Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Quieter Now

Picked up the carpet pieces from ABC and I am pleased with the binding. I provided the cut carpet and a pattern of instructions and everything came out very well.

The main issue here was to provide the ability to remove the front floor if necessary. The carpet is retained by 2 upholstered snaps on each side and velcroed to the firewall carpet.

It looked so nice that I didn't want to use it! Off to the store for El Cheapo rubber mats to be cut and fitted to the flat portion of the floor.

It's coming along as the details are worked out!

Saturday, September 13, 2014


I took me 2 days to cut and fit all of the padding for the inset firewall and four of the carpet pieces (No BOSS, and short 7 hour work days.

Here we are in the middle of the whole show. I hope to have all the carpet cut to take to the upholsterer on Monday for binding with the 2 1/2" strips I cut from from the leftover interior vinyl. Everything but the main floor carpet/pad will be glued in with DAP High Temp Landau Top adhesive.
In the removeable carpet floor of the 34', the upholstery shop velcro attached the floor carpet to the fixed firewall carpet and that is what we are going to do here.

Model A Carpet

The top went well, at 22 cents per hour, I could make a bundle doing these. Since I was able to buy the Harrtz material and matching molding, I went to my suppliers and bought more of the same material and the last 25' of vinyl molding for the '34 Chevy.......just in case I have another cerebral incident!

I'm on a roll so let's carpet this jewel.

The first step is to cover the tunnel since the floor carpet will be bound and fit around the tunnel. The floor is made to be removed which means that the carpet cannot be attached to the firewall in front.

I cut a pattern for the padding to cover the tunnel and from that I cut the padding. VOID, on curves the pattern is 1" too small. The padding was way too short. Good wakeup call for me to pay more attention to layout.
 The length of the pad was
correct but the dimension over the arch was 1" to short.

You cannot believe the pattern on a curved surface with a thick material.

I increased the width 2" and the length 1" for the carpet since it needs to lat flat for 1/4" around the tunnel. Trim three times for fit.

Patterns, patterns, and patterns of the patterns. Flat surfaces are true except on corners and bends.

Somewhere along the line during the interior, I picked up a couple of yards of white 1/8" slick foam. This material is perfect for patterns. It's easy to cut and mark with a fine line pen. It bends and flexes and does not rip when in and out of the car. No stretch and much easy to use than construction paper.

I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but cutting the jute padding with Weiss scissors (resharpened twice) generates the most amazing blisters on the right ring finger. I think I may quit this job and go home!!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Model A Top Information

More clarification on the hardware for my top installation.

For any aluminum trim or base, a fixture is required to bend the material around the rear corners.

I found that there is a small amount of springback in the base when bent to the exact shape of the corner. You need to cut the mandrel to about 1/4"+ tighter radius than the actual corner.

Attempting to tighten the radius during installation is BAD...very very BAD. Relaxing or opening the radius during installation is easy and smooth.

The fixture is made from some remnant 1/4" plexiglass that Vic gave me last year. This is the ONLY bend (2ea) that needs to be done prior to installation. The slight curves of the perimeter are handled with little effort during the installation. After bending the corner, I marked, predrilled and deburred the the base to correspond to all of the alternate holes in the top groove.

This is the actual molding installed on the aluminum base. Neat stuff that seems to no longer be made in colors........I was very fortunate to find this. The base of the base is 0.250" wide.

There was some suggestion of a heat gun for the installation. I would say no since I believe a warm top and a 150-180 water bath would be safer and easier to use.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

After a long, long, HOT day I think we are close to the end! All that is left is to wash the blood, sweat and tears off of my "A"

I hope you like it 'cause I love it when a plan comes together!


It's Hot out here

Now comes the fun part. Clean the vinyl trim and lay it in the sun (get it HOT). This is Vegas and 105 is normal. Back the car into the afternoon sun. When the painter's tape starts falling off, you are just about warm enough.

Angle cut one end for the miter and begin easing the molding on to the base. I don't think this would work cold.
Ease one side of the molding on the base and push over to snap in place. I recommend pushing back towards the starting point as you go in case some shrinkage occurs in cold weather.

Cut your miters carefully 1/8-1/4" long. Push back to fit and it will expand hard into the 90 joint.

1930 Coupe top trim

A sandwich fixture (to hold it flat) is needed to bend the back corners. This base comes in 72" lengths and you will need 3. Buy an extra or two for practice.

The top wood is predrilled in every hole (230). Every other hole is used to hold the fabric down and the alternate holes for the base. I used #4  1/2" stainless flat head for both applications. Pick up 20 3/4" as you may need a few. #19-1/2" wire nails across the front will be buried in the fabric under the aluminum base.

