I am putting a new top on my 23 touring. I need to derust and paint the bows. How do you get to all the surfaces to sand and paint?
For a new top, best to remove the irons and check the wood bows, that means removing the old straps, pads, and remains of the cotton drill covering the wood bows.
Then sand the metal to bare, prime, and paint the metal, re-fit the top irons and bows to the body, hold the structure in place, then re-strap, pad, and install the top covering.
If you are only replacing the cover, and just want fresh paint, try to best get to the metal surfaces you can on the irons, mask off the cloth coverings, and pads, and re-paint the exposed irons.
All the bows are off and the material is stripped off. The wood seems to be in good shape. How do you get to all the areas to sand and paint? Do you have to take to bows apart? The top assembly is on a table folded like when the top is down.
Only remove the wood bows, if bad wood, lack of good areas for the tacks to secure the new material, and if the front bow for example is warped, many of them are from wet, that front bow gets wrapped in vinyl top material, the others are wrapped in bias cut bow drill material.
As for the irons, only surface rust shows on the outside, rarely the insides are rusted away, so don't worry too much about the tubular insides.
If you have to place new wood in the corners, that is done by cutting pieces of lathe wood strip, you can get this wood at the big box stores.
Boil it to 'steam' the pieces so they fit snug in the curve, that wood in the curve is only for tacking.
The wood bows themselves are riveted to the irons at each end.
If you don't want to make your own, these laminated curved pieces are also available new. They are made from the Ford prints of elm as called for.
I've got a question. At the front of the bows there is a clamp to attach to the windshield. Is this riveted on the metal part of the bow?
You don't need to take anything apart. Maybe just open and close the bows to expose any hidden spots when sanding. Suggest you unfold the bows to paint, since that's how it will be the most visible when it's on the car. If any bare spots appear when folded you can touch up with a small brush.
I like to use tooth picks to fill the tack holes. The clamp for the front bow on late cars is held to the bow with two 1/4-20 carriage bolts, with a thin 1/2" across the flats hex jamb nut. The bottom screw hole, I believe, uses a #8 X 1/2 oval head slotted raven finish wood screw.