CAR This is not a milk thread. I have owned my '74 Eldorado convertible for 2 years now but it's time for a build thread

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
The next parts are the latch handles. I have two sets so I'm going to just clean both sets up and put one set away as spares if I ever need them. One of them on the replacement top had a bent spring retainer but that was easy to bend back. I sandblasted all of them and I scotch brite wheeled the pot metal handles. All of the handles has a bit of casting flashing and general nicks and scratches that needed to be buffed out.

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As of right now, the paint is drying on both sets of latches.

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I'm still on track to get the main lifter arms and front bow installed this weekend. I may even get to work on the rear window lifter section also.
 
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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
Since I have decided to move the replacement top material over to my existing frame, I needed to remove the material off of the old frame. There 6 separate parts that make up the top cover: the front seal, the top, the pads the rear curtain w/ the rear glass, the well liner, and the gutter. They come off the frame in that order so you start at the front and work your way to the back. Here is the front seal attached to the front bow.

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With the weather stripping removed, you can see the staples that hold the corners down.

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Once the corner staples have been removed, you can then fold the flap up and take out the remaining staples that hold the front seal on.

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
At this point, I realized that the 2nd bow was already loose and needed to come off before something got damaged. You can see that about 8 inches of staples had already been pulled out. This happened because the joints on the linkages that move the 2nd bow are worn out and the bow was binding up when it was opened.

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I marked the center of the staple tack strip so I could center it back up and pulled the 2nd bow out completely.

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Here is the bad ball joint on the 2nd bow and what a new one looks like.

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
With the 2nd bow out of the way, I went back to the front bow to get it completely removed. Under the front seal were more staples that held the top itself to the front bow.

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Like the strip for the 2nd bow, I marked the center of both the front seal and the top for alignment on the other frame.

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After all the staples were out along the front, I was able to peal it back off the front bow to expose the side flaps. The installer had glued the front flap to the front bow. It's supposed to be stapled only, not glued. I think I can clean all the old glue off though.

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This front bow is bad. It's not completely scrap but it's close. The corners are rusted out and all the tabs that hold the tack strip in are rusted off and gone. Rather than replacing it, they just glued the tack strip in (poorly).

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Another thing I noticed is that this was not the first replacement roof this frame has had installed. I could tell that the tack strip had been replaced with an aftermarket one but under the top, there were old staples and bits of an old top that had not been removed before this one was put on.

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
With the front loose, I went around to the rear of the top. I made some alignment marks on the top to get it lined back up with the rear curtain and started pulling the staples around the rear sides.

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Another install issue that I noticed was that they did not use stainless steel staples and they were starting to rust.

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I pulled all the staples around the drivers side an peeled it up off of the rear tack strip. You can also see a test spot where I scrubbed it to see how clean it will come.

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Next, I folded the top frame up to expose the rear quarter window upper weather stripping. This piece retains the top around the window openeing.

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That section was supposed to just be held in with the weather stripping but it was glued also. I then moved over to the passenger side and did the same as the drivers side.

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Next I had to remove the staples from the 3rd bow. It's very similar to the 2nd bow and just has a flap with a carboard insert to stiffen it up.

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Lastly, there is a big zipper that holds the top to the rear curtain above the rear glass.

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
With the actual top off, next is the pair of pads. The protect the seam in the top and pad it from wear on the frame mechanisms. These pads are completely shot and they just fall apart in your hands. The only thing left of them is the upper liner. The foam and the heavy inner liner just crumble in your hands. They were screwed to the front bow, stapled to the 3rd bow and just the foam and upper liner portion continue on to the rear curtain where the foam is glued down.

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Once the pads were off, the rear curtain with the rear glass is accessable.

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The white part is the apron and is the only fabric part of the curtain that is visible when the top is up. It's stapled along the rear tack strip.

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With the staples out of the apron, the curtain is exposed. It was supposed to be stapled down but the installer just skipped that step. I pulled all the staples around the sides to free the curtain from the rear tack strip.

