Replacing your Duetto soft-top with a new Highwood top #1 On the Internet since 1995
Here we go replacing the Duetto soft-top.
Re-conditioning of old top bows First, completely remove the set from the car. In case the pieces are very rusty, bead blasted all the pieces after full disassembly. Then, all pieces should be painted to keep the rust from happening again. Use a black colour, not too shiny, some black velvet make will be fine. The frame is made of cast iron, BTW. The front section, the piece that is above the windshield is often especially rusty, and a coat of high quality black paint would be a good choice. Check to make sure all the threads are good, using taps and dies.
Put the frame together again
Reassemble the bows completely, making sure all pieces are free to move. Attach all the side weather-strip pieces to the top pieces prior to assembly. This was originally done using rivets, but can be just as easily done with small screws of the proper length. The weather-strip has little sheet metal strips that fit inside them to give good attachment points for the screws.
Make sure that the piece at the front just above windshield attachment point on the front side window pieces is free. These pieces will move freely if working correctly, but could cause the shoulder bolt here to break if it seizes up. These pieces are held on by a small cir-clip on the back, and will pull right out if the cir-clip is removed. Treat the "shaft" with anti-seize lubricant, and then reassemble.
Top attachment, front After full painting and reconditioning of this section, attach the front "pocket" of the top to this section. Using either contact cement/glue here or a high quality double sided tape, and later for points needing glue, have the parts glued to the front piece. Double-sided adhesive tapes is used by building constrution companies and carpet companies. This tape is as good as glue but much easier to handle and it may be adjusted after the job is completed. Make sure that the piece is in the very centre position of the top "pocket" i.e. equal amounts of material to either side.
Then, using a awl, figure out where every hole for sheet metal screws should be. Tricky job, but very important. Using slightly larger than original sheet metal screws, attach the front plastic strip holding the weather-stripping. The bigger size is in case the original holes have corroded. Again, this is important to have the weather-stripping aligned correctly. If not, the seal will not be tight to the top of the windshield.
Finally, attach the handle and the chrome pieces attachment guides using the original screws. The attachment guides should be free to "float" slightly. If you are lucky, the front of the top and frame will sit perfect to the windscreen frame.
Top attachment rear frame
This is done by crimping the rear top "pocket" under the rear upholstery piece. If you check your old top, there should be a few latches glued to the canvas. These are positioned just under the rear U-shaped frame.
Any craftsman should be able to sew a “pocket” where you put your original latches. The latch is red on the picture above. No need to glue here. I use Velcro, www.velcro.com which is an adjustable fabric hook-and-loop fastener used for connecting various parts and material. Not for Duetto purists though, as Alfa Romeo and Pininfarina used contact glue in 1960’s. Many use double-sided adhesive tapes as this product may be adjusted and removed etc. The www.alfabb.com has good articles in this matter.
That is before
a more permanent fix, of course. www.3m.com Remove the rear upholstery piece by removing the bolts that hold it on underneath near the top. Ensure that all the holes have good threads and are sound. Fit the rear top pocket under the upholstery piece, and refit the upholstery piece. Beginning at the sides of the car, reattach the bolts one by one.
To adjust the top if it is too tight
If you feel the top is too tight so you may not be able to close it, don't panic. The reason is often the the bar just above the rear plastic window is too tight. Release the bar from the bolts and try again. Then modify the holes until closing the top work well. Pics below will explain. This can be done after the top is glued in place.