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Unread 03-20-2014, 08:33 AM   #1
wsmutch
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Soft top in winter

My 86 CJ-7 came with a hard top, and hard doors. I am shopping for a soft top as the hard top is to difficult to take off and put back on. My first thought was to get a Best Top full top with hardware and use my hard doors. Now I'm thinking of getting the same top with doors. My hard doors are heavy and I don't think I want to haul them around when off as they are bulky. Also, the soft doors are much less expensive if I get them with the top rather then buying the separate later. My problem is the Bestop top with doors is $200.00 over my budget. My other issue is that I'm concerned that all the hardware to install the Bestop will need to be removed every fall when I want to reinstall the hard top. Finnally, I could make enough money from the sale of the top and doors to cover the extra expense of the top and soft doors. Another issue is that I live in the UP of Michigan and although it is not my daily driver, I do somtimes drive the jeep in winter. I see a lot of YJs running around with soft tops. Is the hard top that much better?

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Unread 03-20-2014, 08:48 AM   #2
rsg1963
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So I had the same situation 12 years ago when I bought this current Jeep. It came with a hard top and doors. I knew I did not want the hard top, so selling it was an easy choice. But I kept the hard doors and purchased the full Bestop top with the soft doors. So now I have several options: 1) No top with the Bestop half doors 2) Bikini top with Half doors 3) Soft top with half doors or full doors 4) softtop with steel doors.
After many years of having these options, I find that I use the full softop with the steel doors for about 2-3 months in the winter, then the doors are swapped for the softdoors with their easily removeable top half during the transition months. Come summer, I remove the softop completely as well as the door tops.
If you decide to keep the hard top, the hardware for the softop is VERY easy to remove. 4 bolts and the front windshield channel, that's it. Your Winters are much different than ours in Cali, so you have to decide. But with the hard doors and the softop, it's only really cold until the heater kicks in!
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Unread 03-20-2014, 09:02 AM   #3
Matt1981CJ7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsmutch View Post
Is the hard top that much better?
Yes, by a loooong shot, IMO.

Matt
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Unread 03-20-2014, 09:06 AM   #4
whiskeywiz
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In my area, Craigslist is littered with hardtops for sale. I sold a spare I had off a CJ7 for $150 only because demand was low and supply was high. You could check Craigslist in your area for "Jeep hardtop" and see what your market is like to see if it is even sellable. The one I sold sat for 2 years before it wound up being bought for a plow truck.

The way I go is hardtop and doors come off in the spring and go behind the garage and bikini top goes on. In the fall the hardtop goes on with the doors. It is not my DD so if the weather is bad when the hardtop is off, it stays in the driveway. The hardtop is a little cumbersome but only having to deal with it 2x a year ain't bad. The wife pitches in a hand when its time to put it on or take it off.

My father's CJ had a soft top that we rode in in the winter. No way would I give up a hardtop to run a softop. Especially in the winter. It was cold and loud and visibility was terrible out those plastic windows. If you have circumstances that you have to get rid of the hardtop then it is what it is. If not keep it. Besides functionality, it looks better too.
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Unread 03-20-2014, 09:21 AM   #5
DanStew
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I have to say i was impressed how warm it was in my wrangler with the soft top. This winter my F150 was down for about a month and i had to DD my Jeep. Given i live in the south and it is not as cold as Michigan, I was driving in temps between 20-50 degrees on various days. The jeep seemed warmer especially before the heater was able to kick in. Not sure if it is because the F150 had a metal roof and it was cold because of that and the soft top heated up more or didnt have the cold surface like metal. My only issue was the vinyl seats got cold that first time you sit down. And i did not have carpet in the jeep to help insulate either.
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Unread 03-20-2014, 09:31 AM   #6
Matt1981CJ7
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One of these makes removing and installing your hardtop a 20 minute job for one guy.

