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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Are there any upholsterors out there? I am installing the top and plastic rear window on my 1966 Mustang convertible and am having one whale of a time trying to get the rear quarters to look right. Yea I know. should have taken it to a pro. Well, that's true but the amount of money they are asking/demanding for labor is outrageous so here I am. I studied everything I could get my hands on for six months before starting this project but have not come across much on how to get the top stapled properly so as to give a smooth fit and finish. I will try to post a couple of photos after I type this to show everyone what I am dealing with.
There has to be an answer as to how to fix this properly other than to just say take it to a pro. Any thoughts other than that out there? from your own experience?
Thanks,
Johnnie
 

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I am trying to copy your photos so that I can mark on them to give you two ideas. Meanwhile, did you put pads across the frame members, these pads are usually located at the curve of the top.

By the way, I am not an upholsterer, and have only put three tops on in my life.
 

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Current cars include 1969 Mach 1 and 1970 Cougar XR7 convertible
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Have you contacted dalorzo_f ? He has amassed a considerable body of useful knowledge on the installation of these tops.

He's a member here but hails from down under.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes...he sent me his 'bible' many months ago and as I said I have been studying this project for six months. In his document he uses a different type of 1/4 pad than I have and so his remarks about that aspect of it is incomplete. I tried it with pads and without pads. The pictures you see are without pads and I can clearly tell that it looked much better with the pads than now so that will be the first thing I try when my new set of staples arrive in the mail 4 or 5 days from now. The trouble seems to be from either not stapling it correctly at the tack strip( I've tried every conceivable manner in which to staple it and it still is not fitting right. It is a Kee top and they say the #4 bow height should be 21"...from the moulding across the rear deck to the center of the number 4 bow. That is exactly how I have it measured. So...I don't know. I will restaple the pads on...that will help some...but I remember I had a similar problem even with them on and that's why I took them off and tried just stapling the top right on.
 

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Being totally serious here, I seriously would not worry about it al all. It looks good enough. - Because Within a year of use, Your convertible top sail panels will look like that anyway...and that is no lie...even with a mint top. The wrinkles just produce there over time anyway..

Tony K.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well I don't know. I don't think I can live with it as bad as it is. Gotta do somethin' to make it at least a little better without such huge 'rivulets' runnin' through it on both sides! Any fix ideas out there?
 

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I don't think I would consider wrinkles like that normal after a year of use. There are plenty of cars with original tops that are still taut and wrinkle free. Based on reading Dalorzo's top bible and other convertible top replacement tutorials, I have learned that the sail panel area requires lots of install/remove/re-install/remove/re-install, etc. and a lot of patience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's what I have read also. But does anyone have a technique on stapling. Where to start, where to end, where to pull tight, etc. I have already had these in and out more than fifteen times and I am chewing up the tack strip badly!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
For instance the Kee Auto Top tech said to staple the top fabric where the line is pre-drawn on it in the center of the tack strip. Well. I have tried putting the tack strip at the top of the line, at the bottom of that line and in the center of that line and each time the 1/4 panels come out looking awful. I just can't figure out why it will never come out smooth. It sure is crazy! there has got to be a reason why and a corrective measure to apply to make it right.
 