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The last thing holding the curtain on was a row of staples on the 3rd bow.

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With the rear curtain out, next was the well liner. It did not have many staples holding it on.

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Lastly is the gutter. It does what it sounds like it does and directs water to the body drains.

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
While I had been working with the rear tack strip, I felt like something was wrong with it. The tack strip material was loose in the track on the ends and when I got down to the gutter, I found that it was installed completely wrong.

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The gutter is supposed to be stapled to the rear tack strip and just allowed to drape down on the outside of the tack strip. This installer stapled it on upside down and wrapped it around rear tack strip and let it drape down on the inside of the tack strip. This caused two problems: the gutter is now too shallow and lets the water pool up inside the gutter itself, and the water wicks that are supposed to go down the front of the inner wheel wells to the body drains were just cut off because they would have gotten caught up in the top mechanism. This let water spill under the back seat and into the trunk. Another issue with it installed incorrectly is that it was too tight and ripped on one side. Fortunately, the gutter on my old top is salvageable and I'll reuse that part. Once I got the gutter off, this is what I found:

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This rear tack strip is garbage. It's completely rusted out and was like that when they put this top on. The tack strip material was missing out of most of the channel and was replaced with the wrong type. On top of that, since they used the wrong type, they had to rivet it in just to get it to stay. Since they tried to rivet it in to rust though, they rivets just popped out.

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On top of that, the front 18 inches or so of the passenger side was just completely rusted away. They cobbled in a piece of Home Depot C channel to replace the missing part but that just barely worked to get it out the door.

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What I don't understand is why they even bothered wasting the time to botch up the rear tack strip when you can just order a brand new one for not much money at all.
 
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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
While going though my collection of parts I noticed that the rubber seal on the replacement passenger side gearbox was in better condition than my existing one. One clip and one rivet later and I had it swapped over.

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I also found that a specific carriage bolt on the replacement frame seem to be of a revised, stronger design. My existing one was worn so I swapped in the different ones.

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Next I mounted the drivers side lift arm to the gearbox and mounting frame.

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With this arm assembled, I mounted it back into the car.

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The arm was a little long and the front guide pin missed it's hole.

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To correct this, you adjust the stop at the middle hinge and that adjust the length of the arm by allowing the joint to pivot more or less at that point.

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
After putting the drivers side arm together and back on the car, I found out that it's much easer to just put it together in pieces on the car rather than building it on ground and then mounting it to the car. I mounted the bracket first.

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And then the arm to the bracket.

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And finally, the gearbox to the bracket and the arm.

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
I put a new tack strip on my front bow. You can see the tabs that hold the tack strip in that were missing on the other front bow.

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And finally I bolted the front bow to the two arms.

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The next thing to do is to get the latches installed into the front bow and then just work my way backwards through all the bows in the frame until the entire frame is back in. Once I have that done, I can start putting the parts of the top fabric back on starting with the gutter.
 
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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
More stuff has been done. One of the last things under the hood I needed to refinish was the top of the radiator shroud. It has various stickers on it and I just had never bother to get some reproduction stickers so I could refurbish it properly.

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I removed the old decals (deck-uls for our Canadian friends) and sandblasted it.

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And then I painted it to match the other parts under the hood and put the repro decals (deck-uls) on.

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
Back to the top frame. The 2nd bow is the next part to work on. It just had a little surface rust in places and the pivot arms needed to be replaced. I removed the old arms, sandblasted the bow, and painted it to match the other frame parts.

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Next I put a pair of new pivot arms on. The pivot arm kit comes with brand new arms and all new mounting hardware.

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I also reinstalled the pivot arm wear sliders in the lifter arms.

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The pivot arms point forward on the lifter arms and allow the 2nd bow to remain parallel to the windshield while the lifter arms fold up when the top is being put down. When the top is up, they lock into tabs on the lifter arms and help keep the arms aligned with the door glass so the weather stripping makes a tight seal on the top of the door glass.

