Roadster Top



The following was learned during Fred Houston's recent installation of an early roadster top.

Top bows - Most dealers use 48 inch id, 50 inch od. It was a smidge narrow for the 13 Roadster, but I used it anyway. The primary concern is that the top maker makes the top panel for a 50 od bow. Also, Ford apparently intended the top rear panel completely cover all the way from top rest iron on one side to the top rest iron on the other side. I will print a couple pages of info from Ford to substantiate this. Judging from the many examples I see on the road, most of the folks who make top kits don't understand this.

The roll up rear panel shown is from JV Group. Notice it goes from iron to iron as specified by Ford. 

Next, I will print page (left diagram) 192 from Bruce McCalley's "Car that changed the World". From the Ford parts Book showing all the parts for the early tops and side curtains. The right diagram is even more important. This page you cannot do without if you're doing a two man top. All the measurements! Plus a couple that I've added that are pretty important. This is page 155 from "The Model T FordOwner" Book by our friend Murray Fahnestock. Murray sure made our lives much easier. Thank You Murray.

The measurements I added are the measurements from the hinge rivet to the top of the bow for both the front and rear bows. Sure helps. 

The thing you always notice on a top. Smooth sides. Take a look at the smooth sides of this JV Group top.

A couple more comments. See the temporary sticks proped in the bows between the vertical bow and the rear bow? I could find no way to keep top in the correct position while I tightened the top panel other than use these temp sticks. I'm going to drive the car a few more days in the hot sun before I remove them. I'll let you know. 

One thing I really liked about the JV Group top was the manner they addressed the seal between the top and the windshield. Take a look at this. I've never seen a better solution on the early tops. This is a very snug and tight seal. Worse case snaps could be added.

The attachment of the leather straps in this photo is not correct. The straps should be attached to the sides just above the metal socket on the wood bow. It will be an easy job to change them. 

I should have described that seal a bit. The seal is tacked to the top of the bow and has a sewn on flap which rests against the windshield.

I do not claim to be an upholsterer or top expert. I learned a lot from the videos provided by the JV Group. The seat upholstery was provided by someone other than the JV Group....but I will use JV Group next time.

Questions, Suggestions, comments appreciated. 

John Regan Commented:

One thing I found at the archives that is lost in the repro wood bow sets is that the front bow has different radius at the corners than the center and rear bows which are the same as each other. On the Touring car the front is also different than the other 3. The radius is longer on the front bow while the overall width is the same for all bows. I don't recall the exact measurement but I realized it has a lot to do with the top curving correctly at the front because the front bow is setting at such an angle from the other 2 that if all the bows have the same radius at the corner, the curve at the sides will not match front to side as well. Think about it. The front bow is curving back almost as much as it is curving down while the others are mostly curving down.