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Indent in the roof?

Magura

Member
I'm still reading up on the Sterling, but one detail I've so far not found an explanation for.
That little indent in the roof. What's it made for?
So far the only use I've been able to see, is that the birds likes to drink from it, after it's been raining.
The only sensible guess I've got, is some sort of handle to lock the roof, but even that makes no sense, as it's locked with hydraulics, so it's locked electrically.
 

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farfegnubbin

Site Owner
Staff member
The original Nova and Sterling did not have electro-hydraulic lifts. The canopy opened just purely by gas springs on each side. And yes, that indentation you're seeing is for a T-shaped handle for a mechanical lock. (I'll try to find an example.) Electro-hydraulic struts were more or less just a builder hack in the beginning, though they became very, very common retrofits.

Most people just glass over that indentation. It's not the easiest thing to do because it actually sticks up a little around its border. To get it totally flat takes a bit of effort. Some people just leave it. You're right: The local birds love it.
 

farfegnubbin

Site Owner
Staff member
Here we go. It's low resolution but it gives you an idea of the original latch.
 

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Magura

Member
Thanks for the explanation.
That must have been rather uncanny to operate.
It goes the way of the dodo before I paint it.
 

Peter

Active member
You have to remeber that this is a 1971 designed car by Richard oakes and built by people on a on a tight budget, Estimated finished on-road cost 3,000 pounds., no fancy stuff, just basic VW and the body.
 

letterman7

Honorary Admin
Thanks for the explanation.
That must have been rather uncanny to operate.
It goes the way of the dodo before I paint it.
Actually, it still serves it's purpose, even for those that used hydraulics (like me). That latch system anchors the rear of the canopy and keeps it from bouncing. Getting in.. turn the handle 1/2 way - no big deal. Getting out, same thing - give the interior handle a 1/2 swing. Kinda cool in a dorky way - like twisting an ejection handle as you hit the "up" button for the canopy.. People loved watching it in action at car shows.
 

Magura

Member
I see what you're getting at.
Mine just has a remote to open and close from the outside, and push buttons in the center console for open and close from the inside.
Not quite as much "show" to my solution.
 

Magura

Member
If the battery dies, you need jumper cables anyway.
Be it hydraulic or electrical actuators, there's no way you're gonna open the roof with a dead battery.

My general solution for all my cars, is to keep them in proper working order.
I drive cars that are 40+ years old for the most part, and I'm yet to get stuck somewhere, doing something to the tune of 30K miles a year in those old tin cans.
A dead battery is not sneaking up on you, so unless you don't check up on your battery from time to time, or you have a broken generator/charging circuit (which you'll notice well in advance of the battery being empty), it's not really a problem.
Maintenance is highly underrated ;-)
 

farfegnubbin

Site Owner
Staff member
I will never argue against good maintenance.

In addition, most Sterlings that have electro-hydraulics have a valve hidden somewhere that ties the "up" lines directly to the "down" lines. When the valve is in its normal closed position, the "up" and "down" fluid circuits are isolated form one another. But when the valve is open, fluid can freely back-flow from one end of the lift cylinder to the other which would allow somebody to push the top up even if there is a battery failure...in theory. I've tried it on my as a test and the canopy still feels very heavy that way. A Sterling's canopy weighs about 140 lbs with all the glass and everything included. In addition to that, the flow of the hydraulic fluid has a bit of resistance to it. So in total, although that valve gives us a slight psychological feeling of security, the reality is that you'd need to be able to bench press about 160 lbs, from and awkward position, during an emergency. Not optimal.

(I am actually working on a new lift system that should be able to be easily retrofitted and might solve this problem but I'm still testing and refining it.)

Other builders have put a pull-pin at the top or bottom of the lift cylinder so they can pop the cylinder off in an emergency. This has the same two shortcomings as the above in that 1) you still need some impressive guns to push it up and 2) most are set up so you can only get to them from the inside so they won't help you get INTO the car in the case of a system failure.

