Replacing my convertible top - 1965 Chrysler

D Cluley

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With the bows all back in place, I moved on to the pads. The fabric of the old ones is still in pretty good shape, but the foam has all disintegrated, so new ones going on.

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They have a piece of heavy fabric underneath the foam insert & lighter fabric flaps that fold over the top.

I lined up the edges with the indent on the front header & put one screw in to hold it loosely, then lined the pad up on the intermediate bows and put some staples into the tack strips.

When I ordered the top kit last year, they suggested that a powered staple gun would make the job easier, so I picked up an electric Arrow gun. It uses the regular T50 staples, so I'm sure it will get used for plenty of other things as well. You do want to get stainless steel staples for doing a top.

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Once the pad was secured in the middle, I went back and put the rest of the screws into the header.

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Once the intermediate bows were stabilized firmly with the pads, I used a bungee cord to pull the rear bow forward tight against the short tension cables, and stapled the pads to it.
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Time to sit down for a break. It's kind of like a big panoramic sunroof. You know, except for the keeping the rain out part.

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So, moving on the exciting actual top parts, I measured & marked the center line at the base of the rear window. Measuring the vinyl at the top of the rear curtain, there is a stitched seam that falls in the middle. I measured the old curtain and marked how far above the zipper the staple line should go in the middle and at the edges of the new rear window.

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I finished up the evening by stapling the curtain to the rear bow. This feels like actual progress.

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Badvert65

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Is the top latched onto the windshield frame at the front during this process? I had heard that it should be unlatched, but maybe that was just for the top itself.
 

D Cluley

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Is the top latched onto the windshield frame at the front during this process? I had heard that it should be unlatched, but maybe that was just for the top itself.
The top wasn't latched, I actually haven't put the latches back yet after painting the header, but it was all the way down.

However, all I did so far was attach the top of the curtain, so there's no real tension yet.

Different sets of instructions varied slightly, but my plan is to prop the header up slightly before doing the bottom of the curtain, and then prop it a little more before doing the main top.
 

D Cluley

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I finished up the pads by gluing the top flaps together. In the front, I trimmed the foam & the flaps off and folded the lower fabric back over the top to cover the screws.

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With the header raised just enough to take a little of the tension off the rear of the top, I put the screws through the base of the rear window into the body. I started with the center and worked out to each edge, pulling the window as tight as I could. Did not use the long retainer piece that goes on top of the window so that I could more easily see the holes. Once the holes were poked though the plastic of the window, I raised the top halfway, so there was no tension at all, and replaced the screws through the retainer strip across the back. There are also retainers that go along the base of the sail panels on the side. I suspect there are supposed to be curved retainers at the corners, but I do not have these, so I have just put the screws in for now and will redo the snap screws when I put the molding on.

There are some slight ripples in the rear window, but I think it is good enough for now. I would rather have things a little loose rather than too tight to start with. I can always pull it tighter and make new screw holes farther from the edge, but can't go the other way without the old holes showing & leaking.

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Moving on to the main top, I laid it out flat and then folded it in half to mark the middle with tape.

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At the rear, I put the old top over the new, to measure & mark the line where the staples will go into the rear bow. There are relief slits in the top at the corners of the bow. These need to be covered by the outer molding, so the staple line should run across between them. This matched up nicely with the measurements of the old top, so I feel good about that. I lightly marked the staple line with a pencil.

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I finished the evening by putting the main top on. It's not fastened to anything yet, but it's on there. :)

I put clamps on the flaps that go behind the quarter window. They are even from side to side, but will need some stretching to actually fit right. I may use a hair dryer on the sail panels before trying to attach those.

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D Cluley

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I got too busy to post, but in the last week there has been progress, a setback & then more progress.

On Wednesday, I made sure that the center lines matched up and put staples through the main top into the rear bow following the pencil marks I made earlier.

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With the top back down, I started putting some screws into the bottom edge of the top either side of the window when I discovered the problem.

The rear bow is free to move back & forth. The short tension cables keep it from going too far forward, and the pads & top keep it from moving back when the top is up. It seems that the pads alone can stretch a little, and when I got the rear window tight it pulled the bow back about 1/2"

With the bow back in the correct position, the window & the rear of the top were probably going to be way too tight. In order to correctly fasten the top at the bottom, I needed to force the bow forward until the cables were tight & hold it there. My rubber bungie cords were not strong enough, so I decided to use the top itself.

