Convertible Top Troubleshooting

This area is for posting questions/information concerning 1964-66 year Thunderbirds NO FOR SALE POSTINGS

Moderator: redstangbob

Post Reply
redthundervert64
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:19 pm

Convertible Top Troubleshooting

Post by redthundervert64 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:55 pm

Hi all. I’m a new member and really appreciate the great information I’ve been getting through this forum. Thanks everyone!

We’ve had our ’64 convertible for about 3 months. It had been stored for 14 years and the convertible top, power windows, clock, etc. etc. weren’t working but, with a lot of help from this forum, I’ve managed to get almost everything back in working order. I thought I’d share some of my experiences when sorting out the convertible top operation. I came up against some real head-scratchers (at least for me) that I haven’t seen on this forum, so hopefully these experiences will be useful to some other poor soul scratching his or her head.

Manuals – I have the Shop Manual, the Wiring Diagram Manual, and the Convertible Top Repair Manual. To me the Shop Manual was the most useful as it has 3 drawings (Figs. 3, 4, and 5) that aren’t included in the Repair Manual. I was constantly referring to these figures for relay layout and wiring.

Relay Bus Bar Power – I cleaned up the relay and motor contacts and bump-tested them using a long jumper wire (fused) from the positive battery post, another long jumper wire from the negative battery post, and other jumpers as shown in the manual. Fortunately all of the components worked! When I tried bumping them from the relay bus bar power circuit nothing worked, even though I was getting 12 volts at the bus bar. This was a stumper for a couple of days until I cleaned the connections at the 60 amp circuit breaker, after which everything worked. I think that 12 volts was getting through the circuit but there was a large voltage drop under load due to the poor connections. Amazingly, once I got the hydraulic system working, the whole top operation worked with only very slight adjustments required for one of the deck lock nuts and the deck closed limit switch – not bad after sitting for so long!

Hydraulic Cylinder Creep – I had taken all the hydraulic cylinders out of the car and had freed them up by hand, getting as much of the old, dirty hydraulic fluid as possible out of them. After reinstalling them it took many fillings of the hydraulic pump reservoir and bleeding of all the cylinders to finally get them working smoothly. After a few days of trouble-free operation, the deck cylinders suddenly began to release slightly when the pump started at the beginning of the top retract cycle (after the upper back panel erect cycle). This resulted in the deck lid closing slightly and getting in the way of the top as it was folding down into the trunk - luckily the top wasn’t damaged. I tried switching two of the solenoids, with the same result. Then, when I had a careful look at the hydraulic lines, I discovered that one of the lines connected to the bottom of the right-side deck cylinder had become kinked slightly. After I straightened the line everything worked smoothly again.

Intermittent Top Operation - About two weeks ago the top operation became intermittent. If I held the top control switch and let the operation go through its complete opening or closing cycle it worked fine, although sometimes nothing would happen when I pushed the control switch to start the operation. If I stopped the operation in mid-cycle it often wouldn’t start again. It would always eventually work again if I turned the ignition off and on and kept trying over a period of several minutes. After doing many checks and tests, I finally decided to check all the relays starting with the top control safety relay (fortunately before I had taken the back seat out again). I tried to jumper the relay plug to bypass the relay coil and discovered that the jumper connectors fit very loosely in the relay plug and would fall right out. Once I tightened up the relay plug connectors using pliers the jumper wire stayed securely in the plug and the top operation worked smoothly again. I plugged the relay plug back into the safety relay and everything works fine again, at least for now until the next gremlin strikes! This winter I’ll be going through all the relay plug connectors to make sure each connector in each plug has a snug fit.

That’s probably more than enough for now. I hope this might be of some help to other convertible owners.

Bob

jtschug
Posts: 640
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:33 pm

Re: Convertible Top Troubleshooting

Post by jtschug » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:20 pm

On intermittent top operation, next time it happens, try wiggling the shift lever. Sometimes the neutral safety switch needs a little coaxing.

RAVEN
Posts: 1240
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:33 am

Re: Convertible Top Troubleshooting

Post by RAVEN » Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:15 pm

REDTHUNDER, welcome to the FORUM. Glad to see your efforts have worked well.
Would like too make one recommendation, please make an effort to maintain the existing wiring harness plugs and not cut off the RELAY plugs and replace them with the offered reported replacement RELAY system.
There exists a TRUE electronic replacement which utilizes the old harness plugs and is a plug and play system. If you need or want more info, just do a Search under APINES as author, and read his posts. I have one of his systems and they have worked well in my tests.

RAVEN
CDN Member since 1975 #2086
Flock: 1964 Landau Original Family Owned
1964 Sr Convertible "RAVEN"
Past: 2003 Blk Lab "RAVEN" "RIP"Nov 15/17
1964 Lincoln vin4Y86N00007
1964 Red Convertible

apines
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:05 pm

Re: Convertible Top Troubleshooting

Post by apines » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:33 am

Thanks for the endorsement, Wally! I do have a few available if anyone wants one. PM me for details if you're interested.
current:
1955 Ford Thunderbird
1966 Ford Thunderbird Q-code convertible with Highway Pilot
past:
1974 Triumph TR6
1968 Ford Galaxie convertible
1974 VW Super Beetle
1981 Checker Marathon
VTCI membership #12807

RAVEN
Posts: 1240
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:33 am

Re: Convertible Top Troubleshooting

Post by RAVEN » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:15 am

BTW FULL DISCLOSURE: I have displayed these boards at VTCI International events that I have attended. There has been interest, which I have passed on to Apines.
I do not receive any financial compensation, only the benefit of helping other Thunderbird owners in anyway possible to keep on enjoying their cars.
CDN Member since 1975 #2086
Flock: 1964 Landau Original Family Owned
1964 Sr Convertible "RAVEN"
Past: 2003 Blk Lab "RAVEN" "RIP"Nov 15/17
1964 Lincoln vin4Y86N00007
1964 Red Convertible

redthundervert64
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:19 pm

Re: Convertible Top Troubleshooting

Post by redthundervert64 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:29 pm

A good reminder, jtschug. I had to deal with this issue early on, because my shift lever seems to be quite worn and needs to be pushed firmly into Park for the neutral safety switch to engage (another item on my repair list). To avoid having to push the shift lever while troubleshooting the top operation I temporarily bypassed the neutral safety switch by removing the top control safety relay plug, wrapping a jumper wire around the relay coil post that connects to the neutral safety switch (red wire w/black stripe), attaching the other end of the jumper wire to ground at the firewall, and reconnecting the relay plug. This bypass would keep the relay energized in any gear as long as the ignition was on, so I disconnected it when going for a drive. Probably not the best practice to bypass things like this, but desperate times require desperate measures!

Bob

redthundervert64
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2019 11:19 pm

Re: Convertible Top Troubleshooting

Post by redthundervert64 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:41 pm

Thanks RAVEN. I'll make sure to avoid the temptation of cutting off any of the relay plugs. I checked out apines' relay boards and they look like a great solution for cars with relay problems - the remote control feature is a real bonus! Fortunately my relays seem to be in good shape with very little corrosion, but I'll definitely keep these relay boards in mind.

Bob

Post Reply