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When I did mine, I couldn't get those wrinkles out either.... I freaked out, tore it off, restapled it at least 15 times. I kept trying to staple the tack strip higher to make it tighter. Couldn't get rid of the wrinkles. The problem was, I was not completing the process. First of all, install the pads as tight as you can and maintain recommended bow height on bow #4. Remove the bottom tack strip and staple the top to it at the chalk line or marks where the manufacturer marked it. Install the tack strips loosely in the well. Glue the flaps on the side ,(pull tightly) and mount the weather strip. Install the tension cables. On mine, the wrinkles were still there until I glued and stapled the header. I opened the top and pulled the material marginally tight, glued and stapled at the tack strip in the header and when I closed the top, it looked perfect. Basically, those wrinkles do not go away until everything is fastened. The only thing I had to redo was the flaps behind the quarter windows. I removed the weather strip and pulled the flap tighter, reglued, and mounted the weather strip.It was by far the hardest thing I did on my restoration. I think it would have been MUCH easier if I would have just kept going and got the rest of it stapled down and glued, but I kept thinking those wrinkles should be smooth before I attached the rest of the top. They are not going to be smooth and there is no way to get rid of them until the perimeter of all of the flaps, weather strip, bows,and tack strips are fastened tightly. Once it is all done, you can tighten the tack strip in the well. If memory serves me correctly, I opened the frame slightly when I stapled bow 4. This allowed me to staple it easily without pulling. Actually, I made a mark on the top in the center of bow 4 when the frame was fastend down. then I unhooked the frame and stapled bow 4 about 1/4 inch lower than my mark. When the top was locked down, it was tight. Again, the wrinkles were still there until I got it all fastened and glued with weatherstrops mounted. They went away only after I stapled and glued the header. Again, at the header, I fastened the frame down, pulled the top tight and made a mark on the top where the end (leading edge) of the header was. I then unhooked the top, opened it and stapled and glued it about 1/4-1/2 inch tighter than the mark I made when it was fastend down.
 

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Johnnie: I went through the same process with my top. I had the same issues that you have. I agree with everything that trucktriksdon has commented on in his post. I used an Easy On top and found that even though they had pre-marked where the sail panels line up with the tack strips, I had to adjust from there. I'm guessing that not every top frame is exactly like the one that was used to make the pattern to make your top. So some adjustment is required. One thing I learned is that there is a propensity to believe that the tighter you you make the sail panel on the tack strip (moving the tack strip higher on the sail panel) the less the chance for wrinkles, when the opposite it true. If it is to tight, when you close the top, this will pull unevenly on
the top, at the tack strip, and cause lines of strain in the top,that show up as wrinkles.
I had this problem and my top looked like yours, so I moved the tack strip down from the manufactures prescribed marks, and it came out better. I then attached the top at the header bow and attached the side cables, as recommended by dalorzof. When you then close the top most of the remaining wrinkles will come out. But as trucktriksdon has mentioned, the rest will not come out until you stretch and attach the flaps at the quarter windows. I stretched and then clamped mine in place and let them sit for a day
and then stretched and re-clamped as needed until all the wrinkles were out. I did this with the top closed and locked. Then when you are satisfied, glue the flaps in place. Remember that the tack strips are slotted at the mounting holes and have a certain amount of adjustment as well. They can be moved forward or backwards to help alleviate the wrinkles as well. Do the same clamp and stretch process, with the flaps at the front of the top, above the side windows, and then attach the weather striping. It takes a lot of patience and helps if you do it in a warm environment, this helps the vinyl stretch. I am very happy with the way my top came out, and it is wrinkle free.

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you both for your very clear and concise descriptions of what I should do. I was beginning to think the same thing about pulling the sail panels too tight...that that might be doing just the opposite of what I wanted. Right now I am a little frustrated because I ran out of 3/8 s.s. staples and had to order them online and they are not expected to arrive until monday! So, I've had a whole week to think about what to do.
I did have the entire job completed just as trucktricksdon suggested as was trying to reinstall the plastic window when things just didn't seem to be coming together properly. I had pulled out all the wrinkles in the top except at the sail panels and then the next day, I began to have wrinkles on the passenger side at the front header! So...maybe I can fix this with time and some more staples. I truly do appreciate all the input from you guys. I will let everyone know how it comes out. I am taking my; time with this project and as long as I do a little something each day, I feel like I will eventually get it right. Thanks again, Johnnie
 

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In his document he uses a different type of 1/4 pad than I have and so his remarks about that aspect of it is incomplete.
Well.. gee whiz... sorry I gave you, for free, such a crap 100 page how-to that did not cover every possible repro part out there... guess you woulda been better off doing it on your own without the doc... :thumbsdown:

I found doing only a couple staples at the front and rear of the sail panel tack strips, then a couple in the middle allowed me to get it tight along the tack strip, not from bow 4 to the strip, and helped reduce wrinkles. I found getting the panel adjusted first at the front lower edge, then pulling it taut along the lower tack strip of the panel was more important than a super tight pull from Bow 4 to the tack strip.