Back at it on Friday, I started working on the front of the top.

Once again, tape & pen to mark the center of the windshield frame, the header part of the top frame, and the top itself.



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With the top fabric centered, I pulled it reasonably tight and made a pencil line where the fabric reached the edge of the header. Then measured back an inch & made a series of marks along that line. The second line is the one to use as the edge when attaching the fabric to the frame. This will cause it to pull tighter when the top is closed than you can by hand.

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With the top down, there is no tension, so the fabric can be "easily" adjusted to the right spot. Because I couldn't hold everything in place at once, I just glued the center in between the latches and then put the metal retainer on to hold it tight. Once that glue had set, I removed the retainer, and added more glue and clamps to pull the corners tight, and get them flat so the retainer could go back on.

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That's a lot of wrinkles!

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Fewer wrinkles once the front corners are tight. Yay!

As I assumed, with the rear bow now properly held in place, the rear was too tight. Unfortunately, fixing this is going to leave me with a few visible screw holes at the base of the top. Not ideal, but I can live with it. They shouldn't leak, because it is in the area where the main top & the rear curtain overlap tightly. I will also do some experimenting with glue & vinyl paint to see how much they can be minimized.
On the other hand, I do not want holes in the rear window. Fortunately, there is enough material to adjust the curtain at the top where it attaches to the rear bow. Unfortunately, that meant pulling all the staples from the top & the curtain and then putting them all back once I'd lowered the curtain about an inch.

So, as of Friday night, it still looked pretty much the same as the picture from Tuesday night, just done right this time. :)

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D Cluley

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I spent all day Saturday going to the Woodward Cruise (priorities, right? :) ) so was pretty wiped out on Sunday. Spent some time sorting out the various screws & hardware that needs to go back on & making a list of what to pick up at the hardware to replace some missing & damaged screws.

There were 4 small bolts that I couldn't identify for a minute. They hold the front header to the side rails of the top frame. I took them out before deciding to paint it in place & forgot to put them back. They are under the pads & top fabric, so this would have been a lot easier to do earlier, but with the top half way up there was enough slack to get my hand & 1/4" ratchet in there.

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Finally, I put the long cables into the new top. These run through a pocket above the side windows & attach to the top frame at each end to pull the top edge down tight. The new top came with a piece of string through each pocket, to use to pull the cables through.

I bought replacement cables, but for now am probably going to use the old ones. They look to be ok, and are the actual factory style with a flat plate at the front end that fits into a depression in the side rail. The replacements just use a loop in the cable for the front attachment.

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3175375

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I spent all day Saturday going to the Woodward Cruise (priorities, right? :) ) so was pretty wiped out on Sunday. Spent some time sorting out the various screws & hardware that needs to go back on & making a list of what to pick up at the hardware to replace some missing & damaged screws.

There were 4 small bolts that I couldn't identify for a minute. They hold the front header to the side rails of the top frame. I took them out before deciding to paint it in place & forgot to put them back. They are under the pads & top fabric, so this would have been a lot easier to do earlier, but with the top half way up there was enough slack to get my hand & 1/4" ratchet in there.

View attachment 553747

Finally, I put the long cables into the new top. These run through a pocket above the side windows & attach to the top frame at each end to pull the top edge down tight. The new top came with a piece of string through each pocket, to use to pull the cables through.

I bought replacement cables, but for now am probably going to use the old ones. They look to be ok, and are the actual factory style with a flat plate at the front end that fits into a depression in the side rail. The replacements just use a loop in the cable for the front attachment.

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You are doing an excellent job!
Regrouping when you find an issue, and documenting what you are doing!
Attention to details will produce an excellent end product!

This thread should be locked once you are done as many people fear this daunting task, and you have made it a LOT less fearful.

Hats off to you!

Yes, smile. You are tackling a wonderful job!
 

Badvert65

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Question, I know you still have a lot left to finish, but if you had to startl over from scratch, would you wait to attach the rear window until after you had secured the front? What order would you do things?
 

