I have a 1963 convertible that needs a new top. I just so happen to have a brand new top in the box from a 1964 Impala that I sold. The part number reads the same in the catalog for Electron Tops. Any one know if this is true or not?
My questions is... has anyone here tried to tackle this job themselves? I have done seat cover replacement and a few other upholstery things, but never messed with a top. Is it better to leave it to the professionals?
I'm not sure if the top number is the same, but I can tell you that convertible tops are very doable, especially if you are using a premarked top from electron, robbins, or ez-on.
the whole procedure is written out in the shop manual, and you can follow it step by step. Take a look at it before you start, and see if you feel comfortable, then if you do, dive in.
The tack rails on the back of the car (at the qtr panels) can be badly deteriorated. Good news if they are shared with impalas, because that way they're available cheap in the aftermarket. You can reuse yours if you can get the old staples or tacks out without destroying them. Also the header bow tends to hide a lot of rust, which can create bubbles in the top if not handled. you'll need to make sure to sand and paint that section before you can apply the glue to it. Sometimes the header bow is completely rotted out. Again, there are replacements in the aftermarket.
You will need a good wire stapler. I use a senco wire stapler with a 3/8 crown. Flat chisel staples don't hold in the tack rails for some reason, so I've had no success using a t50 stapler. Those staples pull right out when you're trying to get everything taut.
You should mark the old top before take it off for the distance between the pinch weld on the car and the rear bow. Write the distance on the top with a marker so you don't forget it, when you staple up the new rear window, the bow needs to be in the same location. If your top is gone, the distance may be in the shop manual. You also need to mark where the flaps of the main top intersect with the rear window, and how far in the zipper is recessed. you want it to line up the same, and there's nothing worse than the zipper showing when you've stapled it up.
Also note how the end of the window is folded up at the ends, and the quarter flaps, too, so you can do the same on the new top. This is done for drainage, to ensure the water flows into the gutters under the trim.
Finally, lay your old top, if it's still in one piece, on your new one, and draw pencil lines where the tack rails ended. it should match the marks on the new top, or you may have to adjust the factory marks.
Electron tops should be pre-market for the tack rails. They go on easy if you just line up the bolt holes with the marks on the top, and staple away. You'll definitely be better off to read the manual for guidance or watch a few youtube videos on it.
Thank you for the thorough reply. I will give them a call and verify that they are the same top. Below is a snip from their catalog showing the same part numbers.
I have all of the shop manuals, but I did not even think to look in there for convertible top replacement. Thanks for the tips, I might try to tackle it.