Convertible Top Installation - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-17-2005, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Convertible Top Installation

Just finished installing a top. Installation took me about 10 hours of slow methodical work. That time did not include removing the old top, which only took about an hour. A good chunk of time was spent prep cleaning and fixing broken rear studs with rivet nuts. Since this was only the second top I've fitting (the last one being 20 years ago), I took my time. Like tuning a SPICA system, the order in which you do things is critical. When installing the top, you have to be familiar with the instructions, soup-to-nuts, before you start.

The top was manufactured by Easy-On and purchased over the internet from www.topsonline.com. Delivery was very quick and I think the total price was about $190 delivered. Glue and some new side cables were about $12 at ACE hardware and the rivet nuts and setting tool from McMaster were another $55. I re-used my old front windshield seal, but I think I might replace that since the side extensions are ripped off. It's a pinpoint vinyl top, no padded side-quarters, heat sealed rear window. Although I considered a canvas top, I decided on vinyl for price and long-term appearance. I rarely drive with the top up. Vic at topsonline said the vinyl will retain a better appearance for the long term, will be more durable in the elements, but of course, doesn't look as good. He said he sells more canvas tops because people like the appearance better.

The top itself looked to be of high quality heavy materials with good workmanship, stitching, etc. With the exception of the radius of the front bow, which was a slightly off, the top's "fit" is excellent. The holes for the rear studs were pre-punched and were perfect. When I went to "dry fit" the top, the top's front radius seam didn't fit the front of the bow in the middle. It was about a 1/4" off, which may not seem like much but it makes it harder to glue the front edge evenly. To topsonline's credit, Vic was very helpful and even went to the manufacturer and set up a 3 way call. The rep from Easy-On was very helpful and said it shouldn't be any problem, but if it was , they'd make it good, no problem. As it turned out, it was no problem and the vinyl stretched into place fine.

Below are some pics of the finished installtion. I'll be writing up a "how-to" with pictures I took during the install as time permits. I found the Alfa factory instructions to have some glaring deficiencies and poor illustrations/pictures, especially on how the side cables and window seals are fastened. I also found that the old top was incorrectly installed.

Here's the pics. Top is still stretching and today was a cool day so it didn't get much thermal heating to soften up the vinyl, hence there still some shipping creases and dimples evident.
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John Stewart
74 Spider
91 164S

Last edited by Roadtrip; 05-17-2005 at 08:50 PM.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-17-2005, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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More pictures . . . . and BTW there is an installation omission in the pictures . . . anybody spot it?
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John Stewart
74 Spider
91 164S

Last edited by Roadtrip; 05-17-2005 at 08:22 PM.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-17-2005, 08:47 PM
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More pictures . . . . and BTW there is an installation omission in the pictures . . . anybody spot it?
The little stainless rub guard trim thingy on the passenger side?

[FONT="Century Gothic"][B]Bob Farace[/B]
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 03:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadtrip
More pictures . . . . and BTW there is an installation omission in the pictures . . . anybody spot it?
A cold beer?

The top looks great. Nice job!

Bill / 1977 Alfa Romeo 4C2000 / 2012 BMW S1000RR / 1975 BMW R90/6
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 06:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadtrip
More pictures . . . . and BTW there is an installation omission in the pictures . . . anybody spot it?
Tequilla shots?

John,
Could you post pictures of the inside? How did the paint come out?

Get out there and DRIVE !

Bill ("Plays well with others")
1978 Spider Veloce
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 07:17 AM
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20 years between doing this PIA job is about right. In another 20 years I might be willing to do it again, but anytime in the next 5 I'll pay somebody. Came out really nice John. There's nothing like that crystal clear rear window on a new top.
My old top didn't have the "chrome side rubby things" so the new top doesn't either. I couldn't tell what they were there for and just didn't bother.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 07:18 AM Thread Starter
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I decided not to paint the frame. It was still good and I was afraid that a paint job would only be a marginal improvement.

Bob Farace got it right . . . . it's the right side stainless steel edge guide that's missing. I should be getting a replacement soon.

The edge guides do two things from what I can see . . . they prevent the corner from being pealed-up and they also can help bring the lower edge of the top taut to help take out any wrinkles.

The worst part of this job was all the hunching over in the interior. I removed both seats which made it easier. I simply can see how it could be done any other way. I'm only 5'9" and I could feel the muscle strain the next morning. If you're a really big guy, you may want to consider that before you start a project like this.

This job was tedious enough as it was. Beer and tequilla shots would definately not improve my workmanship.

John Stewart
74 Spider
91 164S

Last edited by Roadtrip; 05-18-2005 at 07:25 AM.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 09:36 AM
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The new top looks absolutely great! Mine probably isn't going to last too much longer so I really look forward to your installation write up. Thanks for all the pictures showing us all how a properly installed top should look like.

Best Regards,
Paul

'73 Spider
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 02:15 PM
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The beer and tequila shots are the final step. Hoist them in the air and toast a job well done !!!

Bill / 1977 Alfa Romeo 4C2000 / 2012 BMW S1000RR / 1975 BMW R90/6
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-18-2005, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill77
The beer and tequila shots are the final step. Hoist them in the air and toast a job well done !!!
If it's like when I did my top, the beer and tequila won't be noticed because you're so high on contact cement! An open quart of Weldwood in a confined space the size of a Spider can't be healthy.

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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-19-2005, 12:46 PM
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Is there any company makes fabric top with glass rear window for spiders?.Like newer mazda miatas. I hate my dull rear window.

1980 Spider Veloce(it sacrificed its life for other Alfas)
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-19-2005, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gunnar
Is there any company makes fabric top with glass rear window for spiders?.Like newer mazda miatas. I hate my dull rear window.
Have you tried some plastic polish? A friend of mine used Meguiar's #10/17 plastic combo on his Jeep windows. His windows looked better than mine once he was done. Mine haven't reached the point where I need to polish them (yet).

---Eric

'84 Spider Veloce; '91 BMW 318is; '94 Jeep GC
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-19-2005, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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I don't think I've ever seen a spider with a glass rear window. I doubt it's possible due to the curve. I'm sure a piece of glass could be made, but the expense would probably be prohibitive.

John Stewart
74 Spider
91 164S
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-20-2005, 07:50 PM
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Front lip

Is the top latched down in the pictures? If so you have to get that front Lip trim straight and a lot closer to the windshield or the wind noise will drive you deaf.
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-20-2005, 08:45 PM Thread Starter
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Good eye. Yes, I think I might have to do that. When I glued it initially I knew about turning the seam downwards and had the seam pointing downwards a bit, but when latching it, the top has stretched some. Also the radius of the top's cut wasn't exact with the front bow. I've been so busy, I haven't even had a chance to take it out of the highway for a wind noise check. I'm waiting for delivery on a new gasket and will try and address the front seam at that time, if it turns out to be a noise problem.

John Stewart
74 Spider
91 164S
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