Top shrunk

Discuss all things Model T related.
Forum rules
If you need help logging in, or have question about how something works, use the Support forum located here Support Forum
Complete set of Forum Rules Forum Rules
User avatar

Topic author
Michael Peternell
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:00 am
First Name: Michael
Last Name: Peternell
Location: Avon mn

Top shrunk

Post by Michael Peternell » Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:20 pm

The top of my newly acquired T hasn't had the top up in 40 years or so. I'm at least 4" to 5" short of the windshield.
Is there any kind of conditioner/ treatment/ technique to get it re-stretched? Thanks for your consideration.
Mike Peternell


Scottio
Posts: 104
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:02 pm
First Name: Scott
Last Name: Lay
Location: California

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Scottio » Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:40 pm

I got a touring car years ago with the same issue. I tried everything with no success. Had to replace the top.


Humblej
Posts: 379
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:23 pm
First Name: Jeff
Last Name: Humble
Location: Charlevoix, Mi
Board Member Since: 2006

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Humblej » Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:48 pm

I would wait a few months untill the weather turns warm and sunny. Leave it in the sun to soften and become more pliable and you may be able to coax it back to shape. But for now, while it is cold, leave it alone.


Humblej
Posts: 379
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:23 pm
First Name: Jeff
Last Name: Humble
Location: Charlevoix, Mi
Board Member Since: 2006

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Humblej » Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:48 pm

I would wait a few months untill the weather turns warm and sunny. Leave it in the sun to soften and become more pliable and you may be able to coax it back to shape. But for now, while it is cold, leave it alone.


Billdizer,Spencer In
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:58 pm
First Name: Bill
Last Name: Dizer
Location: Spencer, In
MTFCA Number: 28610
MTFCA Life Member: YES
Board Member Since: 2014

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Billdizer,Spencer In » Fri Dec 20, 2019 8:14 pm

As the others have suggested, wait for a warm to hot spring day, and put the car out in the full sun. Put bungee cords from the front of the top to some good anchor point like the front fender edge, and from the top bows to like the windshield brackets or wherever you can get a mostly forward pull. It doesn't have to be super tight, just a steady pull in the direction it needs to stretch. Be SURE to protect the windshield and painted areas with layers of blankets or padding so that a bungee cord won't damage anything if it slips or breaks. Try to stay out of the line of fire when stretching them, they hurt if they slip and smack you!! Then just walk away and leave it to stretch slowly. You can give the top an extra pull once in a while if you walk by. Do not force it all at once, it took years to shrink, and it's not going to come back in a hurry! It may not come back, and will have to be replaced, but it's worth a try!


wayne sheldon
Posts: 1284
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:13 pm
First Name: Wayne
Last Name: Sheldon
Location: Grass Valley Califunny, USA
Board Member Since: 2005

Re: Top shrunk

Post by wayne sheldon » Fri Dec 20, 2019 8:21 pm

Sometimes they can be stretched back.Sometimes they cannot. Do like Humble J says,wait till warm weather, then stretch it slow. Allow it time to stretch in the sun. Even at that,sometimes they just won't stretch enough, or can rip when allowed to cool. Also,sometimes when you stretch the length so that it pulls down into place? The sides will pull up and looks bad.

And heed Bill D's suggestions about the bungee cords!

Give it a try and hope? Or just go ahead and change the top. (Or leave the top down?)


Mike Thomas
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:50 am
First Name: Mike
Last Name: Thomas
Location: Centerville, Iowa

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Mike Thomas » Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:11 am

All vinyl shrinks with age. There is a chemical added to it called a "plasticizer" that keeps it soft and supple. That plasticizer leaches out at a given rate, no matter what you treat it with. Only real solution is to replace the top. Now, that being said, when you install the new top, keep that in mind. I have seen guys want to really install the top tight, thinking it might stretch later. Not going to happen. Install so it looks right, but not tight, as you now know, it will tighten up as it ages. This process will start to appear in 3-4 years.

User avatar

Topic author
Michael Peternell
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:00 am
First Name: Michael
Last Name: Peternell
Location: Avon mn

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Michael Peternell » Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:59 am

Thanks for the suggestions! Thanks Mike for explaining the science behind it!

