Model T Tops

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2017: Model T Tops
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Aldrich Orting Wa on Monday, April 03, 2017 - 01:55 pm:

Was there ever a Model T made with a HARD top as in a steel top as opposed to fabric?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Tomaso - Longbranch,WA on Monday, April 03, 2017 - 02:14 pm:

"California Top" was one a few an era accessory kits to transform a Touring into a "Hardtop".


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rich Bingham on Monday, April 03, 2017 - 02:21 pm:

If there were any all-steel Califunny Tops I'm unaware of them. The ones I've seen were wood and fabric construction with a minimal amount of metal.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Dewey, N. California on Monday, April 03, 2017 - 03:19 pm:

Yes, "California Tops" were fixed tops, but usually made of top material on a fixed "bow" frame. The fancier ones even had headliners. In '37 a guy named Carson started making very fancy ones, often put on "chopped" cars. I once worked on a '36 Ford trunk-back convertible sedan that was chopped in '37 and had a Carson Top with dome lights; reportedly Carson's 4th top. Second owner still owned it (the guy that had it chopped and topped!--but he's passed away many years ago).


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Aldrich Orting Wa on Monday, April 03, 2017 - 04:46 pm:

So there were no "steel" hard top sedans produced by Ford factories.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Monday, April 03, 2017 - 05:06 pm:

Even the coupes and sedans didn't have steel tops.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rich Bingham on Monday, April 03, 2017 - 09:56 pm:

John, I think our answers may be at cross-purposes to your question. Antique car body construction and types is a little foreign to folks accustomed to the latter-day concept of steel tops, "hard tops" if you will, as opposed to "convertibles".

In the Model T era, the main distinction was between "open cars", that is, cars with folding fabric tops and no glass side-windows, and "closed cars". Model Ts were offered with coupe and sedan bodies, in different years, center-door, two-door and four-door sedans with fixed tops and glass side windows.

In the open car era, "convertibles" were designated as either "convertible coupes" or "convertible sedans", as they included glass side windows which would "convert" to a true closed car when the top was up. Open cars had to rely on side curtains which were snapped to fasteners on the top irons, held by rods inserted into the doors, kind of like pitching a pup tent for inclement weather.

Construction of the enclosed body types was wood frame with steel body panels, the top or "roof", if you will, was fabric over a wood frame, usually reinforced by wire mesh, and padded with a layer of batting. In fact, this was the method of construction for the tops of all enclosed cars regardless of make or price well into the mid-1930's. The reason being not that a full steel top couldn't be produced, but the body engineers of the time felt (rightly) that enclosing the occupants of an automobile under a "tin roof" in a blazing sun would only add to the discomfort of the drumming of such a large relatively flat panel subjected to the vibrations of a car in motion over varying road surfaces.

Most makes finally adopted an all-steel top by 1938, when "streamlined" body designs lent themselves to rounded, sort of "potato bug" shapes that made for tops with fairly deep compound curves, strengthening the top panel against oil-canning and drumming.

There, doubtless TMI . . . if so, I 'pologize.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Keith Townsend ; ^ ) Gresham, Orygun on Monday, April 03, 2017 - 11:32 pm:

How about the improved car?



Or was it still wood, chicken wire, and fabric covered?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bill Harris, Huntington Beach California on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 - 12:21 am:

Improved car roof:

Fabric Roof


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Dewey, N. California on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 - 12:52 am:

"All Steel" meant that there was no structural body wood involved. Wood was still inserted for upholstery tacking and for the top material support.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Aldrich Orting Wa on Thursday, April 06, 2017 - 10:54 am:

I had a Tudor that I put a new roof on so I am familiar with that type of roof. I removed the "original" roof which was in surprisingly good shape but did need to be replaced as it did leak.

What prompted my original question was I had "heard" of a Model T sedan for sale that had a steel roof(top). I had never heard of that before so I brought my question to the experts here who have provided me with my answer.

Thanks folks!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Michael C Baumgartner on Thursday, April 06, 2017 - 11:28 am:

I am trying to locate an original wooden top frame for a 27 coupe if anyone wants to part with it,, email mmbums2@gmail.com


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