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post #1 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 07:00 AM Thread Starter
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first time installation of a hard top

Hi all! First time poster, first time jeep owner.

I recently purchased a third hand 94 Wrangler S. It seems to have all stock parts except for the Besttop Replace a top.

Two months later, vandals cut open the drivers side window. This served two fucntions, first-freak my wife out, second-her giving me the go ahead to start shopping for harder parts for the winter.

I bought a two year old Steel Horse hard top from another Jeep Guy, and will be receiving it in two weeks. The top is in good shape structurally, but comes with no insatllation instructions. Also, I don't beleive my vehicle ever had a hard top before, and would like to know what I'm going to have to do.

I checked out the steel horse websites looking for install instructions, because I was able to do the same for the Tuffy security console I installed. But none were to be found. I was wondering if anyone had instructions or suggestions I should take into consideration before I resort to duct tape.

Questions:
A) What tools will I need?
B) how long does it usually take?

I'd apprectiate any suggestions or hints.

Thanks to all, hope this isnt too long,

Mike

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post #2 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 07:08 AM
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Re: first time installation of a hard top

Well let me say, welcome to the board. There is so much to learn here, you won't be disapointed.
Now for installing the hard top. No worries... it is easy. They really only will fit one way. There are rows of bolts that run along the edg of the rail. If you are lucky the holes in your rear rails will match up, then it is just a matter of getting some bolts and some washers, and bolting in. If the holes don't match up... NO PROB. Dry fit the hard top, mark the holes with a marker, take off the top, drill the new holes. NOTE: if you need to drill, make sure that you don't drill through the wires running down the drivers side.
Once you have the back attached, the front is usally pretty easy. Just a few metal screws through the tabs on the hard top and into the windsheild frame. And If I were you I would run a sealant along the outside between the windshield frame and the top, that will keep wind, and noise down.
GOOD LUCK.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 07:20 AM
 
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Re: first time installation of a hard top

It's easy. The first thing you'll have to do is remove the windshield channel that your soft top slips into. You'll then have to remove the mounting brackets and all associated soft top hardware from the bed rails. The hard top is awkward, but not overly heavy - maybe 100lbs or so. Get a friend to help you set it in place on the Jeep, making sure that the front edge is seated on the windshield properly. Mark the holes in the hardtop onto the bedrails, and also the holes for self tapping screws that secure the front edge to the w/s frame. Remove the top, drill the proper sized holes (if need be) in the bed rail, usually 3/8" - double check first. Drill the holes for the self tappers in the w/s frame (depends on what size you use). Now, check the weatherstripping on the mounting areas of the top. If it's really worn or non-existant, replace with weatherstripping meant for camper shells. You should be able to find it at hardware stores or RV shops. Put the top back on, make sure it's seated properly, then bolt it down using the proper sized hardware. If you don't have the nuts for the top (they're rectangular), you can buy them at hardware stores, or I like to use Nyloc nuts to prevent the top from vibrating loose. If the top is fiberglass, make sure you don't overtighten the hardware or you'll crack it. Use washers between the top and the bolts.


HTH.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 08:07 AM Thread Starter
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Re: first time installation of a hard top

Thanks guys for the replys! I'll take a look around the hardware store and pick up a few things just in case.

Mick

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post #5 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 08:56 AM
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Re: first time installation of a hard top

Welcome to the forum and thanks for filling out your profile. Now on to the problem at hand. Me, I'm not a big fan of using lag bolts in the rear tub lip. They tear out over time and you've got to use bigger and bigger bolts. Using bolts and nuts can be time consuming when installing and removing the hardtop. Me I like it easy and I like the ease brought to me inexpensivly. You may be interested in a Hardtop FIxture that will be permanant.

For the front attachement to the windshield frame I'd recommend Kwick Top Release Kit . The part's a little pricey but it works great, and will eliminate a lot of cussin' and enlarging of holes by pesky bolts.

May I also suggest that because this is the first time you've had a hardtop on the tub the tub/frame relationship may be tweeked. You've make sure the windshield affixed to the Tub is dead-straight on in relation to the tub. It' GOT to be square, there's not bones about it or the hardtop won't sit square.

You've got two points to be concerned with:

1. Squarness of the Windshield Frame to the tub.
2. Squarness of the Hard Top mounts to the tub.

If these two things are true... then the doors hinges and the tub hinges should have enough slack in mounting holes to align correctly. If these points are not true then the doors will NOT fit without a lot of slamming, cussihn' and door destruction.

I can assure you that then about the only point that you may have problems with is the top door frame to windhield seal and that's easily cured with some sticky backed foam insulation.

What I did was the following to mount the Hard top and the windshield frame.

