When you have installed your front tacking strip and rear bow tack strip you then need to properly align the bows from each other. In order to install the pads correctly and to have the actual top meet the middle two bows, each of the bows needs to be the correct distance away from the front bow.
This is not an easy thing to do and we have heard many recommendations on using a wooden jig. Since we do not have access to much in the way of tools, because we are doing this in a parking lot, with no saws we set up a series of clamps, ropes and bungee cords to hold everything in place.
The reason this step is so important is that the rear bow needs to come up to the proper height to connect to the rear curtain (back window). If you make a mistake on this step you might have to do it again and remove the pads, rear curtain...so on.
No. 1 bow to No. 2 bow: 16 1/2 inches
No. 2 bow to No. 3 bow: 16 3/4 inches
No. 3 bow to No. 4 bow: 15 1/2 inches
No. 4 bow to stainless molding: 20 1/2 inches
No. 4 bow to drain trough: 22 1/2 inches
These measurements are from the trailing edge of the #1 bow to the leading edge of #2 bow, and so on for the other bows.
Take your time when working on this step since you do not want to go back and do it again.
We got some needed advice and the bow distance measurements from: