Putting a Top on a Roadster

Having seen some questions regarding top replacement I thought I might put in my two cents worth. Having accomplished this task in the past I thought that I would share my experiences. This was done a number of years ago. I am going to replace it again in the near future. I'll include some pictures after it's done.

First thing is to remove the old top. Remove the screws from the retaining clamp on the bow. Peel the old top loose and toss it aside. There is an adjustment on one of the supports. It allows for adjustment if the top shrinks or stretches. There are two ways to go on this. It is unlikely that the top is going to shrink unless it is left down all of the time. But, it can be tough to get up after extended periods of time. They will stretch when running down the road at highway speed. Ever notice how much the top lifts off of the supports? I once managed to get my hand caught there. (Don't ask!) So, we have the ability to do some fine adjusting should it become necessary. I started with mine in the middle. I don't know if this is correct but it worked for me.

Attach the frame and lock it into place. Put the rear bar in and attach it to the hooks on the rear deck. Make sure that it is centered and tape it in place with masking tape. This will prevent it from sliding off center. Pull the top into place over the frame. Make sure that the front is centered, pull it as tight as possible, and tape it to the windshield. I used duct tape as I recall. Check the sides to insure that they are aligned with the door frame/windows. Mine was a hair wide. Mark where it lines up to the doors with chalk. Stretch the rest of the top as tight as you can get it and tape it to the windshield. Mark along the front edge of the bow with chalk. Remove the frame and top, lay it upside down, and attach it to the bow. (A light coat of aerosol contact cement will keep things in place while the screws are replaced.) Work the top onto the bow following the chalk line made earlier. Pull it a bit beyond the edge mark to insure that it will be tight. Start in the middle to make sure that it is centered. Next, make sure the sides are aligned and work the rest of the top into place. This may require some stretching if the top is a bit narrow. If it is wide, work it into place as best you can from the outer edge toward the center. It can be 'scrunched' a good bit without wrinkling if you are careful. After it is in place, take a small roller and work it down as flat as you can get it. A wallpaper edge roller works well. Insure that there are no large wrinkles or bulges and replace the metal retainer. I wouldn't recommend using any kind of power screwdriver. The screws are quite small. The strength comes from the fact there are so many of the little buggers!

Now, put it on the car and see how it fits. It should be a tight pull but not enough to tear anything. If you hear anything that doesn't sound right (tearing, threads popping and the like) stop immediately. You will have to adjust the fit. If it goes into place properly and is quite snug, pat yourself on the back, sit back with a cold one, and bask in the warmth of self-satisfaction.

Now we do the sides. Attach the metal tabs pulling the cables tight. Pull the sides into place and tape them down. Look things over and make sure everything is lined up and even on both sides. Pull one side gently until there is just a bit of tension on it. Not too hard or you will pull the other side out of whack. Press down on the twisties and posties and mark the points with a grease pencil. GENTLY poke holes for the tabs with a utility or X-acto knife. I recommend that you use a block of wood behind it. Put the grommet (or snap as the case may be) in place and bend the tabs over. A pair of Channellocks works well. Now cut out the center using the back plate as a guide. Go to the other side and repeat the process. Pull this side taught but don't try to make a drum head out of it. All you want here is a smooth, snug fit. Too tight and it will pull the postie and twistie grommets out.

At this point you should have a well-fitted top on your little beast!