » Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:52 pm

For those who have installed a vinyl top I have a question. Are there any tricks to smoothing out the corner puckers in the vinyl used to cover the front bow?
I put a Classtique top on our 15 runabout restoration project last October when the vinyl wasn't nearly as compliant as it is in warmer weather. I still had some wrinkles, but more uniform looking. I'll take a picture after work and post later. My recollection is that I stapled the edge along the outer curve of the top irons and then stretched and wrapped from the middle of the radius.


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Re: Top install question

Post by Erik Johnson » Tue Jul 14, 2020 1:34 pm

I maintain that the original leatherette on the first bow is not the same thickness as the leatherette top material. It is thinner than the top material and comparable to the thin leatherette currently available that is used to cover the door panels.

I have two sets of bows with the original leatherette on the front bows - one set is on my un-restored 1917 roadster. My father has the original top material from 1917 touring and also a roll of "Turf" grain top material he recently purchased from Classtique.

The original leatherette front bow wrapping is thinner than the "Turf" top material.


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Re: Top install question

Post by NealW » Tue Jul 14, 2020 6:31 pm

I'll take a picture after work and post later.
Tim,

Here's what my wrapped top bows look like. I think one of the classtique videos shows wrapping the bows that may be helpful for you too.

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Re: Top install question

Post by CudaMan » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:16 pm

I wonder if there is a period picture that shows what that area looked like on the cars when they were new?
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Re: Top install question

Post by DanTreace » Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:10 pm

Likely hard to find period photo of that detail up inside a raised top.


On my '23 the front busted bow had a metal repair, and remains of the front bow wrapping, it was stiff, but was tight around the curve. With hardly any wrinkles. That old material Ford used was thinner that our modern vinyl.

IMG_1243 (800x600).jpg
I wrapped the new wood bow replacement with vinyl, takes time to pull and stretch, and got little fold wrinkle. But this was the barn look car so didn't really work on it.


For my '25 touring the kit came with nice angle cut pieces of bias cut vinyl, and that wrapped very nicely without large wrinkles.

25 touring top4.jpg
25 touring top4.jpg (52.51 KiB) Viewed 2507 times
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Re: Top install question

Post by Oldav8tor » Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:09 am

Dan, did the wrap on your front bow come in more than one piece? It looks like a seam in the photo.
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Re: Top install question

Post by Erik Johnson » Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:13 am

From the factory, on a two-man top, the leatherette on the front bow is a single piece.

I'll take some photos and post when I'm back home and have some time.

I believe your problem is the material used is too heavy/thick.

Classtique supplies one long and two shorts (one for each curve) because, I believe, Mike is not able to cut leatherette on the bias from his rolls of top material long enough to provide a single piece. I don't know if the long piece he supplies is cut on the bias. The short pieces for the curves should be cut on the bias. Frankly, in my opinion two long pieces cut on the bias would be preferable so there is only one "joint" where two pieces meet instead of having three pieces and two "joints."


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Re: Top install question

Post by Original Smith » Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:43 am

The turf grain is available in a thinner grade. But why would you want to buy a whole roll of that just to get what you need for your front bow? I have done two tops from originals, and they were both the same thickness as the top material. If done properly on the bias as indicated in this post, the final result will be correct. I can post photos of the cars I have done, but why bother? Dan Treace posted a very good example.

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Re: Top install question

Post by jsaylor » Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:07 pm

I am going thru the same issues with my 21 touring. I originally did the top on this car some 50 years ago with a kit from Carters. It did not have any covering on the curved sections of any of the bows. I am rebuilding the top with a Classtique kit. The front vinyl wrap came as one piece. The video shows separate pieces for wrapping the curved sections. Also in the video she is only covering the wood section of the curve. So I cut mine into three sections and did the center section first. I took a break after a couple of tries on the curved section. That vinyl just doesn't want to conform smoothly. Maybe its not cut on a bias. Its in the high 90's here, great for the vinyl but not so great on me! The rest of the bows are going on just fine with the drill fabric. No problem on the curves. The spray adhesive really helps hold things together while you are positing the fabric. I am thinking of using some vinyl I have from another project and cutting it on a bias and trying with it on the front bow.


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Re: Top install question

Post by Erik Johnson » Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:29 pm

Larry:

You don't have to buy a whole roll of Turf top material to obtain leatherette cut on the bias in order to cover the front bow in one single piece.

