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Brainstorming a soft-top

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by DwarF, Feb 11, 2004.

  1. DwarF

    DwarF 1/2 ton status

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    Ok, so I have been looking at soft-tops for years now. I either can't afford them or hate the way they are made. So, I figured that it will be like engines and axles, it looks like something I would rather pay someone else for, but it's probably pretty easy and cheap if I just roll up my sleeves. So, here goes, I wanted to brainstorm some ideas with ya'll.

    Requirements:
    1) Must be quiet.
    2) reduce body weight.
    3) Must be durable.
    4) NO Drilling the body, unless it can double for rollcage, in which case I am only drilling the floor.
    5) I want to be able to run it like an umbrella top, where the sides and/or back come off easily.


    So, here's my plan.

    The Frame:
    First, I want to take the fiberglass hard top (I have an extra), and cut the front off, about an inch back. This will serve as the mounting surface for the front of the canvas, where I will braid in some holes for the standard mounting bolts to go through, it will wrap from the outside in, so you have a solid mount to the cab.

    Second, take some angle iron, 1/8 x 4 x 1. Drill it where the bed rails have holes for the standard top. Put button fasteners along the 1 inch angle to fasten to sides of the top down to. Drill some more oblong holes in the 4" angle to reduce weight here, it's not necessary to be solid.

    Third, I figure this would just be an arching bar from driver to passenger side, probably welded to the angle iron of the previous step. I'd probably angle it in some.

    Fourth, put another middle arching bar so it doesn't slump in the middle, also welded to the angle iron. add some cross bars, smaller guage, running from front to rear on each side to add rigidity.

    Fifth, ditch the 300 pound tailgate in favor of a regular truck tailgate. These mount up with very minor bracket relocation, I have already checked. Put some fasteners on the top for canvas.

    Soft Top:
    First, get some good quality marine canvas (http://www.glfi.com/marinecatalog_sunbrella60page.htm) That's not a plug for them, just someone that looked good from my google. Spend as much or as little as you want here.

    Second, windows: I would probably buy some plexiglass to help add some regidity. Spend as much as you want here, I'm doing tinted.

    Third, use inside zippers, ala JEEP style.

    Fitting:
    Measure everything about an inch short.
    Sew it up.
    Wet it thoroughly
    stetch the piss out of it and mount.

    Total Cost:
    metal: 40 bucks
    canvas: as low as 100 bucks
    windows: as low as 25 bucks

    What do you think?
     
  2. djsblaze

    djsblaze 1/2 ton status

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    You may have a problem getting "sunbrella" to stretch very much. That stuff is wound pretty tight. If you do it, and it comes out really clean, I'll pay you $165 bucks to do mine, no problem. Good luck with it.
     
  3. jekbrown

    jekbrown I am CK5 Premium Member GMOTM Winner Author

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    make a proto, test it, have someone mass produce it, and sell it to all of us. /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

    j
     
  4. Stickseler

    Stickseler 3/4 ton status

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    I remember seeing one a few years back that used an old hard top. It was cut along the window lines up around the top and straight around the back at the bottom of the side window. Then It had holes punched in it and snaps put on it. I think they had the top part done at a boat shop.
     
  5. mud390

    mud390 1/2 ton status

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    I think it sounds like you have a plan! I would love to see the finished product mounted on the truck. I would definitely be interested in something like that!!!

    Kris
     
  6. sled_dog

    sled_dog 1 ton status

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    I think that at least some soft tops just mount to the fiberglass tops holes. I know the Skyler top that makes a K5 like a truck does. More money than your homegrown one though.
     
  7. DwarF

    DwarF 1/2 ton status

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    Ya, that sounds pretty close to what I want to do, with regards to keeping a portion of the fiberglass for nifty fitting. I am thinking about keeping a central line about 8 inches thick down the center from front to back as well, though this might be "fragile".

    Basically, make a skeleton out of the fiberglass, add some metal to the skeleton for form (where it would otherwise sag, and put a tarp over it. Do this instead of trying to make my roll cage do double duty as a skeleton for the soft-top and be a rollcage, I always think those look silly.
     
  8. Stickseler

    Stickseler 3/4 ton status

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    Just use EMT conduit for the frame...thats what came on my top.
     

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