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Ok, this is kinda dumb, but what da heck. I'm thinking maybe I want to try to get a roof panel off a car at a pick n pull. Any suggestions on how to cut through the pillars to haul the whole roof off? It would be 6 pillars to cut (2 in front, sides, and the rear hatch pillars).

Looking at a car at the Pnp, the metal really doesn't look all that tough. If I were at home with a corded sawzall, it'd probably be easy, but in a gravel or dirt yard with no corded power....hmmm. Any thoughts? Of course, I'm not even sure they would sell me just the roof, just thinking.

Don L.
 

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They would probably sell you the roof. Unless if you know someone with a battery powered rip saw, you are stuck with a good old hack saw with a few extra blades.
 

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Can you borrow a generator from anyone? Having cut the roof off of a parts car, I can go ahead and tell you you'll want that sawzall.
 

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Maybe you can borrow a generator from the worker's there and bring your sawzall. I've seen them lugging equipment around the yard before, like a welder. I think they also have wheel barrows there you can borrow, so then you can wheel it back to the pay desk.
 

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Don, check your PMs...
 

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Power tools are not allowed. See if you can sneak a cordless sawzall in there though.
Unless they changed it again recently I know a year or two back they'd let you bring out a rechargeable sawzall. You can't bring a gas powered anything though. My dad & I have cut quarter panels and such off cars out there this way.
 

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MILWAUKEE makes "The Torch" recip saw blade for demo, rescue metal cutting, I'd go with the 9" or 12" blade to cut pillars... 2 (fully charged) battery packs ( a 3rd for back up ) should easily cut 6 pillars
 

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I have a cordless sawsall if you need to borrow one, I also have "the Torch" blades for cutting through metal. I'm actually about to head out to pnp in hayward to look for some parts.

BTW, you'll also need something to cut the seal of the windows
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the ideas guys! I need to go back out there and check out a few details. Cutting off a roof is a big commitment, so gotta make sorta sure I'm going into the project.
May be looking at a different mod.

Don L.
 

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Hi Don,
Mike Simanyi has the E36 in SoCal that won SM in Lincoln did the moonroof-> no moonroof swap and Doug here in AZ bought a non-moonroof roof for his E46 from a bone yard, but it was damaged in shipping - they cut the roof off for him. I'd say its a safe bet that a recycler will sell the roof by itself. I removed a whole roof going from autox old car to new one.. a MX-5!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi Don,
Mike Simanyi has the E36 in SoCal that won SM in Lincoln did the moonroof-> no moonroof swap and Doug here in AZ bought a non-moonroof roof for his E46 from a bone yard, but it was damaged in shipping - they cut the roof off for him. I'd say its a safe bet that a recycler will sell the roof by itself. I removed a whole roof going from autox old car to new one.. a MX-5!
Hey Jay, pretty darn fast company! Maybe I'll just look at lightening the seats instead. Cheaper and easier. That roof mod is such an investment!

You've always done very well in a Miata. Looking forward to seeing you again in 2010 !

Don
 

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Don, if you want to lose the sunroof I'd just patch the hole where the sunroof is. Go out to pickn'n'pull and zip the roof off a hardtop so you have the proper sheetmetal piece to serve as the plug. We patched the hole in the bosses old 70 T/A 455 to remove the aftermarket sunroof the same way. Nobody was ever the wiser unless they pulled the headliner. You may have to install another sheetmetal rib across the roof from a hardtop.
 

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Aaron, nice audible Sir!!

Don, if you want to lose the sunroof I'd just patch the hole where the sunroof is. Go out to pickn'n'pull and zip the roof off a hardtop so you have the proper sheetmetal piece to serve as the plug. We patched the hole in the bosses old 70 T/A 455 to remove the aftermarket sunroof the same way. Nobody was ever the wiser unless they pulled the headliner. You may have to install another sheetmetal rib across the roof from a hardtop.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Don, if you want to lose the sunroof I'd just patch the hole where the sunroof is. Go out to pickn'n'pull and zip the roof off a hardtop so you have the proper sheetmetal piece to serve as the plug. We patched the hole in the bosses old 70 T/A 455 to remove the aftermarket sunroof the same way. Nobody was ever the wiser unless they pulled the headliner. You may have to install another sheetmetal rib across the roof from a hardtop.
Hi Aaron! I recently went to a pick n pull and removed headliners off both a sunroof and hardtop model. Surprisingly, both models had smilar bracing and framing. Really, the only difference seemed to be that the sunroof & pan bolted onto the inside of the sunroof model. I believe all the mounting holes are also on the hardtop model (I'm going back to verify and take detailed pics). The center roof brace that goes from side to side on the two models is slightly different, but mounts visibly in the same location and usings same 12mm bolts, 2 on each side. Welding in a panel seems to be an option now, within the wording of the rules. Now, whether to just get a piece of similar gauge sheetmetal to fill the hole, or sacrifice a sunroof panel for the sheetmetal, or cut out a roof panel at the pick n pull (here we go with the logistics of cutting out metal in a yard again), not sure which. I have a spare sunroof panel to sacrifice if that is feasible, at least the shape would be correct.