When we were at Classtique's shop, we were told that is not possible to get a long enough piece cut on the bias because the roll of Turf grain top material is not wide enough and that's why they sell the leatherette for the front bow in three pieces.

However, Euclidean geometry proves this is wrong.

A roll of Turf material is 60 inches wide.

Using the Pythagorean theorem, a 60" by 60" right angle triangle has an 84.85" hypotenuse.

My father and I are in the process of replacing the top on his 1917 touring.

To cover the front bow of the '17 touring, including tucking under the material 1/4" at each end and having an overlap of .5" along the length of the bow (per the original), requires a 69.5" x 5.25" piece of leatherette.

Therefore, I could simply purchase 60" length of Turf from the roll (which would be a 60" x 60" piece) and then cut it at the bias to yield an 84" x 5.25" piece. However, I would be left with two large triangles of waste. So, it may be considered spendy.

However, if Classtique would simply cut multiple, parallel 5.25" wide strips on the bias on a dedicated roll of Turf material, there would be only two 60" x 60" triangles of waste - one 60" x 60" right triangle at the beginning of the roll and one 60" x 60" right triangle at the end of the roll. Of course, being in the top business, Classtique could use this waste would probably not actually go to waste but used in something else, etc.


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Re: Top install question

Post by Original Smith » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:55 am

I didn't put the post on the thinner top material! I wrap the front bow on the bias with regular turf grain top material as I mentioned out of one piece.


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Re: Top install question

Post by Original Smith » Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:17 pm

The photo that Dan Treace posted is correct. There are two posted above that are horrible, and I would be ashamed to own a T like them. Those guys need to read up on what cutting the material on the bias really is! It is not an impossible job. However it takes some effort, and as I mentioned previously a heat gun and some contact cement are a help. Tacks work too, but a staple gun is easier than dropped tacks!

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Re: Top install question

Post by Oldav8tor » Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:58 pm

Larry,
I think you are going a little hard on some of the posters. We're all trying to do the best that we can. The vinyl that came with my kit is cut on the bias and I've tried everything I can think of and a few things others recommended with no luck. It looks better now than the first photo I submitted but not perfect by a long shot. I think most vinyl available today is thicker than was used back in the day and doesn't give as much. I've reviewed the available videos on the subject and they really don't offer much help.

I've sent Mike at Classtique and email and will see what he has to say.
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Re: Top install question

Post by Allan » Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:08 am

Eric, I like your maths. Your explanation is spot on, except for one detail. The 60" piece needs to be somewhat longer, to allow for the width of the piece you wish to cut on the bias. When I cut bow covering material for my roadster, I needed 3 x 5" wide strips, making for a total of 15". But it needs to be more than that because the hypotenuse on the end of a 5" strip is more than 5". I know this is detail that seems trivial, until you come to need the third strip and there is not enough left to cut it. You are correct also about the large triangles left. At least, with bow wrap, the expense is less.

Allan from down under.

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Re: Top install question

Post by Mark Nunn » Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:57 am

Allan, must the angle be 45 degrees exactly? Eric's method works if the angle is increased by a few degrees.


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Re: Top install question

Post by nicklm » Sat Jul 18, 2020 4:19 pm

In the years past I covered a compound curved dash on a '55 Thunderbird with a very far aftermarket home made vinyl cover. It looked somewhat like the top covering material in this post. To make the vinyl conform to the metal, the dash and the vinyl were covered with "Ply-o-bond" glue. It partially softened the vinyl and allowed it to stretch considerably and conform to the metal curves. Lasted some time and looked great with no wrinkles. Should work well for this application.

Take a small amount of vinyl and some similar glue and try before using the actual bow, I would suggest.


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Re: Top install question

Post by Erik Johnson » Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:20 pm

I understand that the hypotenuse measurement that I provided is only the length of the line from corner to corner of a 60" x 60" square. As you indicated in you post, any parallel lines to the or left of that line are shorter.

However, nobody installing a Model T top should have to purchase a 60" x 60" square of Turf or Colonial top material for the purpose of covering the first bowl as the top kit vendor should be provide a piece already cut on the bias and it should only take one piece to cover the first bow. Because the top kit vendor buys the material by the roll, he can have a dedicated a roll of top material for cutting on the bias. That way, the vendor only has two waste pieces - one at the beginning a the roll, and one at the end of the roll.

