Some thoughts about building a top for a Glassic

and preparations for building a top for Bud 6, car 689
the Annexmaster's California 1973 Phaeton.

This will be a blog (weB LOG) of sorts, or a chat page about building a top for a Glassic. Think of it as "thinking out loud", with any responses that I receive included in the discussion.

I built a hardtop for car 1254, because I wanted windows that I could easily close, and I wanted to hold in the air conditioning. While I was satisfied with my top, I would learn from that experience.

1) I made the top removable, but ended up never removing it. I would do the same again - probably never take it off, but make it POSSIBLE to easily remove it if I wanted to.

2) The truck topper that I started with was not the greatest quality (it was cheap) and as a result, it sagged. I would get a decent topper with a "crown" to keep the center up higher.

3) I did not like the appearance of the finished top. That is a matter of taste, but my next effort will either be taller ( head room could have been better) or more like the convertible top. Instead of up and across or L shaped, it would be up, angled, and then across, making the back higher, like the soft tops are.

4) The windows in the doors were a pain to remove and replace. An easier way to open them would be good.

5) The sunroof leaked, probably because the top did not have enough crown to it. A more rounded top would be better.

This is a picture of the first top I built ( for car 1254), and my write-up is HERE.

My new car, #689 is older, but I would like to enclose IT as well. Here are some thoughts, and others are welcome to contribute their ideas as well.
1) I wonder if the same measurements hold for ALL years of cars. Is the tub the same size and shape for all years?

Here are measurements for car 689.
Width from outside to outside of the doors:  At the back of the doors 51 3/4 inches. Across the front of the doors, about two inches back from the front of each door: 46 1/2  If you go about 1 foot back from the door, about mid-back seat area, the width is 51 7/8 inches, and 2 feet back from the door, the width is 51 1/4 inches.

The windshield stanchions are 45 1/2 inches, from the center of one "pokey" to the center of the other one. - so if you were going to use a rectangular piece for the main part of the roof, (in other words, one that was not narrower at the front than at the door width)  and it was 51 3/4 wide, then the roof would overhang the windshield ends by 51 3/4 minus 45 1/2 = 6 1/4 inches, divided by two = 3 1/8 inch overhang on each side.

a better overhang would be a minimal overhang of 1 1/4 inches (more or less) on each side to allow for the block with the hole it it to attach to the pins - making a minimum width overall of 48 inches.

This means that the topper that is used would be about 51 to 52 inches wide at the door level.  Now, if the top is put on the Glassic tilted upward toward the back of the car, and if the edges are rounded, the topper will be WIDER as you go down the sides.  If your visor in the front is, say, 1" (small) then the width of the top will be narrower than if the visor is 3 inches  high.

a drawing of this would help here. Here is a back view of a topper,

  /                    \
/____________\  -- see how the distance at the TOP of the space at left is narrower than the line at the bottom?  --


2) There are several "components" to the top project -- some appear below.

the front connection, above the windshield

 The top of the windshield is straight across, and the pokey things that hold the soft top on seemed to work fine for my hard top. I built similar receivers out of blocks of 2 x 2 x 1" thick aluminum, with a hole bored in the bottom and a threaded cross hole off center for the hold down bolt.  Drilling and tapping the off-center hole was a bit of an issue.

I drilled 4 more holes to attach the block to the the cross piece. Next time, a wood cross piece made out of, perhaps 5/4 lumber (that is one-by that is really one inch thick) - perhaps a stair tread would do, since the front edge would already be rounded over.

 the rear contour, both around the curves in the back, AND the rise in the back.

 -- I had a sharp edge at the bottom of the top where it rested on the car, and had a local welder build a "frame" for the attachment lip. It was made out of flat and L shaped aluminum, and only moderately satisfactory. We can do better, but the compound curves were not easy to match up.

 The shape of the tub opening - narrow getting wider at the door backs, then narrower again toward the rear of the car.

 A flat, rectangular topper won't do since the view, looking down is not square, like the back of a pickup truck.

How to hold the top down at the rear of the car

 I was happy with the IDEA of my attachment on car 1254, but not happy with my attempt at welding. I think that the best idea is as follows. (I am going to try to draw this up) Make one "piece" for each attachment point - so two or 4 are needed depending on roof type. My Landau, two part roof idea would require two hold-downs in the back, and one on each side, just behind the door area.

