1961 Corvette Soft Top Installation

Tricks Of The Trade

1961 Corvette Soft Top Installation Kits


Al Knoch Interiors – Corvette Interior Parts


1966 Corvette Soft Top

This is a relatively easy top to install. We haveprovided a very detailed step by step procedure in the following two pagesof text and graphics to guide the reader. In doing so we also encounteredsome real life rust and worn parts that had to be resolved as well. Wealso included our tricks learned as a result of replacing many tops sincethe early 70's. We hope the reader is not overwelmed and discouraged bythe excessive detail provided. Unfortunately these tops get tougher toinstall as the cars further age and the need for quality workmanship increaseswith the increasing value of the cars. Unfortunately not all tops are createdequal. We have always carried only the best quality tops. We have to faceour customers after the installation and live with our mail order customershopefully for a very long time.
Willcox Corvette, Inc. - Corvette Repair & Install Help

Corvette Soft Top Replacement

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Classics for Sale - Classics on ...
Special tools needed: You'll need regular pliers, needle nose pliers, punch, single edged razor blade, screw drivers, small wrenches, and strong hands.

Begin by first removing the wire-on molding just above the rear window. This molding covers a seam which is present on most convertible tops. The wire-on molding is folded front to back. First remove the stainless ends usually fastened by phillips screws (ill. 1). Unfold the wire-on molding and remove the staples securing it to the top bow. This is done using a sharp punch to pry up. Usually 1/2 of the staple separates fromthe bow. Use pliers, either regular or needle nose to finish the stapleremoval. Remove all the staples securing the top seam overlap after themolding has been removed.

Removethe rear weatherstrip by first finding and removing the weatherstrip retainer wire embedded within the weatherstrip (ill. 2). The weatherstrip will easily pull off once the retainer wire is removed (ill. 3). The top fabric is fastened to the rear bow by a small welt or beading stiched into the fabric edge and tucked into a groove in the bow. Use a screw driver to untuck the top fabric from the rear bow(ill. 2).

Removeall front weatherstrip which include front center, left and right corners. The center weatherstrip is secured by plastic push in studs embedded into the weatherstrip and spaced approximately six inches apart. Much care should be taken when desecuring the plastic studs from the bow (ill.5). The studs are t-shaped therefore pry them loose with a screw driver placed next to the stud. The corner weatherstrips are secured by two metal push in clips, one plastic push in clip, one phillips screw, and one threaded embedded steel stud. Pry the clips loose in the same manner used when removing the centerweather plastic studs (ill. 4). Unscrew the screw and removethe one nut on the back side of the side rail.

Removethe front fabric molding staples, then the top fabric wrap aroundstaples(ill.5). The top is then fastened only by the sideverticle weatherstrip studs. The quick way to remove the side verticalweatherstrip is done using a single edge razor blade to slice the top materialfacilitating easy access to the weatherstrip stud nuts (ill.6).There are three nuts and washers that need to be removed. The old top isthen removed exposing the top pads (ill.7). The top padsand adjacent straps are replaced one at a time so as not to disturb existingtop bow alignment. Before changing pads and straps we must repair the existingfront bow rot. We were very surprised to find the extent of ruston the front bow as we did on this particular Corvette. In fact the entireframe of the car was in much better condition. The only explanation wecould surmize was that the top had been replaced once before many yearsago and the fabric wrapped around the front bow had been trimmed short,exposing a surface that we find typically covered by fabric. Since therust was isolated we weighed the cost factors involved in replacing thefront bow as compared with its repair. A new bow cost approximately $300.00and requires three or four hours for installation since their fit is notas good as one might expect. We estimated six to eight hours to repairthe existing bow not unlike the many we had repaired over the years priorto this replacement part's availability. The repair would result in a substantialsavings for the customer when considering our shop rate and no delay inprogress .

Repairrusted front front bow by first grinding the rusted surface (ill. 7). The pitted areas are then ground using a die grinder (ill. 8). This process is similar to a dentist preparing a tooth for a filling. Sheet metal plates approximately .020 to .030 inch thick are then fabricated and fitted over the rotted areas (ill. 8). The repair plates are then mig welded in place (ill. 9). The welds are then ground flat and the entire repair area is also lightly ground in preparation for body filler application. Apply a light coat of body filler. Trim or cheese grade when half hard. Sand and shape the body filler as needed when completely cured (ill. 9).

