I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

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Cataldo
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Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2019 5:53 pm

I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Cataldo » Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:12 pm

Hello everyone,

My first post here. I recently just received my first T bird. I wound up trading my 1960 CJ5 for it, it was a fair even trade.

My 61 is excellent with the exception for cosmetics ad the kicker, the roof. The PO bought the car is 2001 and restored it, then parked it in 2004 where it sat until Veterans day this year. The car was blasted prior to paint and body work and it doesn't look like any kind of paint was laid down under the vinyl roof. The structure is totally solid but the skin is trashed. Tomorrow I'm running to go grab a new roof.


My question for y'all is whether I should cut the roof off completely and install the new one or should I try and skin the roof? If I cut it off and swap the whole deal should I brace the car anywhere? Obviously i won't drive it without the roof structure, im mostly curious if it'll try and buckle without a roof just sitting there?
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Cataldo
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2019 5:53 pm

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Cataldo » Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:14 pm

Here are some more pictures of the roof 'cleaned up'.
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Alan H. Tast
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Location: Omaha, NE

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Alan H. Tast » Sat Nov 30, 2019 7:11 pm

YES! Your car is a unibody, meaning it doesn't have a full frame. The roof provides a significant part of the structural integrity of the car: without it the body will collapse on itself, especially if the understructure is weakened by rust. Bracing in the area of the doors from the cowl back to the B-pillar along with diagonal bracing to keep twisting of the body in check would be prudent to do if you plan on cutting the roof off and replacing it. Quite frankly, I've never seen a roof rot out like you've shown in the nearly 40 years I've been around these cars.

While the transmission tunnel provides a "spine" for the car, don't be attempting to compare a convertible body with a hardtop one as the convertible has more bracing in its body, heavier sheet metal for inner rockers. In short, there's more than meets the eye below the skin.

If you do replace the roof with one from a donor car, take time to study how they're put together by going through reproductions of the body/trim assembly manual and the shop manual, which should have measurements for the underbody to compare against (good body/frame shops should have these kinds of diagrams or know where to get access to them). Just be prepared to spend a lot of time and money - probably more than what the car will be worth when done, sadly, or find a good shell to transfer parts into.
Alan H. Tast, AIA
Technical Director/Past President,
Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"
1963 Hardtop & 1963 Sports Roadster

Cataldo
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Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2019 5:53 pm

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Cataldo » Sat Nov 30, 2019 7:21 pm

Only with vinyl roofs is it possible. Its obvious that the person who installed the vinyl roof did not paint under it. You can see fresh metal under the glue. The driver side is much better, except that rectangular hole above the drivers head.

Cataldo
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Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2019 5:53 pm

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Cataldo » Sat Nov 30, 2019 7:22 pm

Screenshot_20191130-152158_Gallery.jpg
You can see the shiny metal under the glue.

BobHH
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Location: Raleigh, NC

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by BobHH » Sat Nov 30, 2019 11:37 pm

Well, I’ve replaced a few roofs in my time. Mt suggestion is to cut your donor roof fully off at the front pillar bottoms and all the way around the back into the quarter panels and the rear panel under the rear windshield. This way you can cut your old roof off and have enough on the donor roof to trim where you are going to cut/join it at.

Before you do anything I would support your car on jack stands solidly and flatly to insure it does not twist. Then take the interior out and weld cross braces across for inside the under the quarter windows and under where the kick panels are located. Keep the doors shut.

After you have the car braced up then it’s time to mark where you are going to cut. I mark the cut line with tape to make sure I can see it when using the abrasive cut off wheel. Before you cut take many measurements to insure you position the replacement top correctly........

I can go on but if you are not setup to do this type of work I would suggest finding someone to do the work. Most body shops are not setup for this I would look for the custom hot rod shop who chops roofs and such. As mentioned it’s not going to be cheap but it needs to be done right or it will always give you trouble.

Bob
Bob Harris
Strange 1962 Thunderbird SR?

Cliff Rankin
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Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:24 pm

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Cliff Rankin » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:42 am

If the car is solid it will not twist in half but it will
Flex some. I have seen guys who have whacked the
Roof off and drive them. I work at a higher end body
Shop and I have seen them section body panel’s and weld them Back just like factory. You would be amazed. So I say yes a good body shop can do this. But I’m sure going to cost.

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Richard
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Location: Long Island New York

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Richard » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:58 am

If the roof is that bad how is the rest of the car?. The floor,trunk,quarter panels? If the rest of the car is that rusty I would be careful about diving in to deep..Good luck..
1965 Hardtop Charcoal Gray Metallic
VTCI#12157

Ian M Greer
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Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 9:22 pm
Location: North Bay On. Canada

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Ian M Greer » Sun Dec 01, 2019 2:11 pm

Just a quick note , the 1961 thunderbird did not come with a vinyl roof from the factory , only on 62 and 63 model . This is obviously an add on , your choice as to whether you want to restore it to factory or your own personal taste . When the vinyl was added it wasn't sealed very good ,the results are evident . But it can be hard to find an in tacked landau shell unless the car has been stored with some care to preserving it . Hard tops of course are more plentiful and easier to find with a solid roof .
1963 M Landau Caspian Blue (Remember Not All Birds Fly South)
Member #-12090

Cataldo
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Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2019 5:53 pm

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Cataldo » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:31 am

The rest of the car is perfect. I mean absolutely no rust anywhere else. I picked up the new roof, were going to see about skinning it and not cutting off the old one, leaving the structure from the old roof that is. We will see how the old skin comes off first. Half of it is loose anyway.

ornithology
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Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:38 am

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by ornithology » Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:52 am

amazing project! good luck with the re-skin!

Cliff Rankin
Posts: 198
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:24 pm

Re: I need to replace my roof, do I need to brace the car?

Post by Cliff Rankin » Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:25 pm

Good call , to start with. Ask the body shop if they feel
Comfortable taking a few pictures of the process. It would
Be interesting to see posted and good p.r. For them. That color and top
May not have been stock , but I bet it looked awesome when they did it. I like that kind of non stock custom. So they may have made a few errors doing it , but I get that so much more
Than changing it from what it was ment to be.
My rambling !
Cliff.

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