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CJ Hardtop on TJ, or "Project $200 Hardtop"

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We've all wondered how much interchangeability there is between parts of the CJ/YJ/TJ series. I've seen hundreds of posts about this part or that part, but everyone always said the hardtops wouldn't switch. I knew that YJ tops fit CJ, and vice versa, but I just always figured that the tub was a different size, or windshield angle prevented it, whatever. Then I saw a pic of a TJ w/ a YJ top on craigslist, and could see that it physically fit. I could also see that it wasn't pefect, but what the hell, I'd give it a try. Now, before you ask "Well, why not just buy a TJ top and be done with it?" I'll answer that thusly... (1) I have a baby on the way, so dropping $500+ on something I didn't really "need" wasn't going to fly, and (2) I like to tinker.
So, armed with enough information to make me dangerous, I started looking for a Cj top local to me. My exhausting search of 3 minutes led to watch an auction on eBay, then snipe a Cj hardtop in the last 10 seconds for the princely sum of $51.00. It had a couple of problems....it was butt-ugly and and tailgate was rotted pretty badly. (it could be fixed, but DAMN!). No problem, I wasn't interested in the gate, and I had planned on doing a respray on the top anyway.
Here's what I drug home....

I promptly ground the finish/ roughed the gelcoat out of the seams and filled them, just as a matter of aesthetics. Then I fixed the cracks and gouges...the rear tailgate area was pretty beat up. Then the whole thing got sanded in anticipation of primer.

No phtos of primer, or even shooting the finish...I needed two hands and forgot to take pics. I did use spray bedliner on the outside, gives it a nice satin sheen and a little bit of texture...looks nice. Cost for bedliner $40.
First test fitting. I knew I was going to have to trim the leading edge, as I could see the roof "climbing" in the TJ with a YJ top pic. So I took a blind leap and trimmed a little bit. Not enough, not even close. I had about 1" of gap at the joint of door/a-pillar.

So I cut a bunch more off. Finally removed the entire weatherstrip channel from the CJ top. Approximately 1/2"-3/4" or so. By doing this, I was able to leave the stock TJ rubber seal in place on the windshield.
Set it in place a 2nd time, and bingo. The doors actually close tighter now than they ever did with the factory surrounds.

I scavenged the latches from the stock softtop, they bolted directly to the mounting rail in the CJ after drilling some fresh holes.

For grins, I threw a roof rack on it. Went down to the local pick-a-part, got one off the top of a Blazer for $5

Next problem was that I didn't have a back window. A call to the local glass place for some lexan took care of that issue. One 26x48x.25" sheet, $58.82.
I trimmed it to fit, using the stock tailgate as a pattern. Slipped in place on the first try. All the stock hardware from the tailgate swapped right into place. 2 rolls of weatherstripping, and one roll of door sweep made a watertight seal the whole way around. Weatherstripping cost, $19.00. How I don't have any pics of the back window is beyond me. I'll have to grab some tomorrow if anyone cares.
Okay, so total cost:
$51 hardtop
$40 bedliner
$5 roof rack
$58.82 lexan
$19 weatherstripping
$30 consumables (sandpaper, cutting disks, primer, etc)
$203.83 total

As you can see, I pretty much made the $200 budget, but I'm not happy about the overage.:D So, I'm selling the tailgate here, as the glass and rubber parts are still in great shape. Any proceeds from that will be used to offset this build, and bring me in under budget...the rest will be spent on bacon and beer.
So, there you go, a definitive answer. YES, a Cj top will fit on a TJ, but it is not a direct bolt-up swap.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't have any good pics of it, but I'll describe it really well. At the leading edge of your top there is a foam rubber gasket, sandwiched between two vertical fiberglass walls, creating a channel. The walls need to be ground down to the level of the bottom of the channel. When the foam rubber vanishes underneath your grinding disk, you are there. You also need to trim the visible, leading edge of the hardtop about 9/16" up from it's original edge, contouring it around the windshield, like this pic.
 

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Nice Job. Gotta love it when things go right.
 

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Great job man, btw I loved this part of the post because it is so true hah, made me laugh pretty hard heh.

So, armed with enough information to make me dangerous, I started looking for a Cj top local to me.
 

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That looks good. I want to do the same thing! but i have some questions, did the holes on the hard top line up with the ones on the tub or did u have to drill new ones? and did yours have a bar going across it and if so did it get in the way of anything?

Here's a pic: I know,I know it needs a lot of work, but it will give me something to do. :laugh:
 

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I am doing the exact same thing cept with a yj top on a tj.

Swissk31 answer to your question (at least with the yj top) is no. The holes did not line up with the stock tub holes but those will be easy to redrill.

On a side note, I am making the front latch method more like the YJ where it screws in. If you remove the stock tj windsheild seal, then the top of the windshield looks very similiar to the YJ. A write up will follow I am just doing lsow work cuz the hardtop is at home and I am at college. Only get home once every few weekends.
 
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