Just FYI
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Unread 03-20-2014, 09:43 AM   #7
whiskeywiz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanStew View Post
I was driving in temps between 20-50 degrees on various days.
I WISH! 20+ is MILD up here, bro. C'mon up and try that ragtop when it's 0 with a -12 wind chill and whiteout conditions. Lol.

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Unread 03-20-2014, 09:49 AM   #8
Spieg8
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The worst part about a soft top in winter is drafts/air leaks. Hard doors eliminate most of that problem (soft doors tend to flap in the wind and let in lots of outside air). A heater blower motor upgrade can go a long way to keeping you warm also.

My jeep has metal half doors (from a YJ which I leave on all year round... just remove the upper doors in warmer months), and half cab soft top (its a very old Kayline snap down top). I don't use the Jeep as a daily driver and it doesn't get much use in the winter. This winter I decided to see how it would be with the new blower motor I had installed, so I took it for a long trip (5 hours driving total) out of town on a particularly cold day (-8 degrees... about as cold as it ever gets in Denver). Driving at 70-80 mph I was surprisingly comfortable without a jacket on. If I'd done that with the old heater and soft doors, I'd have been wearing heavy coat/hat/gloves and still would have been cold.

You might also consider seat warmers (I may do that myself for next winter).
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Unread 03-20-2014, 09:50 AM   #9
mikeyboat
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I'd keep that hard top and hard doors, and save a little more cash for the complete Best Top. I agree with Matt - it makes a big difference. I hauled hard doors around trying to stuff them in the back of the Jeep and it's a PITA. Near impossible to keep from scratching them (or worse). You can make a hoist system too. A stout tree branch will work for an anchor if you don't have a ceiling it'd mount to. Keep it.
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Unread 03-20-2014, 10:03 AM   #10
whiskeywiz
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Not to mention the weight of 12" of snow sitting on top of that ragtop while you sleep at night.

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Unread 03-20-2014, 11:10 AM   #11
chrisbscott
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiskeywiz
Not to mention the weight of 12" of snow sitting on top of that ragtop while you sleep at night. Sent from my Nexus 7 using JeepForum
That's why mine stays in the garage when it snows. Wife can dig her little BMW out! I will say I only have a soft top on mine, and while I have had hard tops in the past and it IS a little warmer, once I did the blazer heater upgrade there was no need for a hard top! I was SWEATING in -6 windhchill. If you have weather like we do here on northwestern VA, where one day it is 70 and the next day 30- full soft is the way to go.
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Unread 03-20-2014, 11:56 AM   #12
Mike Romain
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Had an employee shake my soft top rear window with the flat of his hand thinking he was knocking snow off and the window shattered in the middle of winter.

Hard top is so much nicer in the winter.....
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Unread 03-20-2014, 12:08 PM   #13
whiskeywiz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisbscott View Post
where one day it is 70 and the next day 30
Dude, he is in MICHIGAN. Deals with a thing called Lake Effect Snow and has a city nicknamed The Windy City. While your wife is shooeing the dusting off her Beamer with a snowbrush we are snowblowing snow that is knee-high for hours on end. 30 degrees up here means spring is coming. 70 to 30 the next day is the Bahamas for us.
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Unread 03-20-2014, 12:39 PM   #14
Spieg8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wsmutch View Post
I see a lot of YJs running around with soft tops. Is the hard top that much better?
Best bet is to flag down some of those owners with a soft top in your area and ask them. Most Jeep owners love to talk about their Jeep.
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Unread 03-20-2014, 01:58 PM   #15
chrisbscott
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiskeywiz
Dude, he is in MICHIGAN. Deals with a thing called Lake Effect Snow and has a city nicknamed The Windy City. While your wife is shooeing the dusting off her Beamer with a snowbrush we are snowblowing snow that is knee-high for hours on end. 30 degrees up here means spring is coming. 70 to 30 the next day is the Bahamas for us.
I lived in Alaska for 2 years. Drove a rusted out cj5 with a SOFT TOP. I know it is colder in MI than VA- and I know it is warmer in FL than VA, which is why I am moving south - just giving my 2 cents worth or not worth.
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