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(1) 2 »

Disassembly of convertible top
#1
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ewrecks
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The weather here finally broke and it seemed a good time to put some miles on the 1955 Caribbean. The car started right up and all fluids and systems were go......then I decided to drop the top. The immediate problem was that the passenger side was going up quicker than the driver side....so I stopped and libricated all of the joints and put the car back in the garage.
I left the car sit overnight and the next day opted to take the car outside and let the sun warm the new top. I unzipped the rear window, unsnapped the sides and started the lowering process. Same result. I shot some additional lube into the joints and then stood in the front seat area and Helton the top while it started up to keep the mechanism from twisting. I worked it up and down slowly until things seemed to have loosened up.
When the top was about a foot or so from going into the well....I heard a loud snap.
On inspection the aluminum bracket that attaches to the second bow from the rear had snapped in half at the point where the middle screw( three screws on each side attach the bow to the side brackets).
I returned the top to the up position carefully, cursed and put the car back in the garage.
It now looks,like it will probably be necessary to have the top at least partially removed to extract the part to see if it can be tig welded .
It appears on review of the limited literature and diagrams available that the
Attachments points are not secured by bolts but are either fitted with pressed pins or cotter keys at the ends of the shafts.
Has anyone out there ever disassembled the top rails to give some hint as to how crappy a job this will be.
I have some inquiries out for a replacement piece and would also be curious as to whether Packerd used the same top on anything other that the 55-56 Caribbean.
Any help will be appreciated.

Posted on: 2016/4/26 0:04
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Re: Disassembly of convertible top
#2
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Owen_Dyneto
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As of last Fall Bob Stolzfus (Bob's Packard Parts) still had the various top frame sections for sale (used), I'd try to get a replacement before I tried to repair a broken aluminum section.

You say you checked all the fluids but did you check the fluid in the hydraulic top pump reservoir? The initial problem may not have been friction at the pivots but a hydraulic issue, perhaps low fluid due to a leak on one side.

Posted on: 2016/4/26 8:01
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Re: Disassembly of convertible top
#3
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55clipper
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I have the same problem. those rails break very easily. Welding them does not work. I have drilled holes and bolted steel flats over the fracture. It seems to hold and can be placed so it is not to noticeable. Getting replacements is like pulling teeth. Let me know if you have any luck. I still cannot get they top to raise and lower properly. Any bind will crack another rail. I've replaced pumps, cylinders, bleed the system but I can't get it right. Never use silicon break fluid.

Posted on: 2016/4/28 20:18
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Re: Disassembly of convertible top
#4
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ewrecks
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From what I have heard, the driver side piece is the one that always breaks. Might be a good reason to follow the path of the trailer queens and never put the top down.LOL
My general rule with my old cars is that if you see it with the top up it has been sold or stolen.
I placed a call to Bob's Packard Parts as Owen suggested but have not heard back from him. I hoped to have him bring it to Frederick.
I located a unit at Merritt's that I was going to buy but it is hard to justify four figures for a top component.
I have purchased a unit that was professionally repaired for a fraction of that price as a backup but hope to repair mine, drop the lid and just let it stay under the boot. I have no plans to drive the car if there is a hint of rain. I am still considering pulling the hydraulic cylinders and operating the top manually.
As an aside I called Hagerty to see if the damage was possibly covered by comprehensive( seriously doubt it) but because they have a part locator service. If you subscribe to Hemmings they also offered that service in the past and may still be able to help.
My biggest regret is that I just had over a year of screwing around to secure a top with the color match to the interior and see no way to replace the broken piece without having to pull the top- at least in part- to do the repair.
Have you tried to have your professionally Tig welded? I can't see why a correctly welded part should be weaker than the original. Granted- there seems to be an inherent flaw in the top operating system or you would not see the same part( driver side) break consistently. I know that aluminum gets brittle,with age but everyone seems to have the passenger side.
I'll let everyone know how it goes Maybe an oil sheik will bail me out and let me get a 37 Roadster.

Posted on: 2016/4/29 0:34
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Re: Disassembly of convertible top
#5
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55clipper
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I have had the parts tig welded at several different places. One of the welds is still holding but the others have cracked again. fixing them with steel flats have held but it is not right. The cylinders must raise and lower in unison, if not they crack. I have replaced the pump three times. Ditto the pumps. No binds in the mechanism. replaced hoses. I have bled the system but don't see any reference to bleeding anywhere. I took it to a top shop and they succeeded in breaking another rail. I've spent a lot of time and money on this problem.

Posted on: 2016/4/29 10:22
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Re: Disassembly of convertible top
#6
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HH56
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I am curious where or which one of the hinges breaks and was it a problem on any of the earlier tops. Any chance a photo could be posted. Is it a complex shape or is the part simple enough that it would be a candidate the broken pieces could be glued together for a pattern long enough one of the foundries could do a sandcasting in a stronger metal.

