Convertible Top Hardware Questions

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FordPrefect
Posts: 212
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:16 pm
Your car is a: 1977 Fiat Spider 124

Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby FordPrefect » Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:00 pm

Hey all, my fall break project is replacing my ragged old vinyl top with a nice new canvas job for my '77 daily driver. I have a few questions.

1. I don't think my current top is riveted to the frame, I guess the PO didn't bother. How important are these rivets? I think right now they just hold on the old rotted top bow seal (aluminum rivets ok?)
2. Some vendors list some plastic covers for the interior top frame. I don't see a hint of plastic on my frame. Are these plastic covers cosmetic, and thus not important, or will they help prevent wear on the new top?
3. Rust. There isn't a ton of it, but it's seeping out of most of the screws on the top frame. It's gonna be a real job pulling each and cleaning the rust off... but there's no better time. Best way to clean them? Skip it?
4. Rear quarter windows.. the weather stripping is tearing off, is there a good replacement, should I try to glue it back on?
5. My current top is sorta stitched around the bows, but I'm planning on gluing. Should I glue to the bows, or just glue the fabric to itself in a sort of loop? Is that harder to do?

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blazingspider
Posts: 103
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:44 am
Your car is a: 1977 fiat spider
Location: Greenacres, FL

Re: Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby blazingspider » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:25 am

Depending on where you are located you may want to re-think tackling this project in the fall. Summer days when it's hot and sunny are better and ideal for laying the top out so it can "relax" prior to installation. It makes stretching and fitting the top well a lot easier than working with one that isn't.

1. I don't think my current top is riveted to the frame, I guess the PO didn't bother. How important are these rivets? I think right now they just hold on the old rotted top bow seal (aluminum rivets ok?)
The only rivets used for the top are the ones that keep the filled flap of the top in place where it meets the window when rolled up. The front rivet does goes through the end of the top bow seal weatherstripping too and the back one goes through the vertical weatherstripping on the back quarter windows. The rest of the top bow seal is held on by screws. Some also glue it in place as well. Aluminum rivets would be OK. It's not necessary to rivet the flap but it does help keep everything aligned and in place.

2. Some vendors list some plastic covers for the interior top frame. I don't see a hint of plastic on my frame. Are these plastic covers cosmetic, and thus not important, or will they help prevent wear on the new top?
There are just cosmetic and make for a real clean look if you have them.

3. Rust. There isn't a ton of it, but it's seeping out of most of the screws on the top frame. It's gonna be a real job pulling each and cleaning the rust off... but there's no better time. Best way to clean them? Skip it?
Not sure which screws you are talking about if it's the ones that hold the frame pieces together they are difficult to remove and re-use . You are probably going to find a lot more rust then you see now. In my opinion re-habbing the frame is part of a good top install. You may even find out that the top bow is toast and you may have to get a replacement.

4. Rear quarter windows.. the weather stripping is tearing off, is there a good replacement, should I try to glue it back on?
The vertical weatherstripping is held on by rivets. Not sure if they are available new.

5. My current top is sorta stitched around the bows, but I'm planning on gluing. Should I glue to the bows, or just glue the fabric to itself in a sort of loop? Is that harder to do?
You're supposed to glue the bow flaps to themselves so they form a in a loop around the bows. This method allows the bow to rotate inside the loop when putting the top up and down and yes it is harder to do than gluing directly to the bows.

Also, start your install from the back and cinch down the top there first; lay it out and get it centered before you glue and get the front seam of the top to lay down on the windshield frame rather than sticking up above it.

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blazingspider
Posts: 103
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:44 am
Your car is a: 1977 fiat spider
Location: Greenacres, FL

Re: Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby blazingspider » Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:27 am

One other note. Don't forget to install the side cables.

FordPrefect
Posts: 212
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:16 pm
Your car is a: 1977 Fiat Spider 124

Re: Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby FordPrefect » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:10 am

Thanks guys!

For some reason my top only came with one cable, so I guess I'll make another run to the hardware store...