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Here is how the pivot arm folds when the lifter arms fold inward when the top is going down.

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
Next to go back on are the latching handles. Previously, both of them had sticking problems and the passenger side was almost impossible to latch. You had to push the top down from the outside while moving the latch handle to even get it close to latching. After I sandblasted, refinished, and greased them, they worked perfectly the first time. I think there were a few issues that made it hard to latch before: the old top material was binding up the top frame, the 2nd bow pivot arms were worn and not helping to keep the arms aligned, and most of the pivot joints were either too loose or tightened up too tightly.

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Lastly, I added the trim molding across the upper inside lip of the front bow. That's where you grab the front bow to pull it down when you are latching the top down.

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nosaj

OT Supporter
Nov 10, 2003
112,022
It's certainly not something you would want an appendage to get caught up in. There is no headliner either so all of the mechanisms are exposed when the top is up.
Sheet metal breaks make me nervous also, Homoie who restores cars dropped one on his foot when the thing folded. :noes:
 
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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
While I'm waiting for some materials I need to arrive to continue working on the top installation, I finished a few other things that were still not done. The first one was the last of horns. This car has the optional trumpet horn which gives it a total of four horns. I had already cleaned up and reinstalled the first two horns plus the trumpet horn, the last one was the one that goes on top.

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And finally installed:

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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
This car also has the optional auto dimming high beams. I have had the bracket for the sensor refinished for a long time but I just had never gotten around to putting it all back together. The light sensor assembly has a bracket, the sensor, a boot to control the incoming light and a few screws and springs.

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The boot mounts around the bracket and the sensor mounts behind the boot using the springs and an adjuster screw.

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There is a bubble level mounted to the sensor housing so you can level it out.

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The assembly mounts forward of the radiator and condenser between the grill and the top of the front support.

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There is a hole in the upper front support where you can look down and see the bubble level. You adjust the lower screw until the bubble is in the middle.

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I was actually fairly surprised that it worked perfectly the first time I plugged in the sensor.
 
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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
I did continue to refinish the remaining bows on the top frame. All of these remaining bows are too large to fit in any of the sandblasters I have access to but fortunately, they are not very rusty at all. I started with the 3rd bow which mostly just needed the old glue removed and a light sanding. This bow is just behind the rear quarter windows and controls the rear side of the top.

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The 4th bow is just a guide bow and nothing is actually attached to it. It's purpose is to push the top of the back window up and give the top it's shape where it changes direction from the roof to the back glass curtain area. It also has a plastic cover that goes on the underside of the bow itself.

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The last piece is the rear tack strip. It is a large bow that lays horizontal under the rear body opening. It's what all of the top pieces are stapled to around the sides and rear of the car. When the top is up, there is a lever section on the sides that pushes the bow up against the underside of the body to make the top fit tight to the body opening all the way around the car. This is also on the other frame that was so badly rusted and then cobbled back together. This original one just had a bit of light surface rust on the mounting bracket that I sanded and touched up. The 3rd and 4th bows bolt to the mounting bracket and the whole assembly then bolts to the actuator brackets.

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Since virtually all the cloth pieces of the top staple to this part of the frame, I'm going to staple as many of the parts on before I mount this section back into the car.
 
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jelloslug

jelloslug

OT Supporter
Jul 1, 2003
65,949
Greenville, SC
The first part that will be stapled to the rear tack strip bow is the gutter. I'm reusing my old gutter as it's in much better condition than the one that came with the replacement top. All it really needs is to be cleaned up and new tails attached. You can see below that it cleaned up nicely.

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The tails direct the water that collects in the gutter down the front of the wheel well and to the drains in the body. they were torn off of both sides on my gutter and I just made new ones from pieces of the old top that were still in useable condition.

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The old tails had just torn off.

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I forget to take a pic of the tails after I reattached them. I'll add it later.
 

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