convertible top problem

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Royce Richmond
Posts: 226
Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:22 pm

convertible top problem

Post by Royce Richmond »

I'm helping a friend with his 62 tbird conv. With the deck lid open and flip lid extended, the pump started to energize on the red lead (top up) all by itself on and off and on again. this happens without touching the switch and with the ignition switch off. The door switch is a new chineese ( er repo) part. Any thoughts from you guys will be appreciated. We installed a new pump and motor and the reservoir leaks so will try to reseat the o ring on the filler cap end. when all of this was working the top moves very slowly. the deck lid operates normally. any thoughts on that problem? I appreciate your input. Royce

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Alan H. Tast
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Location: Omaha, NE

Re: convertible top problem

Post by Alan H. Tast »

Slow operation = air in system, low on fluid and/or poor electrical connections. Try purging the air from the system by running the top a few times while keeping an eye on fluid level. One trick some use to reduce load on the system is disconnecting rams from mechanism and cycling several times, then reattach and cycle again, but that may be more of a hassle that you want to bargain for without prior experience. A search for bleeding the top system in the Forum's past postings should yield some more suggestions and instructions.

As for the switch and pump operating on their own, may be a limit switch out of adjustment? Again, "search" can be your friend.
Last edited by Alan H. Tast on Wed May 20, 2020 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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

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

Re: convertible top problem

Post by Cliff Rankin »

Sounds like a relay issue. Hard to see it from here. Seriously, I would have the hood up , battery cable
Where it could be quickly twisted off. Once the trunk is straight up , stop check the fluid ( I run ATF ) keep a towel under it and the plug in to the pump easily reached. This way you can check relays to see if one stuck while stopping motion. I find Relays and things malfunction if not regularly exercised. That’s why my car almost always gets
Out on the week end. Mr. Tast has a point on the hydraulics
But I would shy away from disconnecting rams if you are inexperienced. Also I keep a fill cap off a 90w bottle on a atf bottle to top off mine. You may lightly tap on the relays
As they can be a little sticky after sitting. Please Post what you find. Hope this helps.

Cliff
63 & 64 convertibles

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Mheiron
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Location: Houston, Texas area

Re: convertible top problem

Post by Mheiron »

So are you on the top up sequence or top down sequence?

Top going up => the next in the sequence is flipper down

Top going down => the next sequence is the motor kicks on and the top folds into the trunk.

The on-off-on tells me you either have a bad connection somewhere or a bad relay. Try to hear if the top down relay is clicking while top is going down.
Mark H.
Current bird nest:
1961 Restored Chestnut Convertible
1963 M-code Hard Top - Being restored
1995 White T-bird Super Coupe - Fun Toy

Royce Richmond
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Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:22 pm

Re: convertible top problem

Post by Royce Richmond »

Thanks to everyone for responding. I will go to my friends house tomorrow (Monday) to work on it.
The top is up and the deck and tray are up. if I continue the operation the flip lid drops and the deck lowers as it should.
Does the neutral safety switch on the steering column only allows the operation in P and N. How do I test it? If the car starts only in P and N then it should be ok, right?
Thanks Royce

tbird
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Re: convertible top problem

Post by tbird »

Yes if it starts only in P and N then the switch is set and working correctly.
Jim Mills
VTCI # 8071
VTCI 1964-66 Technical Editor
2002 Thunderbird
1965 Convertible
1962 Convertible (in progress)
1959 Ford Retractable HT
Many parts cars

Royce Richmond
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Re: convertible top problem

Post by Royce Richmond »

Thanks Jim, the electrical problem turned out to be the top up relay stuck energized. I ordered a new one. will bleed the system by disconnecting the top pistons once the relay is installed. Again thanks to everyone for responding.
Royce

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Alan H. Tast
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Re: convertible top problem

Post by Alan H. Tast »

Royce: make sure to find and review past threads on bleeding the top system before you go forward. You might want to disconnect the deck lid and top cylinders to do preliminary bleeding, but care should be taken when doing this (some would recommend keeping a load on the cylinders so that the rams don't shoot out and damage the cylinders). The handheld switch article that tbird put together for the November-December 2019 Thunderbird Scoop would also be good for you. There's a follow up article in the works for another diagnostic switch harness and the top bleeding procedure, but it will be a while before it's ready to print.
Last edited by Alan H. Tast on Wed May 20, 2020 12:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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

Cliff Rankin
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Re: convertible top problem

Post by Cliff Rankin »

I don’t mean to dis Mr. Tast advice, but after you fix the other issues you will find that if you cycle the top a few times , maybe give it a break for a minute, in between
It will easily bleed itself out. I worry a little about a cylinder hurting someone. But , I have more shop experience with equipment hydraulics that T birds.
And I still have 10 fingers and all my teeth 😀.
I absolutely mean no disrespect to Mr. Tast. He is a
Thunderbird expert. Just my shop experience.
Cliff

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Alan H. Tast
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Re: convertible top problem

Post by Alan H. Tast »

