DIY Soft Half-Top - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 60 Old 04-04-2009, 06:06 AM Thread Starter
JeeperDon
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DIY Soft Half-Top

I decided to build a YJ soft half-top that suits my needs. I already have a Bestop full Supertop, but it is too slow to erect and requires more hardware than I prefer to carry around in the sun on the off-chance it may rain. A windjammer + tonneau + bikini + soft doors doesn't seal well at all and also takes to much time to erect. I have found nothing in the aftermarket that fits my goals of:
  1. Minimal hardware to carry, use roll bar as main support.
  2. Will use same Supertop connection points, so I can use full or half with no screwdriver type hardware changes.
  3. My tonneau can be on all the time, can stay as top goes on/off.
  4. Mostly weather proof, not like tonneau+windjammer+bikini+softdoors.
The design is:
  1. Make door surrounds of 1/2" tube, just like on an OEM top.
  2. Freestanding (no main hoop needed) door surround will zeus fasten to the windshield area at front, plug into the full top's tub corner bracket (by door latch), and have a short strut to the roll bar to keep surround up against the closed door. (This is like a TJ surround, but the simpler YJ metal tube.)
  3. Final fabric will be one large piece, including the rear window. It will attach to windshield channel, run over the main roll bar between the 'family style' bars, then down behind the seats.
  4. The rear window back panel will secure to the floor area and snap to the tonneau (like some windjammers do).
  5. The rear window panel will have sides/ends on it to go under the 'family' bar and wrap around the vertical part of the roll bar forward to the vertical part of the surrounds.
  6. The top's roof panel will secure around the horizontal parts of the door surround.
  7. In general, the securing of the top to the door surround is just like a full soft top would have, wrap around and Velcro secure.
I have built the door surrounds already (came out perfect), have experimented with fabric attach methods using scraps of soft top material, and have ordered the fabric from the place Bestop recommended I go (will be here in a week). I already have a windjammer and I intend to cut up it's fabric edges to sew into the rest as the window panel and floor attachment.

That floor attachment will be optional to use. If on the trail and the weather turns sour, I can just do a quick setup of the top and snap it to the tonneau. If on-road at higher speeds, I would attach the floor straps to minimize buffeting.


= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The photos through out this thread got lost (sorry). These were added 11/10/2010 to show the result. Refer back here from posts below that say a photo was included. This appears to be all the ones I can find now.

This is the straps holding it tight...


Partial done mockup...


Close up 1...


Close up 2...


Close up 3...


Windshield part, slides in reg channel like a bikini top...

Completed top...






'93 YJ, '02 GM 4.3V6, SOA, dual ARB's, 8.8+D30(WarnHubs), 4.88s, 35" BFG KM2s, AX15, NP231+4:1+SYE+2LO, York OBA, Warn M8000.
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Last edited by JeeperDon; 11-10-2010 at 06:30 PM. Reason: Photos were missing??
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post #2 of 60 Old 04-04-2009, 08:51 AM
rustywrangler
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Don, when you are done, I would like to add this to the YJ tech write up's page. Very interested to see how this comes out.


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post #3 of 60 Old 04-04-2009, 05:05 PM
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I would like to see some pictures when your done...thanks

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post #4 of 60 Old 04-04-2009, 05:59 PM Thread Starter
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Door Surround

Here are pics of the fabricated door surrounds.


Notice the nub welded to the side of the lower tip, and the slight bevel on the other side. The nub goes first with the rod angled back, then pulled vertical. This will prevent the rod from pulling out.


The roll bar plates unscrew from the rod for now, may make easier storage, may not be needed and will then be welded in place. Simple sheet steel and 4 steel pop-rivets hold the two rods together and allow swivel.


Vertical rod plugs into normal Bestop tub fitting.


Windshield end clips to normal Bestop part.


New strut will be held in place by top tension and maintain surround's position against the closed door.

'93 YJ, '02 GM 4.3V6, SOA, dual ARB's, 8.8+D30(WarnHubs), 4.88s, 35" BFG KM2s, AX15, NP231+4:1+SYE+2LO, York OBA, Warn M8000.
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Last edited by JeeperDon; 04-04-2009 at 07:25 PM.
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post #5 of 60 Old 04-11-2009, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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I received the fabric from the place Bestop recommended, B & D Company (www.b-dco.com), 3 yards of Black Denim, 54" wide. I also bought a .040" window panel from a local auto upholstery place. The rear window will be about 39"x18", which is the distance wide from center to center of the YJ 'family bar' extensions from the main roll bar hoop. The lip that inserts into a regular YJ soft top windshield channel is sewn, so the main top panel can be drawn taught over the roll bar. tomorrow's project is working on the roll bar area to get the holes for the family bars cut correctly.

I also had to do some testing with different needles and threads. I have the machine + thread + needle dialed in so I can cleanly sew through 4 layers of top material plus the window plastic.