User avatar

Henry K. Lee
Posts: 1896
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:09 am
First Name: Henry
Last Name: Lee
Location: South Pittsburg, TN
MTFCA Life Member: YES

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Henry K. Lee » Sat Dec 21, 2019 9:20 am

Mike was spot on! Thanks Mike.

Just a little foot note: If you decide to do the the outside warm day trick, use a spray bottle of water and just a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar in it. Spray the under side occasionally (the whole underside) lightly. This will relax the cloth fibers enough to prevent them from ripping loose. Just a temporary fix but should help if on a budget.

All the Best,

Hank

User avatar

Topic author
Michael Peternell
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:00 am
First Name: Michael
Last Name: Peternell
Location: Avon mn

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Michael Peternell » Sat Dec 21, 2019 9:32 am

Well it looks like you all saved me from a grand day of experimenting trying to find the miracle alixor to condition my top!
So next question is where to source a new top?

User avatar

aDave
Posts: 136
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:21 am
First Name: David
Last Name: Dufault
Location: Concord New Hampshire
MTFCA Number: 303
MTFCA Life Member: YES

Re: Top shrunk

Post by aDave » Sat Dec 21, 2019 10:08 am

Highly recommended by many:

https://www.classtiqueupholstery.com/in ... 22-welcome

(Yes, I am a very satisfied customer....not an "influencer" - just very satisfied with the product and service - both before and after the sale).

Seriously...order now, if you wish...but do the warm weather treatment - either inside a hot garage, or in July when the sun is beating down and you are too hot to be outside.

Good Luck

User avatar

Henry K. Lee
Posts: 1896
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:09 am
First Name: Henry
Last Name: Lee
Location: South Pittsburg, TN
MTFCA Life Member: YES

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Henry K. Lee » Sat Dec 21, 2019 10:56 am

And store your cars always with the top up! Just saying.

Hank


noelchico
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:42 pm
First Name: Noel
Last Name: Chicoine
Location: Pierre, South Dakota
MTFCI Number: 22686
Board Member Since: 2005

Re: Top shrunk

Post by noelchico » Sat Dec 21, 2019 11:03 am

Mike at Classtique was more than helpful in supplying just the parts I needed to repair the top that had been put on too tight on my roadster before I purchased it. You may just need the top vinyl and can re-use the rear vinyl, pads, and straps.

User avatar

Oldav8tor
Posts: 470
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:39 am
First Name: Tim
Last Name: Juhl
Location: Thumb of Michigan
MTFCA Number: 50297
MTFCI Number: 24810

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Oldav8tor » Sat Dec 21, 2019 12:06 pm

I've got a twist for you. I have a 30 year old top that has never been installed. When I bought the car is was still sealed in the box it was shipped in. I assume it may have shrunk a bit with time, but it looks good. My question for those of you with more experience with tops, should I install it or get a brand new one?
1917 Touring
1946 Aeronca Champ
1952 Willys M38a1 Jeep
1953 Ford Jubilee Tractor

User avatar

Henry K. Lee
Posts: 1896
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:09 am
First Name: Henry
Last Name: Lee
Location: South Pittsburg, TN
MTFCA Life Member: YES

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Henry K. Lee » Sat Dec 21, 2019 12:28 pm

Tim,

Due to the fact it has not been exposed to the elements, it may only have storage crease marks. Lay flat in the sun and massage them slowly out. Depending on the grade of material, you may be amazed.

Hank


Scott_Conger
Posts: 1994
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:18 am
First Name: Scott
Last Name: Conger
Location: Clark, WY
Board Member Since: 2005

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Scott_Conger » Sat Dec 21, 2019 1:12 pm

Michael

if it were my car, and the top had the age and patina that I wanted to keep with the car, I would be inclined to make every effort to save it and slowly stretch it back.