My start is in the middle of the rear. be sure to leave a long enough back leg to trim to fit.

The aluminum base is about 7/16" wide and covers almost all of the silicon fillet.
Just lightly pull it into position, find the hole with your needle and snug for now.

As you tighten the silicon  fillet will level out and variations in the base can be controlled with tightening.


I purchased a package of thin cutting sheets in Wal Mart for about six bucks. These are absolutely wonderfull in the kitchen and the only way to go when trying to protect stuff on this job while using cutters or saws. Slide'em under the base and you can prevent damage to the car.

The Model A Coupe

It seems that the big issue with the 30/31 coupe top insert is the groove on the sides and rear of the opening........ how to trim. I'm not into nailing an aluminum molding 130 times and then beating the molding closed with a V block-no! Hidem will not do a 2 1/2" radius curve without buckling.

My answer (the plan) is to use landau top molding. This is an aluminum base and a vinyl trim that snaps over the base. The groove is unacceptable since the base sits in the groove and the molding cannot be attached.

First you trim the top fabric below the level of the paint just outside the screws.

Next you mask a 1/2" opening from the metal edge to the fabric. Use fine line vinyl tape and 1" painters tape with the 1/4" fine line
on top of the blue on the inner and outer edges.

Using a small filler plastic, I spread the clear silicon over the painted edge/metal/fabric groove.

This is a mess! After field testing the material on the fabric and the paint to insure no reaction we are ready to begin. I used clear DEVCON home silcone adhesive #12045.
You must be fast and have plenty of paper towels as it gets all over everthing. Do 1/3 of the car at a time, 12" per pull and then get all of the related tape off in less than 8 minutes. Do the rear first. Clean-up with mineral spirits.

When you make a mistake (and you will!!) , DO NOT go back. Disregard the bad spot and come back and repair it the next day. Going back to smooth your error in more than 2 minutes and you are dealing with unmanageable sticky gummy stuff (how do I know that??????). Get the tape off NOW and you will have a clean line. Wait until you are all done and the tape will bring the silicon fillet off with it.

This step seals the groove and provides the correct base height for the aluminum. Do not be too concerned over how perfectly flat this fillet is, the aluminum base levels it as you screw it down.  
Click to see at full screen.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

1/2 Done

I started the attachment in different areas to prevent moving the material and creating a bulge in the top. Actually moved around the car working a little here and there.

 The secret for me on this installation was CONTROL.
No hammering or setting of tacks next to the paint. I needed to find a perfect #1 phillips head screwdriver and then just carefully take your time.

About four hours of screwing and nailing and I am pleased with the result.

I hope to be trimmed by the end of the week.

The Fabric

The fabric selected is a brown landau vinyl top material by Haartz. Plenty of UV protection, an acceptable brown tone, and a smooth washable texture. Washable is important in the desert southwest where fine alkalai dust impregnates a woven fabric to the point that you cannot remove it.

The material was stretched on the wood frame twice three months ago. I actually got it to stretch 2" in in 54" width.
NO tacking for me! I predrilled the new top wood (HARD WOOD!!) to prevent breaking screws and used #4 x 1/2" stainless flat head screws on the sides and rear. The front of the top uses 1/2" wire nails in order to end up flat with the material.

I honestly don't know what this tool is, but its tool steel and polished it finds the holes just fine. My Dad had a small box of these and I actually think they might be teeth for an old cotton picker. I can remember Randy and I hiding in the mouth of a cotton picker when we were little, and the tines on those huge rollers didn't seem to hurt us.
You find the hole in the metal groove with the tool and press firmly. The indentation is the target for the needle which locates the predrilled hole. If you are a little off you can move the screw in that direction and screw through the fabric. The same game for the wire nails across the front.

Back on the Job

Domestic projects have caused a significant delay in the Model A.

This delay was welcome as I was very apprehensive concerning the 250 holes for tacks/nails very close to the nice red paint. The fabric installation uses about 125 and the trim another 125.

The concrete crew left part of a roll of 20 mil plastic which was just right for a pattern of the padding.

I got the padding from Bert's in Denver. I try to buy everything that I can from them because they DO Model A's and not just sell parts. Very knowledgeable guys.

Cutting this fluffy stuff was easy with a rolling razor cutter.

The third layer of fabric just below the padding is convertible top fabric. This has a rough woven texture and holds on to the padding well and should prevent slippage. No Glue required!

I elected to chuck 200 #6 tacks

Taped and shielded from me, I think we are ready to begin. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A New Top

I thought I would just have the top done by an upholstery shop......VOID. Its either "didn't they use chicken wire in these??" or " I will only do this by installing a metal top in the car and then Landau the new metal. Probably will scratch the paint!"