'93 YJ, '02 GM 4.3V6, SOA, dual ARB's, 8.8+D30(WarnHubs), 4.88s, 35" BFG KM2s, AX15, NP231+4:1+SYE+2LO, York OBA, Warn M8000.
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post #6 of 60 Old 04-14-2009, 04:32 AM
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Cmon give this guy a comment,he's been doing a good efford!!!!!!!!!
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post #7 of 60 Old 04-14-2009, 05:28 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ex m38a1er View Post
Cmon give this guy a comment,he's been doing a good effort!!!!!!!!!
Thanks, but I don't think too many fabbers, or even Jeepers in general, are willing to give a go at this. It's mostly all sewing, not welding or using a BFH. It's like, "C'mon guys, clothes shopping with your wife is a blast."

I worked on it most of Sat but got frustrated, need to improve the sewing area to do a proper job, so I set it aside for a few days, regroup my brain.

I do have the window plastic cut and the windshield channel insert sewn. Though my machine is ok sewing the plastic to a few layers of fabric, the table area to hold/guide the large parts is the rub now. Places where they sew sailboat sails have huge tables and a sewing machine head at the end. My table is only 2'x5', but will be bigger before I have at it again.

'93 YJ, '02 GM 4.3V6, SOA, dual ARB's, 8.8+D30(WarnHubs), 4.88s, 35" BFG KM2s, AX15, NP231+4:1+SYE+2LO, York OBA, Warn M8000.
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post #8 of 60 Old 04-14-2009, 07:19 AM
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Sounds like its coming along nicely. Do you have progress pics or are you just going to show finished product?

It must be nice to have access to a sewing machine. When I did my seat covers they were done all by hand, but then again, it was only two layers of vinyl instead of four layers of denim.

good luck

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post #9 of 60 Old 04-14-2009, 02:42 PM
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What kind of sewing machine are you using?

My wife needs a new machine. I told her I'd like to get something that can do the regular household stuff, but be able to sew up some heavy stuff like the light canvas they use on tops.

And don't think fabbing does not include skills outside of welding and using a BFH! Sewing, painting, carpet, are a big part of fab work as well.

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post #10 of 60 Old 04-14-2009, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigbob View Post
What kind of sewing machine are you using?
It's not a new machine. It's a 'home machine' circa 1948-1953, which are better than today's commercial machines for raw sewing power. It weighs about 50 lbs. My mother bought it new and gave it to me in 1970 when I moved from MI to NY after college, didn't want her big boy not to be able to fix his own pants. I does zigzag, but not reverse (really wish it did).

That all said, look into Sailrite machines. My Capitol was in a friends garage (old rommate) for 25 years, forgotten, until a few months ago when he was cleaning and reminded me. Before I knew I had that one and was looking into this project, I found and was going to buy a Sailrite.

'93 YJ, '02 GM 4.3V6, SOA, dual ARB's, 8.8+D30(WarnHubs), 4.88s, 35" BFG KM2s, AX15, NP231+4:1+SYE+2LO, York OBA, Warn M8000.
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post #11 of 60 Old 04-14-2009, 05:09 PM
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Yea, I'm curious to what it will look like as well. Keep us up to date. I like the look of the brackets.
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post #12 of 60 Old 04-15-2009, 09:01 PM
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This is great. I'm actually starting the same process for my Jeep. Those door surrounds look awesome!
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post #13 of 60 Old 04-18-2009, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeeperDon View Post
It's not a new machine. It's a 'home machine' circa 1948-1953, which are better than today's commercial machines for raw sewing power. It weighs about 50 lbs. My mother bought it new and gave it to me in 1970 when I moved from MI to NY after college, didn't want her big boy not to be able to fix his own pants. I does zigzag, but not reverse (really wish it did).

That all said, look into Sailrite machines. My Capitol was in a friends garage (old rommate) for 25 years, forgotten, until a few months ago when he was cleaning and reminded me. Before I knew I had that one and was looking into this project, I found and was going to buy a Sailrite.
I like welding & sewing, but my machine(sewing) isn't up to canvas, tried the welder too but made a mess
Been looking for a used heavy duty machine for years and either just missed it or was junk. Wore out a cheep $79.95 Kmart brand doing a parachute repair in one day, , ,

Anyway, back to the thread(no pun) I would also like to tackle a 1/2 cab top using old "trail tops" Good Luck, and waiting to see finished product and hear of unforeseen problems.

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post #14 of 60 Old 06-03-2009, 05:18 AM Thread Starter
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Status Update: This project has been dormant, but will restart soon. The delay is because I decided the .040" thick rear window panel I bought was too think for the intended use. There is .020" material available that I know where locally to get, and will do so soon. Once I have the proper window panel, I can get the sewing machine going again.

The .040" stuff is just like normal OEM soft top windows, so doesn't want to bend well, and stays bent when you later try to put it up. The thinner .020" stuff is what California Tops and others use for this application (discovered a friend has a CT top on his CJ), so I will go with that. The whole point of this top is a small to carry, easy to handle, quick to put up, top to carry in a Jeep that generally never has the top up.

'93 YJ, '02 GM 4.3V6, SOA, dual ARB's, 8.8+D30(WarnHubs), 4.88s, 35" BFG KM2s, AX15, NP231+4:1+SYE+2LO, York OBA, Warn M8000.
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post #15 of 60 Old 06-03-2009, 07:02 AM
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glad you brought this back up. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product.
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