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[TR] Re: Surrey Top (TR250)

Subject: [TR] Re: Surrey Top (TR250)
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2006 15:03:39 EDT
Hi David, 
    Congratulations on acquiring at least most of an original top for your
    First, some terminology, just in case you're not aware of it. This
can be imporant when trying to find parts, because the terminology is
sometime used differently, one vendor to the next. But, if you are
aware of it, you can watch out for problems and get clarification.
    The factory "hard top" was offered as a two-piece accessory
consisting of the "backlight" and a rigid roof panel. The backlight
consists of the cast aluminum window frame, rear window and interior
trim. The rigid roof panel was finished, inside and out. Since there's
no place to stow the rigid roof panel when motoring around without it,
the "surrey" accessory was offered separately and just consists of the
vinyl roof and folding framework you have. About five years after
Triumph introduced the two-piece hard top and surrrey for the TR4,
Porsche copied the general idea and design for their 911 and called it
a "Targa" top. Of course, now both Surrey and Targa have become
somewhat generic terms and are used in all sorts of ways.
    Over the years I've done a lot of research about the original top
as it pertains to my '62 TR4, and spent some time searching for one
before finally acquiring it. I know some of the related details
changed a little during TR4A production and there might have been
further changes for TR250, of which I am unaware. For example, the
trim finisher strip atop the windshield and the soft top attachment
were both changed on the later cars, which I'm sure must effect the
method of fitting either the hard top's rigid roof or the surrey
accessory. And, I don't have or use the vinyl surrey accessory on my
car, so am not totally familiar with it.
    As to color, the hard top and aluminum backlight frame were
offered in white, black or painted to match the body color. The
surrey's vinyl was available in black or white. Interior trim of the
rigid roof panel (headliner) and backlight frame were an off-white
vinyl with a coarse texture, that matched the material on the sun
visor. Exact color and texture of the interior might have changed over
the years and repros today aren't exact, but from what I've seen of
them, TRFs vinyls are very close.
    The rigid roof panel that would have been part of an original
"hard top" kit from the factory or as a dealer accessory kit. But,
fyi, only the very earliest of these roof panels were aluminum (first
500, probably all sold and fitted in the first couple years of TR4
production). After that they were sheet steel (i.e., appropriate for
cars after roughly 1963-64 if originality is a concern). The rigid
roof panels do show up occasionally at swap meets and in online
auctions, so keep a watch for one. You might get lucky and find one
separately, or find a damaged/broken backlight/window with a good,
rigid roof, to get just the pieces you need.
    You can also buy brand new aluminum roofs from Revington TR in
England (, including a special version Neil has
come up with that's split down the center so the two halves will fit
into the car's trunk (boot :-). While I'm sure they are well-made, the
cost of these repros/replacements is relatively high and there's
shipping and import duties to consider, but it's an option.
    You will also find you need hardware and seals to fit both the
backlight and, eventually, the hard top panel. There are studs around
the base of the backlight frame, which just require nuts (nylocks
recommended) and flat washers.  There are two studs to be fitted atop
the B-post and serve as the most forward attachments on each side
because there is no room for a bolt, which are a bit tricky to find
(I'm still looking, none of the usual venodrs have them, but might
just make some up, if I can't find the right size). There is a
special, u-shaped rubber seal that fits around the bottom of the
backlight frame, sealing it to the car's cockpit rim.
    TRF offers a "hard top" hardware kit, but it really only applies
to the rigid roof panel (consists of four special bolts, washers and
two special sleeves that fit into and reinforce the windshield frame -
the sleeves are the most important part of their kit, IMO).
    There are also special door seals and "fuzzies" used with the hard
top conversion. The door seals on TR4 are much longer, now coming all
the way to the top of the rear window. The "fuzzy" or draught excluder
on TR4 (which was separate from the rubber door seal on TR4, but not
later cars) is one, single, very long piece all the way from top of
the windshield frame on one side, down around the door frame, up and
across the leading edge of the backlight frame, down around the other
door frame and up to the top of the windshield frame on the other
side. I don't know the exact arrangement on later cars, where the
rubber door seals and fuzzy were combined, but one of the vendors or
the factory TR4A or TR250 parts manuals probably show it.
    There were a number of rubber seals specific to the hard top, too. 
    The most obvious seal is the large rear window seal, which is
basically a larger version of the seal used for the windshield. Like
the windshield seal, it has a ploished/chromed insert strip that locks
the window in place.  Originally, the chrome finisher strips are
bright anodized aluminum with clips at the center. The very earliest
inserts were one-piece with a single clip covering a joint at the
center/bottom of the rear window. Later ones were two pieces with
clips at both top and bottom center. Modern repros of the finisher
strips are chromed plastic (and prone to shrinking, so cut them extra
long when fitting them). Modern clips are now also plastic.
    There are also rubber seals on all four sides of the rigid roof
panel.  One seals the to the top of the windshield frame, another to
the top of the backlight frame. Cantrail seals are used on either side
to seal the top of the door windows. Since these are attached to the
rigid roof panel, they don't apply to the "surrey" top accessory you
have. Finally, the rigid roof panel has its own "fuzzy" that finishes
the edge of the headliner. on three sides.
    Another thing, the three rear interior cockpit trim panels were
special for the hard top, too. The two on the sides (over the
rear/inner wheel wells) don't have holes for hoodstick mounting
brackets, and the rear one (covering the fuel tank) is special at
least on the earlier cars that had a separate hoodstick cover, but
might be unchanged on the later cars that didn't have the hoodstick
    In your search for a hard top rigid roof panel, you might find
some fiberglass repros. I'm not aware of anyone making these for use
with the original, factory backlight, but perhaps someone does. Be
aware that there were also aftermarket copies of the original design,
in fiberglass, the roofs of which might or might not fit up to the
original backlight frame. I suspect most would not fit, since most of
the fiberglass backlight frames appear to be a thicker design than the
original. There was also a "Sebring" two-piece aftermarket top that
used a fiberglass backlight and a black, injection molded plastic
rigid roof panel. I doubt that roof panel would fit up with the
original, aluminum backlight frame, but don't know for certain.
Finally, you will find some vendors offering "race" hard top
kits. These are special light weight versions that might not be usable
on the street, or in some case are one-piece tops that give the
appearance of the original two-piece, but don't have a removable roof.
    When you get the top, you might find the rear window seal needs
replacement. These get a lot of direct sun and often harden and crack
over the years.  If you find you need to replace ithat seal, handle
the glass with a lot of care! Replacement rear windows *are* still
available, but are quite expensive.  It's also not uncommon for the
original Tri-plex glass to have already been replaced with
Lexan/Perspex or similar, either by racers for a weight savings or
just as a less expensive replacement for street use.
    There are a couple photos of initial fitting of the hard top on my
TR4 at the link below. There's still some work needed on it (and the
rest of the car!), but I was fortunate to get an early top that still
had its original paint (white), seals, window, interior trim/headliner
and at least remnants of all the original rubber seals, so I could
compare these items with currently available replacements. Feel free
to email directly if you wish.
    Alan Myers
    San Jose, Calif.
    '62 TR4 CT17602L


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