Black Tops, Other Tops

Tan vs. Black | Sailcloth

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!

5/11/02 - Black Top and Wax Job - Click to enlargeSide - Sailcloth - Click to Enlarge

5/11/02 Tan versus Black tops

Drivers side Side View

Tan Top (before)

Black Top (after)


A few months ago, Mike McCready was getting ready to leave for Australia.  On his long list of TO-DO's was the cleaning and shipping of his Jeep.  Apparently Australian customs are very strict about vehicle cleanliness (they don't want another rabbit epidemic I guess...).  I volunteered to help Mike "super clean" his Jeep and get it ready to go.  In exchange, he offered to give me his old soft top.  I was pretty excited about it since it is black, and I prefer a black top.  This was a chance to get one in exchange for some elbow grease.   What's not to like?

So we cleaned Mike's Jeep to within an inch of it's life.  We washed parts of the Jeep that no self-respecting Jeeper would wash.  I went as far as to do some touch-up painting on the chassis to make it even prettier so the inspector would say "NEXT!" a little quicker.  In the end, Mike gave me the top and windows.  It remains to be seen if the inspectors give Mike's Jeep the thumbs-up.

I procrastinated installing the top for a number of reasons.  First, there was no hardware, which meant that I would need to remove the header from my top and swap in this one.  I would have liked to have an extra header and leave both tops ready to install but a couple came and went on eBay, so I decided to forget that idea.  Then there was the small worn spot right over the drivers door where the top touches one of the tubes.  It's pretty small but I wasn't sure how noticeable it would be, and didn't want to have an unsightly spot on the top.   Then there's the problem of the moderately scratched windows.  The sides aren't too bad, but the back is a little further gone than mine.  And one of the retainer tabs is split.  Initially I thought the rear window did not take the bar, but upon inspection of mine, I discovered that indeed, the bar would work.  Anyway, I polished up the windows and set it aside for a while to ponder.

May 2002 - Click to Enlarge

Black Top and Wax JobBlack Top and Wax JobBlack Top and Wax JobMay 2002Ted and Tom

Finally, I decided to give it a try.   It was a simple matter to remove the screws from the header bar and swap canvas.   It took me 10-15 minutes to make the swap, not counting cleaning the canvas and flipping my rack out of the way.  Once the cleaning and header swap was done, I installed the top on the Jeep.  It was exactly the way I expected it to look.   (A quick experiment with Paint Shop and a digital image showed me what it would look like without having to do the work.)

Side View3/4 Front View Driver's Side3/4 Front View Passenger SideBird's Eye View

I touched up the canvas with a little piece of black duct tape to hold a small flap out of the way of the drivers side door.   And I put a little dab of black silicon into the spot where the canvas had worn through and Mike had repaired it.  It turns out that it isn't really that obvious, and won't be ugly enough to worry about.  After driving with the windows on at night, I am convinced that I need to replace them.  The rear window acts as a diffuser and is impossible to see through.  The side windows are OK but a zipper is getting a little rotten and probably won't last much longer.  I think this calls for the replacement windows with privacy tint...

Thanks to Mike for making it possible for me to make this change on my Jeep with minimal expense!





Update:  Sailcloth Replace-A-Top with Tinted windows



Side - Click to Enlarge

The black denim top that I got from Mike served me well and convinced me that a black top was what the Jeep needed.  It also convinced me that it was too noisy for the amount of time I spend in the Jeep.  It flapped, whistled, generated white noise, and generally left me with tinitus for hours after a long ride.

I kept hearing about the superior noise dampening of the sailcloth top, but the price of admission was a show stopper.  It's not so much that it is super-expensive, as the fact that it costs just enough that it's hard to justify when you have a nearly new, albeit tan, top, and a serviceable black top.

Wooly and the Jeep

Then I decided to do something I should have done a long time ago.  Put all my factory parts that have been replaced with aftermarket stuff on Ebay.  So I scraped together everything I had.  I came up with side steps, 2 sets of coils, three GS/A's.   And both of the other tops...  I also weeded out my die cast collection of cars that I had that I didn't care about, cars that I had not looked at, cars that I had not even in some cases opened.  Dug out some old cameras that didn't work and sold them in pieces.

Soon enough I had defrayed the cost of the sailcloth top that I was able to place the order.  It came very fast, and on the coldest day we'd had in weeks.  I assembled the top onto the frames inside the warm house, with my kids asking 2000 questions.  The screws were tedious but easy enough to install.  Fortunately I had compulsively stored them in their holes on the header so that I would not lose them.


The next task was to remove the hard top and store it.  This required that I move the roof rack out of the way.  So I prepared the work area, got all the screws loose.   Removed all the stuff that needs to be out of the way, then called Carl over for some heavy lifting.  Once we had set the hardtop aside, I brought the top outside and quickly installed it onto the Jeep.  By the time we got the side curtains in place and zipped, the whole thing was as stiff as a board.  Matching my fingers.

The next day I took a few pictures.  It's a great looking top, and it is quieter than the denim tops by far.  I do not find it to be as quiet as the hardtop - that sounded too good to be true, and it seems that the reason is the roof rack.  But for that I think the top would be far more quiet.  But the sailcloth is a definite improvement.  Well worth the money.

Wooly and the Jeep

RearSideWooly and the JeepSideWooly and the Jeep


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