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Nova Convertible Top - Raising The Roof
Convertible Top Installation Made Easier With New Parts From Year One
Feb 1, 2001
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Nova Convertible Top - Raising The Roof
Installing a new convertible top is not a job for everyone. But if you are ambitious, have the necessary tools--and the desire--to tackle the chore then there are a few things you should know. First, get the correct components. Chances are aside from the frame itself, your convertible will need just about everything new. Do as this owner did, call Year One for replacement parts. They had all the items this Deuce required. For the rubber weatherstrips, a call was made to Joe Grom at Chevy II Only.
With new rubber, there is no reason why this drop-top can't be driven in the rain. These pieces were great and fit just as snug as the originals.
Included in the kit from Year One is a roll of tack strip material. This is an important part to replace, since it's where the vinyl top material is stapled to. Here our resident interior expert Wanda Wells fits a new piece into the bow of the frame.
Another important tool when it comes to restoring the top mechanism is a can of semi-gloss black paint. Since the frame is visible from the interior, it won't hurt to make it look as clean as possible. Companies like OEM Paints offer colors to match the factory original, too.
The rear tack strip had enough staples embedded into it for a couple of top redos. Taking them out so we had a fresh start was a chore, but a necessary one.
The meat of the strip was in pretty good shape, so all Wanda did was staple a piece of special material across the top for a fresh surface.
Here's how the rear of the pad is stapled to the rear-most tack strip. Note how the pad curves over the edge so the top can rest against it.
Once the correct measurements are made, the vinyl material that surrounds the foam padding is laid out from front to back. It is attached via staples and screws to each supporting crossbow that spans from side to side.
Once the material is stapled in place it is stretched from end to end and the extra is trimmed off at the front.
Next, the foam is meticulously positioned before being wrapped in the vinyl and stapled closed. Part of the purpose of the "pads" is to protect the inside of the top from the metal mechanism and to keep it from flapping in the wind.
The next step is to install the rear window part of the top. Here the well liner is stretched out from its folded position and stapled to a tack strip that is screwed into the inside sheetmetal. The top material beneath the rear window also attaches here.
These smaller tack strips go in the curved areas on each side of the inside of the car. They are installed toward the end of the procedure, after the window portion is in place.
Here's the window, or backlight, being attached to the tack strip.
The tack strip, replete with the well liner and rear window attached, is screwed into the upper sheetmetal below the decklid area. A good portable screwdriver/drill is a great help here.
Once the tack strip was bolted down, Wanda carefully stretched out the top to the rear-most bow. Care must be taken not to scratch or otherwise damage the clear portion.
Stretching the plastic and vinyl backlight is easier when there is a couple of other hands available. Note the flood lamp. A little heat to "soften" the material didn't hurt, either.
Once in place and all wrinkles removed, Wanda used his trusty air stapler to fasten the backlight to the tack strip. Here's one of those parts where experience is the best tool.
Trimming the excess material makes for a clean install when finishing out the back window portion of the job. A sharp pair of scissors is always a help.
With the backlight in place the next step was to drape the top over the frame and position it correctly over the front and sides. For this task four hands are certainly better than two.
This is how the top looks when properly placed over the frame. Note how much extra material there is. Once glued and stapled down, a pair of scissors is employed to trim the excess.
The procedure for final fitting begins at the rear where small cutouts are made for the top material to fit around the screws that hold the corner tack strips.
Here's a look at the tack trips before the well liner and top material are attached. Large self-tapping screws are used to secure the strips to the inner mounting sheetmetal. But care must be taken to use the correct length fasteners. If too long a screw is used it is possible to push out the side of the external quarter panel.
The vinyl top material is stapled to the tack strip. The side with the staples faces the sheetmetal and the screws are installed.
At the end of the strap is a steel eye that is fastened to the side of the frame with a screw.
To finish off the front edge of the top, a round vinyl "bead" is installed. Wanda wrapped a piece of rubber windlace material with a piece of top vinyl, which was then stapled to the tack strip.
The next step is to stretch the front edge over the bow, mark it and trim to length, remembering to leave enough material to be stapled to the tack strip under the bow. Again, two people make this part of the install easier.
Under the bow is the new tack strip where the material is stapled. With the top lined up to the aforementioned chalk mark, and the frame in a relaxed position, the top is glued and stapled down. Then Wanda used a razor to trim the excess material. A piece of weatherstripping will be glued here after the rolled edge is installed. Note the molded end of the side weatherstripping. This is screwed into the frame and will connect to the front seal.
At the front end is a spring with a loop that is also screwed to the frame. This allows the strap to "stretch" while the top is lowered onto its latches. The strap is installed prior to the frame being fully extended. When installed correctly, you'll feel the strap stretching as the top is lowered onto the latches.
The sides of the top fit under the rear side window weatherstripping, which have small studs that protrude through the channel in the frame. Once again, Wanda uses an industrial contact adhesive on both the frame and the underside of the material.
When the adhesive is ready, the top is stretched over the side edge of the framerail and forced into the weatherstrip channel before the rubber weatherstrips are installed. At this point, the top is tight on both sides and at the front bow.
The bead makes a nice leading edge for where the top rests above the window frame.
Here the rub strip is stapled to the bow.
Wanda used a 3/8-inch round extension to forcefully fold over the strip.
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