A cordless sawzall would probably cut out a hardtop panel ok (gee that metal is thin), but would have to ask the pick n pull if ok.

Thanks guys for all the suggestions!

Don L.
 

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I'd take the whole roof off at the base of the pillars. That way you get the liner and bracing in one shot. Once you get the glass out it should go fast. Once you get it home you can cut of the sheet metal to ball park size of the opening. Then you can lay it over the roof and mark the actual size. The problem with using the sunroof panel or generic sheet is it doesn't have the roof shape to it so you'll end up with a fat chunk of bondo on the roof.
 

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Okay this is a long post but I think it might help.



I had an after market sunroof in my 83 that looked like it was in good shape. After finding out I could not find parts to repair it I decide to replace it with a hard top.( I never liked sunroofs anyway) I had a parts car that had a hard top so it was just a matter of removing one and putting the other on.

My buddy Frank who was the professional body man said you would never get it to look right if you just replaced the panel where the hole in the roof was. The curves would never match and all the welding would warp the roof.

Here are the steps that we took to replace the roof. I have to say that I was glad I took his advice and let him do most of the really hard work and I just did the prep work.

It is a lot of work but I think you will like the results better. It might be a trade off more drilling, cutting and welding but less bondo work.

First step find the original weld points to the top on the pillars. I took a grinder with a brush attachment and just a few inched down from the top took the paint off and sure enough there they were. Frank said that the factory most likely used brass to fill the seam and that I should cut just to the top of that point. The brass would be harder than the roof and the brass was most likely stuck the pillar under the weld, he was right. You can see the brass on the front pillar and where we cut on the rear pillar.

Frank not me.




Then I was to take the brush along the rain gutters and the front top of the windshield and the top of the hatch areas taking off the sealant and the paint to find the spot weld points.

Here you can see the weld points on the rain gutter.



I was to drill out these points so the roof could be removed.




Rear


Here you can see the holes on the front of "new" roof already drilled.



The roof you are throwing away could have a bigger drill bit used since the new cap would cover them. Be patient when drilling on your car so not to drill through the under bracing. When you think you are about to drill through the top, slow down so not to push through. Sometimes you can hear the panel pop loose when you drill through the weld. The roof you are going to keep needs to have smaller holes so there will be less welding there. Make sure to use really sharp bits. I found it easier to start with smaller bits and work of to the larger bits. It was easier on the bits too.


Once the spot welds are drilled through and the seams at the pillars cut then you can gently pry the roof off. I had to use a chisel where the drill bits did not cut all the way through. The pictures don’t look like we were gentle but trust me we did not just rip it off.









One other thing, on the car I was restoring we cut the roof off leaving 1/2 inch above the gutters, right were the curve to the top was. This way I could use the chisel from the back side and not tear up the front of the rain gutters. Be careful not to cut through the bracing under the roof. I did not care about the gutters on the parts car because they were not going to be used.







Now both roofs were off and I found out the sunroof was about to become a rust nightmare. Good thing I got rid of it.

Here you can see the rust where the sunroof was.



New roof ready to go on


Since mine was an aftermarket installation on the sunroof some of the bracing of the original was cut out to make the sunroof fit. This would have to be reinstalled so I cut the same bracing out of the parts car and welded it on to my restoration.


Where the bracings were cut.






New bracing being welded in.




One brace that goes through the center from left to right is not pictured but it just bolts on. It is right were the dome light would fit.

Next the new roof was put in place for a test fitting and welding alignment. Once we were happy with the fit the new roof was tacked into place.













Later Frank had me weld in all the holes and the welds on the pillars. Then I ground them smooth.





A little bondo to smooth the seams and I had a new hard top.

The one bad thing about the new roof was that it had hail damage that I had to fill. That was almost as much work as welding in the new roof.









Being new to body work I was too tender with the sanding and just about wore out my shoulders from doing it by hand. Frank come over and could do in a few minutes what I would take hours to do. But that is one of the reasons I took on this project, to learn new skills.

The finished product






Good luck with what ever you decide.


Jim


One thing I forgot to mention, There a several spots off rubber between the bracing and the roof panel that you will have to cut from the inside off the car before it will come off. They are they same stuff as the hood bracing and hood.


Jim
 
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