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Think Outside the Catalog
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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...



 

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Got my eye on you.....
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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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Think Outside the Catalog
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
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.
 

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Think Outside the Catalog
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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.
 

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Think Outside the Catalog
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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.
 

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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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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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Think Outside the Catalog
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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.
 

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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 :teehee:
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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Think Outside the Catalog
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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.
 

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Looks and sounds great!! My Buddies give me the business about stuff like sewing all the time..But at 6'2", 220lbs, they quickly say"Just kidding Bro"..HAHAHAHA!!!
I am interested in seeing more pics, even if they are just design or temporary set ups.
I have been following another thread of a hard top half top. I'm thinking of trying to fab a removable hard half top and tonneau cover, maybe like the old "fast-back" style on Bronco's. My Buddy shapes surfboards and will help w/the glass.
That nubb on the end of the rod is such a cool addition..how the heck did you come up w/that!!??
 

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Just bought the wife and me a Singer CG550, I think I paid $250 shipped for it. I just sewed new ends on my tow strap (3 layers thick) and I'm ready to start my top. Looking forward to seeing how your's comes out.
 

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Think Outside the Catalog
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I decided to stick with the thicker window material. It's basically regular soft top window panel stock, which I thought would be too stiff to fold easily to store. Yesterday I went back to the dormant project (after getting rained on of-road last Sat, wouldn't have if I had this top!). Since it's now late June, the thicker panel was a lot easier to sew and handle for the fab work.

So far I have the windshield channel area done, then back and over the roll to the window panel, then fabric below that to the tonneau and to the securing straps behind the seats. Next is to cut and sew on the side panels that will wrap around the vertical part of the roll bar and secure to the vertical part of the door surround. That's next, but I have yard work to do today, time to trim the hedges.

I will post photos of what I have so far, hopefully later today.
 

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Think Outside the Catalog
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I've been working quite a bit on the project. Top pic is of back window and wrap around sides to the door surrounds (pics in earlier posts). They velcro to the inside just as a normal soft top. The edge of the tonneau will get three snaps to secure it to the very bottom inch of flap below the window such that the top is outside the toneau.



The second image is the two straps to keep it tight, pulling from the windshield channel over the bar to here. The straps wrap around two tubes to spread the pulling across the whole width of the window panel. There are simple hooks near the tub floor for the strap bottoms. The straps were salvaged from my old Bestop Windjammer panel.



Still to do are better tension the top of the side panels (a bit loose), and then make the flaps from the flat roof panel to wrap around the top part of the door surrounds. Then some sewing and velcro to tidy up the top rear corner of the roll bar area. The design allows access to the rear trunk area under the toneau.
 
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