Cliff Rankin wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 10:10 pm
I don’t mean to dis Mr. Tast advice, but after you fix the other issues you will find that if you cycle the top a few times , maybe give it a break for a minute, in between
It will easily bleed itself out. I worry a little about a cylinder hurting someone. But , I have more shop experience with equipment hydraulics that T birds.
And I still have 10 fingers and all my teeth 😀.
I absolutely mean no disrespect to Mr. Tast. He is a
Thunderbird expert. Just my shop experience.
Cliff
Cliff, there are people who are MUCH more experienced with the top systems than I am (and after nearly 4 years of owning and going through my Roadster's system I still have much to learn). Primary reason why I suggested disconnecting the rams from the deck lid and top frame was to reduce the load on the system to get things started from a completely empty system (as I went through last year with replacing my lines/pump/cylinders). Hydraulics are very powerful - that's why they're used for a system like the top instead of electric motors and gears.

The top troubleshooting article and information on how to build a hand-held remote control box can be found in the November-December 2019 issue of Thunderbird Scoop. Not a dues-paying VTCI member? Then this is something you've missed out on. The follow-up article we're working on for a future issue is for bleeding of the top system. As Cliff notes above, give the system a rest and cool down for a few minutes after running it a few cycles, as it does warm up enough to cause circuit breakers to trip from being over-worked.
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

Cliff Rankin
Posts: 233
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:24 pm

Re: convertible top problem

Post by Cliff Rankin »

True , I am just a blue collar mechanic who works on Fords and plays with a few Thunderbirds. You may not be a mechanic, but you have a massive knowledge and love for
Thunderbirds. I respect that a lot. I guess I worry a little
More about safety after lately having an apprentice in the
Shop. Makes me think twice about things. I wish my Caddie
Had hydraulics instead of cables and gears. Anyway I try to help When I can and try to keep the flow of conversation going
Respectfully
Cliff

Royce Richmond
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Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:22 pm

Re: convertible top problem

Post by Royce Richmond »

Thanks again to all for your support. Today I went over to replace the top up relay but checked the electrical manual (my friend misplaced it before) and discovered that the red wire on the pump is fed through the top up relay and the deck open relay. I unplugged the deck open relay and the mystery power on the pumps red wire disappeared. So I plugged it back in and everything worked as it should. So I am going to replace that relay and clean the plug contacts and all should be good. Now that I replaced the pump with a new high vol pump from china its leaking badly around the o rings. So I removed the new pump opened the reservoir and found a streak for metal draped across where the o ring seats. I removed that metal but the reservoir still leaks as before. I removed the new pump and reinstalled the old one and it works fine. I bled the lines and the top seems faster than before. I measured the time it takes to do a cycle (from deck down top up to top in trunk and deck down) it took 1minute and 15 seconds. I am going to take my 66 conv. out tomorrow and measure the same cycle on it. Should be an interesting comparo. Anyone out there with a 62 conv. that will time their cars operation?
Thanks Royce

Blobird
Posts: 62
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 7:46 am
Location: Sweden

Re: convertible top problem

Post by Blobird »

My 63 SR with new convertible pump takes about 1 minute to fold up and 1 minute for top down, give and take 2 - 5 sec. so your result seems pretty OK what I understand. Here's a link to my movie on the sequence.
https://flic.kr/p/2gsKb2P
Lennart Sahlin Langsele / Sweden
1963 Thunderbird SR Red / Red. Black Canvas Top
1983 T-23 Streetrod Candy-red / Black

Royce Richmond
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Joined: Fri Jul 22, 2011 6:22 pm

Re: convertible top problem

Post by Royce Richmond »

I timed my 66 conv today and it clocked at 1 minute 10 seconds. So I think my friends 62 is about right now.
Royce

FlyAngry
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Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:51 pm

Re: convertible top problem

Post by FlyAngry »

Why is it every time I read the forum, my Thunderbird thinks, "Oh, what a great time to have that problem!"

I'm fairly certain my top issue is air in the hydraulic lines, specifically between the solenoids and the deck lid cylinders. Every so often, after the deck lid unlocks the hydraulic pump can be heard running, but there's not enough force in the hydraulics to get the deck lid to actually lift. When this has happened, I've been able to manually assist the deck lid up to access the trunk and pump. I top off the fluid, which usually doesn't take much, and the top cycles correctly for months on end. However, this last time, I topped off the fluid and the problem returned in less than a week. In addition, while the top was in motion, the deck lid sagged forward and nearly bound against the top. Fortunately, I was able to recover and get the top into a proper top up configuration. Overall, all switches and relays function properly and no hydraulic leaks are detected.

Most threads I've found on the forum recommend just cycling the system and it will self bleed, although this one talks about loosening some fittings and doing a more thorough bleed:
https://www.vintagethunderbirdclub.net/ ... =bleed+top

My Question: Will cycling the top bleed air from the entire system, or is this more thorough procedure required to get air that might be between the solenoids and deck lid cylinders?

Thanks for your thoughts,

John
1962 Sport Roadster, '62 Caliber'
VTCI #12717

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