Q: Vinyl Top Installation at Factory
Just a note about the Vinyl Top removal. It was mentioned earlier this year that a lot of the time cars got Vinyl tops due to welding problems or other flaws in the roof. Also, if they knew the car was getting the top, they would not do as good of a job.
A: No, the vinyl top was a scheduled option. The reason for this was special studs were welded to the body that hold the moldings trim that goes around the vinyl. These are the same studs you would find around the windshield and rear window frame that hold the window molding in place. As the car passed us we would lower a jig that clamped to the roof that had guides to insert the stud welding gun. There were several different types of jigs depending if the car had a full vinyl top, Landau top, etc. The jig did not guide the studs around the window frames however. These we installed free hand and you tell this because the studs are not evenly spaced nor was the distance from the edge of the flat surface of the roof.
If a vinyl top was added after passing through the body shop, it was done at the dealer. There was no facility to add it at the factory.
The solder and grind procedure used on cars without vinyl tops was an art that took a significant amount of time for a worker to develop (I know, I did this job too). If you run your hand across the joint between the upper quarter panel and roof seam, you may feel a wave and notice small grind marks next to the window drip rail. You may also notice a build up of lead solder around the end of the drip rail. The same is true for the front window posts. This is the trademark of a new worker who did get much training. Training was on-the-job and there weren’t extra cars to practice on, so you just did the best job you could. As the car progressed through the body shop, inspectors would look at the grind job. If it was really bad, they would have people called “metal finishers” touch up the solder joints as it passed finial inspection point. The metal finishers also touched up any other body flaws the inspectors caught.
A: When I worked at the GM Fremont, CA. plant I worked in the body shop where the car’s shell was welded together. For cars that didn’t get a vinyl top, we filled and grinded smooth the weld joint between the top of the quarter panel and roof. The windshield post joint was also soldered.
The cars that got a vinyl top had filler similar to bondo put in. Why this was done I don’t know but was probably related to cost. I’m mentioning this for those who are planing on permanently removing the vinyl top. You’ll be faced with re-doing this seam.
I have 2 orginal vinyl top cars here ,a 1968 and 1969 and both have body solder at the pillars and the sail panels. However they didnt have the rain gutter filled with seam sealer. I did have alot of work to the 1969 at the upper 1/4 seams to fix the poor body work as the vinyl isnt going back on it.
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Content last modified: January 8, 2014 at 7:41 am