D Cluley

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Question, I know you still have a lot left to finish, but if you had to startl over from scratch, would you wait to attach the rear window until after you had secured the front? What order would you do things?
My current thought, subject to change depending on how it goes in the next couple of days.

1. Adjust the short tension cables, so that the rear bow is placed correctly when pushed forward tightly.

2. Install the pads starting at the front and working to the rear. Make sure the rear bow is fully forward.

3. Staple the top of the rear curtain to the rear bow, but not fasten the bottom yet.

4. Staple the main top to the rear bow.

5. Attach the front of the top to the header. This gets most of the top located & holds the rear bow in place tightly.

6. Attach the bottom of the rear curtain.

7. Tighten up the edges of the main top with the cables & front flaps.

8. Finish with the sail panels. This is the part I've not done yet. Plan is to do the quarter window flaps, the retainer inside the top well, & then the outer retainers in that order.
 

D Cluley

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Started Monday, by gluing down the front flaps & putting the weatherstrip retainers back on. While waiting for the glue to get tacky, I put the rest of the screws into the retainer across the front header.

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Moving back, I attached the rear of the long cables to the rear roof rail. That & the front flaps pull the edge of the top down nicely above the side windows.

I added strips of tape to those rear roof rails to mark where the holes for the retainer screws are, and then began to attach the quarter window flaps. I pulled the upper part tight & put one screw in to hold that and then got the lower part pulled to where it needed to be & added the lower screw. Once the holes were marked, then I put the top part way down to release the tension, and put the retainer over the fabric & put the screws back in.

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Then it was time for the fiddly flap bit of the sail panel. The first picture is how the top was made.

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The lower left gets hung up in the internal structure of the quarter panel, so that got trimmed back, and the extension on the right roughly matched up with the slit cut in the old top, so I extended that cut farther up, so that it ended right at the top edge of the quarter and then tucked the front part into the well.

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There is a retainer with 3 screws that holds this part of the top & the well liner to the inside of the quarter panel. This is just loads of fun. You have to pull the top fabric tightly forward and down, while putting screws through multiple layers of vinyl into holes that you can't see. Also, you have to be inside the car, so you can't really tell if you have the top fabric pulled correctly on the outside. What ended up working, was making a guess, putting the screws in, looking at the outside & then marking new holes based how it needed to be adjusted. Also, this had to be done under a fair amount of tension, because if you put the top down, the mechanism blocks access to the screws.

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Later, that flap at the top left will get folded down, glued to the lower part, and go under the retainer strip as well. It reinforces the area where that slit is cut & helps keep water out.

That just leaves the curved bottom of the sail pillar that is held down by screws and retainers on top of the quarter panel.

A quick side note, this is how I've been marking the screw holes in the top material. I put a screw in the hole, pull the fabric tight over it, and push the phillips screwdriver into the hole in the screw. In some cases, it didn't seem like I could pull the fabric as tight as I wanted, so after marking the hole, actually put the screw farther over and started it on an angle to pull the fabric over a little more.

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The last part wanted to fight the whole way, and it is still not as smooth as I'd like, but it did come together. I started with a couple of screws from each end, and worked into the middle pulling the vinyl as tight as possible. cutting relief slits in the extra material on the outside of the curve did help some

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D Cluley

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So, I am done! Ok, not done, done, but kind of done. :)

What is left is gluing the flaps behind the quarter windows, trimming the excess material & installing all the trim & weatherstrip. But the top is attached where it is going to be at least for now. I suspect that the top & especially the rear window could be tightened up some, but my plan at the moment is to leave it as is for at least a few weeks. That will let it go through a bunch of temperature changes & cycles of the top up & down. Then in the Fall or next Spring I can adjust things.

I went to get gas & charge up the battery a little. Then took a quick trip on the highway. I can tell that above the front seat the new top lifts a little more than the old one did, but nothing came loose, so I'm calling that a win.

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Gerald Morris

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A MOST relevant, educational thread! I'm supposed to hire a shop in 2 weeks to put the top on our '68, with an estimate of $800 for the labor. That's really not too bad, considering the hire of an experienced, professional seamster to put the top on, BUT, IFF this shop doesn't take the job and do it, then I will be forced to to the job myself. I give it even odds that I will wind up doing so, ego, I'll be watching this thread with the utmost attention!
 

