Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Truck Tonneau Cover, Mother / Son Project

Today I finished this tonneau cover that my mother and I worked on for two days. The old one is in the photo below. It's so shrunken and tight that only one of the three support bows can be installed.

Here you can see how weathered it is. It was really tough to snap it down in cold weather.

Here are some of the items that I used:

It looks like it should be an easy project, but there's more to it than meets the eye. First, the front of the tonneau is 2 inches wider than the rear and then we had to compensate for the support bows. We also had to piece it together from two pieces of vinyl. I could have ordered one wide piece, but it would have cost nearly as much as a new tonneau.

I bought 4 yards of marine vinyl from Joanne Fabrics and used Coats & Clark UV resistant polyester thread with a Singer denim needle. If you try this yourself with the same thread, do NOT use the leather needles 110/18 as they chew the thread up. In order to sew the two pieces together on the ol' Viking machine, we had to roll one side up so it would fit in the throat of the machine (not shown.) It took the both of us to feed it in without it binding.

We decided not to use welting on the edge like the original. Instead, we hid 1" wide nylon strapping for a cleaner look and added strength.

Below, the old tonneau looks almost gray compared to the new vinyl.

Test fit without snaps. Got it right the first time!

The support bows adjusted to 3 inches higher than the rails in the center.

First, all 4 corner snaps were installed, one on each side of the corner.

Next, the center most snaps on each side were installed. I continued to install snaps in the middle of snaps already installed to keep from pulling too tight to one side.

Marking the snap centers.

I destroyed the hole punch. It was only able to punch 7 holes through the nylon strap before it was too dull. I continued to use the punch to mark the snap holes.

I finished going through the tonneau with an awl and then installing the snaps.

I used nickel plated brass snaps that I had left over from my Amish buggy business.

I used adapters for my Vice Grips to crimp the snaps.



craftydiane said...

Very good job! I have watched my dad make lots of these! He had an upholstery shop for years before he retired. And everyone came for him to make them tonneau covers.

gregandtruck said...

Great job! That cover looks like those brands that you can see in the market like the Access tonneau. May I know what's the purpose of making the support bows higher than the rails?

Dave said...

Thank you! A few reasons for the high rails. I wanted to achieve the look from the 1930s when tarps were much more bowed on top. I also wanted to leave room for shrinkage and it gives me a few extra inches for cargo without removing the tonneau.