With the sides going up at different rates, are the hoses the same size and length or was there a mismatch that might have developed if one was changed or is there something in the routing like a different type fitting that could cause a restriction on one side. If nothing like that is causing the problem, in pneumatics there were valves where you can restrict or lower pressure to control speed in one direction but they allow free flow in the other direction for the cylinder return.

I worked on medical gear which was pneumatic and cylinders had to get a piece moved in two directions in a synchronized fashion. The valves were used to match speeds. No idea if something like that exists for hydraulics but maybe worth investigating if one side is continually out of sync.

Posted on: 2016/4/29 10:23
Howard
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Re: Disassembly of convertible top
#7
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Owen_Dyneto
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....there seems to be an inherent flaw in the top operating system

I'm a little mystified by this, I run my top up and down 4-6 times a year and have been doing so for 20 years, ditto for my friend also with a '56 convertible and neither of us have experienced anything unusual. Dan Kanter runs the top up and down regularly on his 55 convertible and has not noted any prolems. So on the basis of that small sample I'm not convinced there is an "inherent flaw" but rather some issue with maintenance or repair of the hydraulics or mechanical mechanism. Agreed both sides have to go up/down in exact unison! I've never bled the system, thought never even occurred to me. But I do check the fluid (ATF) every couple of years.

Bob Stolzfus had those aluminum top castings at the Macungie show for quite a few years so it wouldn't appear there was much of a demand for them. I hope he still has them for you.

Posted on: 2016/4/29 10:49
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Re: Disassembly of convertible top
#8
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Kevin
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My car has experienced the same issue, and somewhere over the years I acquired a set of bows off of a scrapped convertible to provide the needed replacement.

Posted on: 2016/4/29 11:10
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Re: Disassembly of convertible top
#9
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ewrecks
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I have no idea why the top would go up faster on one side than the other.
It did not do so when the hydraulics were installed( all new pulp, cylinders and hoses from Hydromatic) before the top was installed. Seemed to work fine when the top was installed last fall.
All I know is that it was not going up equally when I first tried it and seemed to improve with lubrication of the joints and working the top gently up and down.
The part that broke on the left side has apparently been a source of problems before according to Fred at Merrits....he has one left and sold one last week. I found a repaired unit which I purchased as a back up but hope to repair mine.
I doubt that it can be properly welded while on the car and removing it will take a lot of work by the looks of it since the top will need to be at least partially removed and disassembly will entail knocking out roll pins from several pivot locations( I think)
I will take some shots and see if I can get them to download-- seem to have problems with that too.

Posted on: 2016/4/29 17:08
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Re: Disassembly of convertible top
#10
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Leeedy
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Ahhh. Another subject that keeps coming back over and over and over. There is no particular inherent flaw in V-8 Packard convertible top mechanisms. On the contrary, they were engineered at state-of-the-art for their time.

Anyway, a few points to remember if you have one of these cars...

? The frame rails on these convertibles (and most convertibles of the era) were made of cast aluminum which tends to age harden and thus becomes very brittle. The LAST thing you want to do is apply ANY uneven pressure on these components. Or... they snap. AND no... they are not easily welded-except by a very expert welder and even then the results are not strong-at best.

? The hinges and attachments indeed are held in position with tubular spring pins or just pins. These are not good DIY items to play with unless one knows very well what one is doing. Otherwise, "snap-crackle-pop" and you've got a broken topstack frame once again.

? While it is rare that the hinges would bind, it is very, very, very easily possible for one side of a lowered convertible top (to a lesser extent a raised one) to operate unevenly. Most common reasons are:
1.) Air in electro-hydraulic system
2.) Leak in ram cylinder
3.) Leak in hose
4.) Blockage in ram cylinder
5.) Blockage in hoses
6.) Bad pump motor
7.) Bent ram rod
8.) Dented ram casing
9.) Crystalized or dried-out brake fluid

? Smartest thing to do: stop using brake fluid (at least for V-8 Packard convertibles)... and switch completely over to automatic transmission fluid in the top hydraulics.

? Don't leave your car sitting forever with the top down. Leave the top UP. Keeping the top down is hard on the fabric and the mechanisms.

? Keep your ram rods clean, shiny and always check them prior to lowering the top.

? If you've got old dried-out brake fluid in your power top system (at worst the stuff turns into something the looks like bluish rock salt) you will need to either thoroughly clean your hoses and replace the rest or replace the whole electro-hydraulic system before even dreaming of raising or lowering your top. NOT doing so is at the risk of snapping a frame component.

? Do NOT allow people to sit on your top (as in parades, etc.) when lowered... it can bend or snap a component and do other damage.

? Always check the fluid level in your electro-hydraulic pump reservoir before operation after sitting unused for extended periods.

Remember... it's machinery and whatever can go wrong, may go wrong.


Posted on: 2016/4/30 17:51
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