Wednesday’s Tops

The rain continues today which reminded me of why I like a top on a roadster.  Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in going topless, but when no one is looking, I always put the top up and the side curtains in place.  The wife doesn’t like roadsters when she gets wet and cold.  Remember, “A happy wife is a happy life”.  There are many types of tops available today.  Bop Tops, Sta-Tops, stock irons and bows, and of course, home made tops are a few choices available.  I really prefer the stock irons and bows on cars but they are pricey for the good ones.  We use a company called Gates Top Irons located in San Juan Capistrano, Ca.  Neil has been building top irons for decades and really is a true craftsman.  He has all the patterns for the irons including a 3 inch chop for a Deuce.  His phone number is 949-954-4082

I am always doing things myself so I made my top irons out of 3/4 inch, .060 round steel tubing.  I had made a couple of Carson style tops in my younger days and decided to try my hand a building one for Lucy.  The process was not difficult but was time consuming and frustrating at times.  I made mine in two pieces which required matching the bends from side to side.  The are close but not perfect.  I thought that once they were covered you would not notice the difference.  Albert said he could make the top material to cover up any slight differences.  I think could make one perfect next time.  The best part about the top was the learning experience and the minimal cost involved.  I have less than $20 in the material and about 40 hours of work at $0 per hour.  I work cheap!

The covering for any style of top can drive up the cost depending on your selection of material.  The Mercedes Hartz cloth is expensive but the vinyl material is relatively inexpensive.  Albert has a line of vinyl (white) that looks pure 50’s and is super easy to clean.  Bob O has had his top completed for over a year and it still looks new.  I can remember my first convertible in IL after the first winter.  The top was a complete rag and did not hold up in snow.  We don’t have that problem in LA so go with the vinyl and save some money.  A normal Deuce top runs about $1100-$1400 and a 33/4 roadsters cost a couple of hundred more.  If you add up the irons and bows ($1800-$2000) you can see a good top is not cheap.  I have a quote for Lucy of $1000 for a nice vinyl top covering over the tubing sub-structure.

I just looked out the window and the sun is back out so I better go back out in the garage and do something.

Stay Tooned!


A Carson style top will run you about $10K by some of the better known shops.  Here is a build picture showing the work involved.  If you have a bender and can weld you can duplicate yourself for next to nothing.  The upholstery shop has a jig for a 32 Carson style top.  According to Neil, the critical dimension is the windshield top post to the rear mounting bracket hole.  If has this dimension he can build the irons.

Here is a set of 34 itons showing the dual mounting arms that attach to two bungs in the body.  This is how they were stock.  SAR and Wescott both have these mounting bungs.

Here is the start of my top for Lucy.  I only have the passenger side done at this stage.  I used tape to get the shape I wanted.. The second bow must be leaned forward to allow for the nice rake on the top.  My head just fits under the bow when the Glide seat is in driving position.  My wife can slide the seat forward and I still have room if I lay the seat back.

I made the driver’s side irons to match the passenger side.  The angles were kept consistent but the body is not the same from side to side.

Neil made the irons for Bob O’s top and this is the final version installed against the black interior of a “Albert” white vinyl top.  Looks nice with the R&P interior.  The rear window zips down for that cool cruising on hot sunny days.

Neil and Bob O take a break while I shoot some photos.  Neil made the top at his shop and brought it to Bob’s house for installation.  It fit perfect and looked fantastic.  Henry would be proud.  The bows are from Oak Bows in PA.

This is a set of original irons on a 3 inch chopped windshield.  Note how far forward the second bow is leaned.

Neil made several visits to Bob’s garage to make sure the irons were correct.  He has to re-bend the irons you see marked 3 inches to match the posts which were leaned back 2 inches in addition to being chopped 3 inches.

Posed in front of the “Office” for a Pewsplace photo is the completed top.  I think it came out really nice and still looks good today.

The rear mail slot window is from LaBaron Bonney and is from a 1933/4 roadster.  The window and frame runs about $260 plus shipping.

Today’s roadster top….dreaming!

Kevin has the look in his SO-CAL built hiboy.  Gabe did the top using stock irons and bows which Pete modifies for the McGee look.

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