I bought a new top for my 1919 touring.Iv taken it to three different people that said they would do it but when I get it there they turn around and say they would rather not do the job. I need someone that will do the job for me. I don't have the brain power for a job like this. Is there someone I can take the car to and have the top installed?
I'd be glad to! Except, I'm really far away. Lol, surely someone is up your way who isn't scared of a humble T. I'm positive someone will chime in with some good info for you.
What kind of top and car? I've done two in the local area...
I had an Amishman in Paradise, PA make (from scratch) a top and upholstery for my 1912 Buick. He does beautiful work. I don't know whether he'll install a kit, but you could ask. If you're interested, PM me and I'll give you the details.
It's a Cartouche top from Langs for a 1919 model T touring car. Its a complete kit. The wood tack strip is new from Stutzmans. I bought the side covers, top and boot. It would be great if you could help. Let me know.
I did a top on a 1922 T and I had zero experience with T's and/or upholstery. You can do it- just take your time and have two heads working the job. Two people can dbl-check each other.
It is quite easy to install for yourself. Do it on a sunny day out in the sun so the material will be most plyable.
Most important things. Height of rear bow from back of seat. The straps will hold everything in place. Be sure to measure the bow from the tack strip at the back. If you try to get it level from the floor, your car will always look crooked. The windbreaker in front has to be in just the right place in front of the windshield. In tacking to the wood strips, start in the center of the bow or strip and center of the material and work toward the sides.
Everything else, will just fit right into place.
Just follow all the instructions and it should come out well. Don't cut anything until you are sure it is on correctly. You will have some spare material in front and in back to trim off at the end of the job, but be sure it is installed right before you cut.
The issue may be that you purchased the top from one source and are asking someone else to install it.
In some respects, what you are asking an auto trimmer to do is a bit like buying a steak and taking it to a restaurant and asking them to cook it and serve it to you. Most restaurant's will refuse to do so for many reasons, including they have no control over the quality of the meat they will be serving and therefore do no want to be associated with it. In addition, in most service businesses, a portion of the profits that allows them to keep operating comes from the mark up on the materials they provide.
The best course of action may be, as others has suggested, is to install it yourself. Or, might it be possible to return the kit? If yes, it should not be too difficult to find a competent auto trimmer to make a top fro you from scratch.
I don't know anyone in your area, but it really isn't that bad a job. A few times it is helpful to have someone assisting, but most of it can be done alone. Which company kit do you have?
I did my 1916 top using many of the suggestions found here on the Forum and a few ideas from period books. Here is how it came out:
Key ideas are:
0. Photograph the existing top so you have an idea where things go, like the footman clips and straps. Also, which side the buckle is on, etc.
1. Use thin would strips and clamps to hold your bows in the correct position relative to each other. I also used a rope and C-clamps to hold the entire bow assembly in the correct position relative to the rear of the body and the windshield.
2. Recover your bows using the fabric provided and tack the first edge to the bow, then wrap it snug around the bow and sew the free edge to the tacked down one. Seam should be placed so it is under the top when completed. I cuffed the ends of the fabric so the ends that show are neat.
Save the small tacks used to hold the bow wrapping. These are small and very hard to find in the stores.
3. Build a set of low sawhorses (18" high more or less) and put 2" by 12" planks across them to work on the top. The planks were on both sides and across the rear.
4. Use some upholstery strapping to hold the bows in place. You may also need some spacers to keep the strapping from moving the bows too close together.
5. Take your time and be certain each piece is in the proper place before cutting anything.
More to come
call Joe's Upholstery in Frederick,MD he does a great job. 1-301-662-5006 ask for Don or Ron.
The problem with a kit is that they make them to factory specifications. Over the years the bows get moved around and sag and a kit may not fit as well as one that is custom made to fit your car the way it is today.
I think you can do it yourself if you have the time and will READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. The way I did it on a 1920 touring took a lot of extra time but proved to be worth it. I spent a lot of time getting the bows in the correct position and wired together the full length of the top. The light gauge wire is perfect because you can leave it through the entire installation process and then cut at each bow and remove the wire easily. Wood slats work but you need to remove them after you install the padding and before you install the top. The wire from the windshield to the back of the body holds everything in place. The most difficult part for me was getting the rear curtain in the correct position to match the top at the rear bow side. If you look at many of the tops on T's, You will see that the intersection of these pieces on the rear bow don't come to a "V" like I think they should. Other than that and general trying to fit and replacing it several times to get it "right" the job came out very good and it only took the better part of a day.
You can do it! I bought interior and top kits last year for my 15 that had nothing to begin with. Like you, I lacked confidence in myself after getting the kit. While looking around, I couldn't find anyone that I felt at ease with, so, I thought I'd attempt it. Came out great. After loading it in a too short trailer, I just finished replacing bows and the top again--much harder than the first time, but, still, nothing insurmountable. The first time the body was on sawhorses for the interior, then on 2x4's on concrete blocks on the floor for the top. Next time I do one I'll either have the body on the floor again, or, build a scaffold around the car so I could even walk directly in front of the windshield. Hardest part was figuring out, then making all the tack strips and installing them. You've got old stuff to follow, so, you should have no problems--it's just work!
I bought a Cartouche top kit for my '19 Touring too and had my favorite upholsterer do the job.
He didn't care where it came from. In fact he was glad I got it.
He did a wonderful job too.
Don't think for a second it's an "easy" job.......it isn't.
That said I installed an entire new top kit on my '27 Tudor myself.......from scratch.
There wasn't a single easy step about that either........but I got 'er dun.......