So here we go........we start with the new structure and new paint, I can do this!

The first step is to block the bow/side rail joints to be sure that no irregularities exist. Then block and trim the bows and related headliner listings.

With all of the information on the net, I will do a 5 layer insert. This is old school, but so am I.

With a paper pattern of the insert (metal edge to metal edge) I taped the car and installed the first layer for sound deadening. This is one layer of "Warm & Natural" cotton quilt batting. This is stapled down with a simple fine line stapler.

The next step requires better paint protection, so I cut the middle (paper pattern) out of a $2.50 soft blanket from the local Thrift Store and taped that over the first tape line.

I really like Nick's paint, and this seemed a little wimpy to a clutz like me. The CEO was absent, so I scrounged around the house for more protection. I snagged a hidden PINK blanket (she will never miss it) and added it and another layer of tape.

Now it seems better protected.

A buddy stopped by while I was taping this one on and said " You're going to get in trouble when she gets home!! But it does look kinda sporty if you like PINK".

Now comes the chicken *#@/)^. I hate this stuff but the old timer Model A guys swear by it. We are nicely padded now (warm and soft too).

Even after rolling it out on the driveway several times and duct taping the sharp ends, it still looked like a potato chip.

Three hours later, it was tight and smooth and retained by nails.

Now comes the air stapler to secure the wire as stretched. Cut and trim to the inside metal edge again.

The third layer in "the plan" is Haartz Cambria convertible top fabric. This is a very nice, tough, non-stretch material I found at the upholstery supply.

Waiting two days for a warm full sun day, I built the stretching frame for the Landau vinyl.
Now the car sits in the sun to heat and relax the material prior to streching and stapling in place. Not much stretch in the Harrtz fabric.

The Landau fabric heated faster the the top fabric, so I stopped and stretched it to the frame while the top was heating. This is the first of probably 3 stretches.

Click on any picture for full view.

Stretching side to side and front to rear, the third layer is fitted to the inside metal edge and stapled in place. Pain in the *@#(^%$  since the stapler is now hitting previous staples and the wire.

All stapled in place and tight as a drum!

Trimmed and untaped.Now waiting for the 1/2" polyester padding from Labaron Bonney and searching for a trim component that I find acceptable.

Friday, February 14, 2014

It Runs !!!

A multitude of details. Fresh engine, fresh turbo 350, FRESH EVERYTHING!

After a last complete circuit evaluation (defective new starter switch), I got out the beads, placed them in my old tithing dish, poured 5 gallons of  Chevron "Ethyl" in the tank and waited for my friend Teak to show up.

I was nervous trying this by my self but I armed Teak with a 5 lb. fire extinguisher, 7 quarts of ATF, and a cobbled up funnel to the Lokar dipstick tube. I cable tied the funnel to the radiator support rods.
We placed the rear axle on jack stands (don't want this in the spare bedroom) and hooked up the battery with a quick release clamp.

I cannot tell a lie, there were a few glitches........

After about an hour of trying to get it to idle correctly, the points in the distributor finally just closed up...all stop??

Who ever had the idea that the blower was cool never considered working on the points. We finally adjusted them to an eyeball .016". Teak only has one good eye so he held the distributor cap up and I cleaned and set them. No match book covers but a genuine Mark IV, First Generation 1945 Eyeball (brown).

Wow, that was nice, can adjust the carb and everything.

Ended up with 10 1/2 quarts of ATF in the trans. The wheels go one direction in "DRAG" and the other direction in "RACE". How cool is that?

Every thing got better yet after the overflow tubing fell off the radiator resevoir and we got that issue addressed. It does seem to run a little warm (HOT!!) so I may need a swamp cooler for the front??

BIG +++ today. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Interior Update

The last two weeks have been dealing with door glass and reproduction parts! If there were a choice, I would recommend repair or rebuild for some of the components in the "A".

I installed the door glass with all new hardware then finished the door panels and installed those. This involves a number of sequenced reproduction components, some of which don't quite fit correctly. Each problem fix affects the next components........A nightmare!

Covered the cowl panels yesterday and installed today. Looks good.

We used 1/4" sew foam on the panels and the seat just barely touches the door panels when the door is closed. I would have preferred 1/2" sew foam but was concerned the the contact would wear on both pieces.

For those who consider $8 to $12k for doing this from absolute scratch out of line, I can tell you that there are at least 100 manhours in this job even for an experienced trimmer (200+ for me). Just add it up at whatever the hourly rate.