Manual Convertible Top

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AngryBirds
Posts: 247
Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:53 am
Location: Bel Air Maryland

Manual Convertible Top

Post by AngryBirds » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:07 am

Had this idea the other day and was wondering how hard it may be to make the 65 convertible power top into a hand operated one. I figured that if you replace the hydraulic rams with some sizable gas springs, and add a handle/make a tool to lift up the deck lid from close you could operate this by hand. The flipper panel could be made to have a pin insert to lock it in closed or open positions. Only problem I can think of is a way to keep the deck lid locked down but I figure I could make some sort of latching system. The only reason I am thinking about trying this is because the car is hardly original to begin with and has partial front uni-body damage. Your thoughts?
Current Thunderbird Projects:
1965 Black Hardtop
1965 Red Convertible Project

jtschug
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:33 pm

Re: Manual Convertible Top

Post by jtschug » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:32 pm

Yes, it could be done, but it would probably take more effort than simply fixing whatever is broken in the power top system. Also each of the functions could be rigged up to work independently. So, you could keep the deck locks or the flipper motor if that stuff worked, but the hydraulic system didn't work. Also once you spent the time and effort to engineer a manual top system that functioned reasonably well, chances are the next owner will not appreciate it and want the power top function back, thus hurting appreciation for the car.

I'm also curious how the front end damage has hurt the power top mechanism. I assume the mechanism is broken somehow and because of the front end damage you think it isn't "worth it" to fix the power top.

When I bought my convertible, the safety relay had been bypassed so the deck opened and closed, and the pins between the rams and the top had been removed so the top could be lifted out of the trunk. I think the flipper panel would extend and retract, but I'm not sure. When the car was disassembled for paint, I had a trailer hitch plug hooked up to the flipper motor to retract and extend it with a car battery. This stuff can be hotwired easier than making them manual, but my recommendation is simply to fix it.

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AngryBirds
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Joined: Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:53 am
Location: Bel Air Maryland

Re: Manual Convertible Top

Post by AngryBirds » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:53 am

I doubt that this car will ever be available for resale at least not as a complete car, I plan to drive it until the wheels fall off. All I am trying to do is make a more practical top for daily use. In my opinion fixing the current power system is a waste as eventually down the line something else will also break. Its the same way I feel about power windows in these cars hence why I always opt for a manual swap out. Plus I don't plan on using the top often basically only when in in-climate weather which furthers the reason for a more reliable system.
Current Thunderbird Projects:
1965 Black Hardtop
1965 Red Convertible Project

jtschug
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:33 pm

Re: Manual Convertible Top

Post by jtschug » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:41 am

You could easily rig up a couple of switches to trigger the relays that lock/unlock the deck and retract/extend the flipper panel. Then just pull the pins out of the hydraulic cylinders attached to the top frame and the deck lid and unplug the hydraulic pump. You may need to cut a 2/4 to prop the deck open while you lift the top out, but otherwise, you could make the system mostly manual with about $20 worth of parts and a couple hours work.

Just a warning, the top and the deck are pretty heavy.

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