Replacing a Convertible Top

-Written by eHow member: BTripp

 

Here is what the top on the car looked like. 
It was a cheap vinyl top that was poorly intalled.

 

First lets go over the names of parts for the folding mechanism.  The entire folding mechanism is call the "Top Stack".  Here are some parts that make up the Top Stack:


A: Bow #1
B: Bow #2
C: Bow #3
D: Bow #4
E: Bow #5
F: Backlight Staypad
G: Quarter section headliner (front section removed)
H: Rear Rail
I: Top Retention Cable
J: Side Staypad

First you need to remove the two elastic straps that are screwed to the folding assembly.  They help retain the corners at the rear of the windows.

The only thing that holds the back of the top in place is cement.  Its glued to Bow #5.  Once you remove the elastic straps, you can peel the top off of Bow #5.

Once you peel the top off of Bow #5, remove the side rail weather strips.  They may be glued in place, they may not, just be careful!

Now remove the three screws that holds the weather strip retainer in place and you can peel the top away from the side rail area.

Now we need to remove the front of the Top.  Remove the large black trim piece (aka Garnish Molding) from around the latches and remove all the screws from the Top's edge retainer.

Under the retainer, the Top is glued to Bow #1.  Simply peel it back as well.

You will find the retention cable threaded through the sides of the top and screwed to Bow #1.  Remove this screw, one on each side.

With the top peeled back more, you can start to remove the Front Headliner.  The very front edge is glued to Bow #1, simply peel it back.  Then, there is an attachment to Bow #2, which simply clips to the bow.  Use a small screwdriver and pry down on the long plastic clip.

Once you remove the headliner from Bow #2, you will notice that the Top is attached to Bow #2.  To attach the top, there is a "pocket" sewn to the top all the way across with a metal rail inside, then the rail it screwed to the Bow.  Remove the three screws that attach the rail to the Bow,  pull the top away from the Bow and slide the rail out.

Now you can remove the remainder of the Front Headliner.  It bolts to Bow #3 with several screws.  Remove these screws and remove the front headliner from the car.

With the Front Headliner removed, pull back on the Rear Headliner and remove the three screws that holds the rail that attaches the Top to Bow #3 (just like whats used on Bow #2).  Pull the pocket out of the Bow and slide the metal rail of the of the pocket.  You should now be able to completely remove the top from the Frame.

Lay the new Top on the Frame assembly and center it.  You will now need to thread the retention cables through the pocket on the new Top.  I used a coat hanger that I straightened out and put a small hook on the end and pushed the hanger through the pocket, hooked the cable it and pulled it through.  The cable may be to flexible to simply push it through.  The cable is spring loaded, so once threaded, you'll have to stand the top up to screw the retaining bolt in.

Now you need to feed the metal rails through the pockets of the new top.  I used a sharp punch to line the holes up, then dropped the rail down in the Bow and started the screws.  You need to do this for Bow #3 and Bow #2.

Take your cement and put a layer on the Side Rail of the  folding assembly and on the Top.  Press it firmly down and smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles.  The edge of the top (next to the rear of the window) should be at the corner of the rail.

Install the Weather Strip retainer to help secure the Top in place.  Don't install the weather strip yet, in case you need to make adjustments.

You now need to cement both sides of  Bow #5 and attach the top. You will need to trim some of the "flap" off and tuck it under the weatherstrip.  Smooth out any wrinkles and bubbles.  Do not lower Bow #5 until the glue dries, because the tension on the top will pull all of this out.

This next step is something I did, to help retain the top to Bow #5.  Its something you have to be VERY careful if you want to do.  First, I made a set of screws that were very short and have no point.  I just took some short self tapping screw, and cut and filed the tips off.  I then drilled through the "flap" of the Top at the seams and through Bow #5.  You must drill VERY SLOWLY so that once you penetrate the metal, STOP or you will puncture the top.  Make sure the screw does not protrude past Bow #5 or it will puncture the Top.

Here is the screw installed.  Double check to make sure the tip of the screw does not protrude out of the other side!  I was able to trim it so that it sits flush.  This will help keep the sides from peeling away.

Now test fit the front edge of the Top.  You want it some what snug and no wrinkles.  I got it like I wanted and temporarily held in place with clothespins.

Stand the top up and glue the edge to the #1 Bow.  I left the clothespins in place until the glue dried.

Put the retainer back in place with all the screws previously removed. You will also need to glue the edge of the headliner to the bottom of the Bow as seen here.  I lined the old holes in the headliner up with the trim holes in the bow so that I knew I had it back on right.  You may want to shut the top and inspect from inside to make sure the liner is pulled tight evenly (no wrinkles between Bow #1 and #2).

Re-install the Garnish Molding that goes across the top and around the handles.

Re-install the Rail Weather Strip.  There is a "Tab" on both sides of the weather strip that must be tucked into its appropriate channel on  both sides of the retainer.  Double check the alignment and fit of all the seals and the rest of the top.

The only think left is to stand back and admire!