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Old 06-24-2012, 05:19 PM   #1
Aok
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Question Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

Just wondering why the Model A closed cars had the insert roof and not solid steel.
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Old 06-24-2012, 05:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I believe the tech needed to make the compound curves and welding weren't developed until few years after the A
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Old 06-24-2012, 05:44 PM   #3
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I believe Henry was just trying to save a buck. He was good at that!
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Old 06-24-2012, 05:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

Henry was cheap !
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Old 06-24-2012, 05:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

it helped fuel mileage
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

Depression they need the steel!
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Old 06-24-2012, 06:27 PM   #7
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

Thanks Jim I do remember reading that now that I see it again, the humor is also good
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Old 06-24-2012, 07:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

Also, with the rough roads, and the frames ability to twist, no flat piece of steel of that size and position, would remain straight and flat for very long!
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Old 06-24-2012, 07:50 PM   #9
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

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Originally Posted by Aok View Post
Just wondering why the Model A closed cars had the insert roof and not solid steel.
Besides the steel stamping issues already noted, it was the standard in the industry for the time period. If you spent 17k on a new Springfield built Rolls Royce you would get the same thing except the roof covering was long grain GENUINE leather.
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

Ford was a few years behind in the full steel roof. Chevrolet and others had it before Ford.
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:07 PM   #11
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

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Ford was a few years behind in the full steel roof. Chevrolet and others had it before Ford.
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And what year would that be?
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Old 06-24-2012, 11:07 PM   #12
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

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And what year would that be?

Of the "Big-3" passenger cars, Chevrolet introduced the "Turret Top" in 1936. Although competitors claimed the all-steel roof would "drum" and damage passengers' hearing, Ford and Plymouth followed suit in 1937. There probably are other makes with steel tops that preceded Ford and possibly Chevrolet.

Interestingly, despite the steel roof, Chevrolet continued wood-framed bodies through 1936, years after competitors had pretty much abandoned them.

Last edited by CHuDWah; 06-24-2012 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 06-24-2012, 11:53 PM   #13
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Question Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel




Hi AOK,,,



Jim & Marco had it right. Wasn't Ford first with the "Steel top" late 31 pick-up ? Wasn't it built by Bud ?....


Greg out West,
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Old 06-25-2012, 03:12 AM   #14
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I always heard it was the fact that they hadn't figured out how to stamp a full steel top.
Yet, they didn't want to weld the the tops in and they were very good at body welding. consider the welds in the rear of the body. They could have simply extended this bead up and over the full body with out too much trouble. The hand work needed for the manufacture of the fabric top was time consuming and expensive. It wasn't the depression, it didn't happen for another two years (1929) with the worst or low point at July, 1932. So why didn't Henry give them steel tops? I dunno! Probably it was just another example of being stuck in time. They had always done it that way it worked pretty well. I believe the tops outlasted the engines in most cases, so maybe that was the deciding factor.
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Old 06-25-2012, 08:16 AM   #15
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I have heard that it was considered cooler. Air conditioning being a ways off yet, the common thinking was that a steel top would be like sitting in a tuna can and would bake the passengers. After testing, it was determined that it was indeed cooler with a cloth top but only by a minor amount. Also keep in mind that we were only a few decades removed from carriages and buggies. Engineers, stylists and workers were just doing what had always been done. No one questioned it because it was just the way it was done.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:07 AM   #16
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

The Budd steel-top pickup was introduced in late '31 (I believe August/September?). I have heard that it was the first production steel-top vehicle; just anecdotal information, never anything official. The Ford pickups in '32 and up were steel-tops as well.
-Tim
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:56 AM   #17
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

The Late 31 pick-up was the first Ford will an all steel roof. Alot of it had to do with the roads and the flexability of the bodies. If you went all steel something would have to give. Cars such as the Model A were originally design to move and twist.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:55 AM   #18
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I read somewhere that until the mid-thirties U.S. steel rolling mills could not roll sheet wide enough to span the top. Can't lay my hands on the source now though ....

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Old 06-25-2012, 04:19 PM   #19
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

a friend of mine is building a 35 fordor chevy master delux, and it has a steel turret top, it fooled me i didnt think the steel tops were offered till 37, i seems nothing is certain
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:31 PM   #20
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

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Originally Posted by krswen View Post
I read somewhere that until the mid-thirties U.S. steel rolling mills could not roll sheet wide enough to span the top. Can't lay my hands on the source now though ....

krswen
I am pretty sure you have it right! My company at one time maintained much of the equipment at a rolling mill and I was well acqainted with the engineering staff. The inability to roll wide sheets was the reason related to me at the time.
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:04 PM   #21
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I've also heard the same as post # 18 and #20. FWIW
Paul in CT
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:58 PM   #22
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

The body design did not allow for a full metal roof- perimeter skins over a hardwood frame, with the fabric top insert installed last, was definately the easiest method of closing the top. Steel roofs didn't appear until the technology was developed to stamp and assemble the body by welding, instead of using nails..
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Old 06-27-2012, 08:02 AM   #23
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I too have heard that the technology, or the tools available at the time could not produce the width of the panel necessary to make a roof. Yet the side panel of a 130 B, the Deluxe Delivery was one piece and more than big enough to cover a roof. All posts give insight into this often asked question. ( right after they ask...are those fenders black ?!!!)
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:12 AM   #24
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I have often doubted the argument that cited limitations of era production methods or the "couldn't produce something that size."









