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Tips For Completing A Convertible Top Replacement

By Catalina Nielsen

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 a top can seem like a daunting task for someone who has never done work like this before. Though by following some basic steps the entire process becomes much easier. Before you begin you might want to talk to your family and friends and see if anyone wants to give you a hand. Also remember this is just a basic 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 basic tools you will need are a nice set of sockets, a ratchet and open end wrenches. It is also nice to have an upholstery glue ready and a sharp utility knife with needle-nose pliers and a painters 5 way scraper. To attach your top you should also have a small staple gun with a working air compressor for powering it. The final two items are often rented from a small hardware store.

Using the needle nose pliers and 5 way scraper remove the staples holding the old top together. Make sure all the windows are out. Clean up the metal parts with some steel wool or emery cloth. While it is off, take a few moments to put some graphite lubricant on any metal parts that pivot 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 bought new vinyl windows to install or if you plan to reuse the old plastic windows, install them now. Take a good look at the top making sure there are no sags or creases. Generally it is better to try opening and closing the top completely several times to get a look at how well it is fitting on the metal frame.

Realistically, with the help of a friend or two a convertible top replacement should not take more than a weekend. Enjoy the pride that comes with knowing that you did it yourself and saved some money in the process. Hopefully your friends will stick around long enough to help with clean up.

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