Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Convertible Top Hydraulic Problem

I have a 1964 Ford Falcon Convertible. I know one side of the hydraulic system leaks. Today when I went to put the top back up the hydraulic wouldn’t lift the top. It took 2 people pulling hard and the hydraulic system on to get it to move enough to put it back up. Is there a way to disable the electrical part of the system and just lift it manually? If so, could one person do it? My son has an Eclipse and he can do his top manually.

I wonder if nobody knows about this or is it such an obvious question that no one wants to answer it-LOL!!

I don’t see any reason why you can’t remove (or just disconnect) the hydraulic lift from the top, and then do the job manually. The reason it’s hard to lift it manually now is you have to pull the lift out to the extended position in order to close the top. If you get rid of the pump in the equation, one person should be able to lift the top.

Do you think that is fairly easy to do for a non-mechanic to do or should I ask my mechanic to disconnect it for me?

I had a '61 Mercury convertible, back in '64. The cylinders aren’t that hard to work on. As I recall you need to remove the rear seat and the side panels. It is likely just some bad “O” ring seals.

You should be able to unhook the cylinders but I’ve no clue how many people will be needed to raise or lower the top. It wasn’t designed for manual use so it could be a cumbersome process.

Seems to me that I read in Consumer Reports that putting up the top manually on a Mazda Miata was a one man operation, but putting the top up on a Pontiac Solstice was a two man job. These were manual tops.

I had a friend that had a 1963 Falcon convertible–I thought it was a nice little convertible. I would agree with another post that you try to fix the hydraulic system. This should make the car more enjoyable.

The parts are the same as a '65 Mustang convertible, fairly easy to find…There is a starter motor which drives a hydraulic pump, some lines, two cylinders…No big deal. Take the back seat out and there it all is…Why butcher the car?? It has more value than you realize, even as a parts car for a Mustang…

Oh, I am pretty sure it is a pretty valuable little machine. I just wondered if there was an easy way to disable the system. I can wait til I have some extra $ to fix it. I think my mechanic said it may be around 300 or so. I didn’t worry about it last year because it was still working ok then. This is a second car which is basically for fun to drive around on the weekend- so I don’t have to have it to get back and forth to work. The last time I had it at my mechanic it took a month to get it fixed- mainly waiting for parts to come in :).

I tried to post a second reply, one in which you might try to replace the lift cylinder or even the hoses. I tried to get more information on your car’s system online.
I will give you the links to what I found out at the end of this answer.

I am certain you have an entirely or mostly hydraulic system. A modern lift would just be a single pump, which would extend and retract according to an electric motor and switch. This kind of system is much easier to repair than yours, and the hydraulics would be enclosed in a single unit.
That is not the situation in your case. You have something much more like a brake system, in which a master cylinder, the fluid lines, or a pump (whatever you call it, wheel cylinder, caliper, or lift, it is a hydraulic pump) may be the reason for the leak.
In response to your question, yes, have it done for you. You need to at least not let the rest of the hydraulic fluid leak out.
But here’s the other thing. Your car is worth real money. It’s a convertible and pretty rare. It might be an eight or six cylinder, but either way Ford built very good engines in the sixties. It might be worth restoring this system if the rest of the car is in good shape.

Here are the links I found. Check them out:
(this one you need to look at to see if your car has rust damage for these parts, which would effect how well you can raise the top either way).

I did find an e-bay link that listed some Mercury cylinder parts that were currently bid at around $140 US, but I have no way of knowing if this part is your problem.
It would probably fit and replace your part if that is the problem.

The best thing about this link is another link at the top of the article that will tell you about the the system you have. Also you might want to see if you can’t fix your problem using the Mercury cylinder listed for your year. It should be the same as your part, if that is what is leaking.

You do need to have the work done for you, either way.
Hope this helps.

I’d get it fixed. Even if you unhook the hydraulics, it’d probably be a 2-person job to put it up. The Eclipse is easy because it’s newer and smaller. You also might go over all the joints and make sure they’re lubed.

As far as how you can just disconnect the lift or lifts, you need someone who can see the assembly in your case.

Thanks for the links.

At least find the pump / reservoir and refill it with some ATF and transmission stop leak which MAY swell up the seals and keep you going for a while…

Actually, you should should have a shop do it for you. The lifts are probably easy to remove but the fluid in the lines needs to be drained and contained and disposed of properly.