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One Big Project (Finis)

025Last week, as you recall, I started yapping about replacing the folding top on the 12-year-old Miata. The top was dirty and worn, was beginning to let light through, it leaked, and it stank a little bit. The leak had soiled the rear deck carpet and turned it from tan to moldy black, so that was to be replaced as well.

I had decided to replace the front floor carpet while the seats were out with a new piece from the Mazda dealer. And, by chance, I found some brand new Miata floor mats online from an out of state Mazda dealer. They match perfectly and even still have that "New Car Smell."

So, off we went. The fiddly bits and the old top were removed, and soon the new one was being screwed, glued, bolted, squeezed, and riveted on. I saved the old top for a while for references.

035

A Miata is tiny until you bring it into the house. Luckily, I had an empty room to store the carpets, seats, the old roof, and the small parts.

The new top wasn't an exact factory copy, so several areas were not the same. That meant important holes didn't line up, if there were any there at all. And I won't mention the new top manufacturer's name, but I will say that their instruction manual was almost useless, if not even misleading. The pictures were poorly exposed and printed, some photos did not match their descriptions, and they used phrases such as, "It will slip back on like a girdle." Right.

The manual also gives three whole lines and no photographs to explain how to replace the headliner section, which was one of the most difficult procedures. There was more copy in that paragraph dedicated to what the top didn't have than what it did.

023

At least it looks like my friend's car now.

But luckily I have a neighbor that has a Miata, and she allowed me to come look at her replacement roof so I could see where things went. Had I not had that opportunity, I might still be trying to figure out how it all went together. I also took a bunch of pictures of my old top, while it was still on the car, for reference.

024

Now we're waiting on the weights to stretch the top into shape.

After reassembly, some weights are carefully placed on top of the new roof to stretch it into place. This is normal, will take a few days, and this warm time of the year is perfect weather for the fitting.

Maybe the best thing that came out of this was the cleaning of a stopped-up drain tube. The side of the top that leaked also had a clogged metal pipe that leads from the rear deck to the car's belly, and 110 pressure pounds of fresh air took care of both sides easily. Hopefully I prevented a future rust problem.

I decided against replacing the front floor carpet at this time because of where I have to park the car. It's in a barn, and I have to walk through dust to get in it. I should be moving in 3-4 months and I'll have a concrete or asphalt garage floor then, so I'll wait and install the carpet when and where it won't get dirty.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

030

Would I take on this project again? The answer is a resounding NO. Not just because it was nearly difficult beyond my abilities due to those instructions, but also because of the risk of damage to the new top and the car, and the loss of the use of the roadster during this lengthy repair time. One hole through the new roof with a screwdriver would have put me back to Square One, and I would have had to use one of these ☂ for a while.

There seems to be three options for this procedure: The first is to do it yourself. The second is to have the job done by a professional. The third option, which I may pursue, is a combination of those. I may now take the car to a professional roof installer and have them fine tune what I have done. Maybe an hour or two of their expertise will get everything perfect and would be worth that expense.

So in 12 more years, the car may need another new roof. And guess what? I ain't doin' it!

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credits: All of the photos were taken here at Forest Home.

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I did this a couple of years ago. Since it was my first time, I splurged on a Robbins top. The quality and fit were excellent, as were the instructions. Totally worth it.

Car remodeling is a very difficult process. It sounds easy, but there is a lot of work involved. Even with that smaller car, you did a great job explaining what you did and why you would not bother to do it again.

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