Installing new top insert material

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    Is there any information or instructions regarding the installation of new top insert material on closed car roofs? Also if you have done this, where did you get the material?


    I won’t get into a discussion of material, there are many different toppings available. You want a grained material, with a solid surface (not Haartz/Stayfast cloth). Cobra grain is the common material, this has been discussed on this forum often.

    Make sure your wood is in good condition. Start with a cover over the wood of chicken wire. Many cars used this wire as the antenna for the radio, if so, isolate wire from metal of body.

    Over chicken wire, put some medium weight fabric and fasten around perimeter, preferably to wood showing and not to the tack holes in the metal.

    Over that fabric, put a layer of cotton batting. I use the quilting batting sold by many fabric stores, a double layer.

    Over that goes your topping material. Best done on a hot day, in the sun, to make sure it will stretch enough. If you put it on cold it will flap in the breeze going down the road. As you install, seal it to top ridge (inboard of oval tack holes in metal) so that you don’t get water migration under material. Tack front and back, and middle each side, then work your way around.

    Most metal tops have oval holes, so you can use one side for tacking material and the other side of the oval for attaching finishing strip.

    The best option is to use the Ford finishing strip sold by vendors, it takes four for a Pierce sedan, but it takes some time to fill the strip with a low temp metal and bend to correct contour. There are other options for finishing strip, the hot rod guys sell an aluminum strip easy to bend that gets a plastic snapped over it, and I’ve even see wire-on to finish a top.

    Not a difficult procedure, just make sure it’s super tight and super sealed.


    There’s times I wish we could give a posting a THUMBS UP on this forum. This is one of those times!

    Thank you David for such a knowledge and informative explanation!


    I was able to find a visual of a trimmer installing a top insert on a Ford Model A on the internet; I will try to find and share the link. Dave’s excellent explanation has renewed my interest in the subject.


    Thanks for kind words. So happens I’m doing another “P”” car (don’t want to mention Packard on this forum) and in middle of putting on top.”


    And with padding, don’t use foam, and don’t make it too thick. Two layers of quilting cotton batting is perfect.

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