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CONVERTIBLE TOP ASSEMBLY-1959 & 1960 DISASSEMBLY, RESTORATION, AND ASSEMBLY, PART I

CONVERTIBLE TOP ASSEMBLY-1959 & 1960 DISASSEMBLY, RESTORATION, AND ASSEMBLY, PART I


Go to a car show and look at convertible top frames. If you look closely, you will see a great variety of restoration parts and hardware. A couple of years ago a convertible lost a First Place by two points at one of our conventions because the correct hardware was not available at that time. The car was missing many hardware pieces and many of the bolts and screws were from the local hardware store. Often you cannot find all of the parts you need and what you can find does not look good or original. Well, that is no longer true. There is now available a great hardware kit from Shafer's Classic Reproductions that contains all of the hardware required to restore and install the 1959/1960 convertible top frame. Order PIN 40-156571-1 for this great kit! Using this kit will save you time, money and you will end up with a great looking top frame. The hardware for the top fame is very complicated and confusing, thus it is so helpful that this hardware has been bagged in such a straightforward way.

Part I of this article will show and explain the disassembly of the 1959/1960 convertible top frame. In Part II of this article, scheduled for an upcoming issue, we will discuss the restoration and re-assembly If the top frame has been restored, but does not have the correct hardware, you could follow this article and replace the old hardware with new hardware without removing the top assembly.

This introduction will tell you the basic procedure and give you some very helpful hints that will save you time and headaches! Make a rough sketch for the top assembly for future reference, but most likely everything you will need to know will be in this article. As yo.u disassemble the top, mark as many of the parts as possible. I suggest using an etching tool to mark as "left" and "right" the main pieces of the top assembly. You could mark the rails where the roof rail weatherstrip will cover the marks when the weatherstrip is installed. It is so easy to get pieces mixed up and you can waste a lot of time figuring out which is the correct piece you need for a particular assembly. Also, bag and tag the old hardware.

There are 12 main parts of the convertible top frame. The following is a list of those parts and what names they will be referred to in the article.

  • a. Side Rails or Frame Rails - six pieces (there is a left and rig ht side rail assembly with each side made up of three rails-forward, middle, and rear).
  • b. Header or Header Bow - one piece (forward assembly at the windshield).
  • c. Forward Bow - one piece (flat bow with taclcing material at the ends and felt material across the top).
  • d. Center Bow - one piece (the smallest bow - tube-style bow which has a permanently attached arm assembly that bolts to the inner quarter).
  • e. Rear Bow - one piece (largest bow - large area of taclcing material)
  • f. Folding Assembly - two pieces (right and left - each assembly attaches to all three rails on a side).

I started with the convertible top frame removed from the car. If yours is still on the car, here is the basic procedure for removing it from the convertible. Disconnect the front of the top from the windshield and put the top down. You will need the help of at least one other person to out of the car, the top can be unfolded.

Parts List
1959-60 Convertible Top Hardware Kit
1959-60 Convertible Roofrail Weatherstrip Set
1958-64 Convertible Top Tack Strip Repair Kit

Tools Needed:
Phillips Screwdriver
Flat-blade Screwdriver
Assorted Wrenches
Assorted Allen (hex) Wrenches

Time Frame
6 hours to Disassemble and Re-assemble (Time to restore the various parts varies.)

Image #1: The first 18 Steps will show the disassembly of the convertible top frame assembly. Remember that the photos will show the left side of the assembly and the left side of the photos will be in the direction of the front of the convertible top. I suggest that you disassemble one side and then repeat all of the steps for the other side; but after each step, you may want to repeat the step for the right side of the top frame.

Image #2: Step 1. Remove the two hex-head bolts with integrated washers that secure the header bow to the forward frame rail.

Image #3: Step 2. The next part to be removed is the "folding assembly" that is connected to each of the three side rails. By being connected to each of the rails, it folds the rails and top as it is lowered into the well. The folding assembly is secured to the forward rail by a bracket that is secured with three screws, washers and nuts. You may be able to remove these using just a small wrench, but you might need a Phillips screwdriver to hold the screws. If the screws start to spin, then the roof rail weatherstrip must be removed from the first rail so that the heads of the screws can be accessed.

Image #4 and 5: Step 3. After removing these, move to the middle frame rail where the "folding assembly" is secured to the middle rail with a slotted bolt that is held in place with a set screw. After backing off the set screw, use a large flat-bladed screwdriver to loosen and remove the bolt. There should be a wave washer and plastic bushing between the folding assembly and the middle rail.

Image #6: Step 4. The rear part of the folding assembly is secured to the rear rail at the forward/upper end of the rail. It is secured to the rail with tile following hardware: slotted bolt, wave washer, plastic bushing, locking washer and nut. Use a large flat-bladed screwdriver and wrench to loosen and then remove the hardware.