D Cluley

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A MOST relevant, educational thread! I'm supposed to hire a shop in 2 weeks to put the top on our '68, with an estimate of $800 for the labor. That's really not too bad, considering the hire of an experienced, professional seamster to put the top on, BUT, IFF this shop doesn't take the job and do it, then I will be forced to to the job myself. I give it even odds that I will wind up doing so, ego, I'll be watching this thread with the utmost attention!
That is probably not an unreasonable quote. I'm estimating that I'm going to end up spending 30 hours or so. I could cut 4-6 off of that if I did things right the first time, so if a pro can do it twice as fast that's still 12 hours.

Looking at the FSM, your '68 should be very similar to mine. The frame has some different adjustments, and your rear bow measurements will be different. The '67-68 rear window slopes more & the bottom edge is closer to the trunk opening. That is why you can get a glass window those years & not '65-66. The fuselage cars are significantly different.
 

Gerald Morris

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That is probably not an unreasonable quote. I'm estimating that I'm going to end up spending 30 hours or so. I could cut 4-6 off of that if I did things right the first time, so if a pro can do it twice as fast that's still 12 hours.

Looking at the FSM, your '68 should be very similar to mine. The frame has some different adjustments, and your rear bow measurements will be different. The '67-68 rear window slopes more & the bottom edge is closer to the trunk opening. That is why you can get a glass window those years & not '65-66. The fuselage cars are significantly different.

Yes, I've pondered the steps as detailed in the FSM quite a lot, which is why I'd rather hire a Needle Pro for this task. The BASIC skills are those I lack for this particular work. I'm fine with wrenching, and an electrical genius, but when it comes to gluing, stapling fabric, I'm a true bottom rank amateur. That given, hiring a bloke for about a week's wages isn't so bad. He expects to turn the gig in 3 days, so I reckon your estimate of the labor time is likely accurate.

Still, this is the last of but 3 shops in this town who do this, and the only one to answer the call. W the monsoon on and the age of the car, I understand why the other 2 won't touch the job. I just don't like it.
 

D Cluley

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Last Tuesday, I mostly finished things up.

There is a retainer that goes over the staple line at the rear of the top. It attaches with screws into the tack strip in the rear bow. The metal trim piece snaps to this retainer & then a screw goes through each end into the tack strip. The top kit I bought came with a fabric covered trim piece, but I believe the metal one is original from the factory.

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After gluing the flaps to the roof rail behind the quarter windows, I put those retainers back on with their screws & then put all the weather strips back into the channels. Once that is done, with the top up, check to make sure the windows line up properly with the weather strip. I need to go back and adjust the quarter window weather strip a little as it is too far in & the window motors struggle a little to open & close the windows.

The last thing I did that night was finish up the little flaps that are on the inside of the sail panel. I folded them over, marked where the edges would line up, used the contact cement to glue it flat & put the screws back into the little retainer strip that holds it to the inside of the quarter panel.

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Once that was done, I could put the side panels & the rear seat back together and call the interior done. The end is in sight. Which is good, because I was out of time.

The only thing left was the trim around the top well, so those pieces went into the trunk when I headed out Wednesday morning to start the Old US-27 Motor Tour. After driving southwest to the Michigan-Indiana state line, I came back north, met up with the group in Coldwater MI & the caravan headed back to the Lansing area for the evening.

While at the show in Dewitt, I got the tools out & finished things up. With the top down, I could remove the screws, put the retainers down & replace the small screws. Once all the retainers were on, I used scissors & a utility knife to trim the top material and the window so that it did not extend beyond the retainers. Then finally the outer trim went on & all the snap screws went into the remaining holes.

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The only real disappointment I have is the handful of visible screw holes made by mistake, and at some point I will probably work with some glue & paint to make them less obvious.

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We got a little rain on Thursday & pretty good storm this week and the new top seems to do its job. There seems to be one bad spot on the header weather strip that leaks a little and there are two puddles on the front of the roof that suggest I should tighten the fabric a little more. I should be able to build up the header weather strip with some urethane.

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The rear window flutters a little when driving, so that will probably get tightened up a little as well.

