Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

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Al Meadows
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Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Al Meadows » Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:20 pm

In our first episode, you'll recall I asked club members as to why my rear touring top brackets barely protruded from the armrests and that the top bows wouldn't fold down and instead rested on the armrest and upholstery. I thank all for their input. Wayne Sheldon noticed that my top bow saddle supports were of different size, one being an inch longer than the other. I will correct that. I think the pictures and info from John Sundstrom nailed it my incorrect installation. I removed both brackets, heated and tweaked them, blasted and repainted and then moved the brackets right up against the inside of the body panel and tack strip, reconfigured the wood slightly and now have 1 1/4" of the unthreaded portion of rod sticking out from the armrest which now allows the top bows to clear the upholstery and body when lowered. Now Part 2. Keep in mind that this car has never had a top and I have no experience with irons and bows.

With the bows laying on the ground, the distance between points of attachment to the car are about 6-7" greater than the 52" between both the front and rear brackets, with the exception of the front (over the windshield) bow which is 54 1/2", pretty close to 52". With my wife holding one side of the rear set of bows and with the opposite side attached, you can see how much I need to push in to get top prop nut on, about 7". Is this normal? The view with the bows at the back of the car show them "bowed" and I guess that would be OK. Sorry, it seems I can't post more than 4 photos but bows are slightly bent in middle.

With the bows on the ground the passenger side on the three top bows appears closer to 90 degrees, maybe 100°where the drivers side is like 115°, a more open angle. Maybe that one side should be closed up a little? Maybe not. For the front, bow #2 is about the same and bow #1 seems just right, to me anyway. I just don't have anything to compare with. This top set has been moved from house to house for 45 years. Maybe they got bent. Maybe they were always bent. Maybe they're not bent. Also they don't quite nest perfectly when folded down. Close but not perfect. I can push, pull and bend to better align but I just want to make sure I'm moving in the right direction. I know this is not uncommon.

Suggestions please and thank you all for getting me this far. I'm close now. Top installation about a month away.

Al
Attachments
Here's how they lay in place
Here's how they lay in place
Does this seem normal?
Does this seem normal?
This side is closer to 90°
This side is closer to 90°
This one seems bent out more
This one seems bent out more


John kuehn
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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by John kuehn » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:37 pm

Good to see your progress with the top bow brackets. Looks like a good job. Since I have a 21 Touring and contemplating to finally put a top on it I have to ask is there a standard width for the top bows? Or is each car a little different. It seems like the 2 man top cars like we have should be pretty close to the same in the 17-22 era. That’s why I am eating your top job with interest.
Without knowing a lot about top installation are the lengths of the top bow wood pieces a standard length?
Without knowing any better it would seem to me that the wood in the bows is a little to long.
The wood is sold for paticular cars but do you still have to cut to fit? Just wondering.


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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by John kuehn » Thu Aug 08, 2019 9:40 pm

The word is watching not eating in my reply! Crazy typo I guess. Anyway————


Topic author
Al Meadows
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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Al Meadows » Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:21 am

John,

Thanks. It took some time to rework the position of the top brackets but they look correct now. The 4 piece wood kit was purchased from a guy in Auburn, CA who regularly advertises in the Vintage Ford. Since I had wood in my sockets whether broken, warped or intact, I was able to match up each piece. Although there were a couple of different sizes, each piece matched up perfectly. He did an excellent job. I numbered the originals, the sockets and the new pieces to avoid any confusion before disassembly and I'm confident there is no problem there. I have one left to change out. It's just that the 90° bends of the metal sockets are not that but more obtuse, some even more than others. Sure, I can just push it in 6-7" and make it fit but is that the norm? If it is, so be it. Should I try to bend them a little tighter so that maybe there's only 3-4" of bow to push in and connect? Don't know. But if something isn't right, now is the opportunity to address it, not after the top is on and someone in the know comments, "Hey. What's the matter with your top. That ain't right! You need to fix that."

Just saying. Al
Attachments
IMG_3706.jpg


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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Allan » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:28 am

Al, the only input I have comes from the master craftsman who does my tops. The foundations have to be correct before any work commences on fitting the fabric. It took me two weeks of tinkering to get the bows and irons to work properly on my 25 roadster. I made a pair of linkages on the irons three times before they would allow the bows to fold correctly. I would keep working until there is no tension in your set-up before starting on the top cover.

Allan from down under.

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Mark Gregush
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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Mark Gregush » Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:24 am

Here is what looks like a good primer on installing a top. If you scroll down, there is a diagram with dimensions for the 2 man top that might help.
https://modeltfordfix.com/installing-a- ... r-model-t/
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :shock:

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Topic author
Al Meadows
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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Al Meadows » Fri Aug 09, 2019 2:21 pm

Thanks Mark,

Great info here, especially on prepping the top bows. I'm setting that aside for reference. I saw a couple of pictures in there of top bows in a relaxed condition and they both seem, to me at least, to be closed a bit more than mine. In other words, those bows are much closer to a true 90° than mine and leading me to think I may have to carefully bend them in towards the center a little.

