Well.... I'm going to replace the top on my 1926 TuDor. The top material is OK, it's actually the wood underneath that has deteriorated to the point where the nails are popping out. I'm a little concerned that one day, the wind may catch the top and I'll have a touring instead of a TuDor.
So I have elected to attempt to make my own wood replacement. I have a couple of questions for those that have done this.
1. After the top has been removed will the body deform around the top? Should I make a buck or some support for the body while the top is off?
2. What kind of wood should I use? I assume some hardwood, 3/4" Oak?
3. I have read that now would be the time to replace the head liner also, as it goes in before the top goes on.
4. Any other hints from the experienced top re-placer's?
These threads oughta answer all your questions.....
This one too http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/118802/146937.html?1277515763
And this one http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/282769.html?1334932626
Thanks for the references. I pulled back the top at the corner to get a first look at what is underneath and it looks pretty bad.
Looks to me that the vinyl top has a cotton liner, supported by a burlap cover.
And you can see that the outer rim wood is pretty much gone.
JUST like the top wood that was in my '27 Tudor.......
You're in for the long haul.
I bought everything I needed for mine from Lang's.
While no instructions come with the wood kit the directions for the top are very good.
Aw, just pour some quikpoly in the wood and tack the top back down!!
Seriously, I would NOT use oak, it will become like your wood is now.
Take lots of notes as you strip 'er down, photos too, never can have too much info.
And then post how it went back together, so I can do mine too!!
Well..... 88 years, not that bad! What wood would you use?
Think Leon Parker makes a wood drawing set for the top wood?
He did this rewood a while ago.
Mike, I have to do the same thing to my '25 coupe. Take lots of pictures and keep us posted on your progress. Mac's lists their kits as made from oak, ash or maple. Lang's just says hardwood. I wouldn't use oak, but I'm not sure about the pro's and con's between ash and maple. The rotted wood on my coupe looks to be more like maple than oak, but I sure wouldn't say for sure. Dave
The wood in the kit I got from Lang's looked like hard maple.
It's almost white and very hard material.
I don't think ash is quite as hard or as heavy as hard maple.
Depends on where you live what hardwoods are available. Oak splits--it's an open-grained wood; you want a closed-grained wood. Maple, poplar (some say poplar rots easily--I dunno), white ash. A kit may be the way to go, if you can't use yours as a pattern. Don't lose your rain gutters, if you have them. AFAIK, the original trim was not hide-em, but the fold-over type. Anyone know for sure?
OK so for starters…once you peel back fully you may be in for a real wood job. I’d use Ash if I could get it, just for me easier to ‘work’ and ‘form’. Maple is OK but you need really sharper than sharp tools to do it justice. Wood is a natural suck straw that will wick whatever it can from wherever it can. It really doesn’t matter which wood you use.
If the wood has a natural pH that is far from 7, whether base or acid it will last a long time as the bacteria that fuels on the rot to make more rot can’t survive outside the range of 6-8 pH too well or too long. Where most actually err is that wherever there is open end grain wood, you really should seal it…wherever there is an open face grain and you can see the pores you really should seal it…where you cut dado and pockets, yeah, you got it, seal it. A good old fashioned primer works, plasticizer works even better because there is nothing left to rot once the plasticizer changes the cellulose of the wood to actual plastic. Yeah, I know, Ford didn't...but hey...they didn't know any better...theirs rotted!
As to the headliner, good move but then you’ll need to peel-back the sidewalls and re-tack them. DO pay attention and take pictures of how the material is placed in the rabbet of the top rails.
You, don’t want to make the same mistake as the previous guy did. The top material should be sealed down good and tight at the edges. Black silicon will work, but be careful as once that stuff gets ahead of you it is a mess. Then you really should only use ‘hidem’ in the front and rear, seal it good, ‘spackle’ those nail holes with black gunk on the pinky.
