The Most Comprehensive Free Online Reference for Packard Owners
Become a member of Packard Motor Car Information, right now! (it's free)
Login
Username:

Password:

remember me

Lost Password?

Register now!
FAQ's
Main Menu
Recent Forum Topics
Who's Online
34 user(s) are online (22 user(s) are browsing Packard Forums)

Members: 1
Guests: 33

ElGroucho, more...



(1) 2 »


Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/10/28 6:22
From Simi Valley, CA
Posts: 658
The top on the car has problems closing. It gets part way up and it runs out of oomph about halfway. With a little assist it can complete the closing cycle. Everything with the hinges appears to be fine so I guessing it is a hydraulic issue either low fluid or a bad seals. Since both sides seem to come up equally I’m thinking it might be low fluid or more probably seals in the pump.

I don’t know if the system still has brake fluid or if it has been switched to hydraulic fluid as some have suggested on this site. I’ve gone through this site and the manual and I’ll be looking at it in the next week or so, but wanted to get a heads up as to where parts might be located especially seals and other soft goods.

Posted on: 5/17 7:20:54
_________________
Marston,  
Blog on Our 901 'Big Sister'
Registry Entries: 'Big Sister', 'Little Sister', and 'Baby'
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer


Re: Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Forum Ambassador
Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 15638
Hydro-E-Lectric https://www.hydroe.com has new pumps and may also be able to rebuild yours. I believe they suggest their pumps run on ATF.

If the viscosity is near the same I would definitely opt for the transmission or hydraulic fluid over brake fluid for the simple fact that any paint that leaking brake fluid might touch will be destroyed. This is evidenced by many of the earlier hydraulic window equipped cars with streaks, bubbles or bare spots under doors where the brake fluid has leaked and dripped down over the rocker panels. The question would be if the rubber parts in the rest of the top system can handle the ATF or hydraulic fluid. If they cannot and there is hydraulic fluid in there now then possibly there has been some swelling or deterioration which could be causing your issue.

Attach file:



jpg  pump.jpg (44.38 KB)
209_5ec155b1e11f3.jpg 584X560 px

Posted on: 5/17 8:13:46
_________________
Howard
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer


Re: Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Home away from home
Joined:
2009/1/24 9:59
From Davis, CA
Posts: 691
Quote:

Marston wrote:
The top on the car has problems closing. It gets part way up and it runs out of oomph about halfway. With a little assist it can complete the closing cycle. Everything with the hinges appears to be fine so I guessing it is a hydraulic issue either low fluid or a bad seals. Since both sides seem to come up equally I’m thinking it might be low fluid or more probably seals in the pump.

I don’t know if the system still has brake fluid or if it has been switched to hydraulic fluid as some have suggested on this site. I’ve gone through this site and the manual and I’ll be looking at it in the next week or so, but wanted to get a heads up as to where parts might be located especially seals and other soft goods.


• The very first thing you should want to do is to check the electro-hydraulic top pump filler port to see the level and what the fluid inside looks like. Or even if it really still is indeed fluid.

Nobody ever checks this important component, but this stuff goes low... or dries out–especially if brake fluid is in the reservoir. It dries out just like it will in your master cylinder. Don't use it... you lose it. I have seen several of these top motor reservoirs where the brake fluid has dried into something that looks like blue-gray rock salt.
• Next extremely important thing to check is the ram rods on both rams that lift the topstack framework. Look on each side from the top well forward.
• The ram cylinders should not show evidence of leaking fluid around the base of the ram rods or anywhere else.
• The ram rods should be dead straight and no evidence of bending or scuffing.
• The ram rods should be clean and shiny
• The ram rods should not have rust or corrosion of any kind on them. Otherwise if they do, this will tear the seals in the tops of the ram cylinders as the rods slide past. And then you'll have a leak for certain.
• Check your hoses leading from the hydraulic rams to the top motor. Are they kinked? Squished by a trim panel or seat? Cracked or dried out? Leaking? The old hoses on Caribbeans were rubber. Newer cars used clear plastic lines that let you see the action of the fluid. Check them either way.

