I am a complete neophyte to this world of Model T's. I recently purchased a 1913 Touring T. I bought it without a top (although the bows seem to be intact). I plan on purchasing a top from Classtique, but they told me that the instructions are only about four pages long. I have looked everywhere, and at best, I can only find a frustratingly short video on uTube that glosses over installing a top. I would very much appreciate it if someone can point me to either succinct instructions, or better yet, an "Installing a Top- for Dummies" video. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and of course, thanks for anyone who is kind enough to respond.
Mike; I'm pretty sure I have a video still, I will check tomorrow. Please PM me so I don't forget. If so you can borrow it. It was from a early black era car but the idea is the same; I used it for my '11.
Ask Elizabeth over at Classitque, she may have something that she's done or working on now.
I've only installed a few tops. The first one I had expert instruction from Dan Kinney of the Nokin T's club. Dan patiently showed me what to do over the course of three days on the '13 touring (now Constantine's) car. I can't tell you how many little details there are, and it seems to me it would be difficult to put them in a video that was less then 24 hours in length.
I had a video from Vince at JV Group (RIP) that was helpful, but not comprehensive enough to give me confidence to do that first one by myself. If at all possible you should seek to have someone with the experience helping you on that first one.
A few pictures of my most recent top installation back in 2008:
from a newbie to a newbie, installing the top is no small feat. It's very complicated and best left to folks that specialize in tops and who are familiar with model t's and model a's. after staring at the classtique instructions and youtube videos, I was still scratching my head and decided to have it done right. Mine was $750 to install, and well worth the cost and it came out great!
Brian, I sent you a PM
The installation is pretty much the same on all years. I would load myself up with as many original photos as possible, and view as many known original cars as possible too. The hardest thing to find are the correct original fasteners to use on the top. When I did my '25 roadster, it took me years to find the original hidem welt tips that Ford used, but I finally did.
Make sure you have the correct bows for your car. When I was doing my 15 touring, I looked around and could find nobody I had confidence to do a good job. The guys that had done "old cars" had done 55-57 Chevy's. It's not brain surgery, but, it is kind of involved so, you need to read the instructions, then lay out the "stuff" and read them again. Keep them with you and refer to them constantly. If you have any confusion, call the manufacturer (I used Cartouche). What helped me was: #1--having a helper, and #2--Sitting the body on blocks on the floor, so you're not working from ladders or scaffold. I learned from some closed cars I'd done, that I'm not good with tacks--get an air stapler and DON'T USE CHEAP STAPLES. A box of regular staples is a few bucks, while the stainless/rustproof staples will be $20 more, but, is worth it. Also, you need to have a well heated workplace, or wait for warmer weather, or, come summer, your top will sag!
here are the posts from when I did my 1916 Touring. Hope this helps.
Thank for all your ideas and assistance! I have talked to Mike at Classtique and he said they did not have a video. I loved Mike Black's post. He referred to putting on a top, as not being brain surgery. Fortunately for me, my background IS brain surgery, so maybe I can get this done myself. I will take all of your advice and know that with the guidance I got here, that I won't make as many mistakes as I otherwise might have.
I did my first top installation ever on my 1924 cut-off touring car (now a pickup) last year. I bought a Classtique kit and was very happy with the kit, the instructions, and the support I got from Elizabeth and Mike at Classtique. I did buy a good air stapler prior to the installation, it helps in that it allows you to hold the material in place with one hand while you staple with the other hand. I also used a lot of push pins and spring clamps to hold things in place (and to make adjustments) before stapling them down for good. I am very happy with the results. Give it a try, you can do it!
Finally found the link I did on top bows, but I can't locate the one I did on fitting the top itself.
I feel humbled to say to everyone who responded to my post, and all of the other hundreds of posts that I have read… THANKS! The people in this hobby are incredible! This was my first post after buying a 1913 T, and joining the MTFCA. I had no idea what to expect, but I feared that a ‘Forrest Gump’ question might fall on deaf ears. WOW! I am amazed that so many people took the time and the effort to respond and provide valuable insight. It totally affirms the concept of how important this organization is to the preservation and advancement of knowledge that will be essential to keep the concept of maintaining these “pieces of art” in pristine condition.
Gary London… your willingness to share a video is greatly appreciated
Royce, Mark, and others… sharing your pictures and insight, to me and others is golden
Bob Cascisa, your links to the documentation of your project are invaluable