Precision Street Rods & Machines - Building Quality Cars Since 1982
Precision Street Rods & Machines
"How We Chop 1933-34 Ford Coupe Tops"
 
 
 
We are going to show you how to perform a “Tapered Street” chop. We will be removing 3” at the windshield tapering to 2 1/16” at the rear window. We will be taking the taper cut out of the top half, not the body half of the top. This way the length of the cut will be longer making it possible not to add pie cuts to remove excess material in the rear section of the top. Lastly, we plan on eliminating the top door hinge for two reasons. First off it is a cleaner look and secondly it’s easier.
 
 
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Photo 1
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(Before)
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(After)
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Photos 03 & 04: The first thing we did was to trace the outline of the door opening and glass area on to a piece of cardboard.
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Photos 05 & 06: Then we redrew the top shape of the door onto the template at the height we wanted to end up at. We then looked to see where the lines intersected. This will be where we make our cuts.
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Photo 07: We cut our cardboard template as if we were chopping the top, tapped it back together and took a look at what it will look like on the car. We will be using pieces of this template later on to mark our cut lines.
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Photos 08 & 09: We installed 1” square box tubing in an “X” fashion in the door openings and one under the rear window. When the top is removed this will hold the body together making the job easier. Just for an extra bit of security, we tack welded the doors to the body.
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Photo 10: We removed the top section of our cardboard template so we could mark the cut lines on the door frames as seen in photos 11, 12, & 13
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Photo 14: Instead of moving the template downward 2 15/16”, we decided to mark our cut line using a steel ruler. We feel that you’ll get a more accurate cut line this way.
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Photos 15, 16 & 17: In order to make parallel cut lines on the rear body, we made a tapered cardboard template that was 2 1/16” at one end and 2 1/2” at the other.
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Photo 18: Up front at the windshield post, we marked our 3” cut line using a steel ruler instead of a template as it is basically a straight cut with hardly ant taper to it.
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Photo 19: With everything laid out, it was time to start our cuts. To do this we used a variable speed reciprocating saw.
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Photos 20 &21: We temporally used some clamps we got from Eastwood to secure the pieces together.
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Photos 22, 23 & 24: This is our first glimpse of our new chop. At this time you can take more material off the top if you think it needs more. If you look closely, you’ll see we have some misalignment issues to deal with. The top is tapered inward at the windshield and the rear window from the factory; we loose length as we come down with our top. The more you remove, the harder the job of alignment is. The solution is to add a piece of metal to widen door frames and roof and perform a few pie cuts.
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Photo 25: Now it’s time to fix the misalignment problem. We will address the rear first. A vertical pie cut was made from the beginning of the rear radius to the bottom of the horizontal section cut (where we removed material during the chop). This piece is bent forward until it lines up with the door edge.
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Photo 26: A filler piece was made from excess top material and tack welded into place.
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Photo 27: We were happy with the fit and finished welding in the filler piece. Grinding the welds smooth followed this. Now it’s time to move to the front windshield post area.
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Photo 28: The top was moved forward until the front sections of the windshield post were flush. We need to remove material in order to make the two pieces line up as the body is thicker than the top (around 1/8” misalignment). A vertical cut was made in the body side of the windshield post toward the rear, removing metal. The windshield post was aligned with the top and tack welded back together.
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Photos 29 & 30: Just as we did in the rear, we finished welding the pieces back together and ground the welds smooth.
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Photo 31: Here is a front view of the windshield post. Amazingly, no alignment was needed side-to side. If you look closely, the top and bottom lines of the windshield and the lower body line of the rear window run parallel to each other when looking through the windshield opening. This means that everything is level to the body no matter what a ruler says.
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Photos 32 & 33: The next step was to make a cut across the middle of the top side-to-side. Material will need to be added here in order for the body to align. We will make our cut in the widest portion of the top.
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Photos 34 & 35: We clamped the top together using a couple pieces of bar stock in the middle, and then clamped the top to the body using the clams we got from Eastwood. This will hold things in place temporally while we perform the next couple of steps.
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Photos 36 & 37: We choose to align the top of the doors next. We need to remove the same amount of material from the door frames as we did when cutting the top. As you can see, there is a misalignment problem here too. The door frame will need to be lengthened just like the top. The cut is going to be in the same area as the top was.
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Photo 38: A hack saw was used to separate and remove the pieces.
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Photo 39: This is what the door frame looked like after we cut it in half. We will use portions from the front piece we removed in photo # 36 as filler. This piece doesn’t fit as we would like it to have. (Look at the image on the left). A little modifying was needed to make it thicker. (Look at the image on the right).
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Photo 40: We taped the two door post halves together and placed it in the opening to see if our measurements were on or not. As you can see, they were. The next step was to go ahead and weld them together.
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Photos 41, 42 & 43: This is how our door frame looked after we ground the welds smooth. As you can see, it looks good at any angle.
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Photos 44, 45 & 46: Here is how the newly shaped door frame looks when placed in the door opening. The outside looks great but the inside doesn’t line up. It will need to be widened.
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Photo 47: Simply put, we made a cut up the edges into the middle of the radius. We followed this by spreading the pieces outward until they were the right width, tack welding them together and test fit them
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Photos 48 & 49: We finished welding the pieces together, ground the welds both inside and out and placed them back into the door opening to check our fit
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Photo 50: The next step is to align and tack weld the windshield post halves together.
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Photo 51: This was followed by connecting the tack welds until it becomes a continuous weld and grinding everything smooth. Up to now, everything we have done has been a metal finish product, meaning no filler needed.
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Photos 52 & 53: The rear half of the top gets welded together next. As we’ve done throughout this story, we placed our tack welds close together before any final welding was done. At no time is a tack/weld longer than ¼”. When things cool down naturally, we grind the weld we just made on both sides and re-straighten the metal using a hammer and dolly. We bounced back-and-forth between both sides of the top. This way we won’t warp the top by getting it too hot.
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Photo 54 & 55: Here’s a peek at how the rear section of the top came out. Pretty impressive! The next step is to join the door frames to the doors
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Photo 56 & 57: We temporally installed the door frames next. This way we can install shims between the door and the top, giving us the gap we need to open the doors. A filler piece was made from the same gauge of metal and clamped in place.
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Photos 58 & 59: We tack welded the filler piece to the top first, and then we finished welding it in place in the same fashion as we’ve done throughout this story. This was followed by grinding the welds smooth.
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Photo 60: The next thing we did was to align and weld the door tops to the door bottoms. We started by placing a solid bar of metal in the window channel to make sure that the two were parallel and the window won’t bind during it’s travel. This was followed by grinding everything smooth.
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Photo 61: We noticed that the body to door gap was a little off at the front of the door; we performed a series of tack welds on the door edge until the gap was filled up. This was followed by grinding them smooth.
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Photo 62: This is how the passenger’s door looked when we were finished.
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Photos 63 & 64: The last steps needed to do to finish this chop is modify the windshield and inside window frames. The frames get cut and welded back together just like the tops of the doors while the windshield frame gets cut at the bottom corners where it comes apart to replace the glass.
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Photos 65: Here’s a look at the modified drivers side window frame compared to the original one on the bottom.
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Photos 66, 67 & 68: Finished. This is the end result when you think out your project thoroughly and take your time.
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