1. Roll into the garage.
2. Mount the Hard Top the Tub.
3. Using a Plumb drop the line to the garage floor from the tip of the Hard Top, driver side.
4. Mark the floor with masking tape and precice marking pen.
5. Do the same on the Passengers side.
6. Pick a point on the rear of the tub and the rear of the Hard Top to drop a plumb bob from.
7. Mark the floor as in step 4, for both passenger and driver sides.
8. Drop a plumb from the firewall/fender seam to the floor, and mark it.

Now you have a pretty good understanding if the Jeep's "square" by measuring from the firewall mark back to the rear tub mark ( I used the seam on the rear corner to rear quarter panel). If the tub's square, then it's a good base to lay the Hard Top upon.

Now measure the points from the front of the tub to the windshield. Are both the driver's and passenger's equal distance from the firewall? They should be.

Now measure from the firewall mark back to the rear of the Hard Top Mark. These measurements also should be the same.

Once any inequities are corrected then, and only then do you hang the doors.

I'd not suggest moving the Jeep a bit while these meausrements and corrections are being made. It can become a lenghty and prolonged correction process but is greatly shortend because you now have some starting points and metrics. I really prefere using the fire wall as a starting point. You've got to assume a starting point, and that's about the best place I could think of to start.

If you're really anal about this, when you're fished you could drive the Jeep out, and measure width between marks and the length between the marks and then get out your slide rule and have great fun checking for squarness. Though that's not for me, some people love that kind of stuff.

One other point, buy some 3/4"X1/4 one sided sticky back foam insualtion at your local hardware store. Install it on the lip of the tub (or underside of the hardtop lip... your choice). This cushions the hardtop and seals out drafts while preventing maring of the lip.

Oh yeah, look into a hard top hoist... easily made and installed in any garage.

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post #6 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 09:24 AM
 
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Re: first time installation of a hard top

Sounds like everybody hit on the major things. I would just add that the initial install is the hardest part. Once it's lined up you should be able to pull it on and off easily. LEVE's points on measuring and squareness are important, but most find a bit excessive. I found it easier to just "eyeball" it into place, keeping a close watch on the alignment. You may need to loosen up the windshield frame to tweak it a bit.

And when they say to use a sealant, don't use caulking unless you never plan to remove your hard top! Go for the camper gasket, it's cheap and won't glue your top down.

Oh yeh, what about doors? Some aftermarket soft doors don't have the same shape/size opening. If you have factory hard doors you shouldn't have any trouble, but may have to loosen up the hinges and adjust them to get a good seal.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 10:31 AM Thread Starter
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Re: first time installation of a hard top


>Oh yeh, what about doors? Some aftermarket soft doors >don't have the same shape/size opening. If you have >factory hard doors you shouldn't have any trouble, but may >have to loosen up the hinges and adjust them to get a good >seal.

When I was originally shopping around for a hard top, due to my budget constraints (all Jeep stuff now comes out of my allowance) Jim of www.2001jeepparts.com suggested that I put on a CJ7 top, and just be careful about opening the tailgate. Then I would have to pick up some full steel doors later when I could.

Then I saw this top for sale on ebay. (http://www.thinkjeep.com/manufacture...orse/hardtops/ Taraga top halfway down the page. The half doors were included.) Jim said the hard half doors were not highly rated, but it should solve my short term problem. Then I can start saving for full doors.

This is all great info, keep it comin'!

Mick
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 10:38 AM
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Re: first time installation of a hard top

My Jeep had the hardtop on it when I bought it. Later I swapped to a fiberglass tub and had to refit the top. I put the hardtop on and was going to mark and drill all of the holes. Well, I'd decided I'd done enough for the day and didn't want to pull the top back off and put it back on again. I didn't want to loose the use of my Jeep and I didn't want to drive it around with the top just setting on there so I grabbed some 1" C clamps and clamped the top to the tub using 4 clamps on each side. I procrastinated over the next few days over drilling the holes. I also loosened the clamps a few times and moved the top around until I got near perfect alignment.

Well, that was eight years ago and I haven't drilled those holes yet. I didn't use the hardtop every year, but had it on about four times over the eight years. Right now I've got a halftop on, maybe next time I put the full hardtop on, I'll mark and drill those holes, maybe not.

So if you don't want to do the on-off-on thing and want to take time to make sure you've got the alignment right, just clamp it the first year and mark the holes before you take it off and drill the holes come Spring.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 11:33 AM
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Re: first time installation of a hard top

So Taz, why haven't ya lost those clamps and done this? It's too darned easy and cheap to ignore.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 11-06-2002, 01:29 PM
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Re: first time installation of a hard top

Na, I did this instead (rollbar not shown for clarity but it's in now).



If I ever put the full top back on and if I remember to mark the holes, being that it's a fiberglass tub, I'll 'glass in some T-nuts.
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