On my rotary turbo Sterling I have two full-size batteries up front. In the cockpit I have a battery selector like they make for RVs and boats. I can select "1," "2," or "both." I'm pretty darn comfortable with that set-up. It's not totally foolproof but it is unlikely that both batteries would die at the same moment. (The solitary pump could fail though.)

I often take my side window out when I'm driving. I like the ventilation and, well, I could escape if needed. A lot of builders put an emergency pull-pin on their side windows. The new side window latch that we make and sell has that emergency pin.
 

lykip

Member
I have a Sebring. I have yet to find a backup for the top. Guy I bought it from went in and out the window. I have the top on a wireless remote and buttons inside. If the battery goes.... out the window I'll go.
 

farfegnubbin

Site Owner
Staff member
I have a Sebring. I have yet to find a backup for the top. Guy I bought it from went in and out the window. I have the top on a wireless remote and buttons inside. If the battery goes.... out the window I'll go.

...Which is really not a bad solution.

I'm tall and skinny and can fold up like a lawn chair. I can see how some would have trouble getting out the window. But when the alternative is being stuck in the car, the situation can be quite motivating. 🙂

I know of Sebring owners who put a pull-pin at the top of their linear actuator. I still worry that it would be hard to get to and heavy to lift.

We just need a full out ejection seat. I mean, these cars already have a canopy. It just seems to make sense. 🙂

(...and no, that's NOT what I'm working on.)
 

aliusa

Member
Learn something new each time. For some reason I thought the canopy can "self open" without power if it wasn't electric.

Maintenance is important I agree. So is plan B, C, and D :)
 

Magura

Member
Learn something new each time. For some reason I thought the canopy can "self open" without power if it wasn't electric.

Maintenance is important I agree. So is plan B, C, and D :)

Plan B is to kick out the side window, in the very unlikely case the power battery should fail suddenly, and chalk it up to a learning experience!

Compared to pretty much any other car, the Sterling is loud, has limited vision, less than ideal weight distribution, has near zero safety, sketchy driving characteristics, limited comfort, and it stinks of exhaust fumes.......and you're concerned that the battery may fail?
Come to think of it, it's pretty much the perfect car (y)
 

letterman7

Honorary Admin
Has anyone ever experimented with power lift gate technology?
Yep. One owner in Arizona is playing with that very thing. He's got quite the complicated setup for something that could be very simple :)

Plan B is to kick out the side window, in the very unlikely case the power battery should fail suddenly, and chalk it up to a learning experience!

Compared to pretty much any other car, the Sterling is loud, has limited vision, less than ideal weight distribution, has near zero safety, sketchy driving characteristics, limited comfort, and it stinks of exhaust fumes.......and you're concerned that the battery may fail?
Come to think of it, it's pretty much the perfect car (y)
I kept a screwdriver in a pouch behind the seats, along with basic maintenance tools. Only once did I have to employ it to remove a window to get out - and I had a relief valve within reach. As stated earlier, the relief valve is more of a mental safety switch.. the canopy action is far too awkward to make happen from a seated position. So, remove window, wiggle my fat butt out and fall to the ground after I lost power (battery connection had let loose after a bumpy ride).
As for zero safety.. well, sort of. See photo below. The wheel of the offending car went through the sunroof, but the canopy was intact as was the rest of the car. Another owner got T-boned at 45mph on his front passenger quarter - took out the 1/4 and part of the body tub, but the cockpit was intact. Extreme instances, for sure, but the old(er) cars were built like tanks with integrated fiberglass safety cages. Still, I wouldn't want to be hit in any direction from a soccer mom in her Chevy Suburban. Sketchy driving? Mine handled like my late model Corvette... wasn't sketchy at all. Limited comfort? Yeah, a/c is a nice addition, but my wife used to fall asleep regularly on long drives. Exhaust fumes... never happens unless you have a leak somewhere.
 

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letterman7

Honorary Admin
:) I've seen the new bodies built. Myself and the owner also guided the fiberglass team on where the reinforcements have to be after cutting up old bodies and seeing where the extra glass was added :)
 
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