Regarding the cotton bow drill:

Drill is fabric that is woven on the bias. Drill is not specific to convertible top bows - it is used for a number of applications including clothing. From a bolt or roll of drill, you can cut the drill to the required length to cover a bow in one piece because it can be cut parallel to the two edges of the roll or bolt of fabric.

However, if drill fabric is not available, the alternative is to cut regular weave cotton fabric on the bias. In order to be able to have a strip of fabric cut on the bias that is long enough to cover the bow in one piece, the roll or bolt of regular weave fabric needs to be wide enough in order for the hypotenuse to be equal or greater than the length of fabric needed.

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Re: Top install question

Post by CudaMan » Sat Jul 18, 2020 7:35 pm

Dan Treace, thank you for posting that picture showing how smooth the job can come out when the wrap material is cut on the bias. :)
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Re: Top install question

Post by Allan » Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:06 pm

Eric, to get a bow covering close to the colour of the canvas I used for the top, I had to resort to the local fabric shop for choice, and theirs was the usual weave, rather than woven on the bias. Had it been bias woven, the strips would not have been long enough to cover the bows on my roadster, so I just had to wear the waste.
How ' stretchy' modern vinyl materials are depends somewhat on the backing fabric. There are some much more workable which have a knitted backing rather than woven backing.

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Re: Top install question

Post by Erik Johnson » Sat Jul 18, 2020 9:20 pm

Allan:

If the fabric is drill (actually woven on the bias), you can cut strip as long as the the bolt or roll of fabric is. The width of the bolt or roll is irrelevant (the width of a typical bolt of fabric is 45 inches wide or 60 inches wide).

For example, if the roll of drill is 100 yards long, you can cut a 100 yard strip from that roll.

In other words, you cut the strip parallel to the edges of the roll or bolt of drill, not 90 degrees to the edges.

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Re: Top install question

Post by Oldav8tor » Mon Jul 27, 2020 12:18 pm

Ok, I'm back again. I ordered some material from Classtique that matches the rest of my kit. The front bow wrap comes in three pieces with the end pieces for the curve cut on the bias. Now I am faced with how to proceed with attaching it. I don't want to ruin it and have to buy replacements and lose time getting my top installed.

I've attached a picture of what Mike sent me. I'm thinking I might glue the center to the underside of the bow and try using a heat gun and such to stretch it around the top where I'd tack it. I believe the video said they cut slits in the material to help it conform. I assume we are less worried about the appearance of the material on the top of the bow compared to what is visible to the car's occupants.

For those of you who have been successful in getting a tight wrap on the corners, what did you do?
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Re: Top install question

Post by CudaMan » Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:45 pm

Why don't you try using some clamps and push pins to temporarily hold it in place while you practice wrapping it and smoothing the wrinkles out?
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Re: Top install question

Post by MikeSommers » Mon Jul 27, 2020 3:38 pm

Preventing wrinkles is deceptively simple. Spray scotch adhesive to the inside curve of the bows and then apply the fabric. Once it has dried, you can stretch and wrap the fabric up over the outside edge, stapling as you go. Only wrap the fabric almost halfway across the outside edge, so when you wrap the other side, it is still secure, but only one layer in thickness. The spray glue prevents wrinkles from form on the inside edge, and also prevents wrinkles, since you are wrapping it onto a larger radius.


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Re: Top install question

Post by Original Smith » Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:14 am

I don't know why Mike would be supplying the material for the front bow in three pieces, when if done correctly, on the bias, it can be done with one piece! I have done several with no problems. It isn't easy, but is definitely doable. I have also used contact cement and a heat gun to help me with the task. Mine come out looking just like the photo that Dan Treace posted above.

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Re: Top install question

Post by Oldav8tor » Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:23 pm

Thanks to all for your comments....they helped.
As I said, I purchased material from Classtique to match my top. It came in three pieces with the end pieces cut on the bias. I agree that you could likely do it in one piece if it was all cut on the bias.

What I did was glue the material to the inside of the curve and by using heat, clamps and strong fingers, stretch it around the bow. I did put a little slit on each side near the center which I think helped a bit. I did not make numerous slits as shown in Classtique's video - they were not necessary. In truth, the spray glue made it easy - I also used it to glue each side of the top down as well. I put in a few tacks for safety and am ready for the next step.
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