The sides DO take rain gutter. Yup…sure fire visual that a top has been replaced because the rain gutters usually got tossed in the process. Unfortunately, because everybody uses ‘hidem’ all the way around there never has been a demand for a proper gutter system and you are lucky if you can find a set of originals someone chose to stash. You can use Model A Commercial gutter, but it is obvious that it is. More proper and closer is like they make for the A Coupes, but I’ve never figured out why the fabricator only offers it in 32” lengths. You’d think he could run off some 66” every now and then as just about every T with a replacement top is done wrong and he surely could make some money at it.
George, the gutter cover is not missing in your picture, that's the part that extends past the gutter and is covering the end of the hidem welt, and has one screw in it (should be oval head, but. . . )
But I still think the original welt was the fold-over type, there were remains on my tudor. IS there any documentation anywhere--original pics that you can see that detail. The fold-over would be faster to install, and provide more water protection than the hidem does.
Detail of gutter & cover on my tudor.
When we replaced the top on our '27 Fordor about 40 years ago, it still had the original gutters and cover strip on it. I found that you can't get the covers off without destroying them. They are steel, rusted, and stuck to the gutters.
That means you have to pull and pry them off all the way along their length.
What we did was re-use the gutters and made new covers from not to thick aluminum. We cut the aluminum into strips about 3/8" wide (had a sheet metal shop do this on their shear). Check your old covers for the exact width and length. We curved the aluminum strips enough to get them to fit into the gutters, then pounded them enough to get the cover edges fit into the gutters. Painted them black and they look just fine. They can't be told from originals unless closely examined by someone who really knows.
White ash is an excellent wood for this type of application. Actually white law would be wonderful but it'll sag over time. It works great for fence posts in a swamp because it's vertical. However don't use it for rails on the fence because it won't hold it's own weight over time. This would be an excellent separate subject for one of the printed manuals. I've got to replace my top on my '26 sedan. Currently I'm not sure if there's a top under all that roofing tar. I think the depression years got the best of mine or it sat out for too many years.
Well..... I spent the afternoon removing the top. First the fold over trim was removed. This trim is not exactly fold over. It kind of opens like an old coin purse, splits in the middle. It's can't be a good design, because water can get trapped in it and start all these problems.
It appears that the vinyl top material has been replaced at some time. The vinyl was tacked to the outer rim wood, these were then removed. Also seems that when the trim was put on with some kind of sealant to 'glue' the trim onto the top material.
With all the fasteners removed, the vinyl could be removed, revealing a cotton layer.
It's easy to see where the water was getting in. Under the cotton is a layer of burlap which is stapled to the outer rim wood.
With the burlap removed, you can see what was done during the last top replacement, some of the original slats were replaced, but the across bows and the rim wood was not changed. They also reused the original hardware, making their removal a little difficult.
The replacement wood is soft pine. Although it looks OK, it is really soft and about to crumble. The outer rim wood is really bad, mostly at the corners. I suspect that this was where the majority of the water got in and over the years ate up this wood.
I think I've found a source for some white ash and probably make the first samples out of pine to practice on. I want to clean up and paint the metal where the top fits. I'm a slow worker, but I'll keep up with what's what.
Painted tape measure blade will make an excellent gutter cover.
The actual name of the "fold over trim" is called "Hide-em welt"
My Dad was an upholsterer for fifty-some-odd-years. I've driven a tack or a sewing machine needle, or two, through my fingers from time to time also!
From my personal experience, the way to go is to purchase a new top wood kit from one of the suppliers, if that fits your budget. The fit is good and you don't need a garage full of woodworking equipment.
Also, the time to install the headliner is before the top covering goes on. I've done it both ways and doing it prior to installing the top is not only easier, it's quicker too and looks better when it's done.
As far as padding is concerned, I like to use upholsterer's cotton. You can customize the thickness and, in my opinion, gives a more authentic look when finished.
Mike, doesn't someone make a poly wool that would replace the cotton. As you can see in the pictures this cotton is moldy. I don't want to use foam in that it granulates after a while. I'd like something inert. I also don't want to use the burlap. The must be some kind of cambric that is rot proof.
I do not have any prints for the top wood. We restored a 1926 coupe and used a top wood kit. The fit was very good.