Installfront tack strip: The original tack strip, (what the top fabricstaples are secured to), usually survive. This is one of those rare timesthat require its replacement. Oddly enough the original tack strip fromthis car was in excellent shape but we opted to replace it with a woodenreplacement. The factory tack strip and the aftermarket reproduction aremade from a fiber board, paper-like material. We have found that a softwood replacement holds the staples better and will probably out live itsoriginal counter part. We discovered this process many years ago when noreplacement part was available. The wood we use is from a yard stick whichused to be given away free from most hardware store and lumber yards (ill.10). The yard stick is cut approximately 5/8 inch wide and a numberof pieces are cut to eight to ten inch lengths. The pieces are fitted andtrimmed as necessary. When satisfied with the overall fit they are bondedinto place using body filler. The factory tabs are then rebent over thenew tack strip (ill. 10). The entire header bar is then primedand painted gloss black lacquer.

Checkthe dimensions and fit and orientation of the old pads and strapsbefore commiting to their replacement.We have found that old pads and strapsshrink a bit with age. It is not necessary to use a tape measureextensively for this procedure, rather a prefit of the new top will bestdetermine if any change in pad length is necessary. The critical item isthe location of the rear tack strip bow, (where the wire-on molding waspreviously secured). There is a chance that this bow crept forward slightlywith the aging pads. Install the new top with the rear edge wrapped aroundthe rear bow, which clamps to the car. Pull the material to the front bowand around the side vertical rails. The open seam of the new top shouldbe locating exactly over the rear tack strip bow. A close inspection ofthe ends, left and right, will show that this seam is comprised of two1/2 inch wide flaps that overlap each other. The point where they overlapwill be stapled to the rear tack strip so the staple point should locateprecisely over the middle of the tack strip (ill. 18). Youwill need to pull back on the rear tack strip bow while pulling forwardon the new top material to accurately check this fit.
Also note the pad orientation over the side glass (ill. 11).Did the pads show in this area before the old top was removed? No partof the pad should appear lower than the bottom surface of the side rail.Did the side glass fit its mating weatherstrip before the old top was removed?The original factory fit in this regard was precise. Now would be a goodtime to check and tweak this configuration. Better yet, if the car hasa hard top fit the side glass to the hard top and realign soft top bowsto that configuration making both tops a perfect fit as the factory didwhen the car was new.
The straps almost always need to be installed allowing an increase of about1/8 inch longer distance between the tack strip bow and the lower bow.
If you feel a need to alter the location of the rear tack strip bow fromits present location as dictated by locating the overlap seam you shouldnot encounter a deviation larger than 1/4 inch unless a botched up homemade top had been previously installed.
As the top frame ages many pivoting points wear. Typically the rear bowtends to inch forward. Two things have occurred; The small connecting 'S'shaped bracket has bent forward from many years of supporting tightfabric and some wear has developed in its attaching pivot rivet. A quickrebending of the 'S' bracket (ill. 11) will usually resolvethe problem adequately.

Begininstalling one new pad first. Check the distance between the tackstrip bow and the rear bow on the other side for reference (ill.12). Remove all staples. You will find that the generally practicedrule with pad fastening does not render staples on a surface adjacent tothe top material. The new pad is placed with the rear tack bow properlyplaced and properly aligned over the side rail with no pad material appearingbelow the side rail bottom surface. Remove the inside padding materialbefore stapling into place. The pad is then stapled first at the frontbow, then rear tack bow and then the middle (ill. 13). Installthe padding and properly place the outer pad covers as illustrated (ill.13). Apply adhesive to the two surfaces that will meet each other.Allow adhesive to dry before joining. The overlapped seams are then taped.Apply adhesive to the area that will be taped then apply the tape.

Installthe top straps using a punch to locate holes in the rear bow (ill.14). Check the distance measurement reference taken from the oppositeside. The strap is stapled to the rear tack strip bow under the pad (ill.14). With the front clamped and the rear latched two notches thestraps and pads should appear taught leaving approximately 1/2 inch clearanceunder the rear bow between it and the body.

