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Unread 06-14-2012, 09:41 AM   #1
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New Lightweight Lexan Hardtop Design

This project started last winter when I was asked by a friend why I never took the hardtop off of my jeep. I told him that it took three people to get it off and guaranteed that it would rain the next day. Now I have a hardtop, a soft top, and a Bimini top; plus hardtop and soft top doors. I realized that none of this is what I wanted. I wanted a lightweight top that would keep the rain off yet allow me to see through it as if I didn't have a top on at all.

So this is what we came up with: A lightweight, semi-transparent top that matches the factory front cap line to within a couple of thousandths. It weighs in at around 65 pounds, uses three stainless steel clamps to seal the front edge to the top of the factory windshield frame, a rear support brace attached to the factory roll bar, and two additional safety straps midway that secures the top to the roll cage.

side-view-e.jpg

The top is vacuum formed 6 mm polycarbonate that is virtually bullet proof, as will be shown in a couple of future YouTube videos we are making. This is the same material that the F-18 canopies are made from, just thinner. Our primary concern was safety. We wanted something lightweight yet able to protect the driver from falling debris. If a rock came loose and smashed into the windshield, you or your passenger could get hurt or worse. If a rock hits the top, it'll bounce right off.

The lid has gutters that start at the front and converge in the rear. Both soft and hardtop doors just clear the gutters so almost all of the rain is channeled to the back drain. In addition to protection from the rain, the tint softens the sun's rays and makes the driver and/or passengers feel much cooler. You won’t be baked by the sun.

first-trial-fitting.jpg

The pictures are of the prototype, made from acrylic for ease of molding and design of our clamping system. We used acrylic because it has similar shrinkage factors to the Lexan polycarbonate that will be used in the production mold (which is eight weeks out from the pattern maker in Ohio). The production mold is made from aluminum and has to be heated nearly 250 degrees to ease the molding of the poly, which has a very narrow temperature window that allows the material to conform to the mold.

We are at the stage where we are working on the final designs for the third generation front clamps, and aside from that, everything has been done. We are also working on the patterns for side panels of the same material that slip under the top and snap into the Jeep body at the bottom. Unsnap them and they're stored behind the back seat.

The lid fits all Jeeps from 1997 to 2006, and the Lexan has a high UV inhibitor that gives it a ten year guarantee against color change. We should have our website up and running in about two weeks.

Blair McIntire
B & L Design LLC

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Unread 06-14-2012, 09:45 PM   #2
SHAKEnBLAKE
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Wow, this sounds genius. Am I really the first one to post?

You know someone was going to ask; what's the price looking like?
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Unread 06-15-2012, 08:46 AM   #3
Arkos
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Where are the pictures??? Very interested in this product for the same reasons, I just haven't gotten to the point where I have a bunch of stuff I don't like (yet).
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Unread 06-20-2012, 10:42 AM   #4
craigbru
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I can't believe there aren't more responses in here. I'm curious to see how this turns out as well.
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Unread 06-20-2012, 05:09 PM   #5
Scarfist
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I have been wanting something like this for a while.
I'm tired of the bikini top flapping around.
It looks a little long in the pictures but is still awesome.

I will beta test if you need someone.

Last edited by Scarfist; 06-24-2012 at 06:39 PM..
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Unread 06-25-2012, 08:21 AM   #6
tiotaco
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Don't know if previous query was acknowledged. I would like to hear more about possible fit for 2012 JK. It is a brilliant idea and appears to be flawlessly executed.
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Unread 06-29-2012, 08:05 AM   #7
Mako1114
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I dig it. Any plans for an LJ model?

Cheers
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Unread 06-30-2012, 11:52 PM   #8
turtle05LJ
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x2 on the LJ model!!
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Unread 07-01-2012, 07:12 AM   #9
LostJeeper
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I kinda like it but if produced id kinda like a shorter verison like a binkni top??
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Unread 07-02-2012, 11:35 AM   #10
meeko02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LostJeeper View Post
I kinda like it but if produced id kinda like a shorter verison like a binkni top??
I would buy it in a second if it just covered the front section. I have been looking for something like this for awhile, was about to build my own.
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Unread 07-03-2012, 12:37 AM   #11
04WJny
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Sick idea! cant wait for more pics
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Unread 07-07-2012, 01:56 PM   #12
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I'll take one for a CJ7. I'm not sure how I'll react to apart that actually fits, and is made in The USA. Most of us old clowns have to settle for non fitting parts made in china, or if your lucky Indonesia.
As far as it being too long, can it be cut to fit?
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Unread 07-07-2012, 10:15 PM   #13
fakrwee
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Subscribed and interested.
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Unread 07-08-2012, 11:11 AM   #14
DanZ51
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This is a Tech article how? Should be in vendor display maybe. Who mods this forum?
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Unread 07-09-2012, 10:20 AM   #15
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keep the pics coming!
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