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Old 01-23-2012, 06:49 PM
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How do-able is an A body Convertible top at home?

Dan, I have my 1965 Buick Gran Sport convertible about ready for the top (a few more weeks I hope) and I was planning on doing it myself, then chickened out, then called to find out it's about a $grand labor alone, so I am back to thinking about doing it.

I sat last night on the couch and started reading the GM manual on this procedure and it's seriously demystifyed for me at least. It looks very do-able, what do you think? I did a Mustang top with my boss when I was a pup and it came out real nice. I don't remember a darn thing about doing it, but remember it looking real nice.

Brian

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Old 01-23-2012, 07:04 PM
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I did my 62 Pontiac myself...I had never done it before...I did have a factory manual that outlined the process.....You may now be able to find directions online.....If I remember correctly, setting the bow above the rear window in the right position is very important.....the rest is getting it streched so it doesnt wrinkle....this was 20 years ago.





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Old 01-23-2012, 09:57 PM
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The manual has a template for making a spreader bar for that last bow with a very defined distance, 17 and 5/8", I read it over and over and that number sticks in my head.


Brian
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:07 PM
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the one i did came with a video disc. it was easy.that vid is a must for a first timer.without it it would have a bugger.
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Old 01-23-2012, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geezer69
the one i did came with a video disc. it was easy.that vid is a must for a first timer.without it it would have a bugger.
I got a "video", we are talking VHS back when I started this project and now I don't even have a video player to watch it! I may stop by the thrift store and see if I can pick one up for a few bucks.

Brian
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Old 01-24-2012, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MARTINSR
Dan, I have my 1965 Buick Gran Sport convertible about ready for the top (a few more weeks I hope) and I was planning on doing it myself, then chickened out, then called to find out it's about a $grand labor alone, so I am back to thinking about doing it.

I sat last night on the couch and started reading the GM manual on this procedure and it's seriously demystifyed for me at least. It looks very do-able, what do you think? I did a Mustang top with my boss when I was a pup and it came out real nice. I don't remember a darn thing about doing it, but remember it looking real nice.

Brian
Brian: The good news is that the procedure for installing a convertible top didn't change much from the early 40's up until 2005. The main thing is getting the bow height exactly right, and for your car, if it's a Skylark Gran Sport, it is 20 1/2". The bow height is measured from the edge of the opening to the center of the rear bow. Take your time removing the old top and curtain and take pictures of everything so you know how things go back together. Some tops have one long trim stick, but a lot have three separate sticks, one for each sail and one for the rear curtain. Get a good quality top, like Electron or Robbins, follow the directions to the letter, and make sure you replace the pads and cables if you need to. If this is the first replacement top for the car the cables and pads might be re-usable. The rear curtain is attached to a long trim stick, or the center of a one piece stick and is installed first. That's when you need to get the bow height exactly right. You might also need to replace the front and rear tack strip if they are damaged. A good top will be marked where to staple the rear sails to the trim sticks on the corners. The trim sticks are bolted to the car.
It's not an easy job, but if you have a good staple gun with stainless steel staples, and are basically a handy person, which you are, you can do it. My top supplier lists a 2 hour installation time for the rear curtain for your car, and a 6 hour installation time for the top itself. You can expect to take a lot longer than that. Get somebody to help you, if only to have an extra pair of hands to hold things. I can't emphasize enough taking your time. Good luck, the first one is the hardest.
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:10 AM
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Thanks for the response Dan, I am feeling better about this. I bought the top and all parts years ago, hopefully they are still useable.

My original top assembly (I actually have two) is stuffed away where I put it about 15 years ago and I don't even remember if I left the cloth on it! I am hoping I did, I think I did.

Last night I picked up a VCR for five bucks and hooked it up to see my tape on doing a top. The only bad thing is it's a friggin Ford! It's was about a 1970 Torino I think. I have to assume as you mentioned Dan that they are pretty much the same and I can watch this tape for some education, if nothing else to "de-mystify" the process as it will be basically the same as my 65 Buick?

Brian
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:19 AM
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I read this thread with interest-I don't know if this will help, but maybe there is some information you can use-

http://www.carcraft.com/techarticles...p/viewall.html

http://www.convertibletopguys.com/static/topmanual


http://www.upholster.com/auto/convertible-domestic.html


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pABAsUU1ixo
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:23 AM
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Thanks, when I did a search (figuring youtube would have something for sure) I didn't find anything A body specific so I didn't get into it. But after Dans opening my eyes that they are pretty much the same I figure I will read every thing I can, thanks for the links.

Brian
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MARTINSR
Thanks for the response Dan, I am feeling better about this. I bought the top and all parts years ago, hopefully they are still useable.

My original top assembly (I actually have two) is stuffed away where I put it about 15 years ago and I don't even remember if I left the cloth on it! I am hoping I did, I think I did.

Last night I picked up a VCR for five bucks and hooked it up to see my tape on doing a top. The only bad thing is it's a friggin Ford! It's was about a 1970 Torino I think. I have to assume as you mentioned Dan that they are pretty much the same and I can watch this tape for some education, if nothing else to "de-mystify" the process as it will be basically the same as my 65 Buick?

Brian
The GM might be different in that the trim stick in yours may be one piece instead of three, but other than that, they are the same with very minor differences. I hope you left the original pads (outside edges from front to back and possibly in the sail corner area) on the top frame, that would be the only thing that could make the job difficult. You can do this, Brian.
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Old 01-25-2012, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanTwoLakes
The GM might be different in that the trim stick in yours may be one piece instead of three, but other than that, they are the same with very minor differences. I hope you left the original pads (outside edges from front to back and possibly in the sail corner area) on the top frame, that would be the only thing that could make the job difficult. You can do this, Brian.
I'm pretty certian the top with the pads of course is still on it. I have the new trim stick and it's three. The names are throwing me Dan! I was reading the manual and still couldn't understand a number of the names and just what the living hell they were!

I'll be starting a thread when I start the project (hopefully in a month or so).

Brian
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:33 PM
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If the trim stick is in 3 pieces, then it goes on just like the 70 Torino. I just did a 70 Torino, so if you have any questions just fire away. I think your Skylark only has a plastic rear window available for it, which is simpler than a rear curtain with glass.
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:07 AM
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Mine has a plastic curtain rear window. Ok, I am planning on doing it, I will be reading and studying in my spare time until then (about a month I am thinking) and I'll be posting a thread. Thanks so much guys!

Brian
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MARTINSR
Mine has a plastic curtain rear window. Ok, I am planning on doing it, I will be reading and studying in my spare time until then (about a month I am thinking) and I'll be posting a thread. Thanks so much guys!

Brian

If your going to start a new thread maybe link this one to that and vise/versa
Or just use this thread?
Want to watch and learn. My 65 Cutlass thanks you!
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nonhog
If your going to start a new thread maybe link this one to that and vise/versa
Or just use this thread?
Want to watch and learn. My 65 Cutlass thanks you!

Your Cutlass has the same top as Brian's Skylark with the bow height also 20 1/2". Your top will go on just like the Skylark.
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