Car Restoration Vinyl Top Installation

Nothing looks worse than your worn, old vinyl top, and you’ve been putting off replacing it because of the cost and knowledge needed to install it. You could look up an experienced interior trim and upholstery shop to install your new top or because you’ve done everything else on your Car Restoration, you may want to try your hand at replacing the top too.

Well it’s not necessarily difficult, but it does take some skill and ability to follow the directions. The materials you will need, you may already have them in your chest of tools. Although you probably do not have, is one of the most important items. You will need minimally three to four cans of Contact Cement Spray Trim Adhesive.

Other items that will help will be a tucking tool, felt tip marker, razor blades, screwdrivers flat tip and Phillips, measuring tape, and a straight edge.

Before you even get started to do the job, you need to mask off the body of your car with plastic and cover the difficult quarters with a heavy blanket. Do this to protect the paint on your car’s paint job, and it will protect it as you tug and pull the cover into place.
Then you need to remove the old top. The old glue needs to come off too, and you need to buy some wax and grease remover. The remover needs to soak into the old glue for at least five minutes. This will soften the glue. Remove the remaining glue with a razor blade, then wash the roof with soap and hot water to be sure the old glue is completely gone. Then you need to be sure the top is completely dry before starting the next step.
If your pre-made new vinyl top came to you from an installer in a box, if you haven’t already inspected it, you need to take it out and it is probably covered with wrinkles. The best way to remove them is to steam them out with a Jiffy Commercial Steamer using distilled water. The distilled water helps you avoid residue during the procedure.
Using roof side reference points determine the center of the roof, and the center deck between the two seams. At these points, with your felt tip pen, draw a straight line on the roof from the front edge to the rear edge. Before you continue place your new vinyl top on the roof to make sure it will fit properly.

Another trick from the professionals is to use disposable pull sheets of vinyl, and leave them in place to keep the top from sticking down during the initial fit and adhesion of the center section. You will remove the sheets when you have each section in place.
Keep in mind that when the glue adheres to each area you will not be able to reposition your new top, so be careful.

Now is the time to thoroughly spray your glue to one seam on your vinyl top and the same area on the roof, and don’t skimp with the glue. Let both sides dry until they feel dry to your touch, but are not totally dry.

Now align the seam area, press down at the center and smooth the area with your hand. Now pull and stretch to get out all the wrinkles and to remove bubbles.

Follow this same procedure with the remaining sections.

Trim excess vinyl around the edges and it would be a good idea to mark the location of your chrome trim before you cut the excess material. Tuck and trim the vinyl top and install all moldings.

If you’re nervous about installing your own vinyl top, then you might check the local automotive trim and upholstery shops. You might want to check online for there are many professionals that can help you or do the job for you.

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