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Thread: 1951 Commander Convertible top

  1. #1
    Speedster Member
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    1951 Commander Convertible top

    I am helping my friend and fellow SDC'er Russ Haggen complete his 1951 Commander convertible. We are in need of either a complete top frame assembly or, possibly the cast metal hinge pieces. The original is broken in four places and would be horribly expensive to recreate. Anyone have a parts car laying about?

    Thanks, Brian Curtis.
    Brian K. Curtis,
    1941 Champion 4dr sedan
    1949 1/2 ton pickup
    1963 GT Hawk custom
    1966 Daytona 2dr

  2. #2
    President Member RadioRoy's Avatar
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    Good luck on your restoration.

    When you and your friend get around to putting the soft top on the frame, please remember this. The rear window goes directly into/onto the top fabric. It does not go into a flap that zips out like a modern convertible. 1947-51 Studebaker tops had die cast window frames inserted directly into the top fabric. You cannot open the rear window with the top up.

    Several people have restored Studebaker 47-51 convertible tops incorrectly, inserting the window into a fabric flap that takes the place of the vinyl window in another brand of car. Since no one seems to want to research Studebakers, everyone thinks this is OK.

    If you look at the shop manual, or the owners manual, or the parts/accessories brochure, you will see how the rear window is supposed to be placed.

    In 1952, the year after your friends car, Studebaker finally went to a vinyl rear window, like everybody else. That window has a zip out flap and can be lowered with the top in place, but earlier cars, like the 51 cannot, and do not have the rear window in a separate flap.

    I have seen and judged many otherwise finely restored Studebaker convertibles and I always ding them points for the top being made incorrectly.

    Here is your chance to do one correctly.
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

    17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
    10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
    10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
    4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
    5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
    56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
    60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

  3. #3
    President Member (S)'s Avatar
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    Pg 133 of SI's catalog has a tiny picture of some of these parts.

  4. #4
    Speedster Member
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    Do you need just the cast pieces? You could contact Cattail Foundry, in Gordonville, Penn. They are an Amish foundry, run by a family of farmers who cast metal in their off-time. They specialize in gray iron and aluminum castings. Since they are Amish, contacting them electronically or even by phones can be complicated. They do have a phone number that will allow you to leave a message and they will call you back, but don't expect anybody to actually answer. Typically, six to eight weeks after you send them your pattern or the piece you want copied, you will get your pattern and new castings back in a box with an invoice. I have heard they do excellent work and are very reasonable in price.

    Cattail Foundry
    Emanuel J. King
    167 W. Cattail Road
    Gordonville, PA 17529
    (717) 768-7323
    1953 Chev. 210 Convertible, 261 6cyl w/Offy dual intake (But I always did love Studebakers!)
    1995 Dodge/Cummins Pickup, 250 HP, 620 Ft. Lbs. of Torque, ATS trans.
    Robert Rausch

  5. #5
    Golden Hawk Member
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    Frank Goss had a complete parts quality convertible that he bought with his 1951 Commander convertible that he had restored. Frank did not need the parts car's top assembly. I do not know if he still has the parts car in his storage garage. You can find Frank in the SDC Roster.

    I second what RadioRoy said about the rear windows.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  6. #6
    Speedster Member
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    Thanks to all! Great info and will be sure that it gets done right.
    Some of the parts we need are available through S.I. and will contact Frank Goss.

    Again, Thanks!
    Brian K. Curtis,
    1941 Champion 4dr sedan
    1949 1/2 ton pickup
    1963 GT Hawk custom
    1966 Daytona 2dr

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