SunroofPage last updated 20 January, 2011
The fabric type fold back sunroof is very easy to use, does its job well, and was normally fitted to match the vinyl roof fitted to the car. I had decided to do away with the vinyl but keep the sunroof, which was to cause a problem with the colour. Orange bodywork and a black sunroof may look OK, but I wanted it to match the paintwork so it was less conspicuous. The stretched fabric design means that when closed it has a couple of ridges, so I thought a colour coded fabric would keep your eye away from it!
Of course this is just a matter of choice, and I would have preferred not to have a sunroof at all as I think the car would look better without. I did try to work out how to "fill" the square hole after removing the roof so the car could be a hard top, but knowing the amount of work it would have taken, and the difficulty shaping a piece of fibreglass with a double curve would have taken me ages.
pictures of this restoration follow, but basically the front and back
sunroof panels had rotted away inside the vinyl, and rust was pushing
up the material everywhere. Strip down your sunroof carefully and lay
out the parts in a methodical manner. Photograph how each item goes together,
and decide what needs replacing/remanufacturing. I had to make two new
steel (double curved!) panels to replace these, and sought the help of
a friend who was familiar with sheet metal working. Together we managed
to make almost identical panels to the original, and all that was left
to do was to drill the rear panel with 4 holes for the rivnuts which had
to be attached to allow the sunroof to fix to the car's roof panel, and
then spot weld on the two strengthening pieces from the original panels
- one on the front, and one on the rear panel. I have added some old original
photos of the restoration (the days before digital cameras!) showing the
new panels I fabricated. You will need to panel beat 2 pieces of metal
cut to size with a wooden baton, and a sand bag - available from good
auto restoration shops, or try Snap-On
The interior was to be re-trimmed, so the inner sunroof trim was renewed using the old trim as a pattern. The same was done for the outside fabric. A point concerning these is to remember that the sunroof's operation means that the fabric has to stretch from front to back. If using leatherette (as I did), note that it stretches one way more than the other. A mistake here will mean that the sewn joints will tear before the roof closes!
The outer fabric was fitted after the interior, and glued down with a special fabric glue similar to impact adhesive. This is very messy and takes a bit of practice and nerve to get the fabric stretched the correct amount - it drove me mad to start with!
To colour code the outer fabric, I decided to use two pack type paint with a plasticiser additive. This basically lets the paint flex - depending on the amount of additive you use. I added enough to make the paint suitable for tarpaulin spraying as on truck awnings - I did a friends rubber spoiler in 1997 and it hasn't split yet - even if you try to press really hard on it. Oh, I bought the additive from a local Brown Brothers Store - ICI make the stuff. Make sure you get a data sheet on it as its crucial you get the right mixture. Also, make sure you have the right breathing apparatus for this - two pack contains a cyanide based product and has irreversible effects - such as respiration problems, fertility and genetic defects (could be dangerous if you're planning on having kids!), along with tear duct and skin problems including cancer. I don't mean to go on, but it's nasty stuff and can kill.
The car was sprayed in cellulose, but the match was very good.
Old and new panels side by side
The underside of the panels. The strengthener bar was removed from the old panel and spot welded to the new one on the rear piece. The front piece also ustilised the old panel's fabric grip section, as these were made of thicker metal and were still useable.
Sunroof shut for the first time during re-trim
Sunroof open showing cleaned & refitted aluminium runners