I've been reading all I can about installing tops on this forum, and there seems to be a handy diagram regarding routing those side cables, but photobucket removed them, or the right to view them. I think whoever put the old top on had the cables going down through some brackets on the rear quarter windows, and then the side clamps.

I had to strip and repaint the rear hold down bar/bracket thingie, but the rest of the frame looks decent enough. I need the top back on over the weekend so I can drive it, so stripping and painting the rest of the frame is out for now, but I've put some white lithium in all the joints.

How tight should the joints be? It seems like the top hangs up on a bolt on the passenger side, so it doesn't want to go all the way down unless I tug it sideways a bit. Can I adjust that somewhere?

This forum is a real life-saver, you guys are the best.

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blazingspider
Posts: 103
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:44 am
Your car is a: 1977 fiat spider
Location: Greenacres, FL

Re: Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby blazingspider » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:01 am

I think whoever put the old top on had the cables going down through some brackets on the rear quarter windows, and then the side clamps.
There's a clip at the top of each quarter window that you are supposed to run the side cables through. Most tops need to be cut where you want the side cable to come out of the pocket it rides in to engage the clip. You'll get varying opinions about whether it's necessary or not. The theory is that it helps to keep the top snugged down and in place over the quarter windows.

How tight should the joints be? It seems like the top hangs up on a bolt on the passenger side, so it doesn't want to go all the way down unless I tug it sideways a bit. Can I adjust that somewhere?
There's a bit of slop in all of those joints and they aren't adjustable. The top frame can be adjusted where it is bolted to the body. You can also adjust the front top bow and the latches. A lot of the time the old top will create issues with how the frame moves if it wasn't installed properly. Once you get the old top off you may find out that this issue resolved itself. In any case you should ensure the top frame moves freely and as expected. Make any adjustments you need to the frame before you install the top.

FordPrefect
Posts: 212
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:16 pm
Your car is a: 1977 Fiat Spider 124

Re: Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby FordPrefect » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:40 pm

To which holes on the rear quarter window B pillar should the the top be riveted?

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blazingspider
Posts: 103
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:44 am
Your car is a: 1977 fiat spider
Location: Greenacres, FL

Re: Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby blazingspider » Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:12 pm

FWIW I used the middle hole of the 3.

FordPrefect
Posts: 212
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:16 pm
Your car is a: 1977 Fiat Spider 124

Re: Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby FordPrefect » Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:44 pm

A few more questions, I finally have the beast on, but... an eighth of an inch/quarter of an inch too far to the right, and the front seam is a tad uneven. Bah.

Anyway, should I rivet the side flaps over or under the front seal and side weather seals? And the little odd flaps behind and over the rear quarter windows, I don't think the PO knew what to do with them, and neither do I. Velcro is ok.

I'll try to even out the top a bit, then start gluing the bows.

FordPrefect
Posts: 212
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:16 pm
Your car is a: 1977 Fiat Spider 124

Re: Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby FordPrefect » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:42 pm

That thing is tight as a drum. Seems like the only way to get it to cover the rear quarter windows the way it used to is to really get those sidewires tight!

Now, the front seam is finally laying down properly, but I still can't quite get the top to hide the little side wires. I need to cinch down the back a little better and rivet, glue, and she's done.

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blazingspider
Posts: 103
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:44 am
Your car is a: 1977 fiat spider
Location: Greenacres, FL

Re: Convertible Top Hardware Questions

Postby blazingspider » Sun Oct 15, 2017 6:52 am

Anyway, should I rivet the side flaps over or under the front seal and side weather seals?
Side flaps to the outside over the seals.

And the little odd flaps behind and over the rear quarter windows
I glued that piece over the back bow and on to the underside of the top.

I still can't quite get the top to hide the little side wires
I've heard stories about some of the more inexpensive tops not being cut to fit very well. Hope yours isn't one of those.

Seems like the only way to get it to cover the rear quarter windows the way it used to is to really get those sidewires tight!
You've got to pull on the cables pretty hard and get them tight.


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