Both latches on convertible header broken - replace entire header?

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May 31, 2023
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Southwest Missouri
My Car
71 H code Convertible
Good evening all,

I've started trying to clean up a few of the gremlins that I found when I got the 71, so I'll start with getting the convertible top fully functional.

Initial problem - pump ran but top didn't move up. Found it was dry. Filled with tranny fluid. Hit button and it went up, but lines were cracked and spewed fluid everywhere. Replacement lines ordered and hope to replace if the weather cooperates this weekend.

Next problem - both of the latches in the header are in varying stages of broken. The handle part of both is broken, the "pivot part" of the latch is broke off one side, and only partially hanging on the other side. It looks like solder or JB weld there too, so realistically I need to replace both handles and associated latch mechanism. However, the previous owner gave me an entire header section that he pulled out of a salvage yard. From what I can tell, both latches work fine and it is original.

I see 3 approaches from here:
  1. Remove the handle and latch assembly from both sides of the spare header and only peel back as much of the top as I need to replace just these sections. This is appealing because on the surface it may be the least amount of work, and I've never done it before so my confidence is marginal in replacing the whole header and getting the top back attached.
  2. Remove the top from the existing header and replace the whole header including latch mechanisms. Part of me thinks this is the way to go because it reduces the risk that I accidentally break something trying to get it off the header, but then again if I were able to break it taking the part off, I'll probably break it after minimal use and have to do the whole thing again. Downside being that I probably will need to order the stuff to put the top back on the entire header, and I believe this is the original top which means it may be brittle and won't do well being re-stapled.
  3. As mentioned above, I know this top has been on since 89, and it is believed to be original. I've only seen it up twice and didn't look it over super close, but I imagine I may need to replace the entire top. I could just take the part to the shop and have them replace the header while they are doing a whole new top. Downside - I just paid for a top on my daughter's 05 mustang and it cost over 2k, which I really don't want to spend. That, and I don't imagine I will drive this much if any in the rain as it has been in storage for 35 years and is rust free top to bottom.
So - for those of you who have had to fix or replace the latching mechanism or top on one of these beasts, which path would you choose? (or do you propose an alternative?)

Thanks in advance!
I replaced my latch and did a post how I did it. The issue is the latch connecting plate had rivets if I remember. I used some barrel style bolts. Peeling part of roof back is a bit tricky. I need to look up and see if I can find the post. Do a search for on this site for

Truss Bolt on Convertible Top (Update)​

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Perfect. I found your response to someone else but never found the photos, so this kind of confirms what I am looking at. I am leaning towards trying to replace the same way you did. I have to get the hoses replaced first, but that is first on my list tomorrow. Both of the rear quarter window screws were stripped, so I can't get the inner quarter trim off to get to the cylinders to unhook and replace the line. I'm going to have to either user an extractor or drill them out. Always seems like the thing you expect to be simple turns into a series of big efforts before you get to the simple part!
If things get dire, I have a full '71 convertible top frame, complete with latches. Problem is, I'm in Minnesota, and it would not package well. I get to St. Louis now and then and could bring it down at least that far sometime.
They are available as reproductions…I forget where I saw them, probably NPD. Expensive.
OK... following back up here. I got close on this, but didn't quite get the old one off yet. As shown in the link there is the big pozidrive screw (I used a #4 phillips with an impact and it worked like a charm, but I really struggled trying to use a screw driver before that) and two 1/2 inch bolt/nuts to separate the "header part" from the rest of the top mechanism, and then there was one pozidrive (#4 phillips) and one that I'll call a 1/2 that held the handle mechanism. Once I had those out, I still couldn't seem to get the handle mechanism off of the donor or the 71. It looked like there may be some sort of pin I need to drive out, but hoping @cv_72mustang or some of you who have done this can guide me in the right direction.

Think I figured out what I am missing for when I can get back to the car. The big philips 4 was the pivot for the arm, the 1/2" head was the slide for the slot at the left, and the think that I suspect is still in there is that hole just up from the hook assembly. I don't remember seeing any bolts there, so I'm guessing this may be something I have to get out with a punch. Can anyone confirm?

I'll look today at my car and see if I can remember!

I went to look at my handle it's really tough to get a good look at it. But I remember that I replaced the handle only and not the brackets your photo assembly shows. I only needed to remove the posidrive screw and deal with the missing rivet. Sorry I'm not able to help more. Maybe the new assembly is a bit different. You can see the lose barrel nut that replaced the rivet. Ignore the other photo it's useless!



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