It would appear to me that if they were able to make a side panel large enough for a AA truck, they could make a roof for a coupe, tudor, even a fordor....

-Tim
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Old 06-27-2012, 09:53 AM   #25
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

isnt the passenger compartment roof on a town car delivery solid?
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:18 AM   #26
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I unsderstand the complexity of the compound curves being a good answer as they have to have one stamping and then fold it to make the sides. I personally think that it was more they were still doing things the 'coach' way. As for not being able to roll steel that wide I disagree for two reasons: WTSHNN's post of AA sides, and the fact that they could roll Aluminum for aircraft and boiler plate for ships and boilers. Just my two cents worth.

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Old 06-27-2012, 10:43 AM   #27
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I believe the town car delivery body was aluminum....not that that would make much difference in the size of the molds.
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:46 AM   #28
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I think the best explanation is that is the way they did it in those days. There are a lot of guys that use the old saying "this is the way we have always done it" but if you have done it wrong for 40 years it doesn't make it right. Evolution fights Subborness and in this case Evolution won out.
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Old 06-27-2012, 11:18 AM   #29
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

Just to add more to the rumor mill; I remember hearing it had to do with concerns about attracting and then retaining heat inside the vehicle.

-Tim
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:19 PM   #30
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

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Originally Posted by WTSHNN View Post
Just to add more to the rumor mill; I remember hearing it had to do with concerns about attracting and then retaining heat inside the vehicle.

-Tim

Oh, I believe this one.
I mean just look at the detail and engineering Ford put into keeping heat from the muffler and exhaust system out of the passenger compartment.

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Old 06-29-2012, 07:13 PM   #31
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

During the time the cars were manufactured it was easier to control body boom noise. A severe boom is when you have one window open in a new car and you get the boom boom sound. the fabric flexes and reduces noise.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:39 PM   #32
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

i know this is an old thread but i thought id ask the question
i have a 1933 vicky with a full steel top and the bloke i bought it from had a 30 tudor with the same.these were from south america and he said they were factory fitted tops.can anyone clarify this.both cars do look factory because nothing else has been touched on them.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:11 AM   #33
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

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i know this is an old thread but i thought id ask the question
i have a 1933 vicky with a full steel top and the bloke i bought it from had a 30 tudor with the same.these were from south america and he said they were factory fitted tops.can anyone clarify this.both cars do look factory because nothing else has been touched on them.

As you have read above it was not factory.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:02 PM   #34
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

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Originally Posted by Marco Tahtaras View Post
Besides the steel stamping issues already noted, it was the standard in the industry for the time period. If you spent 17k on a new Springfield built Rolls Royce you would get the same thing except the roof covering was long grain GENUINE leather.
What is left to the Springfield, MA Rolls Royce factory is about 2 miles from me! The Indian Motorcycle Factory and the Springfield Armory are still standing and well!!! The Basketball Hall of Fame and the Dr. Suess Building are new! And the FIRST Durea was built here too!
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Old 01-03-2013, 06:10 AM   #35
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

Something else to consider.

Did you ever think about how Ford spent a lot of time and money to switch over to the slant window all steel bodies for just about 9 months of production?

I believe the major reason was the steel body was much less labor intensive (=cheaper to build). So much so that they thought it worth while to do a major change for a reasonably short period of time. I believe that if they could have eliminated the labor of the wood roof they would have done it. There must have been a manufacturing or a life cycle reason why they never did it.

I will go a step further. The change to the turret top happened after they went to very rounded top. That would be much more structurally rigid and not likely to warp and tear seams like you would expect with a flat roof.

I do not know the reason, but those are my guesses.
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Old 01-03-2013, 08:31 AM   #36
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

After replacing the wood, fabric, and moldings on my S/W roof, I was amazed how complicated and fiddly the process was. Especially for such a delicate part of the car that might have to be replaced more than once!
I saw a description of the roof of another early 30's car (Oldsmobile?), and I was surprised by how much simpler (and more leak-resistant) it was. The fabric was stretched around an inner wooden frame, sort of like an unfinished artist's canvas, and the assembly was set into the roof opening, and caulking was applied to the joint. It seems like this would be easier to repair, and the fixed wood inside the car body would not get messed up from all those tacks (for both the fabric and the molding) getting repeatedly removed and replaced.

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Old 01-03-2013, 08:44 AM   #37
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

I actually thought it was to keep afew more people employed during the depression than anything else. Ford understood what our modern business men do not, Less Unemployment= More Sales. Rod
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:00 AM   #38
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

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I actually thought it was to keep afew more people employed during the depression than anything else. Ford understood what our modern business men do not, Less Unemployment= More Sales. Rod
Now, that's a slant I'd never thought about, but it makes sense, and could certainly be one of the reasons.
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:17 AM   #39
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Default Re: Why the insert fabric roof and not steel

Tom, I had heard that one reason for so much wood still in the A bodies was to keep the lumberjacks and wood workers employed in the forests and shops Henrey owned. Ford had already proved in 1926 that he could produce a body with far less wood than what the A's have. Also I find it interesting to note there are far more 28-29 bodies and cars to be found in this area than 30-31's dispite higher production of 30-31 cars overall. This area was hard hit (still not as bad as areas to the South and West of here) by the dustbowl problems and the depression in general. Manufacturing centers like Detroit seemed to recover alittle faster and have a much higher volme of 30-31 body styles in the general area. Interesting this affect can still be observed to this day. Rod
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