1929 Ford Model A Tudor Restoration

Note: Each photo below can be clicked for a larger view

Chapter V - Upholstery, Interior and Top

The interior and top kits have been ordered and arrived. Before starting on the interior, we wanted to be able to protect it from shop dust. Therefore, Dan started installing the fabric top. The first step is chicken wire over the bows to support the fabric. After one failure, Dick found 4 foot wide wire which eliminated the need for any seams. I question how much it accomplishes since it is not very flat. I believe cotton duck fabric would have been much better, but the wire is traditional. The wire was followed by a fairly thin muslin then some thin poly padding. Dick elected to again bring the padding all the way down to the drip rails as he had done before although this is probably not correct. We elected to glue the padding to the metal top above the drip rails.

With that done, next was the vinyl(?) outer cover. This was definitely a 2-man job as significant stretching and pulling was required. The fabric is tacked to a wood header across the front. The back and sides are also tacked into wood but there it is through narrow slots inside a recess and between body metal. It is a challenge to hit the slots then hard to set the tacks without hitting the body; a punch was necessary.

Top installed Between Dick and Dan, they managed to get the top installed. I helped out from time-to-time, mostly when an extra set of hands was needed to help pull and stretch. I guess I was occupied with some of my projects during this time and I failed to get any photos of the entire process but here it is finished. It looks pretty good too.

Front hidem Back hidem The raw edge of the tacked fabric is covered by a simple hidem at the front and back. Dan got this installed with relative ease. He first painted the existing tack heads with a clear glue the supplier included in the kit. He then used two lines of blue masking tape to define the exact location for the hidem then nailed it down. I think some of the glue must have gotten on the tape because we now have bits of blue peaking out from the edges of the hidem in a few places. You can see a little of this in the rear hidem photo, the one on the right. This will take some effort to remove. The blue tape around the windows is temporarily there to protect the paint while working on the top.

Nailers Nailers The sides, however, are a different matter. They are covered by two-piece drip rails, or rain gutters. The first piece is nailed through those same slots with the fabric top then the second just snaps onto it. The problem is, these are straight aluminum extrusions and the nailing channel has a significant curve at the rear. Bending the nailing strip was not too difficult as it is almost flat. The rain gutter is far from flat and may prove to be a much bigger challenge. After a couple of previous ideas and even attempts, we finally determined that the two pieces had to be shaped at the same time, together. They have to be a perfect match or it will be impossible to mate them on the car. Dick built a jig from a few scraps of plywood that matched the curve at the rear. We snapped the pieces together and bent them individually using the jig then separated them. While I did other things (on my projects), Dick installed the nailed parts on the car.We plan to paint the actual drip rails before installation. Some touch up will probably be required.

Door window Back seat window The glass finally arrived and the guys proceeded to install it. There was a minor problem with the rear window; it was about 1/16th inch too tall for the opening. We knew there were two sizes for that opening but I believe the difference was somewhat more than that. I cut it down just a bit on the belt sander and it installed without further ado. The roll up side windows also presented their own problems. The sides move in a typical semi-rigid felt channel that self-align. The tops fit into a matching rubber channel that does not self-align. All these channels are glued in. We used weatherstrip cement. Getting this all aligned and stuck in place seemed to take more effort than it should have. Once in, it all seems to work well though. These photos are of the right side door window and back seat window, both rolled down. Below are a couple photos of the rear window, from inside then outside. The inside photo is with the headliner already installed (see below) and some panels temporarily in place for fitting. Back window Back window

Fittinh windshiled The windshield almost deserves a whole chapter itself. The top, with the hinge mechanism, removes from the sides to insert the glass. First, however, the glass supplier included a strip of what appears to be uncured rubber, about an inch and a half wide and long enough to reach all around the glass. This is what seals the glass to the frame. The only instruction with it, however, was "Wet both sides with motor oil. Insert it between the glass and the frame. Let it sit overnight before trimming the excess. " After a couple of failed attempts, Dick determined that the only way to do that was to cut it into four pieces and miter the corners; tuck the pieces into the frame then carefully slide the glass in. With all three of us, this finally worked. It helped that the frame and glass are wider at the top than the bottom. The next day, Dick trimmed the excess with a razor blade and it now looks quite good. The rubber seemed to soak up the oil, turning it from quite slippery to just almost sticky. This photo is of the windshield being fitted to the body.

Fitting the windshield to the body presented yet another set of problems. It did not seem to have any desire to do so. There is a rubber gasket at the top and at first it seemed that made the whole system too tall to fit the opening. The bottom rubbed the vented panel above the dash. Considerable work with clamps and tightening the bolts brought it close but still not quite. We then worked on reshaping the bottom until it finally cleared. The remaining problem at this point is a slight bulge in the channel that holds the bottom rubber gasket. It seems to hit the opening frame just before closing. It will probably have to be removed to correct that without damaging the outer frame.

More on this later.