Also, contrary to what some wildly opinionated convertible people of today will tell you online (see a recent Hemmings article), it is murder on a convertible top to leave it lowered for extended periods. Especially on a vintage car. With no tension on the fabric it tends to shrink. It also will grow mold, get a musty smell, "memorize" folds and creases and other problems. Some people think it's a cute thing to have the top always down, all of the time, everywhere... but all this practice does is to destroy the top fabric.

We used to have people who would come into our shop after having their top down for extended periods and they could not understand why the top would not raise all the way to engage the windshield header latches. Nine times out of ten it was because the fluid was low or dried out or the top had shrunk.

And this is particularly true when a person has an old car and gets a new top installed (which normally is very tight already) and then leaves it down for months at a time. The user is then shocked to find the top won't raise all the way. One fellow had a new top installed, left it down for a year, then was livid when it would not raise all the way and close. Fellow ended up king-kong forcing the top closed, cracking his topstack frame, breaking his latches and ultimately tearing the top fabric. By golly he got it raised. Of course, by his estimation this was all the fault of the shop and the new top!

Check these aspects first, then decide on whether to start in buying parts.

Posted on: 5/17 11:56:35
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer


Re: Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/10/28 6:22
From Simi Valley, CA
Posts: 658
Howard & Leedy - Thanks for all of the invaluable information. Armed with a copy of the correct pages from the Body Section of the manual and a check list of things to look at, I was going to tackle the project today and scope it out, but Mother Nature threw me a curve ball here in SUNNY Southern California -rain. Not a good day to back the car out of the garage and put the top down and to remove the seats.

Hopefully the problem is a simple one to fix. I did call Hydro-E-Lectic and they expect to have pumps in stock mid week ($239) and rams are $129 each. So if worse comes to worse the damages would not be terrible.

Again thanks for everything. And we always leave the top up. It is nice to know of the side effects of not doing so.

Posted on: 5/18 6:42:35
_________________
Marston,  
Blog on Our 901 'Big Sister'
Registry Entries: 'Big Sister', 'Little Sister', and 'Baby'
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer


Re: Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/5/22 13:43
From Vancouver, WA
Posts: 624
I have a convertible and I'm prone to leaving the top down. But if I think the car will be laid up for a month or so I will raise the top, the latches are about 4 or 5 inches away from locking. After about a week the weight of the raised top has slowly restretched the material and I can easily latch the top. Also, I have left the raised top in the midday sun and the top will slowly re stretch too. My top has lasted me almost 25 years.....your mileage may vary.
Steve

Posted on: 5/18 11:15:31
_________________
Steve
Old cars are my passion

1951 Packard 200
1953 Packard Clipper Custom Touring Sedan
1955 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer Tri-tone
1966 Rambler Classic 770 Convertible
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer


Re: Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Home away from home
Joined:
2009/1/24 9:59
From Davis, CA
Posts: 691
Quote:

packardguy53 wrote:
I have a convertible and I'm prone to leaving the top down. But if I think the car will be laid up for a month or so I will raise the top, the latches are about 4 or 5 inches away from locking. After about a week the weight of the raised top has slowly restretched the material and I can easily latch the top. Also, I have left the raised top in the midday sun and the top will slowly re stretch too. My top has lasted me almost 25 years.....your mileage may vary.
Steve


Yes, the years a convertible top may last may vary... and vary wildly. All of this depends on a number of factors–especially on a Caribbean:
• Type of fabric the top is made of
• Type and format of top pads
• Type of stitching and thread and electro-welding (if any) used
• Ambient temperature
• Ambient sunlight and/or lighting vs. darkness
• Whether top fabric is assisted in tucking when folding or simply lowered
• Age of fabric
• Pattern used to cut the fabric (some differ wildly)
• Whether key items such as rear bow exterior trim is used or substituted with some other trim (today the case is often the latter)
• Is top completely, thoroughly dry when lowered?
• Is a top boot used or not? If not is the uncovered lowered top exposed to direct sunlight or moisture (including night dew)?
• How often is the top cycled (lowered and raised)?
• Is the vehicle left parked outdoors in a smoggy city or near an airport?

...and keep in mind that almost nobody has used the accurate or even closely resembling fabric for these tops since the 1970s.