My drawings were awful. Here is a description. Take a bar of steel, or aluminum, 3/8 inch thick by 2 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide and drill and tap three holes in it. The center hole will be 3/8" treaded for a bolt that will hold the top on. Near each end, tap a hole for a #10 flathead bold. You could flare the top edges of the holes if you want, to make starting the bolts easier.

Then you place the piece on the rear deck flat area where you want your attachments, and mark and drill your holes on the Deck. All 3 holes in the deck will be slightly larger so the bolts will drop down into the holes. The metal piece goes underneath, inside the cavity of the rear deck and is held up against the underside by the two small flathead bolts, run down through the fiberglass and into the threads of the piece. These snug the piece up against the underside of the fiberglass.  Then a 3/8 inch bolt goes through the top, down through the fiberglass and into the threaded hole in the piece.

All holes in the fiberglass deck would be flared out. The center one so that the bolt can find its way in easier, and the two small holes so that the flat head bolts will be flush or below the surface of the deck. In addition, you can grind the large bolt toward a bit of a point (taper the end) so that it will home-in easier too.

To get the piece in place to hold it with the small bolts, you can place a 3 foot threaded rod down through the fiberglass and attach the piece to the end, under the car. Then draw the rod up to pull up the piece. You also can use two nails and two pieces of string, or thread. One piece tied down through the center hole, and another through one of the small holes -- then pull up on both - the second string is to help line things up so that the first small bolt can be inserted.

The purpose of placing the piece on the underside is to maintain a smooth surface for the top to rest on.

The frame around where the windows would be.

 Car 1254 the rear windows could be removed (they were attached with wing nuts) -- I never took them out. The framework to hold the windows should be L shaped.

The door windows

 If you are going to have door windows, and I like that concept, then they need to clear the roof when you open the doors, and ideally, they should roll down, slide open or something. I had a rough time paying tolls with my windows in the car.

I can't help but wonder if there are ANY cars / trucks with a door that might be worked onto a Glassic. Doors with windows (electric, of course) already in them.  Since our windshields are straight up and down, a back door from an older 4 door truck might be the right shape.

the shape of the roof, the appearance

 The totally flat roof, while nobody complained about it, did not appeal to me and I think the next attempt will be different, or at least higher up for improved head room. Here is a look at how an old sedan-delivery roof line might look, for example.

The sunroof, while a great idea, needs to not leak. One idea I have had is to go to a U-pull junk yard and cut out the entire sunroof from a newer car, along with the roof around it, and paste that into the top I build. That would be an electric sunroof, with a door that would close out the light. The wiring and switch would be removed along with the sunroof.

An after-market sunroof could be added, but those require you to remove and store the glass when the roof is open. The one on car 1254 slid open on the outside of the car. The fact that the front of the roof was LOWER than the back probably made for the leak problems -- since there was a wind deflector that made a water gathering trough when the nose of the car was downhill.  -- A sunroof is worth figuring out.

T-tops, or a landau, two-part roof is also a consideration.

There are a couple of made-up WOODIES graphics on the website, and, while interesting, they would be a ton of work, and likely not easy to remove -- and what would you gain? Well, you COULD make a back cargo area behind the rear seat, and make full-frame wooden doors to replace the Glassic doors. -- good for a carpenter hobby person, maybe.

I covered my top with convertible top material. The store added padding and then the vinyl material. It was quite costly, but made up for my, er, lazy finish work. Fiberglass finish, or vinyl - either would work. One guy with a VW used some kind of bed liner and then painted it. It created a vinyl-like bumpy finish and hid imperfections. Probably cheaper than the $600+ I pad for the padding and top covering.

the materials for the roof, hold-downs, frame (if one is used) etc

 You need a lip or something to rest on the back of the car. L shaped metal or  fiberglass that makes an L at the bottom are possible ideas. A wood frame to rest on the car with fiberglass, or sheet material screwed to it might work. Keeping strength in a large U shaped piece of wood would be an issue.

Tubing would make a good mating surface since it could be bent as needed for the compound curves, but attaching it to the body would be more of a problem.

 I used garage door rubber bottom foam as a cushion for my top. I had to cut it down, but the small angle in the rubber worked well as a seal.

This is being posted in an un-finished state, so as to generate thought and discussion.