Headliner discussion With the windows in place, the guys decided it was safe to start installing the headliner. The kit came with "instructions". First, mark the centerline of the roof. Then temporarily install the panels to mark their top edges on the body with chalk. Later the headliner will be tacked 1/8 inch below the chalk marks. Then start at the center rear top bow and tack the headliner to every other bow working forward. Finally tack it to the windshield header then the back window header. Dan started per the instructions but when he got to the windshield header, he determined that he was not qualified to finish the job. Dick felt the same and called his old friend David who is a retired upholsterer. David agreed to at least look at it and ultimately agreed to finish the job. He did finish the headliner in a little over a day. Our work days are not 8 hours. Here it is at that point although excess still not trimmed. Looks pretty good. I wish I could take some credit for it. The other shot is David explaining something to Dick or some discussion.

Reviewing David magic With the headliner installed to that point, it was time to install the finish welting. This goes at the top of the panels to separate them from the headliner. It possibly is not necessary but it sure adds that finishing touch. This again requires the panels to be temporarily installed or at least held in place to locate the welting which then is tacked through the headliner. I should point out here that everywhere in this headliner discussion where I mentioned tacks or tacked, Dick elected to use staples although the kit did include tacks. I certainly agree with that decision. These photos are David reviewing his work and starting on the welting at the back window. The rest of that day he made it to about the mid point of the next window. This will be a slow and tedious job.

Head liner rear Head liner front Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. They decided to forego the welting entirely. Here is the headliner finished with all the upper panels installed. The board on the panel above the windshield is holding the panel temporarily for alignment until they got the rest of the panels installed. Fitting those panels actually turned out to be a bigger job, or at least more time consuming, than the headliner. But as you can see it looks really nice, even without the welting.

Front seats Front seats Meanwhile Dan started working on the seats. Again, I failed to get pictures of the process but will try to describe it the best I can from memory. I did help a little from time-to-time as needed and Dick did quite a bit. At one point on the back seat, it actually required all three of us to get the spring compressed while stapling the cover to the frame.

Construction was fairly standard for the era and actually much later. The front seats begin with a wood frame at the bottom which the seat spring is mounted to. The back hinges for access to the back seat but the hinge is a few inches above the bottom cushion. The back is a metal frame that the spring unit is mounted to. Both springs are then covered with a jute pad then a layer of cotton. The pre-stitched seat cover is then stretched over the spring and stapled to the bottom of the wood frame. The back cover slips over the spring and frame and staples to a strip of wood near the hinge area. The only potential difficulty is ensuring that the pleats match and the welting aligns the same on both seats. There is a panel that also attaches to that same strip of wood and to the seat bottom wood frame. This covers the gap between the cushions as seen from the back seat. Finally, there is a vented fiber board panel that covers the bottom wood and all its staples and raw fabric edges. The photos show the seats finished and in storage waiting for the rest of the interior panels before installation. The one from the back shows the high-set hinges and the panel that hides the gap from the back.

Back seat Back seat The back seat is just a little different. First, the seat and back are two separate units. The seat is positioned by a fitted unit in the floor. The back is hung from two hooks below the back window and attached at the bottom to brackets on the back wall, behind the seat. Also, unlike the front seats, the instructions called for a layer of burlap over the spring before the jute. I question why that was not specified for the fronts. The instructions were less than ideal. Maybe they just forgot to mention that. The back, of course, does not slip over like the fronts since the back side is never seen.

Covering the seat was fairly uneventful, the only real concern was getting the welting straight and in the right location. The back was a bit more trouble. The spring had to be really compressed to stretch and attach the fabric. This is where all three of us were needed. The final cover is stapled to wood strips at the top and bottom but hog-ringed at the sides. It really seemed like there was not enough fabric but, in the end, it all fit and looks quite good. These photos show the back seat, again in storage awaiting installation. The left one is both pieces, with the back closest as seen from the bottom. The other is a closer shot of the seat.

Dan covering visor dick finishing windlace As we got the seat, it had the wood tack strip at the bottom of the back but not at the top. Dick cut a new panel of plywood to cover the whole thing which seemed like a good idea at the time. It interfered badly with certain body protrusions, however, making it impossible to install. He ultimately cut that down to just two strips, just enough for the necessary tacking, or stapling in our case.

Left photo is Dan gluing the vinyl cover to the sun visor. This is the same vinyl that covers the top. Right is Dick finishing the ends of one of the door windlace pieces. "Finishing" consists of cutting the inner extrusion to the right length then turning the cover back into itself so that no raw edges can be seen and it looks like the cover was made around the end.

Kick Panel Back seat mounts Unfortunately doing all this work around the painted body, we managed to do some significant damage to the finished paint, some while installing the top and upholstery and some even before that. See here.

But, here we are at work again. Left is Dan installing the passenger side cowl kick panel. That turned out to be a much bigger job than expected. The threaded holes for the screws are, of course, behind the panel and getting screws aligned properly is not trivial. Getting the panels in place, especially the right side, is also somewhat of a challenge. Right photo is dick installing the mounting hooks and brackets for the rear seat back. Except for the effort and discomfort of getting in place to do so, this is not a particularly difficult job.

