Top Chop II: Model A Ford Coupe
In our last post, we’d finished the cuts to Adam’s coupe, freed the top, then temporarily set it back on for a sneak peek at its new profile. We’d put some effort into the layout of our cuts, so the sheet metal came down square and required very little trimming.
Hot rod folklore says Model A chops are easy: just cut ‘em, set the top back down, and weld it all together. Right. Every post, frame and garnish moulding in a Model A is sculpted and subtly tapered, and every one required some sort of persuasion to align. Check the vertical relief cuts in these posts and frames.
The wood removed in our first post needed chopping as well. We opted to lap the joints for strength. After the welding was completed and metal finished, the wood was fitted back into the car, then drilled and screwed into place.
Henry’s original blind-screw assembly required us to destroy the upper door post (B-pillar) wood to remove it. We purchased new posts, then chopped and reshaped them to fit. We also replaced the latch wood. The fact that you can buy these door post pieces separately tells us there must be a lot of Model A top chopping going on.
Once the wood was in place, we reinstalled the newly-chopped garnish moulding, making sure we had a uniform gap for the glass. Complete interior stainless screw kits are available for these coupes for around ten bucks.
Chopping the windshield frame was fairly straight-forward: we opted to make our cuts where the uprights meet the top rail. The swing arms and garnish mouldings were a different story. There’s quite a bit of taper in the garnish that had to be accounted for, plus the four inch chop meant totally rethinking how the sliders mount and operate.
The slider arm’s pivot point on the frame remained in the same position relative to the bottom of the frame, but we raised the thumb screw stud 2.5 inches up the A-pillar. The garnish was then drilled to accommodate the new position of the stud.
Detents were machined into the sliders. These are designed to snap over the studs and hold the windshield securely when closed. Unlike some chops we’ve seen, these sliders fold parallel to the A-pillar when the windshield is closed tight, and don’t stick out into the cab.
Looking back on the pre-chop photos of Adam’s coupe, it looks as if someone added height to the top. Maybe we’ve been around the car too long, but the four inch chop looks natural. It just looks right. Ol’ Henry should’ve taken it out at the factory.