Many T owners never raise or lower their tops or mess with them in any way and I may be in that group once my top is complete. My question is for those of you that have pulled off the prop nut off from one side to do something to your car, does the rear double bow assembly spring out 6-7" like mine, maybe 3" or is there absolutely no tension whatsoever on the bow and maybe you actually have to pull it off the body bracket? Once I determine that, I can make final adjustments prior to painting. If I was at a T event, I'd ask someone to "Pop their Prop" just to check it out. Mmmm. Somehow that just doesn't sound right. [image] :D [/image]

Al


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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Allan » Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:53 pm

Al, for a while I gave up on you, but you really need to get the tension out of the system. When you push on the assembly to get 6" of travel to the mounting iron, two things happen.

The bows will bend. With luck, each side will bend the same amount and the assembly will sit symetrically in relation to each side, but if it doesn't your top will end up lop sided.
Secondly, you will end up with a crown in the centre of each bow. A slight crown is desirable,especially in the rear bow, but I suspect 6" of pushing at the sides will make quite a crown.

Allan from down under.


Topic author
Al Meadows
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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Al Meadows » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:40 am

Allan,

Why would you give up? Having never had a top on this car, I have no reference other than this forum or if some Model T happens by my house. Without waiting for any further advice, I took it upon myself to just do what I thought was right. I grabbed the first bow, the one over the windshield with about 5" of extra spring on the sides and placed in in my vise, clamping it at the top right at the end of the metal part, just where the two rivets are that fasten the straight bow to the iron. With some trepidation, I pulled it back, carefully and slowly and without exerting great force, repeating about 6 times using a gentle rocking motion in an attempt to close the 90° bend a little. Then I did the other side. Now I placed it on the car and found just 1" needed to move bow in place. No effort required. I think that's perfect.

I grabbed that iron about in the middle when bending since I want to increase the bend at the 90, not distort the iron itself in any way. It seemed to work perfectly. I am concerned about cracking the wood piece inside the 90° portion but so far OK. The other three will require a bit more persuasion. I did consider soaking each 90°bend in a container of water for a few hours hoping that might make the wood piece less suseptible to breaking. I'll try it. I will mark the center of each piece of top bow wood and measure down to point of fastening just to be certain that bows are bent correctly and not askew. I agree with you that if I don't get this worked out now, I'll regret it later with few avenues left for correction other than completely starting over. You can see in my latest picture that there's not too much "crown" in the top wood when fastened to the car with the body brackets now spread apart farther apart. I figured an inch of crown would be about right. After all, they are called "bows".

Anyway, that's my plan moving forward unless someone offers additional guidance. Always receptive to any thoughts from fellow Model T'ers.

Al


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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Wayne Sheldon » Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:35 am

Let me reiterate a comment above by Allan B. You should be able to completely remove the top "prop" nuts and have the top sit happily in place without the nuts in place. Now, I would NOT recommend that you DRIVE it like that! But you get the point.
I am not a top expert by any stretch, however it looks to me that the bows and sockets in combination do not curve quite enough around. The socket uprights should be parallel or even slightly (VERY slightly) narrower than at the top near the bends. Whether that lack of sufficient curve is in the metal sockets, or the wooden bows? I am not sure. But I think you are on the right track.

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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Mark Gregush » Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:03 am

Could be the bends in the metal parts are wrong or the wood parts are too long. Did you check the center to outside dimensions shown in the photo(looks like to inside of bow)? If those are wrong, the top kit will not fit correctly. While the link I posted shows oval type bows, the rectangular type would be the same.
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Top-diagram-Touring-15-to-22-1.jpg
I know the voices aren't real but damn they have some good ideas! :shock:

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Topic author
Al Meadows
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Re: Something's Not Right with my Top - Part 2

Post by Al Meadows » Sun Aug 11, 2019 2:23 pm

At last! At last! Be patient and the answer will eventually come to you.

"Let me reiterate a comment above by Allan B. You should be able to completely remove the top "prop" nuts and have the top sit happily in place without the nuts in place. Now, I would NOT recommend that you DRIVE it like that! But you get the point.
I am not a top expert by any stretch, however it looks to me that the bows and sockets in combination do not curve quite enough around. The socket uprights should be parallel or even slightly (VERY slightly) narrower than at the top near the bends. Whether that lack of sufficient curve is in the metal sockets, or the wooden bows? I am not sure. But I think you are on the right track."


Oh, I get the point now, Wayne. I thought so but I was looking for reassurance from our resident top experts that my top irons were slightly obtuse and needed some correction. I'm thinking that over the 40+ years of sitting around like they were, they just sort of relaxed on their own. Knowing now what the end result should be, I can proceed with more confidence as to the outcome. Maybe my post was too confusing with all the dimensions, history and pictures but I was just trying to "paint a picture" of my issue. It's clear now. These last three posts sum it up perfectly. No tension. Iron at 90° or just under. Mark, the wood length is correct and I have a copy of that drawing with dimensions. The drawing never referred to bow measurements or how much tension was on the bows at the body connection. I know now. None.

Thanks again. This top will finish my project that started in 1966 when I was 17.

Al

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