Top and Upholstery

Here is a picture of the top of a 1932 Plymouth roadster.  You may note that part of the side curtain is attached to the windshield post.  I don't plan to change a thing about the top. I have the original top, side curtains, and even the "boot" to use as patterns.  The top bows will need to be restored, but are intact.




I saw a roadster interior on the Jalopy Journal's Hokey Ass Message Board (H.A.M.B.) that had a plaid insert in the seat.  It looked very period-correct for what I'm trying to do.  The interior of the 1941 Chrysler Highlander shown here is something like I envision (with a more red-yellow plaid), but perhaps with bucket seats.





This week (7-17-2012), Dan got the windshield assembly aligned and assembled and was able to set the top in place.  This is all part of the "pre-assembly" process to make sure everything fits and that no parts are missing.  Next, we'll tear it all back down to resume work on the chassis.

7-24-2012 -- For two weeks I searched for the canvas panel that fits behind the seat and contains the rear window frame.  I had just about concluded that it was lost when I finally set eyes on it.  While I was looking for it I also found the boot that covers the top when it is folded down.  It looks like the original item.  It's made of a kind of rubberized fabric, much like the top material used on sedans and coupes of the same era.  Now I'm looking for the rear view mirror.  The problem is that the car was somewhat dismantled when I acquired it.  I brought it home in several trips and much of it in several boxes.  And I never was quite positive that I received every part.  That was over ten years ago, so I'm looking for things that I may not even have...

March 11, 2013 -- While at the shop today, Dan invited me over to the car while he opened the rumble seat.  To my surprise, the bare seat springs were in place with no upholstery in sight.  Then Dan said he had a surprise.  He reached under the car and pulled out the original upholstery!  It had been hidden under the ugly red and white Naugahyde that was in the car when I acquired it.  The original material was backed by cotton batting and then burlap:

On the back of the upholstery was imprinted the following:


So, it seems that the upholstery was put together in May, 1932 and was made of a material called "Leatherwove."  It turns out that this product, Leatherwove, was a synthetic leather made by the L.C.Chase Company of Boston, Massachusetts.  Here's part of an ad they ran in 1918:


Remarkably, along the edges, where the "leather" was tacked, the color, an original crimson, is still quite bright.

2-2-2015 Top Bows
I went out to the Shady shop today and Dan has been working on the top bows.  There are three pieces of wood in the top mechanism:  a "header" that rests on top of the windshield frame when the top is up, a central bow that goes over your head, and a rear bow (sometimes called the main bow) that forms the upper rear edge of the erect top, creating the intersection between the vertical rear panel of canvas and the horizontal top panel.  The latter two bows are made of oak which was steam-bent to form the curved ends that support the left and right sides of the top.  The front header is carved to have a very slight curve along the front edge and slight taper going toward the sides.


All the wooden components had been "loved on" over their 80+ year history.  Dan had separated them from the metal framework that supports them and had straightened some bent portions of the frame.  He also had replaced some rivets and spacers that had deteriorated or been improperly repaired in the past.  The central bow is salvageable.  It has a lot of nail holes, but Dan believes that by sealing it with Qwik-Poly, he can save it.  He will also fabricate a new front header out of white oak.  The rear bow however had been cut into three pieces sometime in the past and crudely repaired.  It will have to be replaced.









Dan gave me the assignment to call the only place left that makes these steam-bent oak bows, a shop in Chambersburg, PA.  I called Mr. Rick Kessell, who by the way, still uses a rotary phone.  Mr. Kessell explained how they do business, how to ship the original bow, and what our options are regarding the finished product.  We have decided to have Mr. Kessell bend the bow and ship it back to Dan, who will finish the shaping.  The edges of the oak blank must be rounded so they don't chafe through the top material and the ends on either side must be tapered and shaped to accommodate decorative metal caps and fit tightly against the metal framework.  More to follow.
3-31-2015   I visited the shop today to learn that Dan had shipped the rear bow to Mr. Kessel for replacement.  Dan will shape the tips to match the original when the newly-bent top bow is received.  In the meantime, Dan has completed the Qwik-Poly treatment of the middle bow and has fabricated a brand new front (header) bow from white oak.  It looks perfect.

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