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Roof Railing for a '33 5-Window

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In the last article, I explained how we installed the soft top insert on my little ’33 Ford Coupe. It turned out beautifully, but still needed some finishing touches.

Here was a preview of the plan: Bend and cut to length the finish rails, drill holes in the railing and body, attach rails to the body, and snap the finish molding into place to finish the edge. Sounds easy enough, but we had been putting off this part of the project because it looked like it could be a beast. We were pleasantly surprised.

Our metal railing came in straight lengths and needed to be bent to shape around the perimeter of the soft top. The trick was to not kink or make them otherwise warped or wonky while rolling it to shape. They had to lay flat against the body in the end and not be squished because they still needed to accept the plastic finish molding.

My dad slowly bent the railing to match the curve of the top’s corners. Once the bend was sufficient, he measured and marked locations on the rail for evenly spaced holes.

Then drilled them. Once we had a few holes drilled in the body and a couple screws holding the railing piece down, I drilled the rest of the holes into the body, using the rail as a guide. We pushed stainless steel screws down into place and lightly tightened the nuts. In all, it took three sections of railing to complete the perimeter.

Then we tightened down the nuts together. As we went, we figured out that they couldn't be too tight or the railing would be pulled down in certain spots. Overall, the whole process went smoothly.

Now it was time to install the plastic finishing strip onto the metal railing. We started in the middle of the back of the roof top. A little heat help us make the first curve, but we were super cautious with the heat gun. Hint: Shiny plastic means you’ve used too much heat.

After some trial and error, we figured out it was easier to get the plastic piece to start by pushing it in from the side. And then pushing it in from the top. A few nuts had to be loosened from underneath to allow the plastic strip to grasp the metal railing and look level.

We kept working our way around until we met up with where we started. Warning me that this stuff is notorious for shrinking in the sun, my dad cut the end a little long and pushed it into place. Gorgeous.

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