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Old 12-16-2009, 08:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Red face 70's Landau Top Install

Yes, I actually put it back on! This was my first attempt at this. I did a lot of reading and came up with this procedure.

Materials needed:

*Prep All (or a similar wax/grease remover)
*DAP Vinyl Top and Trim Adhesive*
*1/4" or 1/2" CLOSED CELL type foam padding (thickness depends on your car)**
*Blue Masking tape
*Paint brushes of various widths
*Masking paper (Newspaper is too thin and fragile, in my opinion).
*Razor blades
*A GOOD pair of scissors
*some plastic rulers
*A helper
*Oh, and of course, vinyl material!

This stuff is hard to find. DAP doesn't sell it in small quanities. I needed 2 and a half quarts, but DAP only sells it in 5 gallon drums, and in that size, it ships by truck freight as it's deemed a hazardous substance. I did find an upholstery place online that sold it in smaller quanities, and shipped via UPS. You might find a local upholstery shop that will sell you some on the side. Ask around.

I got mine on eBay, fairly cheap. Again you may find it locally. I didn't find it at JoHans or So-Fro Fabrics.

The vinyl material is actually NOS vinyl top material for my car! SMS Auto Fabrics stocks almost all material from the 20s to 2000s and can manufacture what they don't have! It was cheaper than I expected, as well!

This is a "before".. The car just painted.


On my 78 Cougar XR7, Ford used large plastic sail panels on either side of the roof that were covered by vinyl. So without extensive metal work, The top needed to go back. I liked it anyway.

First, tape off the roof except for where the vinyl will be placed. On this car, a thin molding surrounds the roof, so I masked off the top up to the mounting holes.

Then take your foam and unroll it over the roof. Cut a 'rough draft' shape leaving several inches to a foot of extra material. This just makes the foam easier to work with. Cut out the back window area as well, to facilitate bending so the foam doesn't 'bunch'.

With a large brush, I brushed on the glue to the TOP of the roof (not the sides yet). This stuff smells AWFUL (ventilate your workspace!). It goes on like slime. Brush it thoroughly onto the roof.


From what I've read there are several ways to proceed. I took my rough draft of foam and lightly pressed it onto the roof of the car, then lifted it off. This put a bit of glue on the foam, so I could see where to apply the glue. If you blindly spread glue on the foam, it'll be that much harder to trim up.

I then applied glue to the side of the foam facing the roof, while reapplying to the roof (this glue must stay moist, but it can be remoistened with more glue!)

From here on out, it's like wrapping a BIG salad bowl with Saran Wrap. Hold the foam stretched tightly (helper comes in at this point), and lay the foam down. Using your rolling pin flatten any bubbles from the center and work them out. Take note that you really only get one chance with the foam to get it flat. The glue is that strong.

Repeat this procedure for the sides of the roof, and the rear. Apply glue to the roof, lightly press down to make an imprint, apply glue to foam, pull taught, work out wrinkles.

Then, trim the foam up to the trim holes. Around the rear window, I cut it to the edge of the window opening. I used a razor blade, with a plastic ruler under it as a cutting surface. The foam cuts easily, and it doesn't need to be CNC-machine perfect, as the foam gives quite a bit under the trim, and the vinyl material covers alot. Trim the vinyl so the moulding holes just barely show, as shown here.


You should have a 'foam top'.

Do a peel test of the foam at the edges, and reapply some glue in any areas that peel away easily.. Fix any tape and paper that may have been disturbed.. But this time, move the tape so that it does NOT cover any trim holes. This is so the vinyl can be glued up under the trim!.

Take your vinyl, and unroll it over the roof. Oooh and Ahhh at the material.

(Special thanks to my girlfriend for being 'the helper').


As you can see, I bought too much material. Every car will vary, so I won't give an answer. Measure, and ordering 1 yard more than you need should be sufficient.

Basically, the procedure for the vinyl material is the same as the foam! Cut the material out in the rough shape of the roof, as layed out on the car, leaving some extra material.

Apply glue to the topside of the roof, lay the vinyl down gently, and lift off making an imprint... One interesting note about the vinyl is that it's really just a thin sheet of rubber (vinyl) with a fine mesh glued to it. This mesh SUCKS up the glue. You'll need more than you think.


Get mentally prepared to do this. I rolled the vinyl up a bit on each side to give something to hold on to while stretching the vinyl out. Lay it down stretched and flat. Roll out any bubbles or boogers of glue. (don't panic if you see some raised areas from the glue, they will go away).

Do this again for each side. The rear will need to be stretched, as you're working with a corner at each side of the rear window at the top. Take note to keep the vinyl material long enough so it can be glued in the molding channel.. The window surround helps hold the roof in place.


Congrats. The hard part is done.

Now it's a case of reinstalling trim and (in my case) opera windows.

Trimming the top is fairly easy at this point. Hold the molding up to where it should be and trim the vinyl so its under it. Trim as little as you can. Take care to glue down any loose edges, as before.


As you work around the rear glass, you might be disappointed at the amount of puckering at the corners of the roof. (see mine?)


They WILL greatly diminish with a day or so in the sun.

Keep trimming and reinstalling your trim.


Let the car sit in the sun for a few days. And the top will 'shrink' slightly. (You did use enough glue right?)


And that's a 70's style padded vinyl landau top install!

Some notes:

-Apply the glue evenly. Try to work out any boogers and lumps at each stage.

- Measure THREE TIMES, cut once!

- You get one shot at the final gluing.. The foam will rip instead of breaking free, so keep the material TIGHT.

- I did this because I wanted to try it, and local places wanted (what I thought) was obscene amounts of cash to do this.. And my car wasn't mobile at all.

- You may need to remove some (or all) of your interior around the roof to get access to the trim surrounding the roof.

This was my first attempt at anything like this, and I've compared it to some factory tops, and it looks just as nice. I wouldn't try this if you are unsure of yourself, but if you've wondered "I think I can do this but how?" You probably can.


.
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Last edited by FATNFAST; 12-16-2009 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 70's Landau Top Install

Good job! Nice write up too.

Pierre
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 70's Landau Top Install

Good stuff! I gotta do a top on a car local, may I borrow your girlfriend?
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Old 01-06-2010, 04:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 70's Landau Top Install

Your girlfriend just looks soooooo happy to be the "helper". She's a good sport. Definitely a "keeper". But I don't think she'll be up to helping Grasshopper's mentor.
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