As noted, once you do the header it helps as well so a test clamp there and pulling it forward can give an idea of how it will lay once done.
 

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dalorzof, your 100 page convertible top bible has tons of info and suggestions not AFAIK available elsewhere.

You and I discussed some of this along the way several years ago. I admit to giving up before getting the sail panels the way they should be. IMO replacing a convertible top is part info/instructions, part knack/artistic/feel, and part patience.

One thing completely overlooked on many projects applies especially to upholstery type projects. Gnarled arthritic fingers have a hard time doing what's commanded by the mind! I can do hammer mechanic, wrench stuff just use longer handles on the wrenches.

Put a new top on my 56 Sunliner in 72. Turned out great. DIY new top on my 70 Torino vert in 80. Turned out great. Did the new top on my 68 Stang in 2007. Even your (dalorzof) great instruction manual doesn't completely compensate for decrepit old hands! I'm gradually learning when to farm out a project!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Dalorzof...I am sorry that I offended you. No itention to do that and your manual was and is MUCH appreciated! I followed it to the letter until I got to the top pads. Mine were new and made as the 'original' ones but the fold on mine had the fold line only a quarter of the way and was way, way far right of the line on the rear deck as yours was depicted.
If the Kee and Robbins tops both call for a 21" bow height for the 64 1/2-66 mustangs and a 20 1/2" for the 67-68 do I still measure down 20 1/2" as you indicated when installing the plastic window? My car is a 1966.
 

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Rear bow height is not dependent on the rear curtain for 67-68's.

In reality I can't see the 1/2" making a huge diference to the rear curtain as when you install the biggest issue is to just ensure the zipper is hidden under the top and its centered. if the vendor does not note a change I'd stick with the stock bow height.

I'd guess they stick with stock height. Did the top not come with any instrcutions (other than the typical "should be installed by a professional..." )

Robbins lists a different top for glass or plastic on a 65-66, not sure why. As for 67-68 its one for either. But the rear glass is the same for 65-70...

I think you will need to add a '67-'68 well liner to accomodate the glass.
 

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The "statement" about wrinkles on the sail panel is NOT true!. Have an Electron top
Stayfast fabric look, with factory style web padding including sail pads. Does not, after at least 7 years, have wrinkles. Did not do the work but a trim person with years of experience,
did the installation. And the top has been up and down countless times. Do, however,
put top up when car is not it use and it is garage kept.

A strong situation in top installation is to have tack strips around the belt line,
NOT worn out for having several tops installed.
 

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Good Day! I am doing a 67 Mustang convertible and I heard you have the master book of installation procedures!! Is this book available for sale as I am stumped at the moment! Thanks Paul
 

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It looks good enough? Wihin a year of use the top sail panel will look like that anyway? I have a huge problem with both of those statements...I bought a Robbins top and did it myself. HUGE thanks to Dalorzof and his manual...it was a huge help. The other part of the equation is A LOT of patience and a second set of hands. A fridge full of beers helps too! The warmer the temp in your shop is to install the top the better. I "re did" my sail panels 3 times. Each time they looked a bit better. You actually learn what to do to get the wrinkles out the more you adjust them. After my last "adjustment" the sail panels were nice and tight, no wrinkles. My buddies 65 vert has a 15+ year old top on it...with no wrinkles in the sail panel. You have to remember the lines on the top are a STARTING POINT as to where to start stapling these to the tack strips. I saved a ton of $$$ doing the job myself. Remember...PATIENCE! Good luck!
 

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Good Day! I am doing a 67 Mustang convertible and I heard you have the master book of installation procedures!! Is this book available for sale as I am stumped at the moment! Thanks Paul
Sir. . . I am in the same boat and would like to purchase a copy of your document. I'm getting ready to do the top on a '66 Mustang. MANY THANKS!!! Mel
 
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