New convertible top latch

The passenger side convertible top latch broke on me.   I thought I might be able to somehow fix the old one but the screws did not want to turn.

So I bought a tool.  I have wanted one of these impact drivers for a while so this was a good excuse.  Better yet it worked.

The original was made out of sandcast aluminum and has a reputation for breaking.   I can buy used ones for $60 that might break tomorrow or steel reproductions for $325 that will never break.  I am cheap so I am going to try and make my own.

The catch has three major parts.  The mounting holes at the bottom hold the catch to the windshield.  The pocket at the top left guides the roof into the catch.  And the broken latchy part on the right holds the roof down.  I can do everything but the pocket with a flat chunk of steel.  My theory is the pocket is not really that important.  Lets try.  I found a donor piece of steel maybe 3/32″ in my scrap pile.

Since the factory bracket is NOT flat I used paper to make a template and marked the hole centers and edges on the plate.

I drilled the holes first.  The two small ones are the mounting holes.  The larger one will be the end of the gap where the top will latch.

Now to cut out the bracket.  I marked the edges using the template.

I used a cutting wheel in a die grinder to rough out the shape.  It is slower than a hacksaw but easier to cut nice straight lines.

I cut out the notch for the top latch and bent the “fingers” over using a hammer and my vice.

With the fingers bent I can take the new latch for a test drive.  This will work.  That bit sticking out towards the guide finger on the roof will stay I think in case I need to make some sort of pocket thing and weld it on there.

I finished cutting and filing the part to shape.

Here is the final result painted and ready to install.  I probably could have gotten this smoother but I am OK with it.

Installed.  The nuts welded in the frame were pretty rusty.  I chased them out with a tap and sprayed some oil up in there for good luck.

And latched.  I am happy with this for now.  I would love to cast copies of the originals out of bronze but I don’t have any equipment to do that.

 

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