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Carbon Fiber hard tops info (group buy?)

Natescashmoney

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Hey everybody! This is my first thread here, and I have done quite a bit of searching through the archives and haven't found much definitive info about this.

I partnered up with a local (Seattle) composites fabricator, and have preliminary numbers for what it would take to make this happen.
Large upfront cost associated with making the mold, and then the cost of each unit.

The finished product would NOT have a dome light, or clothes hanger hooks. It WILL have proper construction for the factory side glass to set in, and rear glass channel so that would all work.

The donor top would come from my '77. I'm not sure what tops work with what other model years.

Finished product would be one piece, with subtle structural ribs along the inside, smooth clear coated finish, with no visible body lines like we see now. This is a resin impregnated vaccuum process. They had some amazing pieces in their plant when we went through. Estimated weight savings would be over 60%!!!

$$ details (not cheap!, but should be worth it)

Mold - $8500
One time charge to create, then we'd own it. They would smooth out my textured top, and make the mold from a "perfect" negative.

1st Top - $3800
This includes all the trial and error in perfecting the process for this piece.

All tops after 1st - $2850 (est)

If I did it alone it would cost $12,300
Me + 1 = $7575 each
Me + 2 = $6000 each (I'm in, here)
Me + 3 = $5212.50 each
Me + 4 = $4740 each (my sweet spot)

THE BEST PART IS, these will be totally customizable to your unique truck if you want. I've included a link below to view all the available "outer skin" layers of carbon fiber they can use. (cost will change minimally if you pick a real expensive one) You can of course just leave it normal carbon fiber weave, or request a tinted clear coat for a subtle shimmer of another color.

Here is the link to the website with all the weave options:



I know these are crazy expensive, more than most of us spent on our trucks, but I think this is a great resto-mod piece. Or even just a more manageable piece to move on our own. I'm not in some crazy hurry here, but I'm ready to pull the trigger whenever we get enough vested parties.

Thanks
 
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Tnsejed

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That's a badass idea. I'm not in as my truck no longer has a bed but I would have been when I first built my truck. It would be an awesome alternative to a soft topper.

I can offer my '89 top with sliding windows if you need another top for dimensional verification. Its free, you just got to get it from here.
 

Natescashmoney

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Thanks! Do you know of the sliding side glass has different dimensions than the non sliding? Are the tops the same from 77 & 89?
 

nvrenuf

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Thanks! Do you know of the sliding side glass has different dimensions than the non sliding? Are the tops the same from 77 & 89?

Something to consider is 90-91 tops have a reinforced pad with threaded holes above the windows to accept an overhead retractor for shoulder type seatbelts. This probably isn't a deal breaker for someone wanting this type of top however these belts are likely there because of year related DOT requirements.
 

rampage

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Personally, I don’t think anyone is going to spend $5k on a hard top just to save a little weight. I see original tops on CL often for a couple hundred or even free. Not that I don’t like the idea, just think that’s a hard sell for the price, and you’re not even including shipping which would add a significant amount.
 

nvrenuf

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Personally, I don’t think anyone is going to spend $5k on a hard top just to save a little weight. I see original tops on CL often for a couple hundred or even free. Not that I don’t like the idea, just think that’s a hard sell for the price, and you’re not even including shipping which would add a significant amount.

I have to agree. I couldn't sell my 91 top (very good condition w/ seatbelt mounts and sliders) for any amount, I gave it away to keep from having to haul it off.
 

Natescashmoney

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Yeah, this is very obviously not a piece of interest for everybody, but there are certainly people/builders out there that dump 10's of thousands into modified rigs. I'm not trying to find 50 people to do it. Just a few more.

Plus there are benefits above weight savings. Like aesthetics, and having a unique conversation piece.

If it's not for you, no problem, there's a ton of internet out there for everybody :-) If you ever come across anybody that it may be for, keep me in mind!
 

muddybuddy

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Yeah, this is very obviously not a piece of interest for everybody, but there are certainly people/builders out there that dump 10's of thousands into modified rigs. I'm not trying to find 50 people to do it. Just a few more.

Plus there are benefits above weight savings. Like aesthetics, and having a unique conversation piece.

If it's not for you, no problem, there's a ton of internet out there for everybody :-) If you ever come across anybody that it may be for, keep me in mind!

If you could get 50 ppl to do it, it would be down to an amount that would appeal to the masses. I agree, sweet idea, but removing and re-installing the top will still be a 2 person job (unless using a pulley system, in which case you wouldnt really care about weight savings).

That being said, i hope you are able to get a group together for the purchase, I’m sure they will be super sweet!
 

Natescashmoney

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You'd feel a pretty big difference in handling with less weight way up top. I can almost get my factory top on/off by myself, and I could easily do one with less than half weight. Sit in the back, push it up, walk it off.
 

Natescashmoney

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I'd love to see the price point come down, and I'm totally open to other manufacturers if they can create a good product at a better price.

I may open up lines of communication between a few less local places to see what we can come up with.
 
T

tenderfoot

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A couple guys here have modified their tops and mounted a hatch door in back to replace the roll up window. Talkin about saving weight. Getting that glass/K5 tailgate off and replaced with a truck tailgate. Or even if you kept the K5 tailgate the topper style hatch setup is way more convenient. May look in to that as well.
 

wasted wages

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If you could get 50 ppl to do it, it would be down to an amount that would appeal to the masses.

At some point, no matter how many people are in, you would still reach a break point where materials and labor would still have
to be covered....unless nobody expects to make a profit.

And last time I checked, they didn't give carbon fiber and resin away...
 

wasted wages

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My buddies and I used to run R/C boats..
we spent tons of time designing and building fiberglass molds testing and tuning the hull until we got it to perform under racing conditions...we threw away many many designs and molds...

We learned a lot about how to lay up the boats, and every mold we threw out represented hundreds of hours of time.

The mold will need to be flawless as any flaw will show up in the finished product..
are you planning to hand lay the material before you bag it or is it going to be sprayed with a chopper gun?
 

Natescashmoney

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I'm certainly not going to do any of it! Nobody wants that lol. The company I met with about the project hand lays everything, and they had some very nice looking finished product around the shop. Including the entire side of a '69 Challenger!
 

kennyw

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I have lots of questions but I'm too tired to put all of my thoughts together at the moment. But I'm a mechanical engineer with some experience in carbon fiber molds and carbon fiber part design. Including carbon fiber monocoque race car chassis the size of a bathtub.

I would be worried about using an old top to generate a quality negative mold directly. If I were doing it, I would 3D scan and measure as many tops and mating bed sides as possible, model the ideal surface (reverse engineer the build tolerance out of the data), then cut a mold from nominal model data. This ensures the best quality.

What material is the mold going to made out of? How many trips through an autoclave do they expect it to survive and are you prepared for the extra cost if it doesn't produce the number of tops you expect or do they guaranty the minimum quantity you order?

I'm sure I'll think of more questions when I'm more awake.
 
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tenderfoot

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When I worked at Shelby auto I started out in their fiberglass shop. The molds would last forever given that the ones who made and maintained them know what they're doing.
I would think that the molds would have to be absolutely perfect since the product is carbon fiber though.
 
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