When Larry Jimenez was talking to Erik Hansson at Scandinavian Street Rods about getting an aluminum top made for his '32 roadster pickup, we stayed close by to get a look at how it was done. Once Erik made sure he knew how Larry wanted his new top, he started on the basic frame for it.
The steel frame pieces for the rear of the cab were formed with the Eckold machine hammer to follow the shape of the body in 14-gauge. When Erik was pleased with the fit, he started on the two rounded pieces over the doors. To hook everything together, a crossbar piece was made over the windshield, which made it possible to tack weld the pieces together. The next step was to make two bows to get the shape of the top, and to have Larry check it out before Erik started to make the panels for it.
Sometimes tape is your best friend when it comes to checking out shapes of a hood, body panel, or, as in this case, the roof. Erik covered the aluminum frame and bows with some blue tape, which made it possible to see the final shape of the roof. Once the top bows were adjusted a bit for the final shape, Larry was happy with the overall look of the top.
Now Erik could get started on the work of covering the roof frame with aluminum. He used sheets of 63/1000th aluminum, which is the same as 2 mm, to make the big pieces for the top. He scribed the aluminum first with a centerline, and then with big squares, which makes it easier to make sure it will be the same on both ends when he starts working the rounded sides. Holes were then drilled to hold the aluminum on the frame with Clecos, which also makes sure the piece will stay with the centerline in the right place.
The sides were pre-bent a little by hand before Erik used the Eckold to do the shaping of the corners. The first piece was shaped and then the fit was checked on the frame a few times before he was happy with it. Then it was time for the middle piece, which was done the same way as the first. The rear third part was also made before Erik started to tack weld the pieces together.
With the roof piece off the car, he used the TIG to do all the final welding. To make sure the weld burned through, he welded it from the inside, too. He then used a grinder to smooth out the welds. Now the shape of the roof was all there, so he could take the two test bows out of the roof frame. Before the roof piece could be riveted to the frame, Erik had to cut the lower edge to follow the frame's lower shape. Riveting the aluminum top to the frame was done with stainless steel rivets, to make sure they would not create a problem later on.
The last step was to cut the rear window opening for a soft top-style rear window. This was done with the plasma cutter. The top will be covered later with soft-top material when the upholstery of the car is done, and Larry will have a good-looking top that will be easy to lift off if he wants to drive his roadster topless.