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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top Irons!

Wow!  It's been over a year since I updated this blog.  What a year.  I'm really behind on the progress of the car, but I am still making progress, which is a plus.  I'm still lacking a blaster and a compressor large enough to handle blasting the body, so most of the work has been on securing the last of the missing (and needed) parts, and prepping all the smaller pieces for the car.  Let's start with the top irons:

Well, it's a complete set, but unfortunately it's been stuck in a closed position for nearly half-a-century.  It took two full years to get these apart.  It's important to remember that as many parts as possible need to be saved and re-used, if at all possible.  Replacement parts or even whole assemblies are about as rare as hen's teeth.

  The "take-apart" phase involved soaking with penetrating fluid, daily hosings for a week or two, then heating up the fasteners and trying to work them free.  If they weren't ready, then more hosings with the fluid, more heat, try again . . . repeat ad nauseum.  Eventually, some of the fasteners had to be drilled out, re-tapped.  This is especially difficult with steel fasteners and aluminum castings, as the drill bit often wants to seek the softer aluminum instead of staying through the middle of the bolt.  Patience and perseverance is paramount, here.  In a couple of cases, an aluminum casting was cut and a section was taken out where the fastener could be removed laterally, then the casting welded back up, re-ground/filed/sanded back into shape.

In the pic above, this stamped steel piece on the right is the original.  This piece, from the driver side was in the worst shape.  The original car was upside down in a dry creek bed for 35+ years and I believe that the driver side was listed downward into the ground.  This piece was just too bad to save, so another (on the left) was fabricated to match the original exactly.  

Here's an exploded view of the new piece.  Click on the pic for a larger view.

This pic shows one of the convertible top latches.  These are currently undergoing repair in preparation for chrome plating.  They were severely pitted, but are incredibly difficult to find replacements.  I may consider casting these in the future, but for now, these will clean up and be beautiful when completed.

This pic displays all of the painted pieces (finally!) for the convertible top mechanism.  Three of the castings and one of the stamped pieces (mentioned above) had to be fabricated, but it's finally ready for paint.  More than two years was spent on disassembly, clean-up and fabrication.  Many of these pieces are like works of art and the final assembly is the most beautiful I've seen on any car.  Should be a real stunner.

The convertible top assembly, the rocker panels, the back of the rear-view mirror and a few other small parts are all silver.  Work on the rockers have commenced (blasted, straightened, primed), but still need some lead work and final finishing to prep for paint.  I'm waiting to paint all of the silver pieces at one time, so I have to wait a while longer before this top assembly can actually be assembled. It has been dry-run, of course.

The above pic represents all the "bling" that goes into the top assembly.  The two pieces on the bottom row are two painted brackets, but the next 16 pieces all get chrome-plated, which has yet to be done.  All of the curvy pieces on top with the exception of the very topmost one are stainless steel and all go on the convertible header, itself.  The very topmost piece goes below the rear curtain and houses the snap-fasteners that the boot will fasten to.

The above pic shows a sampling of some fasteners for the top assembly.  All of the fasteners that show have been fabricated from stainless steel, and will be polished to add a little more "bling".  One of the few concessions I am making away from stock, although the dimensions of all the fasteners are identical in size to the originals.  As these were all originally painted, the final assembly will be much cleaner in appearance.

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