Overall, I'm calling this project a success. If the goal is a perfect 100 point restoration, or if a few wrinkles are going to drive you crazy then going with a professional makes sense. On the other hand, if you are going to have the top down most of the time anyway, and can live with a decent 20 footer a DIY top is totally doable, and a whole lot less expensive.
 
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3175375

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Last Tuesday, I mostly finished things up.

There is a retainer that goes over the staple line at the rear of the top. It attaches with screws into the tack strip in the rear bow. The metal trim piece snaps to this retainer & then a screw goes through each end into the tack strip. The top kit I bought came with a fabric covered trim piece, but I believe the metal one is original from the factory.

View attachment 555706View attachment 555707

After gluing the flaps to the roof rail behind the quarter windows, I put those retainers back on with their screws & then put all the weather strips back into the channels. Once that is done, with the top up, check to make sure the windows line up properly with the weather strip. I need to go back and adjust the quarter window weather strip a little as it is too far in & the window motors struggle a little to open & close the windows.

The last thing I did that night was finish up the little flaps that are on the inside of the sail panel. I folded them over, marked where the edges would line up, used the contact cement to glue it flat & put the screws back into the little retainer strip that holds it to the inside of the quarter panel.

View attachment 555708

Once that was done, I could put the side panels & the rear seat back together and call the interior done. The end is in sight. Which is good, because I was out of time.

The only thing left was the trim around the top well, so those pieces went into the trunk when I headed out Wednesday morning to start the Old US-27 Motor Tour. After driving southwest to the Michigan-Indiana state line, I came back north, met up with the group in Coldwater MI & the caravan headed back to the Lansing area for the evening.

While at the show in Dewitt, I got the tools out & finished things up. With the top down, I could remove the screws, put the retainers down & replace the small screws. Once all the retainers were on, I used scissors & a utility knife to trim the top material and the window so that it did not extend beyond the retainers. Then finally the outer trim went on & all the snap screws went into the remaining holes.

View attachment 555709
View attachment 555710

View attachment 555711

The only real disappointment I have is the handful of visible screw holes made by mistake, and at some point I will probably work with some glue & paint to make them less obvious.

View attachment 555712

We got a little rain on Thursday & pretty good storm this week and the new top seems to do its job. There seems to be one bad spot on the header weather strip that leaks a little and there are two puddles on the front of the roof that suggest I should tighten the fabric a little more. I should be able to build up the header weather strip with some urethane.

View attachment 555714

View attachment 555713

The rear window flutters a little when driving, so that will probably get tightened up a little as well.

Overall, I'm calling this project a success. If the goal is a perfect 100 point restoration, or if a few wrinkles are going to drive you crazy then going with a professional makes sense. On the other hand, if you are going to have the top down most of the time anyway, and can live with a decent 20 footer a DIY top is totally doable, and a whole lot less expensive.
Great job and documenting the work! Enjoy!!!
 

bnz84

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Yes, nice job. Great instructions. Its not easy to remember to take a pics. This is in my future. Right now I have to replace my rear window only as it was broken by PO and then cut out poorly. If my window fix doesnt work then the whole top has to go. For your holes you need filled maybe instead of glue and paint you use the one of the many vinyl repair kits out there. Going from the back I would push some white compound through the hole to make a little lump on the front and then dont touch it until its dry. Then cut down withy a sharp exacto. For me it seems like I fix the problem, being the hole, but then draw attention to it with a smear. That's why I say dont touch it till its dry and then cut down the nub. The back can be ugly. Worse case it falls out the back


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65sporty

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I commend you on taking this on, most guy's would send it out. I do all I can myself, but I my have sent it out. Great learning experience:thumbsup:
 

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Having spent considerable time this week deciphering the FSM and experimenting with the many, many adjustments and measuring height, length, angles & levelness I was quite frustrated yesterday morning to realize that the two sides matched almost perfectly when the top is completely down, and when it is completely up, but not when in the processes of moving. techzpod download mobdro
 
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Badvert65

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Having spent considerable time this week deciphering the FSM and experimenting with the many, many adjustments and measuring height, length, angles & levelness I was quite frustrated yesterday morning to realize that the two sides matched almost perfectly when the top is completely down, and when it is completely up, but not when in the processes of moving.

The top on my 65 Sport Fury is the same way.
 
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