Next it was time for the side panels. I wasn't involved so can't give any real details. I know they had problems getting the window sills to fit over the tops of the panels as well as some difficulty installing the window cranks. I think they decided to just leave the backing spring out as the panel padding seemed to take all the slack out without it. The door panels didn't seem to cause as much trouble. Well, they do have a lot of the little mounting clips and the holes in the card do not match the holes in the door because the clips are offset. Below are photos of the door panel, the side panels and the dash area. I couldn't get a good shot of the panels inside the car so the color is quite off but the door panel is correct.

Door card side panels Windshield

After the side panels, came the rear seat back. I did get involved in that. Dan was golfing the day Dick decided to install it but his friend, John who visits often, happened to be there. Dick Rear seat back spent a lot of time inside the car while John and I passed the seat back in and out through the windows for refitting. Dick did most of the alignment work from the inside while John and I provided most of the "muscle" from outside. The seat back hangs from two hooks on the back wall, below the window. It also has two tabs at the bottom that are screwed to brackets to prevent it from jumping off those hooks. We had previously fit the spring unit before adding any upholstery and it seemed all right. The biggest problem we were having this time was the thing seemed to be too wide, with its upholstery included, to get it in place. That's where our "muscle" came into play. It turned out to be a much bigger job than we imagined but we did finally succeed.

Well, there were other problems. For some unknown reason, the holes we had cut in the plywood for those hooks did not quite fit anymore. A couple of our "in-and-out" passes were to enlarge them a bit. With it hanging from the hooks and properly in place, the last step was to attach it to those bottom brackets. The original tabs were just wire and had rusted away so Dick made new ones from sheet metal. Unfortunately, there were no holes for the bolts to attach them to the brackets. He had to mark and drill them in the car, deciding that would be easier than taking the unit out again and having to completely reinstall it. This would have been a much simpler job if we had marked for the holes when we first fit the spring unit then drilled them on the bench. As they say, "hind sight is 20-20." Maybe next time.

Rain gutter Rain gutter close Over the next several weeks, all three of us spent considerable time trying to install the rain gutters. It looked simple enough but getting the gutter to snap onto the preinstalled installation tracks proved to be anything but simple. We managed to get the curved sections done but the long straights just would not cooperate. We could get either the top or bottom to hook the track but then the other edge just would not go. We all tried every different method we could think of but still no go. Dick consulted with some who had "done it before" with no real answers. The general response was "yeah, it is hard"". Finally one day they determined to just make it work. I was doing something else so can't report for sure how it was done but it did involve a dead blow hammer of some weight. Anyway, by the end of the day they were installed. There was a little damage done, probably from the hammer, and the gutters are a little wavy now. Getting those ripples out will not be trivial.

Last floor board Back seat After a few weeks working on reassembly, we finally got back to the interior. Dan got the remaining floor boards installed and made a couple of attempts at the rear seat. It was not as hard as the seat back but still not a one man job. While Dick was stuck in the blast cabinet prepping something, I got in the car to help get that seat in. While I compressed the back edge of the spring to get it under the back spring, Dan pushed it in place. Job done! Getting the front floor board, under the driver's feet was also not trivial. This was a replacement piece patterned from the old deteriorated board and the bolt holes did not align perfectly. Also, the screws were a little too long and had to be cut to fit. Here is Dan installing the final floor board. The other is the back seat installed. Looks really nice.

Front mat Install front seat While I had to take more time off, Dick and Dan got the rubber floor mats installed. this was not a matter of just dropping them in place. They had to be custom fit. I suppose they are probably made to fit more than just this one model. Both were a little too long but the front also had to be trimmed along the sides as well as for the gear stick boot.It took at least a couple of days to do the measuring and cutting, bit-by-bit. I couldn't get any photos of the actual work with both bodies between the camera and the subject but the left photo shows the front in place. The right photo is Dan installing the last bolt in the front seat mounts/hinges. Below is Dick inspecting Dan's work and finally actually in the driver's seat. He was all the way in but my trigger finger is too slow.

FrontSeats Driver in

Rain gutters Rain gutters We had a small success today in straightening the rain gutters They still need more work but I now think we are on the right track. About all that is left after that is clean up the clutter, run the vacuum and polish the windows. Soon we hope. Meanwhile the exterior assembly is getting close too.

Dick spent a lot of time on the rain gutters, straightening then filling then sanding, over and over. The ultimate solution was to mask the entire car and repaint the gutters with a lower gloss black paint. It seems to fit in with the vinyl top and actually looks better than I expected. With that done, we removed all the masking tape that had been on way too long This left considerable residue that Goo Gone removed. More troublesome though was some hard glue, probably weatherstrip adhesive, on the body. It took some work but Goo Gone finally removed that too. I think this chapter is finished now and we can go on to the finish. Rain gutter