How to Replace a Convertible Top

Convertibles that need new covers have three options:

 (1) Pay a shop up to $1,500 for the installation of a cover;

 (2) Try to create a new cover from an old pattern and pray;

(3) Buy a ready-cut kit to install the cover yourself.

Kits make installing a convertible top a breeze for the vast majority of people. You can do this task by using high-quality kits, asking questions, and reading well-written instructions. There are a lot of do-it-yourselfers out there who have had great success with it.

Magazine ads, mail-order catalogs, and the Internet all feature top kits. Get a top that matches your car’s year and model. Pick a color that you like most. Choose between a single, a double, or a triple-textured fabric for your clothing. For do-it-yourselfers, the ideal option is a double-texture finish. Thin enough to work with, but strong enough to last a long time. Also, if the old top has the “starved-cow” look, fresh pads are recommended. Pads keep the frame in place while shielding the top from damage caused by wind and the ups and downs of use.

Many kits do not include a new curtain window or backlight. Make sure you don’t need them. Taking strip, hardware and wire are all possible replacements. An upholstery stapler, stainless steel staples, glue, razor blades and a yardstick are all you’ll need to get started.

Remove the moldings from the rear of the body well to get the process started. Remove the fasteners and then the deck lid cover. Mark where screws and moldings from the old top meet the new one with a piece of paper.

Remove the front roll strip by lifting the top. Remove all of the screws and staples. Save all of the screws and hardware you can. Remove the rubber weather stripping from the side rails, the glued-on quarter window flaps, and one end of each cable from the vehicle’s body. Remove the screws and bars that hold the top to the middle bows.

Attach the top to the windshield with the help of the windshield’s header. Remove the rear bow’s wire-on To avoid irritating your new top, remove all of the staples from your old one. Pull back the well cover to access the fasteners below. Removing the bolts on some automobiles causes a removable metal tacking rail to come loose. Cardboard or plastic tacking strips attached to the body well’s exterior edge are used by some other vehicles.

Remove the old top by loosening all of the tacks, no matter how they are attached. The bottom rear edge of the top must be free of all staples holding it to the tacking strip. It is necessary to “piece in” fresh portions if the tacking strip is damaged.

You can use a yardstick to measure the height of your bow while installing new pads without spacers. The center of the rear bow should be at the center of the tacking strip when using a yardstick to measure the window. The top maker should be able to verify the measurements. Staple the first of your new pads to the roof rafters. As you put in the second pad, it will keep the frame straight.

Get rid of the rear curtain. Identify the center point of the bow’s aft section. A notch will be cut into the new curtain to match your mark. Staple the curtain to the bow in the middle, then pull the creases out as you get closer to the edges of the bow and the curtain itself. Prop the top up by unlatching the latch. Utilize a tacking rail or other window-specific retainer to secure the curtain and window bottoms to the tacking strip. Close and latch the front door, then make adjustments.

Lay the new top down on a clean floor underneath the old one before installing it. Identify the location of the new top’s bolt holes and tacking strips by marking them on the old one. Using the old top as a reference, place the new one over it. If there are discrepancies, use a reference that is half the distance between the two markings.

Adjust the top to fit over the structure. The No. 2 and No. 3 roof bows can be secured to the top of the roof with listings. Attach all the cables to the windshield header by raising the top. Working from the center out, place the top valance over the No. 4 bow and staple it in place. Remove excess fat and wrinkles. The quarter flaps are secured in place using screws and contact cement. Using screws and trim glue, reinstall weather stripping along the side rails.

Pull the fabric over the No. 1 bow by latching the top to the windshield. Mark its location with a pencil. As you raise the brim, you should be able to see a quarter-inch of cloth beyond the reference mark. Screws, staples, and glue can be used to attach it to the bow. Check the top for good appearance and operation at each step. The front roll that overlaps the header of the windshield should then be installed.

Assemble the new fabric and attach it to the tacking strip using staples. Begin at the front and work your way back to the back of the tacking strip. A few staples are all that’s needed to get around the curved areas of the design. Work on smoothing out any wrinkles. Avoid overstretching yourself. Maintain a flat surface on the top.

Make sure the wire-on is attached to the No. 4 bow by placing it over the staples keeping it in place. The wire-on should have end caps installed. Waterproof your home with silicone sealant. Line up the holes in the tacking strip with those in the bottom margins of the top and backlight where the belt molding studs will be drilled into. Fasteners should be attached to the studs that protrude from the body well. Then reinsert the bolts that keep the well cover in place. Allow the top to harden for a few days before taking it down.

How to Replace a Convertible Top