Author Topic: T top Seal Problems  (Read 974 times)

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Offline TA400FL

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T top Seal Problems
« on: December 25, 2017, 08:29:34 PM »
Hi.  Newbie here.  I have been restoring my 78 Trans Am for about 3 years now.  It is the first car I ever bought back in '81 and kept it ever since.  I did all the mechanical work myself but not good at any body work or paint.
    I just got the car back from the body shop.  I had provided them an entire weather strip kit for the whole car including the Fisher T top seals.  When I tried to install the t tops they were extremely hard to push down and latch.  It was overstressing the slots in the T Tops that lock into the tabs in the center.  Once I installed all the interior T top Plastic trim pieces the T tops will not latch at all.  It seems as though the Seal is way too thick??  The seal is fully down in the body channel OK.  The top edges of the seal is level with the painted surface of the body on top which tells me there is no way the seal will compress enough to allow the tops to get latched.  It is a SoffSeal Kit 311BT which I thought was a high quality one.  I am totally stuck right now.  The whole seal is of course glued down and have no idea how to get my tops on.  Has anybody ever had an issue like this?  I can try and attach any photos that might help.
Thanks.
ERIC

Offline 78w72

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Re: T top Seal Problems
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2017, 11:32:48 AM »
i posted some info & pics on the soffseal t top weatherstrips awhile back but cant seem to find it now.  heres what i found dealing with the seals available today.  the soffseals are the best option for seals right now aside from finding NOS ones or good original ones.  they are a little thick but will compress some over time, but for new seals you almost always have to adjust the metal receiver tabs to make it easier for the tops to latch.

compared to the metro brand the soffseals are far better for fitment & designed more like the originals, the metros are flimsy & dont conform to the corners at all, they leave a big gap to the roof line for water/debris to get in.  i returned 2 sets of them once i saw how they fit.

the soffseals should definitely not be flush with the roof, they should be set down in the channel somewhat, about 1/8".  if you can get to the metal blocks they need to be backed off a tad which will allow the t top rod to engage & latch.  but dont go too far or the tops will leak/rattle if adjusted too loose.

another trick i did to really help the seals is to coat them with a good rubber/vinyl treatment like meguires... not armor all.  then, if/when the car will be sitting for awhile i put some weight on the tops to help speed up compressing the seals. actuallly quite a bit of weight, like 40-60 lbs, i used some steel rally 2 rims i had , lay the edge of the rim or weight right at the metal edge of the t tops for some added support so the weights not resting on just the glass, i put a sheet or piece of thick cardboard to protect the tops.  i do this when the car sits for winter storage so its like 2-3 months... but it definitely helped the tops settle down into the seals & made latching them much easier compared to when they were new.  its kind of like new door seals etc, the first time closing the doors is usually terrible but it gets much better after a week or 2 as the seals form. 

main thing is to adjust the metal tabs correctly for the new thick seals, then use some weight to speed up the compression.  then, if teh tops are too loose after awhile you can readjust the tabs.  they will get better & be able to latch with some help & time. 
« Last Edit: December 27, 2017, 11:47:05 AM by 78w72 »
78 w72 ws6 4 speed
81 turbo pace car
lots of other past t/a's

Offline TA400FL

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Re: T top Seal Problems
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2017, 10:50:09 PM »
Wow that is some great info!  Puts my mind at ease a little.  I loosened the chrome t top pin retainers, put the top on and got inside the car where I could see the pin to hole engagement.  Unfortunately they were already all the way up so I couldn't gain anything.  I have to pull down so hard, almost hanging on the outside edge of the t top to get it to latch.  Once it is latched I can see the stress on the tab slots.  I will need to get those slot repair brackets.

I will try the conditioner for sure.  Would Lexol work?  It is a vinyl cleaner and protectant.

What about warming up the seal with a hair dryer or heat gun (on low) and then while the seals are warm I would latch the top and let it cool?
Thanks again!
ERIC

Offline 78w72

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Re: T top Seal Problems
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2017, 11:59:05 AM »
i went through a lot of hassles with these seals & even had to send back 1 set of the soffseals due to a manufactureing defect, they replaced them & fixed the defect though.  also fought with rattling & leaking factory t tops on a 78 t/a i had back in high school.

on the car i have the soffseals on i hjad to push down pretty hard on the top to get it to latch at first too, but it got better after a couple weeks then i was able to adjust the metal blocks a little.

not sure on lexol as i have never used it, sounds like it would be ok.  another thing i should have mentioned is heat... dont think a hair drier or heat gun would do it since it would be hard to keep the seals consistantly warmed but would be better than nothing. what i did after the tops were latched was let the car sit in the sun all day, that will heat up the seals & the tops & the roof evenly.  the first summer with the new seals i left the tops on & latched as long as i could.  after a month or 2 when i undid them it was obvious they were getting better. 

bottom line is the seals are thicker/firmer than the original rubber & it will take some time & effort to get them to compress. but compared to the other seals out there or worn out originals, this is the best we have right now.  ;)

 
78 w72 ws6 4 speed
81 turbo pace car
lots of other past t/a's

Offline TA400FL

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Re: T top Seal Problems
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2017, 08:19:37 AM »
OK.  Sounds good.  I will just have to be patient and keep them latched for a while.  I was just freaking out a bit at the amount of leverage I had on those tab slots.  Still haven't got the engine running just yet after rebuilding it so I can't move it outside of garage to get in sun. 
Thanks for the tips.  I am sure they will settle in after a while.

Offline 78w72

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Re: T top Seal Problems
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2017, 11:30:45 AM »
if the car will be setting for awhile best thing is to put some weight on them to help compress the seals. the tops will easily support 40-50lbs.

you can also bend those little roof tabs up just a hair to relieve some stress on the slots in the tops, they can always be put back to original location later as the seals compress.
78 w72 ws6 4 speed
81 turbo pace car
lots of other past t/a's

Offline TA400FL

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Re: T top Seal Problems
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2017, 06:43:29 PM »
Yes.  I will bend those tabs up before I damage the slots any more.  Good idea.  They are easy enough to get at.  I do have 45lb. plates so I will do that also.  Will heat up the seals a little, latch them down and then put the weight on.
Thanks!