This isn't so much
about the Jeep or making it trail worthy. Instead, it's about handling seasonal
changes to it. Anyone who lives in the colder regions and has both hard and soft
tops is familiar with the time of year when one top comes off and another goes on.
I had a light-weight aluminum top (Sears Deluxe Full Top) for my
CJ-2A that could be taken off by one
person. It was reasonably small and, with the doors and rear hatch removed, was
quite manageable. My biggest problem in those days was finding a place to leave it
when I took it off.
These days, a storage location isn't a
problem, but the top is not easy for one person to handle. True confession
time. I figured that since it was possible for me to stand up inside the back of the
Jeep, I reasoned that I could balance the top on my back and walk down a ramp, then set
the top down on the ground. I choose a windy day to attempt this (Did I tell you I
am a rocket scientist?).
All went well until I was ALMOST down the
ramp. A big gust of wind blew up and literally lifted the top off my shoulders and
deposited on the ground. The good news was, it didn't crack and none of the windows
broke. The bad news was that one of the gas shocks got bent and the top got a couple
My solution was to place it upside-down
on a moving blanket and drag it to the back of the garage where it sat all summer, hogging
up space. Every once in a while I would check the back window to see if it opened
and closed. It would open up to where the gas strut was bent (hardly visible bend,
but enough to prevent the window from opening all the way). I procrastinated getting
a new gas shock until finally it was time to put the top back on again. I wanted to
save some money...
Ready to put the top back on, and this
time I was a little bit smarter. I knew that it would be difficult to handle the top
by myself so I got my friend Carl to come by and help. We removed my
rack first, a small chore by itself. Then we removed the
soft-top. Then we placed the hard top in position. So far so good.
Everything is going well until I decide to see if the back window will open past the bent
PSSSSSHHHHH (tinkle tinkle tinkle)!
That would be the sound of the back window disintegrating into a few thousand perfect
little cubes.... I guess that means the gas strut is not going to open any
further... I was dumfounded. I barely applied any pressure on the window
trying to ease it past the bend in the strut, but it was enough to break it. I was
left standing there with the plastic bar that goes across the bottom of the now broken
window in my hands, and what would ultimately be a $700 bill to replace the window and
shock. For this, I could have bought the electric top hoist and still come out
So with the hard top back in place I
realized that it was time to admit defeat: I was not going to avoid getting a hard
top hoist. The commercially available ones are expensive. And confusing.
Some say that they work for any top except the factory top. I wonder why not?
Anyway, I saw several examples of hoists that people made themselves for less money and
decided that I could do it too.
I went to a camper store and bought a
boat trailer winch.