My '13 was stored for at least 40 years with the top folded down and had creases like ironed down 30# roofing felt. I lived in FL at the time and had humidity and heat working for me. I've toured in MN in July and KNOW you have the heat and humidity, too, just not for as long. I erected the top and used several large zip ties to secure the straps to the windshield. Every couple of days through the 1st summer of ownership, I'd be able to get the zip ties to "click" a couple of clicks. The tension applied thusly is far in excess of a bungee(s) and without the risk of injury to man or machine. By winter the top fit, and I am VERY glad that I did not succumb to "replacement fever".

Realizing that the top is a system of various components, you will want to limit the "oomph" of the zip ties such that you do not overload the irons and risk buckling them. Tension, time, heat and moisture (doesn't hurt to wet the top down periodically), will be your friend.
Scott Conger

Full Flow Float Valves - deliver fuel like Henry intended!


Colin Mavins
Posts: 127
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:36 pm
First Name: Colin
Last Name: Mavins
Location: Winnipeg Canada
MTFCA Number: 1853

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Colin Mavins » Sat Dec 21, 2019 5:30 pm

You could always make your own top Mom showed Dad how to sew ,my brother and I pumped the old singer and in one week end it was done . We must have done something right it is still on the car and looking great 52 years later.
116.jpg


Jack Putnam, in Ohio
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:19 pm
First Name: Jack
Last Name: Putnam
Location: Bluffton, Ohio
MTFCA Number: 13833
MTFCI Number: 13353

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Jack Putnam, in Ohio » Sat Dec 21, 2019 7:56 pm

Tim: New tops always have a little bit of material that has to be trimmed off after installation. Even if the top in the box has shrunk some it will most likely still fit.

User avatar

Topic author
Michael Peternell
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:00 am
First Name: Michael
Last Name: Peternell
Location: Avon mn

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Michael Peternell » Sat Dec 21, 2019 8:38 pm

Thanks for all the responses! The top had no real patina. I would have been all over saving that. No tattered or worn edges from years of use.
Just a lot of dust and dirt on top of it. I do appreciate your comment Scott on saving patina. I would have spent a lot of time massaging
a '70's installed top if it wasn't for advice found here. Instead I left a message for Mike at Clastique and spent the day doing removal and prep.
IMG_20191221_154343.jpg


Scott_Conger
Posts: 1994
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:18 am
First Name: Scott
Last Name: Conger
Location: Clark, WY
Board Member Since: 2005

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Scott_Conger » Sat Dec 21, 2019 10:29 pm

In a year, that paint will no longer be a good match for the shiny new top and will likely have to be renewed in kind.

And another nice old car becomes just like every other nice shiny T.

I own a '15 that is largely original. The second owner (who I bought it from), replaced what had to have been a near-perfect top (based on the mint original condition of the rest of the car), when he first bought it in the late '70's. Under his ownership, the car never ran, but spent 45+ years on jack stands in an airconditioned garage. From a wear standpoint, the car is still basically new. Due to great care, the replacement top still looks new and you can still bounce a nickle off of it, and to this day, it's the one part of the car that makes me ill every time I think about it.

But that's just me.
Scott Conger

Full Flow Float Valves - deliver fuel like Henry intended!

User avatar

Topic author
Michael Peternell
Posts: 92
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:00 am
First Name: Michael
Last Name: Peternell
Location: Avon mn

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Michael Peternell » Sun Dec 22, 2019 6:39 am

No worries Scott.
In a year the top will match the existing paint. I'll make a point of it. These are a couple of my restored T's.
IMG_20171231_134053.jpg
IMG_20160831_064617404.jpg


DHort
Posts: 568
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 1:30 pm
First Name: DAVID
Last Name: HJORTNAES
Location: Men Falls, WI
MTFCA Number: 28762
MTFCI Number: 22402

Re: Top shrunk

Post by DHort » Sun Dec 22, 2019 10:50 am

Michael, looks like you need new tops on those, too.

User avatar

Henry K. Lee
Posts: 1896
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:09 am
First Name: Henry
Last Name: Lee
Location: South Pittsburg, TN
MTFCA Life Member: YES

Re: Top shrunk

Post by Henry K. Lee » Sun Dec 22, 2019 11:09 am

Nice Michael!

Post Reply Previous topicNext topic