Shop TalkLeBaron Bonney's Guide to Fabric Top Replacement
Remove the old top and trim
When removing the old top and trim, be careful removing the rain gutters. There is no fool proof way to get them off, but here is one method:
Remove the tips on the ends. Use a small, firm putty knife and pry the gutter loose on one end. Most gutters hook onto an inner piece at the top, and snap on at the bottom. Once you get the outer molding started at one end, you can slide the putty knife along the bottom to release the gutter from the inner nailing strip. When removing the inner nailing strip, you can drill the nail heads and pull the strip off. The nails can be removed after with a pair of diagonal pliers.
On most station wagons, there was not any padding or denim used over the wood, the backing of the material showed thru the bows. However, if the wood is not in good condition or has a lot of discrepancies, you may want to use a layer of white denim over the wood and put a thin layer of padding over the denim to hide the discrepancies.
Install the denim
Center the denim over the roof. Tack about four or five inches in the center across the front over the windshield. Go to the rear of the roof, pull the denim tight, and tack four to five inches in the center. Go to the side of the car, and pull the denim snug, tack four to five inches in the center. Go to the opposite side of the car and pull the denim tight, tack four to five inches in the center. Next, do the four corners, pulling the denim out snug at a forty five degree angle, and tack the denim. Pull the remaining denim tight and tack it down. Trim the excess denim close to the edge of the body.
Install the padding
Pad the entire top, except where mentioned below. The padding may need to be put on in pieces, depending on the width. Use of a general spray adhesive will help to hold it in place. Mask off any areas where there is a chance of over spray getting onto the body. Don't overlap the padding, butt the pieces against each other. Do not put any padding in areas where there is going to be a molding, or hidem welt tacked on.
Install the top
The procedure for installing the top material is the same as the installation of the denim, except in the back corners. In the back corners, there is usually a compound curve. You may need to use some heat or steam to help the material stretch over the corners. If using heat, be careful not to get the topping too hot. It will permanently discolor vinyl toppings. The topping should be just warm to the touch. After the top material is installed, run a bead of silicone sealant around all the edges of the material to help keep moisture out. It will also help to keep moisture out by putting silicone over the heads of the tacks.
Reinstall the moldings, gutters, and finishing tips
If you don't have the original moldings, you can use Hidem or wire-on welting to finish the edges of the top. Wire-on has one large bead which folds over to meet the small bead to hide the tacks. Hidem welt has two beads of the same size. It opens an gets tacked in the center. The two beads close back up to hide the tacks.
Hampton Coach, a Division of LeBaron Bonney
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