Jim Smart
October 1, 2008
Photos By: Mark Jeffrey
Before you can install a new top, bow positioning must be spot-on to achieve proper top tension and position. Stay pads maintain bow positioning and absorb sound. As a rule, there are four bows from front to rear on most convertibles, which Ford assigns numbers to-header bow (windshield; No.1), second bow (No. 2), third bow (No. 3), and rear bow (No. 4). Each side has a front side member, a horizontal side member, and a diagonal/vertical top frame member.

Bow Dimensions*
If you're stripping down a convertible top, we suggest measuring top bow dimensions to see how they compare with ours. What matters most is a top that will fit perfectly when it's time for installation. There are specified distances you need to have between top bows for good fit and function. These measurements aren't center-to-center, but from trailing edge to leading edge. Here's how measurements stack up.

No. 1 bow to No. 2 bow: 16 1/2 inches
No. 2 bow to No. 3 bow: 16 3/4 inches
No. 3 bow to No. 4 bow: 15 1/2 inches
No. 4 bow to stainless molding: 20 1/2 inches
No. 4 bow to drain trough: 22 1/2 inches

If you examine your '65-'73 Ford Shop Manual, you can fabricate a bow locating gauge from plywood, which will enable you to position bows to factory specifications.

Top adjustment isn't all that difficult according to Richard Smykay. There are five ways to adjust the top mechanism:Bow No. 2 up/down adjustment
Side rail camber eccentric at balance link
Side rail camber set screw at hinge
Header to side rail adjustment (fore and aft length adjustment)
Frame bracket to body bolts (side to side adjustment)
* Information courtesy Richard Smykay at smykayrich@yahoo.com