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Yesterday was a sad day for me. I discovered the following while cleaning up my trusty old 1972 Nova.











I haven't been driving the car much lately, to keep from wearing it out. I have several good daily drivable cars and was letting this one rest. Would wash and take it out every month or so.

Yesterday, I blew a hole through the roof with the car wash (!!!) and peeled the vinyl top to see the above.

Car is in otherwise great shape. Has fuel injected roller-cam 305, 700R4 transmission, and the rest of the body is straight. It will run when none of the family's other (newer) cars will run. I feel so horrible about this. I should have realized there was rust under the top. Vinyl was ~5 years old. Vinyl was still in excellent shape! The water had seeped under it and satuarated the backing foam. This happened about 10 years ago, but only in one small area. That repair is still good, but the damage is too extensive now

I feel like the easiest repair would be to replace the whole roof; welding it at the original joints at the pillars. Trouble is finding a good roof. I would love to buy a new one but chances of finding that are nill to none.

The roof does not have to be perfect, just non-rusted. The car will have a vinyl top installed back on it, because it has been in the family like that. I know that is what caused the rust and I am stupid for putting it back on but that is how I want the car to look.

Any ideas about what my best repair option is?

It's DEFINATELY worth fixing to me because I want to keep it in the family. Mom and dad would kill me if I got rid of it.

I fought and cried and begged and pleaded for mom and dad not to sell this car when I was in elementary shcool. The transmission went out and they wre thinking about selling it. (at that time it was just a 12 year old car - but I was attached to it nonetheless)

It's been with our family longer than I have. I've neglected it bad enough already. Time to take action.

Here are a couple pictures of the condition of the rest of the car.

Car after last paint job:


LED lights, converted about 10 years ago:



EFI engine:


Interior:



Here's the car, back when we lived in dallas. That's me... with STRAIGHT BLOND HAIR?!?!



Since I'm new here; I want to tell a little about myself. I'm a diesel engine technician for a Caterpillar Marine Power and Caterpillar Power Systems service dealer. Have done alot of travelling.

My whole life is about technical things, and designing, building and tinkering.

I've converted 4 engines from natural aspiration to turbocharged, building the whole system from scratch and tuning the ECM. Converted 5 engines from carb to fuel injection, as well as built a front wheel drive auto transmission that withstands a 400 HP Turbo Buick V6 daily driven.

I don't doubt I can repair my Nova's top, but would like to discuss it with someone who has already addressed this problem.

One big concern is what to do to the new top to prevent future rust under the vinyl. Someone recommended a layer of truck-bed coating under the vinyl. That sounds like a good idea to me!

I browsed this site yesterday and am amazed these cars have such a following. This is wonderful. Thanks for allowing me to join!
David
 

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First of all "Welcome to Steve's site" You couldn't ask for a better place to be. If the rest of your car is rust free I'd look for help from the Southwest area guys. They could find you a rust free Nova from out west to get a replacement roof from. My brother rolled a 66 Chevy II and had a roof put on it. If you look around the site you will see picture of some really rusty cars that have been repaired that were way worse than what you have to start with.
 

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Welcome to the site. Sorry to hear about your troubles. I am sure there are others that are,did or will be going through the same situation and are willing to help.
 

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The vinyl top wasnt the only culprit for causing the rust. It looks like the roof wasnt properly sealed underneath the vinyl. Your area and moisture level also played a role. This is still quite common. I wouldnt blame your self, long after everyone else sent their cars to the crusher you still have yours. I walked out side to a donor 68-72 body we have and we already cut out that area a couple years ago.

Finding a 68-72 shell isnt that difficult I see them all the time around 800-1200. It would probably be just as easy to have a restoration / body shop make you the patches or repair it for you.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The vinyl top wasnt the only culprit for causing the rust. It looks like the roof wasnt properly sealed underneath the vinyl. Your area and moisture level also played a role. This is still quite common. I wouldnt blame your self, long after everyone else sent their cars to the crusher you still have yours. I walked out side to a donor 68-72 body we have and we already cut out that area a couple years ago.

Finding a 68-72 shell isnt that difficult I see them all the time around 800-1200. It would probably be just as easy to have a restoration / body shop make you the patches or repair it for you.

Good luck.
Thanks to all for the warm welcome!

