Vinyl Top install

Discussion in 'Color is everything!' started by Mr Big, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. Tom Miller

    Tom Miller Loch Ness Monster

    I was going to post this same question in the bodyshop(paint) section of the board.
    I'm going to put the vinyl top trim on my 70 skylark with a white painted top, and I was looking for these nails as well.
    I have one style that requires you to drill a very small hole, then the nails have a tiny phillips head on them and you screw them in place. These are okay, but the style I'm looking for, that I've seen my friend use in the past at the bodyshop, go into a pop rivet gun, and also require you to drill a hole, push them into the hole until the step in the nail sets it at the correct height, then you simply squeeze the rivet gun until it snaps the inner pin, just like a regualr rivet.
  2. Rusty Davenport

    Rusty Davenport Silver Level contributor

    Glen, H&S Unispot has a special tip for thier stud guns that allow you to put the factory studs back on the car.
  3. Tom Miller

    Tom Miller Loch Ness Monster

    This isn't going to work on a car with fresh paint is it? Seems like something you would have to do while it was still down to bare metal? Maybe I'm wrong?
  4. John Stevens

    John Stevens Well-Known Member

    I have put several of the vinyl tops on, mostly its taking your time and being carefull, but I definatly would suggest having a "pro" do it if your not comfortable! My question is what do you feel is the best way to protect or "seal" a new top, I hate the greasy crap running down the side of the car after it gets wet. :af:
  5. Mr Big

    Mr Big Silver Level contributor

    This is more good information...

    Thanks for the tip Rusty...I plan to install the studs as "factory" while prepping the car for paint.

    By the way: I checked the seams last night on my new SMS top. They did not use the measurements I provided on the seams below the rear window, so I will need to use the extra NOS material purchased to redo those seams when the top is installed.

    That's one more good reason to hire a pro to do my install!
  6. superglide1340

    superglide1340 Well-Known Member

    Glen, what did you pay for the burnished saddle vinyl top? I just called SMS and they quoted me $420 for the same top and color. That was a lot more than I expected.

    Just curious.

  7. Dale

    Dale Sweepspear

    I just recieved my sample for the Burnished Saddle in the mail from them Friday for my Riviera, and they quoted me $325.00 for a complete top. or $55.00 Sq yard.

    Color is light though when compared to a portion of my original top that was covered by trim and not exposed to the elements.

    :Do No:
  8. Mr Big

    Mr Big Silver Level contributor

    That's exactly what I paid. If this car were not a # matching car, I would have probably left the vinyl top off and put the money elsewhere.
  9. Mr Big

    Mr Big Silver Level contributor

    They must have used a different roll of material for your sample. My top is a perfect match (it's almost black). Did you send them a sample? If not, send them a sample, they only need a small one. I spent a lot of time and received a lot of samples from vendors from all over the country...all without sending them a sample from my car...every sample sent to me was wrong for my car, with 99% being too light in color.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2008
  10. Dale

    Dale Sweepspear

    No, I didn't send a sample, just specified that color along with the trim and paint #'s off the body tag.
    The original top is a very dark brown, as you noted almost black it's so dark.

    They must have sent, and quoted a standard brown material.
    Looks to be of good quality though.

    I haven't decided what color I'm going to go with, perhaps black if it will save me some money. Being factory original isn't an issue with this car.

  11. fourfiftyfive

    fourfiftyfive My car is a mess........

    Great tip :TU: wish I had known that... I took my time with a flat tip screwdriver and it rolled right off, but it was scary LOL

    On the subject of vinyl tops... I'm wondering if it's possible to get one with no seams... like the heat sealed ones on the roof, for a "smoother" look... my car is a '69 skylark hardtop, and being factory original is no concern to me. Maybe using a BIG roll of material? Either way, I want to put a new black top on it (original white one is shot) so, where would I get a good quality one for my car, for a decent price?
  12. Duane

    Duane Member

    I believe currently there is only one company that makes vinyl top material (Hartz), and I do not believe you can get the correct grained material in wide enough widths to make a top without seams. You have to remember that the graining rollers dictate the width of the vinyl, not the other way around.

    If you use another grain top material, then you run the risk of making the car look incorrect, at a minimum.
  13. patrick91914

    patrick91914 Well-Known Member


    When I was in college, I spent my summers attending automotive upholstery school. Vinyl tops can be one of the most challenging tasks because you're working over a large surface with a flexible material using glus that dries very fast.

    Leave this to a pro. My friend just had a top installed and the total cost (which may have included the correct vinyl) was $350. Even if the price did not include the material, LEAVE THIS TO A PRO.
  14. staged70

    staged70 RIP

    I have done 2 headliners and both turned out fine. My upholstry guy said they are harder than tops. If you get enough heat in thew material to make it flexable I cannot see why people cannot do this themseves. But I agree with Duane if your doing it with NOS material I woud have it dome by a pro. My Suncoupe has no seams in the top and requires a special material thats only avaialable that I have found from Porsche dealers. 58/" wide material Lavant grain cloth backed not fuzzy backed. ANyone know where else to get that?
  15. Mr Big

    Mr Big Silver Level contributor


    I would call SMS, and then depending on that conversation maybe send a sample.

    The NOS material they made my top from has the correct backing not that fuzzy repo stuff. The fuzzy stuff (because its thicker) can make it hard to get your drip rail trim back on.
  16. staged70

    staged70 RIP

    My car uses that same material. Right now I am buying the material available only in black in the width I need from a porsche targa top supplier. It comes from overseas in the 58 inch width. 69 dollars a yard.
  17. Mr Big

    Mr Big Silver Level contributor

    If your looking for code F Dark Brown I would call and see how wide the roll they are working from is. Never can tell.
  18. Nicholas Sloop

    Nicholas Sloop '08 GS Nats BSA runner up

    One year in BG I looked at these seams on every original looking vinyl top car I could find, and found about a 50/50 split between lined up with the roof seams and lined up with the body seam. Plant variation? Worker to worker variation?
    So, since your measurements didn't come off THE car you are restoring, I'd go with the seams that are in the top now, as long as they line up with one or the other of these locations.

    Edit--I re-read and saw you do have photos of the car originally, so do try to match that.

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2008
  19. 25silver

    25silver Member

    new to site but I am a old vinyl top installer, in the late 70's I ran a Pops Top Shop in Nashville. Looking at your top, the puckers down seam should pull out fine, but I would put my own tailpiece in, the sealed in tails are pain when done right, near impossible when not.Just throw your top out on a sunny day and let it really warm up. When installing top use a hair dryer to heat vinyl it makes top much easier to work. The area that most people have trouble with is the rear quarter panels, if you throw several long wrinkles across panel then you can pull all the slack towards the front. If you want to you can look at how I installed top on 74 Grand Prix Quarter panel at tomco, not the best pictures but they might help.

  20. Mr Big

    Mr Big Silver Level contributor

    Thanks for your input Tom...I'll take a look at your pictures, Are you still doing top work?

    Are you still local to Nashville?


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