I have just finished fitting the Top onto my 1915 T and thought I'd share this with other members. I bought the Top from Classtique Upholstery, and made/laminated the bows myself. I read a lot of information on this forum from other members and took note of their advice. below is my summary of what to do to install a Top on a Ford T.
Although I say in my notes to double check everything, I had almost finished installing the top when my son who was helping me said "How does this all fold up" I started explaining to him how the bows all fit together when he pointed out that the bump was on the bottom of the Front Bow, yes I'd ignored my own advice and installed it upside down. So had to remove what seemed like a hundred staples without damaging the material, turn the bow over and reinstall the front of the top, which leads me to the final bit of advice which is that you will probably make some mistakes, but in most cases with some care and thought can be fixed.
1. Dont Rush, before and during fitting look at how other tops have been fitted, and checkout photos on the web. All seem to vary in some respects, especially how the front flap has been finished.
2. Get / download a Top Upholstery dimension Plan.
3. Measure car dimensions and each Iron carefully from the centre of its pivot point to the edge of the metal tube, compare this to Top Upholstery Plan. Also measure how deep each socket is.
4. Measure across rear seat, check with bows to ensure that they will clear the side of the seat and fit into the bow supports on each side. This is critical for the top to fold down correctly.
5. Lay out some blankets on a nice, flat surface. You need an area large enough for your top panel to open up on. Spread the top panel out flat upside down, and measure the overall length of the panel. Compare this to what you need (the sum of the spacing of each bow from plan) and see how much extra there is. My panel was 5-6" longer then needed. Split the difference and, using pieces of masking tape, mark the approximate place each bow will be. Mark each side of the panel. Place your number 2 and 3 bows and wrap the top around these and mark this on the bows.
6. Now mark the bows again to allow the top panel to come about 1" down over the metal part of the socket. This will be the taper-start position on the #2 & #3 bows, then add the depth of the socket to get the point you will trim the bow.
7. Mark each bow well! Mark what bow position it is, drivers side, passenger side, and use arrows to show the direction to the front. Also mark the centreline of each bow.
8. Once you have the #2 & #3 Bows tapered and fitted into the irons, use supports to hold these in place, then measure and mark the taper start positions for the #1 & #4 bows. The rear bow needs to overhang the back of the body about 1". The front bow should also overhang the windscreen a bit.
9. Seal the Wood used for your bows
10. Wrap the bows, install brackets on front and rear bows for straps.
11. Mark the position for the centre, straps and pads on bows and centre of your top deck and rear sections, when installing the rear section and top deck you line up the centre marks. Also, put your staples & tacks in working from the centre out.
12. Watch installation video, (https://classtiqueupholstery.com/), take note of how to cut and finish top at front of car, Double check everything before and during fitting, see note #1.
13. When you attach the front for the final time support the front bow about 4" above the windshield with a piece of wood. That way when you attach the leather straps to the windshield frame it puts a final stretch on the deck.
14. It's critical that the framework be square (keep checking as you progress)
15. Its critical that the top pads are TIGHT between each bow, or your top will sag.
16. Take care where you put your staples or tacks, keep in mind how the finish will look and how you will cover these with the hydem.
17. The install of the top deck should be done on a HOT day
Summary - Order to install top
Shape the Bows and fit to Irons
Wrap the bows, and brackets on front and rear bows for straps
Set up the bows and lock them in place
Install clips or fasteners where required to body of car
Install the top and or rear straps
Install the top pads
Install the straps to hold the rolled up rear panel onto rear bow
Install the three piece rear panel
Install the front flap (depends how and where you fit this)
Install the main deck
Finish trimming and cover joins at front and rear with hydem
JohnO 1915 T Perth Western Australia
A couple of other thoughts to add.
Pay close attention to the leather straps for the rear bow and windshield connection. I have found that the straps sold by many of the vendors are closer to elastic than a firm leather strap. In addition, the design of the front strap and clip is such that it is almost impossible to get the strap short enough.
It helps to be sure that the car is level fore aft and side to side. That way you can use a level to check that the two vertical bows are truly vertical. In addition, if you install a top on a car that is not sitting flat, the finished installation will have a wrinkle in the material.
I use sawhorses and planks along the side and rear of the car to stand on. Makes the job go faster and easier.