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Soft Top Refurbishment

Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:37 pm
by Lriwater
Hello,
I thought I would detail my latest project while I wait for work that pays $$, dang pandemic.... I am no professional restorer, but I am pretty handy with tools.

I wanted to get my soft top refurbished as all of the vinyl windows were discolored and cracking. Also, the seam at the top rear of the top had come undone because I hit the top of the garage door while it was open (see before pic). I modified the garage door to fix that problem, but the damage was done to the seam. I took the top to several marine canvas shops, but they all wanted to remove the leather pieces, rivets, etc. to fit in their sewing machines. I didn't want to do this, because I wanted to keep it as original as possible, and I didn't have faith in them that they wouldn't ruin the top by mishandling it. It's the original top. I have posted before and after pics

So, I found the following online:
For the seams:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079R ... UTF8&psc=1

I did this first, because I needed access through the rear window. Once I got into a rythm, it went pretty fast. I did both rows of the seam in about an hour. I used the existing holes where the old thread was. The new stuff is wax thread. So, it kinda cinches in as you go. One thing that I figured out is that you don't want too much slack on the awl side. Keep it to 0.75" instead of the 1.5" they say in the instructions. I had the top on some saw horses so that you can access both sides while sewing. I only stabbed myself 3 times!

and for the windows:
https://www.fabricempire.com/30-gauge-c ... -yard.aspx
It is half the price (including shipping) at this site versus the same company on Amazon. This is the same thickness as what was there before. I got two continuous yards

I used 3M VHB to secure the new vinyl:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085Y ... UTF8&psc=1

I removed all of the vinyl windows from the top first and cleaned the edges of the window openings with rubbing alcohol. I then applied the VHB tape. This is sticky stuff! If you accidentally touch the new window to the exposed tape, you are done. Can't get it off... After one successful window and two f-ups (I am slow to learn sometimes...), I figured out that it is better to cut the clear vinyl way too big then gently trim the excess afterwards with a razor blade (without cutting the top). I worked out in the sun so that the soft top is nice and pliable.

I think it came out pretty well, and was a lot cheaper than a new top! I will report back with how it holds up on the highway, in the heat and cold, etc. I almost always have the sides and back rolled up.
Cheers,
Chuck

Re: Soft Top Refurbishment

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 2:01 am
by Joeri
I wonder if you had all the Windows out why you didnt paint the softtop :roll:

Re: Soft Top Refurbishment

Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 10:53 am
by Lriwater
I like the look of it the way it is.

Re: Soft Top Refurbishment

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:09 am
by pinzgauer4x4
I need to do the same, but been dragging my feet to get it done. I appreciate your instruction and details that you provided. In retrospect, any thoughts on trying to do it while the top is still mounted on truck? What is the VHB tape for? Is it to hold the plastic in the channel while you sew? Thanks.

Re: Soft Top Refurbishment

Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2020 11:02 am
by Lriwater
pinzgauer4x4 wrote:
Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:09 am
I need to do the same, but been dragging my feet to get it done. I appreciate your instruction and details that you provided. In retrospect, any thoughts on trying to do it while the top is still mounted on truck? What is the VHB tape for? Is it to hold the plastic in the channel while you sew? Thanks.
I didn't sew the windows, just the seam at the top of the soft top. The VHB is the only thing holding the windows in, but it is extremely sticky. I will report back after some time on the road. VHB is used to attach spoilers, truck bed rail caps, etc. So, I am pretty sure the windows will hang in there.

Regarding keeping the top on. It would probably work for the window part but would be difficult if you are going to sew anything, because you need to push and pull at a specific angle. I am sure it is not impossible, just would be awkward to position yourself correctly.

Cheers,
Chuck