Mike Zahorik, the poly wool you refer to is the product quilters use to give loft to their quilts. It is available in different thicknesses. I use the 1/4" thick stuff over the hessian, with the vinyl over that. You are right about foam granulating over time.
Nobody has mentioned using what we in Australia call western red cedar as timber in the roof structure. This is imported from USA. I believe you call it redwood. This timber is ideal for the slats in the roof. It is weather stable, clear grained and is quite flexible in thin slats. It is the timber of choice in the best window joinery.
To get around the problems of rot caused by the use of steel fasteners, I suggest you use brass tacks, stainless steel screws where needed, and stainless steel staples where they will not be seen. These are not affected if any moisture gets into your installation.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Yes Mike. There is a polyester material called Dacron that replaces cotton.
In the aerospace industry, it's used in the fiberglass and graphite composite aircraft control surface panel vacuum bagging manufacturing process. There it's called bleeder cloth, or "baby blanket". It's also used in things like sleeping bags for insulation.
I like to stick to the original stuff. Besides, how often do you think your car will be left out in the rain? When compared to the unknown number of times it's been left out before you owned the car, I'd say the cotton padding probably faired pretty well.
My motto is "The car's title is in your name, you get to do whatever you want".
I type too slow and Mr. Bennett beat me to it.
What is in your photos is Hide-em welt--this is not the same as "Fold Over" welt, here's a quick sketch of the difference. Note that the Fold-Over will shed water much better than the Hide-em.
Here is the Wire Welt that I finished my Fordor with 25 Years ago.
Regards, John Page
I will bring you an umbrella tonite so you will have something for the next tour if the roof is not done yet.
Mike drives this car a lot. All over Milwaukee County and over to the Michigan Jamboree, so it sees a lot of rain. Sometimes I think it is the only car he ever drives, so he needs to make sure the top is on correctly. It is not a car that only comes out on sunny days.
It will be fun helping Mike and watching how he proceeds. Thanks to all for your input.
Dave, I was thinking that a cheap tarp from Wal-Mart might work, for a while.
Mike, something for you to consider. The joins in the laths in your repaired roof will have highs and lows. The only way to ensure the curve is a continuous gentle one is to make those laths from full length pieces, front to back. I would replace the ones you have. However, the padding under the top material will disguise some un-eveness, so you might get away with it.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
John's top view shows "fold-down" welt, notice how it would shed water better than hide-em--although the top on my '30 Sport coupe used hide-em! The metal end caps (original) are made to fit the hide-em. So, since both were apparently in use in the time period, I still ask, does anyone know what is correct?
This link might be helpful . Regards, John http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/257047/282769.html?1334932626
Well, that link helped me a lot, as although I was posting there, I never saw the last posts. So it appears that the fold down is correct for the top edge on the Ts! Will have to look at the open car tops some other time!
I'm going to replace the entire top wood set up. Today I'm off to the lumber yard to pick out some white ash. I have been practicing with some pine pieces to see how they fit. I noticed that the front rim board has a slight bow in it. It's about 48" long and has a 9/16" bow in it at the middle. I think that I'll have to bend it to make it fit correctly.
The car doesn't have rain gutters. I figure they disappeared when the last guy put a top on this car.
While the top is off, you might ought to check out your window channels. I replaced my front ones but don't see a way to replace the rears without taking the top off. - John
Mike - You mentioned above that your car doesn't have rain gutters & that they probably disappeared when the last guy replaced the top on the car.
Because it's so much work to replace the top on a car like yours and you'd like to do it right and only once, I'd suggest that you try to get the correct rain gutters. Model T Haven has lots of parts cars and might have them, or you could run an ad on the Swap page. If all else fails, you could probably get a reasonable re-production made by a sheet metal shop. The basic gutter piece is not that complex.
I'd be happy to show you the gutters on our '27 Fordor so you could see them in person rather than relying on pictures, if you like.