I may just take it and have it professionally repaired. I don't have much bodywork experience other than some minor fiberglass repair from cracked and broken Buick headers.

There are very few trustworthy bodyshops here. They either want only "creampuff" late-model wrecks that are insurance-paid; or they want to paint only; without and real bodywork. Then there are the ones that have people's cars sitting around that they have kept for years and never completed. If anyone knows of a good place around Tuscaloosa, AL let me know!!!

Yes I agree about the moisture. I try to drive each of my cars monthly with the A/C on to help dry out the interior from humidity. Thankfully the 80's vintage FWD cars I have tend to have a better galvanize coating and don't rust as badly as the calssics.

I have only one place with shelter at a friend's farm, (where this car sits now) and I'm looking for a piece of property (like a farmstead) with some outbuildings to park under.

I do have all the proper welding equipment to do this repair. I just don't want to ruin a very hard-to-get piece of replacement metal!

Thanks again!
David
 

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Thanks again!
David
The repair should be pretty straight forward, if you remove the glass, and drop it off when they have time for it. Its not like your getting a complete paint job with hundreds of hours involved. You might want to try calling your local vinyl top installer they probably know who can do a good roof repair.:cool:
Also try posting in the south-east regional section of the site asking for a shop recommendation.
Doug
 

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Man I dread the day I take my top off and find that!!!!


What did you use to convert to LEDS in the front and back? (kit - who or did you make it)
It also appears that you put leds behind the reflector side of the tail light which is something I was going to do, but now I will ask about yours first. I guess it holds true, no matter what you want to do, someone else has done it first.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Man I dread the day I take my top off and find that!!!!


What did you use to convert to LEDS in the front and back? (kit - who or did you make it)
It also appears that you put leds behind the reflector side of the tail light which is something I was going to do, but now I will ask about yours first. I guess it holds true, no matter what you want to do, someone else has done it first.
OK the LED's were a home made thing. I took pieces of the pre-perforated PC board from Radio Shack, and soldered as many LED's as I could fit in those panels.

The LED's came from Arrow Electronics; ordered online. Now, LED's are cheaper and brighter then they were back then. The newer ones are better. I need to re-do them with brighter LED's

Later,
David
 

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Welcome to the site!! Definitely a keeper, just from the history. From the sounds of it the pro shop might be the ticket. If the money is available. Umm, just tossin ideas. Seeing how its gonna be a full roof off repair. Dont forget the possibilities of a convertible mod. Yeah, more money, but this is the point to consider it. Good to see a guy willing to keep the old iron alive!!!! Keep us posted huh? Love to see the outcome.. JR
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the replies, sorry I have not got any thread reply notices.

A friend has located a car with a good roof and we're trying to locate the owner and buy the car. It appears to be abandoned.

Will post here as this progresses. My car is dry in a barn now so it is not deteriorating any further while I get what I need.

Later,
David
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Finally!!!

Finally - I have a good roof, complete and unrusted. Made a trip from my home in Alabama to central Indiana to get it, but it's in perfect shape. And I had a day of great conversation while working on the donor car. Will be leaving the car and roof at a REPUTABLE shop in the next weeks and keep everyone posted.

I don't feel too bad about cutting up this donor car because it was rusted out had unacceptable welding on the quarters, as well as missing 90% of the car already. It was a good donor car for this.

Donor car all braced up with wood boards and a steel pipe welded in:


Mark doing the deed with the oxy acetylene torch:


The long journey begins! My Century turned 100,000 miles on the road today. The last 57,000 were after I bought it from a junkyard, restored it, and installed a turbocharged 3.8SFI (231) engine.


The farms houses and fields of the Great Midwest passed by for hours on end....


Sincerely,
David
 

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You made a good decision on a total roof replacement in my opinion. That is exactly what I'd have done with it. Not sure how the superstructure underneath is going to tie in together but your origional car roof is probably all junk so you'll need that entire roof like you bought.
 

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Love the vinyl dude! Gotta keep it. It's one of the distinguishing features of our classic cars. Like someone else wrote, it wasn't all the fault of the top. Installation has a lot to do with it. The original tops were junk compared to the new stuff. I think the top (now) will actually prevent rust-through, when it's properly installed. Just re-did the top on my '72.
 
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