This Article is Continued. . . .

1. Remove rear wire-on molding &staples

2. Remove w/strip retainer, w/strip,& top

3. Removing the rear weatherstrip

4. Remove front corner w/strip screws& clips

5. Remove front w/strip & factory staples

6. Using a single edge razor slit top &remove w/strip

7. Stripped down to the pads & beginrust repair

8. Grind out the divitte & positionnew sheet metal

9. Mig weld & apply body filler

10. Install wooden tack strip & paintheader

11. Align rear bow & check pad &glass alignment

12. Remove pad staples & measure otherside

13. Install pad foam & glue outer seamoverlap

14. Pad seam is then tapped & Installstraps

The top of the rear bow has soft-sided Velcro applied to it to prevent glass scratches during top lowering. If it is in poor condition, now would be the time for replacement. This is the crucial part of the top installation. If the top positioning is off, the entire top placement will suffer. Gluing the vertical section first makes the most sense. Corvette Convertible Top Install, Rear window falling out, new soft top install, Convertible top rear window replacement, Convertible top specialist located.

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General Description1-2 Underbody Rocker Molding, Body Sill -
Service Operations1-2 - Molding and Sill Plate1-20
Cleaning Soft Trim1-2Rear End1-20
Front End1-4 Folding Top Compartment Lid and Deck Lid -
Windshield 1-4 - Adjustments1-20
Removal1-4 Deck Lid1-20
Disassembly1-4 Removal1-21
Assembly1-4 Installation1-21
Installation1-5 Deck Lid Trim1-21
Instrument Panel 1958 - 19621-6 Lock Assembly 1961 - 1962 Models1-21
1954 - 1957 Radio Speaker Grill1-7 Removal1-21
Assist Rail1-7 Installation1-22
Instrument Panel Cove Trim Plate1-8 Lock Assembly 1953 - 1960 Models1-22
Instrument Panel Tray1-8 Division Panel1-22
Cowl Trim Panel1-8 Hinge Assembly1-22
Rear View Mirror1-8 Removal1-22
Body Heating and Ventilation1-9 Repairs1-23
Cowl Ventilator1-9 Installation1-23
Heater and Controls1-10 Folding Top Compartment Lid1-23
Description1-10 Removal1-23
Service Diagnosis1-11 Installation1-23
Service Operations1-11 Folding Top Compartment Lid Lock1-24
Doors1-13 Adjustment1-24
Adjustments1-13 Removal1-24
Lock Striker1-13 Installation1-24
Door Window and Post1-14 Hinge - Top Compartment Lid1-24
Door Hinges1-15Seats1-24
Weatherstrip, Arm Rest and Trim Panel1-16 Seat Separator1-24
Window Assembly1-16 Removal1-24
Removal1-16 Disassembly1-24
Installation1-16 Installation1-24
Rear Glass Run Channel1-17Folding Top1-25
Forward Post Assembly and Sash Channel Operation - 1956 - 1962 Models1-25
- Guide1-17 Operation - 1953 - 1955 Models1-26
Window Regulator - Manual1-17 Adjustments1-29
Removal1-17 Care of Folding Top1-30
Installation1-17 Folding Top Linkage1-30
Window Regulator - Power1-18 Removal1-31
Door Lock1-18 Disassembly and Assembly1-31
Removal1-18 Installation1-31
Installation1-18 Folding Top Trim1-31
Door Lock1-18 Sealing1-31
Removal1-18 General Construction1-33
Installation1-18 Hydraulic - Electric System1-36
Door Outer Handle1-18 Electrical System1-36
Removal1-18 Sequence of Operation1-36
Installation1-18 Trouble Diagnosis1-36
Door Lock Cylinder1-19 Filling Hydraulic System1-38
Removal1-19 Hydraulic Pump1-39
Installation1-19 Removal1-39
Door Hinges1-19 Installation1-39
Removal1-19 Hydraulic Top Cylinders1-39
Repair1-19 Removal1-39
Installation1-19 Installation1-39
1953 - 1955 Hinge Assembly1-20
Rear Quarter 1-20
Gas Filler Door1-20

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