Posted on: 5/18 15:06:11
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer


Re: Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/10/28 6:22
From Simi Valley, CA
Posts: 658
Looking at the pump, hydraulic rams, and hoses they were all replaced 15 or 20 years ago when the car was restored. The system was filled with hydraulic fluid and was at the right level. Going through all of the steps outlined by Leeedy everything looked fine.

I've have a new pump on the way. I thought about pulling the pump and measuring the pressure output to see if it was OK before ordering, but decided with the hassle I'd replace it instead. I also have 2 rams on the way.

Posted on: 5/21 8:12:56
_________________
Marston,  
Blog on Our 901 'Big Sister'
Registry Entries: 'Big Sister', 'Little Sister', and 'Baby'
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer


Re: Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Home away from home
Joined:
2008/10/28 6:22
From Simi Valley, CA
Posts: 658
I’m getting ready to remove the pump and the two hydraulic rams from the car. Reading the removal instructions on page 26 of the body section it appears that the Rams, the hoses connected to them and connected to the pump can be removed through the trunk in one complete assembly. It would appear for this to happen the top needs to be closed.

I want to confirm if this is true from anybody that may have already tried doing it.

Thanks Marty

Posted on: 5/23 13:52:16
_________________
Marston,  
Blog on Our 901 'Big Sister'
Registry Entries: 'Big Sister', 'Little Sister', and 'Baby'
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer


Re: Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Home away from home
Joined:
2009/1/24 9:59
From Davis, CA
Posts: 691
Quote:

Marston wrote:
I’m getting ready to remove the pump and the two hydraulic rams from the car. Reading the removal instructions on page 26 of the body section it appears that the Rams, the hoses connected to them and connected to the pump can be removed through the trunk in one complete assembly. It would appear for this to happen the top needs to be closed.

I want to confirm if this is true from anybody that may have already tried doing it.

Thanks Marty


Hello...

Having had several of these out over the years, I'm sorry, but I cannot possibly imagine how anyone would or could possibly remove all this via the trunk. To do so would require a near miracle.

First the following is required (and from inside of the vehicle, not the trunk):
• Remove the rear seat cushion and backrest
• remove the LH and RH quarter trim and trim panels
...with top in RAISED position and latched...
• detach top motor/reservoir WITH hoses
• unbolt both ends of ram cylinders and remove.

Posted on: 5/23 20:59:30
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer


Re: Convertible Top on a ’55 Caribbean
Home away from home
Joined:
2011/6/5 22:18
From Johnstown PA
Posts: 179
One little addition. When I got my 55 Caribbean it was a basket case. The top frame was in place but no pump, Rams or hoses.
After removing the top frame for painting the unit was reinstalled. The rear seat and side panels were out of the car and the new pump was installed on the flat panel behind the rear seat. The rams were installed and attached to the top frame.
Since there was no clear guidance, i installed the hoses to the rams and filled the system with trans fluid.
The unit moved up and down but I did not attempt latching since the latches were out for chroming and the top was not yet installed .
We ran into a problem with the convertible top secured from Keppach...long story but it was cut wrong and the installer ruined the fabric.
A new top was secured through Superior and the car delivered to an upholsterer for top installation.
Everything looked fine but convertible season was over and the car was stored for the winter with the top in the up position.
When the weather broke,the top would not go down correctly. The driver side would go down properly but the passenger side would not go down far enough to enter the well.
I tried lubricating the jointS without success and even detached the rams from the frame and discovered the top would go down properly. We tried adjusting the length of the rams but had no luck .
Unfortunately, it the process of working the top up and down I succeeded in cracking the top frame. That drama was discussed in prior postings.
The solution was simple and stupid....the top fittings on the rams were installed facing the rear of the car. When the top was retracting, the brass fitting on the passenger side was striking the wheel well preventing the top from retracting. This twisted the frame and led to the break.
It was a dumb mistake which cost me a lot of grief and replacement of the passenger side ram before I discovered the problem....it bent.
Keep the top fittings for the rams to the outside.
Good luck with the project.

Posted on: 5/24 3:10:37
Transfer the post to other applications Transfer



(1) 2 »




[Advanced Search]


Search
Recent Photos
Random Photo
1950 Packard station sedan, left side view
Helping Out
PackardInfo is supported and funded by user donations. If you would to help out by either donating content, or funds to help with the upkeep and hosting of this site please EMAIL ME or click on the donate button.