Mike, thank you for the pictures you have been taking of the top as you take it off. I am replacing the top on my '24 Tudor and have the wood kit. It looks like all the wood is there but a small piece in the front but I have other wood to fit when I get that far. One thing to watch as you take the side pieces off is the wood at the top of the door post as it fits into a groove in the top to stabilize the door. Mine is rotted on the driver side but I will dowel it after I stabilize the wood. This was an original top but the gutters are missing and it was suggested that I might be able to use gutters from a old camper trailer? I am also soaking all the wood in Thompsons Water Seal prior to putting it on the roof. It seems that the outside wood frame and the ribs were painted black on original cars prior to covering with top material. All upholstery can be done with the wood replaced but before the top material is put on.
I can make tracings of the wood if you need a pattern. (I learned how to draw at Boy's Tech in Milwaukee, in 1954, Custer High in 55-58).
Dick - I'd be willing to show you the gutters on our '27 Fordor also if you come to our place in Kenosha. It's only about 2,000 miles from Flagstaf, but once you're in Milwaukee, it's not too far.
Mike, I'm not sure what you mean by 'front rim board'. If you are referring to the timber which follows the front of the top across the car and to which the slats are fixed, it would be better to buy oversized timber and bandsaw the curve into it. That way there is no chance of it getting out of shape. Bending such a piece would be a bit of work!
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Richard, are you in the Milwaukee Area? I don't think you are a member of either the Greater Milwaukee or the Dairyland Model T clubs. There's a lot of benefit in joining. I could be over in a flash with a membership form.
Keith, I'm interested in the rain gutters. Can't say if I have every seen them. I looked at Langes catalog and they have aluminum ones. Looks like they fit right on the wood edge of the top. Do they go over the fold over trim or in place of?
Allan, I little steaming and that board would bend easily, I only need a little more than a 1/2" in 4 feet. The back rim board is also curved. I may steam the slats. This would reduce the stress quite a bit.
Well, I purchased $40+ of 5/4's rough cut white ash. This should be plenty to make all the rim boards the ribs and the slats. The first order of business is to plan all the cuts then to dress the rough boards.
Mike, once you have your slats cut I think you will find they bend easily enough not to warrant steaming them. If you are in doubt, screw the ends down rather than nailing them. in the double curve on my shooting brake I had to screw down the valley in the curve and each end, tacking only where there was no stress, using brass screws of course.
Allan from down under.
Mike - The gutters go down each side, but not the front or back. They are in place of the fold over.
We're still traveling, but will be home in a week or so. I'll give you a call.
Oh, BTW, Dick lives in Flagstaff & I was just pulling his leg a little.
Mike........here are photos of the original gutters on my re-topped '27 Tudor.
I pulled and saved all but two of the original nails.
Before someone jumps me for using Phillips head screws at the ends they are what I had and I used them.
The hidem welt flaps are trimmed off far enough so the screws go through them where the flat ends go under the gutter ends.
The photos show where the gutters start and end in relation to the rear window.
I carefully measured the locations before I removed anything.
I hope these help.......
All you need now for your gutters is a length of tape measure painted black and snapped into your gutters. Leave about a half-inch overlap on the welting and you're there! And then no one will see those phillips screw heads!
David.......nobody around here knows the difference........
Always leave something for the next owner....... ;)
(that was told to me by an old tractor guy.......I'll never will forget it either)
Keith, Joyce and I are in Yuma (90 above) and won't be home until next week. Enjoyed our visit while you were in AZ but may not go through Milwaukee on the way to Rhinelander later this year.
Mike, I would have joined the Milwaukee chapter but I left Milwaukee in 1979. Sold my '24 coupe before I left. Keep sending photos of the top as you have been doing.
Dick - You and Joyce are welcome to stop in at our place for a visit if you're anywhere near Kenosha.
You may not know it, but in Rhinelander on Father's Day Weekend there's going to be a big 1914 Model T 100 year celebration. All Model T's and especially '14's are invited. I think we'll be there with our '14. It should be fun!
Craig - You're forgiven for that Phillips head screw, sort of. Like David said above, you could cover it up with a strip of measuring tape.