For anyone that has ever owned a convertible they know the freedom driving around with the top down as the sun is setting and the wind blowing in their hair. Sadly though they are subjected to snow and other harsh elements that act to break them down over time till they need replacement. Luckily though convertible top replacement can easily be done by almost anyone with some free time and some basic tools on a weekend.
Replacing the top may seem like a difficult task for somebody who has not done anything like this before. However, by following some fundamental steps the entire process will be much easier. Before beginning you should try talking to your family or friends to see if they could possibly help you out. Also remember that this is only a simple overview of the process.
Most people begin by figuring out what kind of top they will need. This is as easy as knowing the type of car you own. Order the replacement and wait for it to come in the mail. While you are waiting clean your car out and if the windows are removable, remove them so they are ready to go in the new one.
The most basic tools you will likely need are a good set of sockets, ratchets and open ended wrenches. It is also good to have some upholstery glue and a utility knife, needle nose pliers and a small painters 5 way scraper. To actually attach the top you will also need a staple gun and an air compressor to power it. The last two items can often be rented from many small hardware stores.
Using your needle nose pliers with the scraper, remove any staples holding the old top to the metal frame. Make sure the windows have been removed. Clean all the metal parts with fresh steel wool and emery cloth. While the top is off, take a moment to apply some graphite lubricant to any metal parts that are pivoting on each other.
The staple gun and the air compressor are what is used to attach the tacking strips to the rear curtain securely. It is often easier for two individuals working together to get this right. One individual works the fabric pulling it tight while stretching it, while the second individual staples it down. If one notices a sag or crease, it is best to take out the staples and stretch it again before re-stapling it.
If you have new vinyl windows install them now. If you are using the old ones that are plastic, install them. Take a close look at your work and make sure there are no sags. Many times it is best to open and close the top several times to loosen it up to get a good idea of how it is setting on the metal frame.
Generally with the assistance of a few friends your convertible top replacement should only take a weekend. Enjoy your pride that comes by realizing that you replaced it yourself and saved money doing it. Hopefully your buddies will hang out long enough to help you clean up too.
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