Image #7: Step 5. The folding assembly should be free of the (left) side rails, but still attached to the forward bow (the one with the thick felt). Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the two screws with integrated washers that secure the forward bow to the folding assembly. You may want to label or mark the folding assembly as "left." Many of these parts will look the same when you go back to assembling the top frame after restoration.

Image #8: Step 6. Now, the center bow will be removed from the rear rail. It is secured with almost the same hardware that secured the rear part of the folding assembly as explained in Step #4. Use a large flat-bladed screwdriver and wrench to loosen and then remove the hardware.

Image #9: Step 7. Next, the rear bow will be removed from the rear rail. (Notice that the center and rear bows are both attached to the rear rail.) It is secured with the same hardware that secured the center bow as explained in Step #6. Use a large flat-bladed screwdriver and wrench to loosen and then remove the hardware.

Step 8. At this time, the left side frame rail assembly should be free of the rest of the top assembly. If you have been doing just one side, repeat Steps #1-#7 for the right side frame rail.

Step 9. I suggest disassembling each of the frame rails into the pieces. Each side consists of three main rail pieces that will be referred to as: forward, center and rear rails. Since the photos will show the left side, start with the left side.

Image #10: Step 10. Disassemble the forward rail from the center rail by using two wrenches to loosen and remove the jam nut and then removing the hex-head bolt that secures the two rails

Image #11: After removing the bolt and internal star washer, use a small screwdriver to push the brass bushing out of the two rails.

Image #12: Remove any convertible top roofrail weatherstrip that is attached to the forward rail. Most of the roof rail weatherstrip is attached with hex nuts with oversized external star washers. The correct-sized nut driver works very well for removing the roof rail weather strip. At this point, the forward rail is completely disassembled and ready for restoration. Set the forward rail aside for now.

Image #13: Step 11. The center rail is secured to the rear rail with: a hex head bolt, wave washer, internal star washer and nut. Again, use two wrenches (1/2" and 9/16") to loosen and remove the jam nut. Remove the hex-head bolt and wave washer. The wave washer is under the head of the bolt. Notice that the center rail has a permanently attached "arm" at the rear part of the rail. You will not remove this arm or the triangular bracket that is also permanently attached to the arm.

Image #14 and 15: Step 12. Toward the front of the center rail is a 2" long square headed bolt, lock washer and jam nut that acts as a stop/adjustment. Use a wrench to loosen the jam nut, then another wrench to remove the bolt from the rail. Remove any roof rail weatherstrip that is attached. At this point, the center rail is completely disassembled and ready for restoration.

Image #16: Step 13. Remove any roof rail weatherstrip that is attached to the rear rail.

Image #17: At the rear of the rear rail is the hinge/bracket assembly that attaches the top assembly to the inner quarter of the convertible. This assembly is secured to the rear rail with: a bolt, wave washer, plastic bushing and locking jam nut. Use two wrenches to remove the locking nut.

Image #18: The top that we disassembled did not have a wave washer, but it would have gone under the head of the plastic bushing.

Step 14. At this time, the left side frame rail assembly has been disassembled. If you have been doing just one side, now repeat Steps #10-#13 for the right side frame rail.

Step 15. Now the six side rail pieces are completely disassembled and ready for the restoration process to start. Set the rails aside and next get the header and the three bows disassembled.

Image #19: Step 16. Using a set of diagonal cutters, remove all of the tacks and remaining canvas material from each of the bows and header assembly. Check the tacking material to make sure that when the convertible top material is installed that the tacks and staples will hold. Replacing the tacking material is not easy, but must be done if the material is really bad. (For more information, check with your top shop. Replace only the material that is required). We carry a plastic-type synthetic tacking material kit for the convertible top assembly; you can order it as PIN 40-142156-1 On our top, the thick felting on the forward bow was corning out on one side so we had to glue it back into place.

Image #20: Check the felting on your bow and repair if required.

Image #21: Step 17. The last piece to disassemble is the header bow. Using a Phillips screwdriver, remove the screws that secure the bracket for the header seal. One of these brackets can be found on both ends of the header.

Image #22, 23: Step 18. Using a Phillips screwdriver remove the single screw that secures the latch cover. Remove the two screws that secure the latch assembly to the header and then remove the latch assembly. Notice that the latch assembly spring goes to the rear of the header. Mark the latch assembly as a "right" or "left." Repeat this procedure for the other latch.

Congratulations on the disassembly of the convertible top frame assembly. Look in an upcoming issue for Part II of this article to complete the restoration and re-assembly, where we will continue with Steps #19-#41.

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